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Country Music’s Top 20 Underdogs (Part 3)

February 22, 2008

10. Emerson Drive: Hailing from Canada, Emerson Drive had early success with Dreamworks records. However, after Toby Keith split from the label, it ceased to exist and thus Emerson Drive were denied the opportunity to make a third album. Despite this setback The band kept pushing on in Canada and eventually became the premiere act off of Midas Records. Normally a band with minor success wouldn’t work very well with a brand new record label. However, Emerson Drive took the challenge head on and although their third American album “Countrified” did poorly in opening sales, it spawned a top 20 hit and eventually the band’s first #1 song with “Moments”. On top of this the band suffered the loss of their former bass player to suicide and made their first #1 song even more significant to their relation with their fans as they became spokesmen for suicide awareness.

9: Reba McEntire: It’s not easy for a country legend to make it in the business these days. Reba celebrated minor hits and one #1 hit from 2003 on. However the longer she was around the more she seemed to fall into the pit that others like Patty Loveless and Willie Nelson have fallen into. Her album of 21 #1 hits supplied two flop singles well worthy of chart success. It seemed that Reba was through and to add to it her show had been cancelled. It was Reba’s duets album that brought her back to country diva status again. Her duet with Kelly Clarkson came at the right time and barely missed the #1 spot. The album itself became her most successful debut week by topping both the Billboard Country and Pop charts. The album is the last for her current contract with MCA and has spawned enough success to allow her the free opportunity to rejoin the label or switch.

8: Josh Turner: The country music traditionalist with the base voice made his country debut in 2003 with his song “Long Black Train”. It looked as if this would be Josh’s only hit as his sophomore single barely cracked the thirties. His album, however, debuted at #17, but rose up to #3 by the time Josh’s second single came out. The sales began dropping then and Josh went on a break until 2005 rolled around. His classic sound was reborn in “Your Man” which would be the ultimate test that would break or make his career. Josh took a gamble on his career and it paid off. Josh came from a falling point to grasp two #1 hits, a top 20 and a top 10. In addition he earned the right to be an Opry member all from the success of one song that brought back his popularity from his debut hit. Josh made a huge, quick comeback that solidified his career.

7: Tracy Lawrence: Tracy fell victim to the common downfall of country alumni’s in modern radio, a lack of interest from newer fans. Due to this Tracy found it difficult to escape the double digits with his songs. However when “Paint Me A Birmingham ” was released Tracy seemed to get his steam back. Sadly it looked like Tracy was back on the losing end. He lost his record deal and signed a new one with Mercury for a Best of compilation whats received little radio success. Finally Tracy started his own label, Rocky Comfort Records, which lead to his huge comeback. After over 40 weeks on the chart Tracy achieved his first #1 in seven years and the single brought Tracy his first CMA award for teaming with Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw.

6. Taylor Swift: Taylor’s career is based off of her position as an underdog. She was put in the position of being a new, young artist, from a young label. She had a lot on her shoulders to make a great impression and her first single, “Tim McGraw”, made her songwriting and singing ability as well as her maturity well known to country listeners of all ages. However, she still had the idol singers to compete against, especially Kellie Pickler. Taylor needed the beat Kellie for the Breakthrough Video Of The Year at the CMT Music Awards, and she did enough to pull it off. This brought her radio play up and allowed her a successful move into pop radio as well. That one victory snatched the success that could have made Kellie Pickler a household name and brought her career to a whole new level as well as earning her a Best New Artist Grammy nomination.

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