Welcome back to Takeover Tuesday, where each week, Billboard taps chart-topping artists and tastemakers to compile their very own playlist exclusive to Billboard‘s Spotify account. We give the artists free rein to base the list on whatever subject they choose. The only rule? Make it as creative and unique to them as possible.
Travis Denning has made waves in the country world since his breakout single “David Ashley Parker From Powder Springs” in 2018, with his most recent hit “After a Few” cracking the top 20 of the Country Airplay chart this week (chart dated Feb. 1). As the song continues to climb, he’ll be hitting the road with fellow country star Dustin Lynch, kicking off the aptly titled Stay Country Tour on Jan. 30.
Though the Georgia native is unabashedly country — most recently evidenced by his hilarious Dolly Parton meme challenge post — his music taste spans all genres and several decades, thanks in part to his mom.
“My momma once told me that there are only two genres in music: ‘good’ and ‘bad,'” Denning tells Billboard over email. “The older I get, the more I realize how right she was. From country to rap, soul to heavy metal, pop to the blues, I have always listened to music that I connected to.”
Denning’s Takeover Tuesday playlist shows just how eclectic his music library is, so he titled the mix “All Across the Board.” The 19-song playlist kicks off with a hit from outlaw country star Johnny Paycheck, but quickly diverts to heavy metal with Motörhead‘s “Damage Case” and then highlights today’s newest pop superstar (and freshly five-time Grammy winner) Billie Eilish‘s “Bury a Friend.”
Though the entire playlist is made up of Denning’s favorite artists and songs, there are a few that stand out among the rest, as he reveals his “favorite artist of all time” and which artist was his Spotify “artist of the decade” across the other 16 tracks.
Check out Denning’s playlist below, and find out which artists he most admires with comments from the singer himself.
Johnny Paycheck, “I’m The Only Hell (Mama Ever Raised)”: Outlaw music that makes you wanna drink up against an old honky tonk bar. Is there anything better?
Motörhead, “Damage Case”: I don’t think there’s a better example of what rock ‘n’ roll is supposed to be. Motorhead was nasty, loud, and unapologetic.
Billie Eilish, “Bury a Friend”: Billie is the most refreshing and interesting superstar I’ve heard in so long. Her debut album got a played a LOT on my phone when it first came out. Her look, sound, and songs are so unique.
George Strait, “I Can Still Make Cheyenne”: My favorite King George song of all time. There’s such a cool story behind this song that Erv (George’s manager) actually heard two cowboys at a bar have this actual conversation. Nothin’ more country than the truth.
The Allman Brothers, “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’”: Duane’s slide solo on the outro of this song was the fire that got inside me and made me want to play guitar for a living. Gregg’s voice is so flawless and powerful.
Kendrick Lamar, “I”: I think Kendrick Lamar will go down as the greatest rap artist of all time, at least in my book. His lyrics can be so challenging and go so deep, and STILL have a track that is such a jam.
Tedeschi Trucks Band, “Learn How To Love”: Best touring band in the land, and the greatest guitar player ALIVE. Soul, blues, southern rock. They’ve got it all.
Halsey, “Angel on Fire”: I can’t make a playlist with my favorites and not have Halsey. She was my “Artist of the Decade” on Spotify. I love the story and melody of this song.
Alabama, “She Put The Sad In All His Songs”: Everybody knows the upbeat Alabama hits, but this song always completely gutted me. Randy’s delivery is so perfect.
Travis Scott, “Butterfly Effect”: I can listen to this album once a week. Absolute BANGER of a record, the tracks are so perfect and vibes.
Jason Isbell, “Speed Trap Town”: Jason Isbell will be remembered as my generation’s Bruce Springsteen. So prolific. He puts you right into the story, right into the scene like you were there.
Ronnie Milsap, “No Gettin’ Over Me”: Pure Country smooth. Ronnie Milsap is so talented even to this day.
Bring Me the Horizon, “Ludens”: Back in my middle school days, BMTH had a much MUCH different sound. I’ve just recently started listening to their latest records, and I love the bravery on trying to blend two things that have always been polar opposites: pop and metal.
The Wreckers, “Cigarettes”: If I had all the money in the world, I would give it all to a petition to get The Wreckers back. This is one of my favorite country records ever. Got all the right elements of amazing melodies, Texas Red Dirt grit, and two killer voices. BRING BACK THE WRECKERS!
Stevie Wonder, “For Once In My Life”: Stevie is my favorite singer of all time. Flawless. Perfect. He has it all. It’s impossible not to feel good hearing this one.
John Mayer, “Edge of Desire”: The guy who made me want to write songs with what has to be one of his top three best. The guitar solo is so subtle, yet so emotional.
Bruno Mars, “Chunky”: Sometimes you just gotta put on some music that makes you move. Hell, I’m low-key dancin’ typing this. Bruno is the MAN.
Drake and Future, “Jumpman”: The ultimate pregame hype song. Drake and Future simply go hard on this classic.
Lamb Of God, “Blacken The Cursed Sun”: Last but NOWHERE near least. I know this one might scare some of y’all. The breakdown at the end of the song is just so damn heavy and awesome. Easily one of my favorite bands of all time.