Alan Jackson Tops Most Listened-To Classic Country Artists in the World
Normally these viral-style maps make their way across the internet, and you can’t help roll your eyes at the usually ludicrous conclusions, and the questionable methodology behind them. Are we really supposed to believe that In-n-Out Burger is the best fast food joint in Texas, and Raising Cane’s is the best in California? Get out of here with that mess.
But this study was sent to Saving Country Music, and not only is it plausible and the methodology solid, it’s super interesting and in-depth with its findings, and they line up with anecdotal notions we’ve heard about different geographic regions for years.
Liberty Games out of the UK calculated the most listened-to artists and songs across the world over the past 12 months by using play counts from the YouTube Video Music Charts. They started by identifying the top players in each genre, and then retrieved the view counts per country for each artist. Since YouTube is the most widely-distributed service across the world, this is probably the most democratic and accurate way to do this type of study.
Even more interesting is that as opposed to highlighting the current popular country artists, they decided to focus on classic country artists, or what they called “old-school” country artists, which is super cool. Coming out on top was Alan Jackson, with Shania Twain, Kenny Rogers, Johnny Cash, and George Strait right behind him in regards to total streams. Kenny Rogers was the most popular artist in the most countries with 39.
The most interesting thing is what artists are most popular in which countries. For example, we’d always heard that for whatever reason, Don Williams is super popular in Africa, which has a surprising amount of classic country fans. In certain parts of Africa, Don Williams is like Hank Williams. Sure enough, in the Liberty Games study, Don Williams was the most listened-to artist in Nigeria, Gabon, Burundi, Malawi, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and other African countries.
For some reason, Kenny Rogers is super huge in the Asian Pacific region. How did we know this before? Because strangely, the restaurant chain Kenny Rogers Roasters that long ago went defunct in the United States actually has scores of locations still open and serving chicken to this day in the region. Lo and behold, the study finds that Kenny is huge in the Philippines, Tonga, and Fiji, and is also big in South America.
These kinds of affirming findings occur throughout the map, including that Johnny Cash is big in Europe. You can see how certain artists resonate regionally and culturally in different parts of the world. Then there are some strange wild cards, like Hank Williams Jr. being huge in Laos, and Conway Twitty being the most popular in Pakistan.
What this study best illustrates is that true country music is appreciated worldwide, and that its appeal crosses cultural and geographic boundaries. Though country music is a distinctly American art form, everyone can and should enjoy good country music.
CLICK HERE for a full-sized map.
CLICK HERE to see the full study.
January 30, 2023 @ 12:49 pm
Haiti listened to Shania Twain the most.
Nature, obviously, did not approve of their musical taste.
January 30, 2023 @ 12:49 pm
Asleep At the Wheel finding popularity in the Arab world is certainly interesting. And Bobby Bare should go do a show in the Seychelles apparently. Interesting study, thanks for sharing.
January 30, 2023 @ 12:54 pm
Makes sense that out of all the countries Iran would have a 5$ fine for whining.
January 30, 2023 @ 12:52 pm
It’s a blisteringly hot morning in the Democratic Republic of the Congo down in the Colbalt mines. It’s difficult to breathe, children on the backs of teen mothers hammering away for just enough wages to avoid starvation. *Click* “WHOSE BED HAVE YOUR BOOTS BEEN UNDER.”
January 30, 2023 @ 1:53 pm
Listening to Shania Twain is the real torture there.
January 30, 2023 @ 1:24 pm
I would have bet that Strait would be #1 based on the sheer number of top hits that he had and the fact that he even outlasted Jackson. Jackson had his last top-10 hit in 2009, but Strait continued having hits in the upper reaches of the top-5 through 2012.
Obviously, neither of them are wanting, and I wouldn’t expect either of them to be working as a touring act into their late 80s or age 90, a la Willie, even if they could.
February 1, 2023 @ 5:03 am
I’ve always found Alan Jackson to be a little bit more true to traditional country music. I mean, George Strait even used auto-tune for a vocal effect in “Stars on the Water”.
Mac Sledge's Revenge
January 30, 2023 @ 1:59 pm
Shout out to all our West African friends in Burkina Faso holding the candle for Roger Miller!
Mac Sledge's Revenge
January 30, 2023 @ 2:05 pm
Kinda surprised France went for someone as stylized and poppy as Shania. Maybe i just don’t understand the French.
January 31, 2023 @ 1:16 am
Living in France, I can tell you that the French do not do real country music. Shania Twain no doubt in there because it’s pop music. You have to get to the UK, Scandinavia, Holland and Belgium to find any country music fans.
