Country Music 101: The Beginner’s Playlist


I know. Country music. Please do not write about a bunch of unintelligent men singing about Chevys, beer and country girls shaking it on a tailgate. I get it. I do. That’s why you need to know and listen to these artists below to get a feel of what exactly this new wave of “country” music is all about.

One listen to “Break Up in a Small Town” will leave you both mesmerized and confused as to why it took the world so long to find Sam Hunt. Sam Hunt is a Georgia native who found success first as a college quarterback before moving to Nashville. Once there, he scored huge cuts as a songwriter by artists like Kenny Chesney and Billy Currington. Some have referred to him as the Drake of country music. Others are saying that if there is one artist who is pushing the country music boundaries the farthest (in the best way possible) then that guy is Sam Hunt. You’ll temporarily forget about wanting to go out this weekend when you hear “House Party.” Instead, you’ll want to stay in and you’ll also try to find ways to incorporate the word soiree into everyday conversations. Sam Hunt’s unique style, lyrics and sound are the reason he is the best thing to happen to country music in a long time. His debut album, “Montevallo,” drops October 27 so you may want to go ahead and set a timer on your phone now to download that ASAP.

Other artists featured in this playlists are Cole Swindell and Brett Eldredge. While both guys have been on the country music scene for several years and both have already scored several number one hits, they are still considered “new country.” Possibly the sweetest song ever recorded in the history of ever, Brett’s “Mean to Me” will probably be played at more weddings this year than “Butterfly Kisses.” Arguably the most country artist featured on this list, Cole Swindell is a miniature Luke Bryan if there ever was one. His “You Ain’t Worth the Whiskey” is the best song to jam while you’re out with your girls this weekend while telling your ex the exact reason you’re asking for a refill of that whiskey. And, no, he’s not the reason.

And, of course, we cannot forget the girl power movement in country music right now. The name Jana Kramer may ring a bell from her OTH days but the girl also has pipes. “King of Apology” is currently my favorite jam to jam out to while driving to work. Kelsea Ballerini couldn’t be any sweeter if she tried and one listen to “Love Me Like You Mean It” proves that. Kelsea is a friend of mine and when I say that her album will raise the bar for country music females, I 100% believe that. She’s already setting records as a new artist in country music and I’m so excited for y’all to listen to her. And, while we are at it, Maddie and Tae take on bro country in “Girl in a Country Song” will make you want to hug them for finally saying what we are really all thinking.

There are several other artists featured here that you need to know because you may already know them without knowing that you do. (Got it?) Chase Rice, co writer of the massively popular “Cruise” knows how to do more than write a song. He can deliver those lyrics with one of the sultriest voices in country music. One listen to “50 Shades of Crazy” will leave you crazy to hear the rest of his newest album. Thomas Rhett falls into this “you may already know” category due to a well known song writing/singing father, too. Rhett Atkins–ever heard of him? And, then there are other artists that double as lead musicians touring with other artists. This is where you say hello to Sam Hunt’s guitarist– Tyrone Carreker. Listen to “Free Bird” now and thank me later.

And, finally, I need to introduce a brand new musical duo called The Lookout. Their music will be up on Spotify soon so check back BUT they have a free mixtape up on their website that will make you extremely happy that these guys are giving you their music FOR FREE. Go to to download your copy now. Tyler Filmore and John Gurney know a thing or two about summer nights and America. Once you download their mixtape, listening to “Red White & Blue” and “Honeymoon” are the first two you should play. They also have some pretty fierce hats available on their website so while you’re supporting their music you’ll probably need one of their hats, too.

Give these artists a listen and let me know who you just can’t get enough of.

[spotify id=”spotify:user:katelyncarter349:playlist:3DUYE14ZWLTSacvRK81Qqh” width=”600″ height=”480″ /]

Hey y’all! My name is Katelyn Carter and I recently graduated from the University of Montevallo with a bachelor’s degree. I began writing for several country music blogs and websites about two years ago. I love supporting and promoting new and up and coming artists. I love traveling and seeing places for the first time. New York and Nashville are my favorite places to vacation and I hope to call Nashville home one day soon. You can find me at a local country show most of the time or at home trying to recreate (and normally failing) a Pinterest project. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram!

[Lead image via iraua/Shutterstock]

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