Now That's What I Call Music! The One With All The Country Music

The Now! series of compilation albums has branched out from contemporary pop music hits in recent years offering many specialty titles such as Now That's What I Call British, Now That's What I Call Christmas, Now That's What I Call Disney, Now That's What I Call Crunk and Now That's What I Call Classic Rock as well as many, many others.  Maybe another day HERC will feature some of those but today y'all better get your boots on and cowboy up cause this here is a very special Music Monday as HERC takes a tour through the Now That's What I Call Country albums.

amazon.com user Michael S.

The very first Now That's What I Call Country was released in 2008, ten years after the first Now That's What I Call Music album was released in America.  The album immediately preceded Volume 29 of the top selling pop series and featured 20 tracks from Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart including 16 Top 5's and 5 #1's although the cover's artwork specifically states there are "20 CHART-TOPPING HITS!" just like those old K-tel collections.  The album itself debuted on the top of the Country Albums charts and made it into the Top 10 of the Top 200 "regular" album charts.

The pole position on the album is taken by American Idol winner (and HERC favorite) Carrie Underwood's "All-American Girl".  It was the second single released from her second album (Carnival Ride) and her fourth consecutive Number One single on the Hot Country Songs chart, eventually selling more than 1,500,000 copies - she's had seven more #1s since.


Now That's What I Call Country Volume 2 was released almost a year to the day after the first one.  It included almost twice as many #1 songs as the initial volume but only managed to make to #4 on the Country Albums chart while again reaching the Top 10 on the Top 200.  Twelve of the artists from the first collection are also featured on Volume 2.

New Zealand-born country singer/guitar slinger and current American Idol judge Keith Urban kicked off Volume 2 with his rocking love song "Kiss A Girl".  After his initial solo album was released in Australia in 1990, Keith moved to Nashville and founded a trio called The Ranch.   They recorded one self-titled album in 1997 before Urban disbanded the group and continued his solo career.  The album was later re-released in 2004 as Keith Urban In The Ranch with two bonus tracks including a cover version of the Stealers Wheel classic "Stuck In The Middle With You".

Released just a couple of months before Volume 3 of the Now...Country series in the Summer of 2010, Now That's What I Call The USA: The Patriotic Country Collection is filled with Southern-accented flag-waving anthems, including the Carrie Underwood song featured above and two tracks from a group of honorably discharged Iraqi combat vets known as 4troops.

It was more than a year after Volume 2 when Now That's What I Call Country Volume 3 was released featuring 20% fewer tracks than its predecessors and a TV commercial.  The album failed to crack the Top 20 of the Top 200 while peaking at #3 on the Country Albums chart.   Eight artists make their third appearance in the series with this release which features just four #1 Hot Country Songs.

One of HERC's favorite country groups is Little Big Town, whose third album (A Place To Land) is one of his 25 Favorite Albums.  Their track "Little White Church" was the first single released from their fourth album The Reason Why and marked a return to a more country sound after the third album's gorgeous Seventies California vibe and sound.  The unbroken connection between the harmonies of Little Big Town and Fleetwood Mac was presented in its full glory on a 2006 episode of CMT's series Crossroads featuring Mac member Lindsey Buckingham singing and playing with the group.  (Watch for HERC to gush over Little Big Town more in the future.)   Buckingham later performed a classic Mac track with Carrie Underwood on the Fashion Rocks broadcast of 2007:

Featuring two more tracks than the third volume in the series, Now That's What I Call Country Volume 4 was released exactly nine months after that previous installment.  Reaching the third spot on the Country Albums chart for the third consecutive time, Volume 4 also climbed back into the Top 10 of the Top 200 charts on the strength of ten Number Ones from the Hot Country Songs chart.

Answering the question what would it look and sound like if Taylor Swift had two equally talented brothers who performed with her and wrote morbid songs about dying, the family band known as The Band Perry had a surprise crossover hit with "If I Die Young" which was released in 2010 but took a record-breaking thirty-five weeks to crack the Top 15.  The track sold over four million copies along the lengthy journey and topped both the Hot Country Songs and Adult Contemporary charts.

The Voice coach Blake Shelton popped the OTHER question guys want to ask their sweethearts when he asked "Who Are You When I'm Not Looking" in 2010.  Although the track was a cover version of an earlier song by Joe Nichols, Shelton had a #1 hit with it four years later.  Shelton married fellow country superstar Miranda Lambert shortly after this song reached the top of the charts in the Spring of 2011.  Mrs. Shelton followed her hubby up to the Number One spot with her own "Heart Like Mine" a mere two weeks after their nuptials.

Another husband and wife hit the top spot in between the reign of the Sheltons.  Thompson Square took the romantic and ultra-hooky "Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not" to Number One for a week in April 2011.  The song went platinum and crossed over to make the Top 40 on the Hot 100 singles chart helping their self-titled debut album reach #15 on the Top 200 albums chart.

amazon.com user Michael M.

Featuring slower tempo songs from the first four volumes in the Now...Country series, this 18 track collection was released in January 2012.

The extra-long commercial above manages to feature every one of the eighteen tracks on Now That's What I Call Music Vol. 5.   Despite the super-size ad and the inclusion of more than a baker's dozen of #1 Hot Country Songs, the collection only managed to make it to #4 on the Country Albums chart when it was released in June 2012.  

Another talented guitar-slinging favorite of HERC's is Brad Paisley.   Brad rounded up 3 members of Eighties country kings Alabama to help him sing a quasi-tribute to that band's music on "Old Alabama".  (HERC is a big fan of them boys, too.  Why the fourth member wasn't invited remains a mystery - oh wait, has he passed?)  HERC looked it up and drummer Mark Herndon is indeed still alive but after an acrimonious lawsuit in 2008, he's no longer a member of the band whose remaining members went so far as to digitally remove Mr. Herndon from the album art of their final live CD.  Don't feel too bad for the drummer, though, he's flying high these days as a corporate pilot.

Good old Georgia boy Brantley Gilbert wrote and recorded a couple of songs ("Dirt Road Anthem" and "My Kinda Party") that went to #1 and #2, respectively, on the Hot Country Songs chart when covered by Jason Aldean.  It wasn't until  Gilbert released the fifth single from his second album that he made it to #1 with "Country Must Be Country Wide", a sly acknowledgement that country music fans don't just reside in the "red" states.  Obama!

Well, you made it this far and you should be rewarded, no?  
Here's the Now That's What I Call Country - The Whole Dang Jukebox playlist featuring all 120 songs from the albums and playlists above.

No comments:

Post a Comment