January 31, 2023 @ 8:22 am
There is a reglular reader/commenter here that runs a country music blog in France. Having talked to him a couple of times via email, it’s an uphill battle, but he’s trying to gain a foothold:
January 31, 2023 @ 12:51 pm
Thanks. Will check this out. I wish country artists would play here, but there’s clearly no market for them. Those artists that actually do a European tour just skip France completely. Last gigs for me were Jason Isbell (Belgium), Miranda Lambert (Holland), Brandy Clark (London), Steve Earle (Belgium, Germany, London). Have to be willing to travel, not US distances, but still…
January 31, 2023 @ 12:56 pm
Thanks. Will check this out. I wish country/Americana artists would play here, but those who do a European leg just skip France completely. Clearly there’s no market for them. Last gigs I’ve been to were Isbell (Belgium), Miranda (Holland), Brandy Clark (UK), Steve Earle (Germany, Belgium, UK). Have to travel to see good live music. Not US distances, but still…
February 1, 2023 @ 5:38 am
…there is also a regular reader – not such a frequent commenter though – from france’s next door neighbouring country switzerland, where we still publish the monthly print magazine “country style” eleven times a year.
the (signature) cover-story of the new issue features montana horseman, rancher and yodeler wylie (gustafson) and the wild west, who are going to be playing zurich/switzerland at the beginning of march. mike and the moonpies are most likely going be among the next ones on the front page, stopping over in switzerland in april. this friday starts the 37th international country music festival in zurich – once dubbed “the longest running country festival (38 days) in the world” – which runs until march 5 this time. the opener is ray scott. back in september marty stuart & his fabulous superlatives, carly pearce and rhonda vincent were headlining the 33rd country night gstaad. this year “country’s superwoman” miranda lambert (as she is commonly referred to in the magazine) will headline gstaad together with randall king and jo-el sonnier, just came out. the big country events have a long tradition here, as you can see from the annual numbers. texas’ courtney patton and jason eady made the cover too of the “not quite the rolling stone of the alps” publication (since 2009) not too long ago. latest cover-stories in 2022 out there at the fringe of the country universe were for example:
billy strings – billy the hit (december)
loretta lynn – the big trailblazer (november)
hardy – seriously? (october)
lainey wilson – the candidate (september)
marty stuart – renaissance man (august)
tracy lawrence – mr. hits (july)
by the way – the liberty games survey is quite accurate when it comes to switzerland: cash and a.j. are huge here, where shania twain is a resident.
February 1, 2023 @ 8:00 am
Generally speaking, the press in Europe supports true country music more than it does in the United States. People over there seem to appreciate the authenticity. I have a ton of readers in Europe for sure.
January 31, 2023 @ 9:08 am
I’m very unfamiliar with the geography but I’ve seen tour posters for Holland, the UK, etc.
February 1, 2023 @ 2:43 pm
France’s taste in anything has gone downhill since 1789.
February 2, 2023 @ 4:55 am
Not the best place to live for live music. For quality of life however it certainly has the US beat.
February 2, 2023 @ 6:23 am
Unless you are a husband. Cheating is so widespread there that paternity tests are nearly, on purpose, impossible to obtain.
And let’s forget the vast wastes of migrants that were imported to astroturf traditional French culture.
But the food is good.
February 2, 2023 @ 7:45 am
My guess is you’ve never set foot here. Just a bunch of clichés. The food is overrated.
February 2, 2023 @ 1:07 pm
Clichés came from truth.
I have been there. The facts are true.
Deal with it.
Mac Sledge's Revenge
January 30, 2023 @ 2:07 pm
For all his massive success, you know who is a glaring (and telling) omission here? Garth.
January 30, 2023 @ 2:32 pm
Most likely due to his Amazon-only restriction. This is based from Youtube. I assume his Amazon exclusiveness is not limited to US only.
January 30, 2023 @ 3:13 pm
Very good point. And the thing is, Amazon Music is not in all countries. I don’t know if Garth knows just what a disservice he’s done to his music with that deal.
January 30, 2023 @ 9:47 pm
“What this study best illustrates is that true country music is appreciated worldwide, and that its appeal crosses cultural and geographic boundaries. ”
Tell me you’re not using the above paragraph and Shania Twain in the same article…💩
January 30, 2023 @ 6:05 pm
I expected at least one country to have Brooks Jefferson (Spotify) listed.
January 31, 2023 @ 12:01 pm
you’d be surprised to know how many europeans never heard of Garth
February 1, 2023 @ 3:55 am
Tell us where the bodies are Garth!
January 30, 2023 @ 2:08 pm
I would have thought maybe Bare would have had more up in the Nordic area, but I suppose his run on the Eurovision contest is near 10 years past. Kenny Rogers in Africa – racking my brain now where I read an anecdote once, whether it was a magazine article or servicemember friend, and them riding in a truck for days where the driver only had a Kenny Rogers tape he played over and over and over…
January 30, 2023 @ 2:52 pm
Jim Reeves was extremely popular in South Africa during the 50s and 60s. Apparently more so than even Elvis.
