Thomas Rhett has done it old school this year. Taste of Country’s Hottest Artist of 2021 released an album filled with songs rooted in traditional country values and sat back to let fans absorb it.
The efficiency of Country Again Side A is welcome relief after other artists (including some on this list of the 10 hottest artists of the year) fed us supersized projects that took hours to digest. Had Rhett, the 2020 ACM Entertainer of the Year, chosen to release Side A and Side B simultaneously, he could have set streaming marks, the new golden calf for a commercial artist.
Instead, he split them up and trusted the song quality. There’s no gimmickry across 11 songs sure to sound good on the radio and on stages this summer. He kept it simple. He kept it country. See all 10 artists on the annual Top 10 list below, and then enjoy more Hot List content, including Hot Summer Songs, Hot Summer Tours, Hot Again in 2021 and Hot Under 25.
Country Music’s 10 Hottest Artists of 2021
The culmination of the annual Taste of Country Hot List is the 10 Hottest Country Artists list, a true measure of the songs, the tours and the intangibles, combined. Luke Combs was No. 1 in 2020, but he had trouble holding off a few artists for this year’s list.
Just six of the 10 artists featured last year make the 2021 version — a collection that gets to consider touring plans and award achievements. We’ve had four new Entertainer of the Year of the Year winners in the past eight months, and three are featured below. One misses out for taking a year off the road and the radio, but we’re confident she’ll be back soon.
This list is an effort to combine and assess an artist’s commercial success, fan appeal, touring demand and social media presence. Emphasis was placed on what’s coming, not what has happened so far.