21st Annual Country Music Critics’ Poll: The Results

21st Annual Country Music Critics’ Poll: The Results


1. Ashley McBryde, Never Will (Warner Music Nashville)

2. Chris Stapleton, Starting Over (Mercury Nashville)

3. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Reunions (Southeastern)

4. Brandy Clark, Your Life Is a Record (Warner Music Nashville)

5. Margo Price, That’s How Rumors Get Started (Loma Vista)

6. The Chicks, Gaslighter (Columbia)

7. Waylon Payne, Blue Eyes, the Harlot, the Queer, the Pusher & Me (Carnival)

8. Sturgill Simpson, Cuttin’ Grass, Vol. 1: The Butcher Shoppe Sessions (High Top Mountain)

9. Elizabeth Cook, Aftermath (Agent Love)

10. Hailey Whitters, The Dream (Pigasus)

11. Ingrid Andress, Lady Like (Warner Music Nashville/Atlantic/Arthouse)

12. Charley Crockett, Welcome to Hard Times (Son of Davy)

13. Lucinda Williams, Good Souls Better Angels (Highway 20/Thirty Tigers)

14. Katie Pruitt, Expectations (Rounder)

15. Little Big Town, Nightfall (Capitol Nashville)

16. Lori McKenna, The Balladeer (CN)

17. Sam Hunt, Southside (MCA Nashville)

18. Mickey Guyton, Bridges (Capitol Nashville)

19. Brothers Osborne, Skeletons (EMI Nashville)

20. American Aquarium, Lamentations (New West)

21. Cam, The Otherside (RC/Triple Tigers)

22. Courtney Marie Andrews, Old Flowers (Fat Possum)

23. Stephanie Lambring, Autonomy (self-released)

24. Tyler Childers, Long Violent History (Hickman Holler/RCA)

25. The Secret Sisters, Saturn Return (New West)

26. Lilly Hiatt, Walking Proof (New West)

27. Jaime Wyatt, Neon Cross (New West)

28. Taylor Swift, Folklore (Republic)

29. Brett Eldredge, Sunday Drive (Warner Music Nashville)

30. Sarah Jarosz, World on the Ground (Rounder)

21st Annual Country Music Critics’ Poll: The Results

Mickey Guyton and Chris Stapleton


1. Mickey Guyton, “Black Like Me” (Capitol Nashville)

2. Chris Stapleton, “Starting Over” (Mercury Nashville)

3. Ashley McBryde, “One Night Standards” (Warner Music Nashville)

4. The Chicks, “Gaslighter” (Columbia)

5. John Prine, “I Remember Everything” (Oh Boy)

6. Eric Church, “Stick That in Your Country Song” (EMI Nashville/Big EC)

7. Tyler Childers, “Long Violent History” (Hickman Holler/RCA)

8. Mickey Guyton, “What Are You Gonna Tell Her” (Capitol Nashville)

9. Miranda Lambert, “Bluebird” (Vanner/RCA)

10. Sam Hunt, “Hard to Forget” (MCA Nashville)

11. Taylor Swift, “Betty” (Republic)

12. Miranda Lambert, “Settling Down” (Vanner/RCA)

13. Drive-By Truckers, “Thoughts and Prayers” (ATO)

14. Caylee Hammack, “Small Town Hypocrite” (Capitol Nashville)

15. Adia Victoria, “South Gotta Change” (Canvasback/Atlantic)

16. Maren Morris, “The Bones” (Columbia Nashville)

17. Gabby Barrett, “I Hope” (Warner Music Nashville)

18. Ingrid Andress, “More Hearts Than Mine” (Warner Music Nashville/Atlantic/Arthouse)

19. Maren Morris, “Better Than We Found It” (Columbia Nashville)

20. Maddie & Tae, “Die From a Broken Heart” (Mercury Nashville)

21. Brandy Clark, “Who You Thought I Was” (Warner Music Nashville)