January 31, 2023 @ 5:26 am
January 30, 2023 @ 5:02 pm
North Korea isn’t listed, so that must be from where the Florida Georgia Line spins come from.
January 30, 2023 @ 5:05 pm
Don’t forget that Slim Whitman was absolutely huge in the UK. His song Rose Marie held the record for #1 song for 36 years.
Love that chart! It’s always so fascinating to see how other artists are viewed on a worldwide scale.
January 30, 2023 @ 5:24 pm
I have been to a Kenny Rogers in Thailand just to have said I ate there.
January 30, 2023 @ 5:40 pm
Proud to be living in Johnny Cash country.
January 31, 2023 @ 3:15 am
And here is anecdotal evidence for you: my gateway drug to country music in mid 90s Croatia was Johnny Cash’s Unchained album.
January 30, 2023 @ 8:43 pm
Was in St Lucia 4 years ago and was amazed at the popularity of Country Music there. Heard LM Stone and he was excellent. Fun to hear taxi drivers playing great music!
January 30, 2023 @ 10:03 pm
I remember going to the Highwaymen concert in Central Park in the ’90s and standing next to a group of Jamaicans who knew Johnny Cash’s music. He had a property in Jamaica where he wrote a song with Paul McCartney that was misnamed “New Moon Over Jamaica” and that appeared on Cash’s “Water From the Wells of Home” LP. (A new moon is invisible. They were trying to conjure up a full moon.)
Johnny June once suffered through an armed home invasion at the property and were lucky that they got out alive.
I was searching for it on Google and it turns out SMC already wrote about it. If figures.
January 31, 2023 @ 5:58 am
I think there is some off about this, there is no way Shania is more popular in Japan than John Denver. Not a chance in hell. I played a small festival in Japan in 2005 and all 6 of the Japanese bands on the bill played country roads take me home. So I guess maybe she is popular (not with the old school guys I was with) but that one song definitely smokes her. It was in a Hayo Miyazaki film in the mid 80’s so it had a big resurgence.
January 31, 2023 @ 8:19 am
Perhaps the study did not consider John Denver “country”? Generally speaking, he was always slotted more in the folk/rock/popular music realm.
January 31, 2023 @ 10:41 am
I believe this is correct. John Denver’s official YouTube channel refers to him as an “American folk singer”. So for the purposes of this data he would not fall into the country genre.
January 31, 2023 @ 6:57 am
I’ve done some quick math and looks like Canada comes in first place by a fairly wide margin considering number of listens of most listened to country artist (also Alan Jackson) per capita. It’s 0.85. Next is Republic of Ireland at 0.72 (Kenny Rogers) and then the US at 0.67.
January 31, 2023 @ 7:23 am
I take that back. Looks like Belize scores 2.1. Also, Fiji and Jamaica are ahead of Canada.
January 31, 2023 @ 7:47 am
Asleep at the Wheel being huge in Brunei must mean the royal family likes then
January 31, 2023 @ 9:11 am
Great post. Fascinating as I’ve never really thought about this. Ex-pats, films, touring, now the Internet.
January 31, 2023 @ 11:13 am
I wonder if people are actually searching for these artists or just watching premade youtube classic country playlists that are loaded with them since theres so many countries listening to the same 5 or 6.
January 31, 2023 @ 4:29 pm
I like all the artists mentioned but I’d love to know how they got this data? Alan Jackson is great but I think Dolly Parton is more known and loved. And where’s Vince Gill???? Where’s Reba???? To me Toby Keith isn’t old school country…just my opinion.
February 1, 2023 @ 2:42 pm
Toby Keith is country.
February 1, 2023 @ 3:06 pm
I’m replying to a comment made that came through email….but it’s not posted here. I’m not saying Toby Keith isn’t country…..I’m saying he isn’t Old School Country. And again this is just my opinion. Thank you.
Aka “The Traditionalist”
January 31, 2023 @ 8:41 pm
“The whole world’s gone country…”
February 1, 2023 @ 2:55 pm
I have worked with alot of people from india, and from what I’ve been told multiple times before, Don William’s is really popular there. So that checks out with that article. Love Don Williams, nobody made music quite like he did.
February 2, 2023 @ 1:28 pm
Where the hell is George Jones. Is the world tone deaf to the best country singer the world has ever seen? Or Tammy Wynette. Shania Twain isnt tradition country.
February 3, 2023 @ 11:34 am
I wonder how many of these global streams are due to a handful of songs that go “viral” in said country/region.
The whole world seems to coalesce around 4-5 artists, for every genre.
February 6, 2023 @ 9:13 am
Can’t disagree with these findings.