Argument: The Most Underrated Singers in Country Music

Everyday, we listen to a plethora of studio recordings from our artists of choice. We grab our headphones, lift the volume, and let it play. Some listen for the lyrics, some listen for the instruments, some for the voice. I’m here to talk about that voice, and what makes it worthy of your ears. Who’s got the best one? Who’s worth listening to? There are so many country artists who wouldn’t even make it past the first round of the Voice yet they still reach stardom. I’d rather listen for raw talent.

I rank singing with vocal range, pitch control, falsetto stability, and overall training skill set; not just what sounds good on the radio, but what gives you chills when you listen to. When I think of that, I think of Freddie Mercury, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, but that’s just me. I grew up knowing those people were the best vocally. People like Luke Bryan, Toby Keith, Eric Church, Thomas Rhett, or even Blake Shelton have the smoothest of sounds, and are doing extremely well for themselves, but are they really the BEST singers? Do they impress you with the notes they hit? I think not…yet they still reach the top charts. When I think of people who DESERVE to top the chart, I think Zac Brown Band, Tim McGraw, and Carrie Underwood, but here are some that may have slipped the radar.

A great singer in an acoustic recording is hard to come by in country music, but surprisingly enough, Sam Hunt (yes, Sam Hunt) did a wildly good job with his acoustic album. Listening through it all caused me to believe that he really is a good singer. He crushes the track “Come Over,” made famous by Kenny Chesney. Funny thing is, Sam Hunt wrote the song, and I actually like his better (especially at 1:21 when he vibratos the “anyone else” with power). Sam has a smooth tone, and though his riffs and runs aren’t spectacular, he can hold pitch very well. I think his album “Montevallo” actually hurt his chances of being thought of as an actual talent. His acoustic album, however, gives reason to think otherwise.

Dan + Shay have a spectacular vocal range that they display in “19 You and Me”. They’re new to the scene of country music, and maybe they benefit from the changing ways of the genre to a more pop-sound. They don’t necessarily have a twang, but they certainly do have talent, belting out the lines each time the chorus comes around, and they hold their notes out. Just take a listen, and I hope you’ll agree with me.

Lastly, I’ll stick with Josh Turner. The man can sing! He’s got a range as low as railroad tracks, but can bring it up to a baritone level, proving his 3-octave vocal range. Everyone (including myself) dips their chin to their chest and raises their eyebrows to try and sing along with “Your Man,” while he does so with ease. He’s just gifted with it, and there’s no training that can teach him to reach such a low register. It’s unfair, but he’s one of best due to that range and he sounds phenomenal live.

These are just a few artists who have showcased their talent and impressed me. I know these names may seem a bit unexpected, but I can’t get over how weak some of the most popular vocalists truly are. Am I wrong? Who do you think is the best?


Filed under Blog Post 4, Live Music

7 Responses to Argument: The Most Underrated Singers in Country Music

  1. Max Holter

    Hadn’t really looked much into Josh Turner before, and now I am scrolling thorugh his videos on youtube trying to pick a favorite song, really exciting. I think that the best thing you did in this post was to convey a strong knowledge of singing, and music from the front standing performers standpoint. As somebody who was never musically inclined, other than listening to it, I found it fascinating to see what someone with more musical experience, and a different ear for certain things in a singers voice was very interesting. Thank you for sharing your knowledgeable opinions about music, specifically country music. Really a fun read!

  2. Cassidy Wilson

    I agree with so many things that you said in this article. I don’t know a lot of the technical terms used to describe sining but I loved the artists you picked. Sam Hunt gets a lot of heat for not being country enough. I completely agree with you about” Montevallo” though. I first heard about Sam Hunt through the acoustic CD he had out before he was well known, and that’s what got me hooked. I also agree with you about Josh Turner! He is totally under appreciated but such an amazing singer! My favorite song by his is “Lay Low.” I hope I can see him live some day. Overall, I was really impressed with this post. Great job!

  3. Kevin Lefkowitz

    This post gave me a new perspective on Sam Hunt. Before reading it, I thought of him simply as a guy who has a good voice and sold out. Now, you have convinced me he is just taking advantage of the changing industry. His experience in writing other successful songs and singing them better than the performer opened my eyes. You’re also right about (trying to) sing along with Josh Turner. He is impossible to imitate but everyone tries! I really enjoyed this post. There are way too many singers who are under appreciated because their talents just don’t align with what the average listener enjoys.

  4. Adrian Ortiz

    Interesting post! I had never really thought about that. It was interesting to read how a lot of singers make it in the industry despite not having great voices. Out of the singers you mentioned I have only heard of Sam Hunt but after listening to the songs you posted I have to say I agree that they are all great singers and are definitely underrated. Although I do not understand some of the terms you used to describe his vocal skills, I was really impressed after listening to Josh Turner’s song, and he is definitely very gifted.

  5. Mackenzi McAfee

    I love this post and all 3 of the artists you included! I’m really happy you chose to write about their talent because I feel like a lot of upcoming artists get a lot of slack for being “too pop” or “not real country.” I heard Sam Hunt’s acoustic album a while back and fell in love with “Speakers” because his voice is unbelievably unique and he sounds incredible. A lot of people seem to hate on Sam Hunt because he releases songs like “House Party” and “Break Up in a Small Town,” but if you look past those two and listen to the rest of his music you see his true talent. Did you happen to see the duo with Carrie Underwood on the Grammy’s where they combined “Take Your Time” and “Heartbeat” ?? SO GOOD! Now to Dan and Shay, I love 19 You & Me but havent heard many of their other songs. But Josh Turner on the other hand, good lord he has the voice of an angel! I’ve loved Josh Turner forever and could listen to his music all day!

  6. Tyler King

    Great article man! I always think it’s a great thing to show the underrated or not as often listened to country artists as some of them have songs and vocals that are just as good as some of the top mainstream artists. I really enjoy Sam Hunt. I know some people don’t enjoy his songs where he starts talking in the middle of the lyrics but this original mixtape that you posted is a great way to show exactly what kind of singer and vocalist he can be. I really love what he can do vocally and wish he would do more of just singing in his songs.

  7. Laura Morales

    I really enjoyed reading this post! I am actually a fan all three of these artists, and I agree with you that they are all incredibly talented. I know people tend to hate on Sam Hunt for his music not being country, but it is undeniable that he is incredibly talented, not only vocally as a singer, but artistically with his songs. Dan + Shay are one of my favorite duos! Shay’s voice is AMAZING live and pretty powerful! Dan is good too but he tends to just sing the background vocals and play the guitar. The thing that has always captivated me about Josh Turner is how low of a register he has. I often try to imitate his low voice by singing “Your Man” and it makes my friends laugh. I wish I had talent like that though!

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