For the first time, Billboard has compiled extensive chart recaps of country music, ranking the genre’s top artists, songs and albums during the past six decades (see the chart methodology below).
Given his longtime “King George” sobriquet, it should come as no surprise that the No. 1 country artist of all time is George Strait. The legend has earned a record 44 No. 1 titles on the Hot Country Songs chart (which launched as an all-encompassing genre songs ranking on Oct. 20, 1958), from 1982’s “Fool Hearted Memory” to 2009’s “River of Love.” Strait likewise has logged an unprecedented 26 No. 1 entries on Top Country Albums (which began on Jan. 11, 1964), from Right or Wrong in 1984 to 2015’s Cold Beer Conversation.
The Hot Country Songs chart’s all-time No. 1 is “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line (Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley). The duo’s debut single spent a record 24 weeks at No. 1 in 2012, first powered by country airplay, and 2013, when it became a pop crossover smash. Reflecting country’s rich history, the No. 2 song was released a half-century earlier, as Leroy Van Dyke’s “Walk On By” led Hot Country Songs for 19 weeks in 1961 and 1962.
As for the No. 1 country album of all time, that honor goes to Shania Twain’s Come On Over, which opened atop the Top Country Albums chart dated Nov. 22, 1997, and reigned for a record 50 weeks. The set has sold 15.7 million copies, according to Nielsen Music, ruling as the best-selling country album since Nielsen began tracking sales in 1991.
See the All-Time Country Artists chart here.
See the All-Time Country Songs chart here.
See the All-Time Country Albums chart here.
METHODOLOGY: The Greatest of All-Time Top Country Artists, Songs and Albums rankings are based on weekly performance on Hot Country Songs (from its Oct. 20, 1958 inception through June 4, 2016) and Top Country Albums (from its Jan. 11, 1964 inception through June 4, 2016). Titles are ranked based on an inverse point system, with weeks at No. 1 earning the greatest value and weeks at lower spots earning the least. Due to changes in chart methodology over the years, eras are weighted differently to account for chart turnover rates over various periods. Artists are ranked based on a formula blending performance, as outlined above, of all their Hot Country Songs and Top Country Albums chart entries.
?This article originally appeared in the Aug. 6 issue of Billboard.