17th Annual Country Music Critics’ Poll


For the Scene’s 17th Annual Country Music Critics’ Poll, we surveyed 89 music writers across the country to determine 2016’s top country albums, singles, performers and more. See the results of our poll below.


1. Miranda Lambert, The Weight of These Wings (RCA/Vanner Records)

2.  Margo Price, Midwest Farmer’s Daughter (Third Man)

3.  Brandy Clark, Big Day in a Small Town (Warner Bros. Nashville)

4.  Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth (Atlantic)

5.  Maren Morris, Hero (Columbia Nashville/Sony Music)

6.  Lori McKenna, The Bird & the Rifle (CN/Thirty Tigers)

7.  Robbie Fulks, Upland Stories (Bloodshot)

8.  Drive-By Truckers, American Band (ATO)

9.  Lucinda Williams, The Ghosts of Highway 20 (Highway 20/Thirty Tigers)

10. Loretta Lynn, Full Circle (Legacy)

11. Brothers Osborne, Pawn Shop (EMI Nashville/Universal)

12. Hayes Carll, Lovers and Leavers (Highway 87/Relativity Entertainment)

13. Vince Gill, Down to My Last Bad Habit (MCA Nashville)

14. Dierks Bentley, Black (Capitol Nashville)

15. Lydia Loveless, Real (Bloodshot)

16. Parker Millsap, The Very Last Day (Okrahoma/Thirty Tigers)

17. The Cactus Blossoms, You’re Dreaming (Red House)

18. Dori Freeman, Dori Freeman (Free Dirt)

19. Keith Urban, Ripcord (Capitol Nashville)

20. Cody Jinks, I’m Not the Devil (Cody Jinks)

21. John Prine, For Better, or Worse (Oh Boy)

22. Aubrie Sellers, New City Blues (Thirty Tigers/Relativity Entertainment)

23. Robert Ellis, Robert Ellis (New West)

24. Willie Nelson, For the Good Times: A Tribute to Ray Price (Legacy/Sony)

25. Elizabeth Cook, Exodus of Venus (Agent Love/Thirty Tigers)

26. Jon Pardi, California Sunrise (Valory/Capitol Nashville/Universal)

27. Courtney Marie Andrews, Honest Life (Mama Bird)

28. Brent Cobb, Shine on Rainy Day (Low Country/Elektra)

29. Various Artists, Southern Family (Low Country/Elektra)

30. (tie) Dolly Parton, Pure & Simple (Dolly/Sony)

30. (tie) Dwight Yoakam, Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars … (Sugar Hill/Decca)

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1. Miranda Lambert, “Vice” (RCA/MCA)

2. Maren Morris, “My Church” (Columbia)

3. Tim McGraw, “Humble and Kind” (Big Machine)

4. Beyoncé with the Dixie Chicks, “Daddy Lessons” (Columbia)

5. Eric Church, “Record Year” (Decca/EMI Nashville)

6. Margo Price, “Hands of Time” (Third Man)

7. Little Big Town, “Better Man” (Capitol Nashville)

8. Jon Pardi, “Head Over Boots” (Valory/Capitol)

9. Margo Price, “Hurtin’ (On the Bottle)” (Third Man)

10. Brandy Clark, “The Girl Next Door” (Warner Bros. Nashville)

11. Keith Urban, “Blue Ain’t Your Color” (Capitol Nashville)

12. Maren Morris, “ ’80s Mercedes” (Columbia)

13. Brandy Clark, “Love Can Go to Hell” (Warner Bros. Nashville)

14. Dierks Bentley and Elle King, “Different for Girls” (Capitol Nashville)

15. William Michael Morgan, “I Met a Girl” (Warner Bros. Nashville)

16. Drive-By Truckers, “What It Means” (ATO)

17. Lori McKenna, “Wreck You” (CN/Thirty Tigers)

18. Eric Church, “Kill a Word” (EMI Nashville)

19. (tie) Brothers Osborne, “21 Summer” (EMI Nashville)

19. (tie) Raelynn, “Love Triangle” (Warner Bros. Nashville)

21. Carrie Underwood, “Dirty Laundry” (Arista Nashville)

22. Sturgill Simpson, “In Bloom” (Atlantic)

23. Brothers Osborne, “Stay a Little Longer” (EMI Nashville)

24. Kenny Chesney and Pink, “Setting the World on Fire” (Blue Chair/Columbia Nashville)

25. Thomas Rhett, “Die a Happy Man” (Valory)


1. Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, The Complete Trio Collection (Rhino)

2. Terry Allen, Lubbock (On Everything) (Paradise of Bachelors/Sugar Hill)

3. Kris Kristofferson, The Complete Monument & Columbia Album Collection (Legacy)

4. Gillian Welch, Boots No. 1: The Official Revival Bootleg (Acony)

5. Wayfaring Strangers, Cosmic American Music (Numero)

6. Buck Owens, The Complete Capitol Singles: 1957-1966 (Omnivore)

7. Terry Allen, Juarez (Paradise of Bachelors/Sugar Hill)

8. The Highwaymen, Live: American Outlaws (Columbia/Legacy)

9. Steve Earle, Guitar Town 30th Anniversary (MCA Nashville)

10. Don Rich and the Buckaroos, Guitar Pickin’ Man (Omnivore)

Sturgill SimpsonSturgill Simpson

Male Vocalists:

1. Sturgill Simpson

2. Chris Stapleton

3. Eric Church

4. Jason Isbell

5. Tim McGraw

6. Keith Urban

7. Jon Pardi

8. Dierks Bentley

9. Willie Nelson

10. Vince Gill

Female Vocalists:

1. Miranda Lambert

2. Margo Price

3. Brandy Clark

4. Maren Morris

5. Carrie Underwood

6. Lydia Loveless

7. Dolly Parton

8. Lori McKenna

9. Loretta Lynn

10. Kacey Musgraves

Jason IsbellJason IsbellPhoto: Daniel Meigs

Live Acts:

1. Sturgill Simpson

2. Margo Price

3. The Dixie Chicks

4. Chris Stapleton

5. Dolly Parton

6. Eric Church

7. Garth Brooks

8. The Mavericks

9. Jason Isbell

10. Dierks Bentley


1. Lori McKenna

2. Brandy Clark

3. Miranda Lambert

4. Margo Price

5. Sturgill Simpson

6. Shane McAnally

7. Robbie Fulks

8. Hayes Carll

9. Chris Stapleton

10. Patterson Hood

Brothers OsborneBrothers Osborne

Duos and Groups:

1. Brothers Osborne

2. Little Big Town

3. Drive-By Truckers

4. The Dixie Chicks

5. Zac Brown Band

6. Shovels & Rope

7. The Time Jumpers

8. The Earls of Leicester

9. Dan + Shay

10. case/lang/veirs

New Acts:

1. Maren Morris

2. Margo Price

3. Dori Freeman

4. Aubrie Sellers

5. Brothers Osborne

6. William Michael Morgan

7. Brent Cobb

8. Drake White

9. The Cactus Blossoms

10. Aaron Lee Tasjan

Artists of the Year:

1. Miranda Lambert

2. Sturgill Simpson

3. Margo Price

4. Maren Morris

5. Brandy Clark

6. Keith Urban

7. Dierks Bentley

8. Chris Stapleton

9. Eric Church

10. Dolly Parton


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