22. Carly Pearce and Lee Brice, “I Hope You’re Happy Now” (Big Machine)

23. Tim McGraw, “I Called Mama” (McGraw Music/Big Machine)

24. Hailey Whitters, “Janice at the Hotel Bar” (Pigasus)

25. The Chicks, “March March” (Columbia)

26. Ashley McBryde, “Martha Divine” (Warner Music Nashville)

27. Breland, “My Truck” (Atlantic/Bad Realm)

28. Bob Dylan, “Murder Most Foul” (Columbia)

29. Lucinda Williams, “Man Without a Soul” (Highway 20/Thirty Tigers)

30. Jason Isbell, “Dreamsicle” (Southeastern)

21st Annual Country Music Critics’ Poll: The Results


1. Bobby Bare, Bobby Bare Sings Shel Silverstein Plus (Bear Family)

2. Elvis Presley, From Elvis in Nashville (RCA/Legacy)

3. John Prine, Crooked Piece of Time: The Atlantic & Asylum Albums (1971-1980) (Rhino)

4. Gillian Welch, Boots No. 2: The Lost Songs (Vol. 1) (Acony)

5. Various artists, The Harry Smith B-Sides (Dust-to-Digital)

6. Bobbie Gentry, The Delta Sweete (Deluxe Edition) (Capitol Nashville)

7. Tom Petty, Wildflowers and All the Rest (Warner)

8. Joni Mitchell, Archives, Vol. 1: The Early Years (1963-1967) (Rhino)

9. Dave Alvin, From an Old Guitar: Rare and Unreleased Recordings (Yep Roc)

10. Johnny Cash, The Complete Mercury Albums 1986-1991 (Mercury Nashville)

21st Annual Country Music Critics’ Poll: The Results

Chris Stapleton, Luke Combs and Jason Isbell

Male Vocalists

1. Chris Stapleton

2. Jason Isbell

3. Luke Combs

4. Eric Church

5. Waylon Payne

6. Sturgill Simpson

7. Sam Hunt

8. Tyler Childers

9. Ruston Kelly

10. (tie) Willie Nelson (tie) Brett Eldredge

21st Annual Country Music Critics’ Poll: The Results

Mickey Guyton, Ashley McBryde, Miranda Lambert and Margo Price

Female Vocalists

1. Mickey Guyton

2. Ashley McBryde

3. Miranda Lambert 

4. Margo Price

5. Maren Morris

6. Brandy Clark

7. Katie Pruitt

8. Courtney Marie Andrews

9. Elizabeth Cook

10. Cam

21st Annual Country Music Critics’ Poll: The Results

Jason Isbell, Lori McKenna and Brandy Clark


1. Jason Isbell

2. Lori McKenna

3. Brandy Clark

4. Waylon Payne

5. Chris Stapleton

6. Ashley McBryde

7. John Prine

8. B.J. Barham

9. Stephanie Lambring

10. Tyler Childers

21st Annual Country Music Critics’ Poll: The Results

The Chicks and Brothers Osborne

Duos and Groups

1. The Chicks

2. Brothers Osborne

3. Little Big Town

4. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

5. The Highwomen

6. Maddie & Tae

7. The Secret Sisters

8. The Mavericks 

9. Drive-By Truckers

10. Della Mae

21st Annual Country Music Critics’ Poll: The Results

Ingrid Andress and Katie Pruitt

New Acts

1. Ingrid Andress

2. Katie Pruitt

3. Mickey Guyton

4. Hailey Whitters

5. Jimmie Allen

6. Tessy Lou Williams

7. Gabby Barrett

8. Caylee Hammack

9. Carly Pearce

10. Tenille Townes

21st Annual Country Music Critics’ Poll: The Results

Mickey Guyton and Chris Stapleton

Artists of the Year

1. Mickey Guyton

2. Chris Stapleton

3. Jason Isbell

4. Ashley McBryde

5. Miranda Lambert

6. Luke Combs

7. Dolly Parton

8. Maren Morris

9. Sturgill Simpson

10. The Chicks

This year’s voters:

Kyle Akers, Don Allred, Michael Berick, Jonathan Bernstein, Jim Bessman, Jessica Blankenship, Bliss Bowen, Jon Bream, Grant Britt, Eryn Brothers, Jeff Burger, David Cantwell, Nancy Cardwell, Henry Carrigan, Rachel Cholst, Robert Christgau, Justin Cober-Lake, Mitchell Cohen, Thierry Côté, Kevin John Coyne, Steve Crawford, Madeline Crone, Dan DeLuca, Kerry Dexter, Marcus K. Dowling, Daniel Durchholz, Steacy Easton, Chuck Eddy, Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Dan Ferguson, Bill Frater, Holly George-Warren, Holly Gleason, Gary Graff, Chris Griffy, Andrew Gulden, Craig Havighurst, Dave Heaton, Stuart Henderson, Jewly Hight, Justin Hiltner, Geoffrey Himes, Lorie Hollabaugh, Cillea Houghton, Charles L. Hughes, Josh Hurst, Thomas Inskeep, Jonathan Keefe, Zachary Kephart, Nancy Kruh, Olivia Ladd, Tom Lane, Devon Leger, Lorie Liebig, Alan Light, Andria Lisle, Dan MacIntosh, Jim Macnie, Jim Malec, Barry Mazor, Michael McCall, Kelly McCartney, Danny McCloskey, Markus Meyer, Rick Mitchell, Bobby Moore, Ken Morton Jr., Stuart Munro, David Nowels, Randy Patterson, George A. Paul, Bob Paxman, Amos Perrine, Calvin Powers, Jeffrey B. Remz, Sarah Rodman, Steven Rosen, Josh Schott, Jason Scott, Sylvie Simmons, R.J. Smith, Angela Stefano, Scott Stroud, Bruce Sylvester, Rob Tannenbaum, Ken Tucker, Shawn Underwood, Jada Watson, Ellis Widner, Mason P. Winfree, Kurt Wolff, L. Kent Wolgamott, Mikael Wood, Ron Wynn, Lee Zimmerman

Our voters wrote for the following outlets in 2020:

1870, ABC News, Accidental Evolution, Adobe & Teardrops, All Music Guide, Alternate Root, Americana Boogie, Americana Highways, Americana Music Show, American Noise, American Songwriter, And It Don’t Stop, The Argonaut, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Associated Press, Audiofemme, Best Classic Bands, The Big Takeover, Billboard, Blogcritics, The Bluegrass Situation, Bluegrass Today, Bluegrass Unlimited, Boomerocity, The Boot, The Boston Globe, Business Jet Traveler, The Call (Woonsocket, R.I.), Capital & Main, Center Line News, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincinnati CityBeat, City Pages, CMA Close Up, CMT, Concert Hopper, Cornerstone, Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Country Perspective, Country Queer, Country Standard Time, Country Universe, Critical Studies in Improvisation, The Daily Progress (Charlottesville, Va.), Downbeat, Dusted, Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, Exclaim!, Fifty Grande, Flood, Folk Alley, For Bass Players Only, The Freelance Mentalists, Fresh Air, Garden & Gun, Goldmine, Grammy.com, Hits, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, Calif.), In Review Online, Jazz Times, Journal of Popular Music Studies, KBOO-FM (Portland, Ore.), KCET-TV (Los Angeles), Kentucky Country Music, Kithfolk, Kyle’s Korner, The Last Word, Lincoln Journal Star, Living Blues, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Times, Maggot Brain, Magnet, MediaNews Group, Memphis Flyer, Mojo, The Morton Report, Music Aficionado, Musical Divide, Music Blog, Music Connection, Music Road, MusicRow, Napster, Nashville Scene, Nashville Sound, National Public Radio, NBC News, News & Record (Greensboro, N.C.), The New Yorker, New York Times, No Depression, Orange County Register, Ovrld, Oxford American, Parton and Pearl, Pasadena Weekly, Paste, People, Pentagon Black Studios, Perceptive Travel, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Pitchfork, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio), Pollstar, Popmatters, The Press-Enterprise (Riverside, Calif.), The Press-Telegram (Long Beach, Calif.), Queen City Nerve, Redlands, Relix, Rhode Island Suburban Newspapers, Rock and Roll Globe, Rock NYC, Rock’s Backpages, Rolling Stone, Roughstock, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The San Bernardino Sun, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Shotgun Seat, Singles Jukebox, Sirius XM, Slant Magazine, Sounds Like Nashville, Spectrum Culture, Sports and Entertainment Nashville, Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minn.), Substack, Taste of Country, Tennessee Jazz and Blues Society, The Tennessee Tribune, Texas Music Magazine, Texas Monthly, Third Bridge, This Is Country Music, Tidal, The Times (Pawtucket, R.I.), Twangville, Variety, Vevo, Vineyard Gazette, Vulture, The Wall Street Journal, Wandering Educators, The Washington Post, Wide Open Country, WFKY-FM (Frankfort, Ky.), WMOT-FM (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), WNXP-FM (Nashville, Tenn.), WRIU-FM (Kingston, R.I.), Wrong Highway, Xperi

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