Top Country Hat Acts

Country's Most Enduring "Hat Acts"

In some cases, the term "hat act" is degrading. The term first surfaced in the early 1990s and was used to describe the up-and-coming acts that emerged wearing cowboy hats via Nashville's generic production line. Hat acts might hit it big initially, but their success isn't enough to give them lasting power. Many hat acts are gone within a year or so.

These so-called "hat acts," listed below, are those with staying power. The albums listed are prime cuts of their work. They may wear hats, but they can also sing their hearts out.

Alan Jackson

Alan Jackson
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When Alan Jackson releases a new album, you know that you're in for an album filled with traditional country fare: no pop country to be found. On 2008's Good Time, Jackson wrote all 16 tracks, including the playful midtempo that spells out what everyone is looking for every weekend: a g-o-o-d t-i-m-e.

Jackson also includes a biographical song about his father: the fiddle-soaked "Small Town Southern Man." The album wouldn't be complete without the honky tonk classics "Country Boy" and "I Still Like Bologna."

Brad Paisley

Time Well Wasted- Brad Paisley
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2005's Time Well Wasted is, even to this day, one of Brad Paisley's best albums. It features tracks that will pull at your heartstrings, like "She's Everything," "Waitin' on a Woman" and the Dolly Parton duet "When I Get to Where I'm Going," and make you laugh, like "Alcohol."

Clint Black

Clint Black- Greatest Hits II
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Greatest Hits II features the best of the best Clint Black: the country waltz "Walkin' Away;" the percussive Steve Warimer duet "Been There;" and the power ballad he sings with wife Lisa Hartman Black, "When I Said I Do." The first dozen songs on this greatest hits comilation are are great mix of hits that span decades. These songs alone make the album well worth the money; the four bonus tracks are exactly that: a bonus.

Dwight Yoakam

Dwight Yoakam
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This Time was released back in 1993, and even today, it remains one of Dwight Yoakam's most brilliantly crafted albums. The mix on this particular release is part raw, Bakersfield honky tonk and Southern-fried rock. Yoakam is mournful on the track "A Thousand Miles from Nowhere," straight-up honky tonk on "Fast as You" and the swinging "Pocket of a Clown," complete with backups singing "ooh-waah, ooh-waah."

Garth Brooks

Garth Brooks Scarecrow
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Scarecrow was rumored to be Garth Brooks' last solo album. He's since released another album and has one on the way in 2016, but if this album really was Brooks' last ever, it would've wrapped his career on a good note.

It's packed with classic "Garth" - songs that make you think ("The Storm"), songs that make you want to get up and dance ("Rodeo or Mexico") and duets with George Jones ("Beer Run") and Trisha Yearwood ("Squeeze Me In").

George Strait

George Strait- Troubadour
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George Strait's Troubadour is the country crooner's 37th studio release - no big deal. A quick glance at some of the songs included on this album is enough to see why it was named CMA Album of the Year in 2008. He added two more No. 1 hits to his collection, now totalling more than 60, with the introspective "I Saw God Today" and the island-infused "River of Love."

Plus, the title track is thoughtful performance in which Strait reflects on the life he's led, singing "I was a young troubadour when I rode in on a song, and I'll be an old troubadour when I'm gone."

Kenny Chesney

Kenny Chesney Greatest Hits II
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Greatest Hits II picks up where Kenny Chesney's first Greatest Hits package from 2000 left off. There's a nice mix of midtempo fare, such as the Mellancamp-esque "Young" and guitar-driven "Livin' in Fast Forward," to songs looking back at the past, like "I Go Back," the yearning "There Goes My Life" and the introspective "The Good Stuff."

Tim McGraw

Tim McGraw- Let It Go
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In Let It Go Tim McGraw offers plenty of variety, from the soulful Eddie Rabbit cover, "Suspicions," to his yearning duet with wife Faith Hill, "I Need You," to the playful "Last Dollar (Fly Away)," which features his three daughters. Throughout most of his career, McGraw has performed songs written by others, but on Let It Go he has a couple cowrites of his own, including "Train #10" and "If You're Reading This."

Toby Keith

Toby Keith
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Toby Keith's 2008 release, That Don't Make Me a Bad Guy, is filled with that typical Toby Keith sound with a little edge. So many of Keith's songs deal with macho bravado subject matter that it's easy to forget what an exceptional vocalist he truly is. "She Never Cried in Front of Me" is a mournful ballad that shows off his tender side. It tells the story about the bad guy that the good girl in town falls for in the mid-tempo country rocker "God Love Her."

Trace Adkins

Trace Adkins Greatest Hits
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Trace Adkins has one of the most recognizable voices in country music. There aren't many male artists out there that have a baritone voice as deep and clear as Adkins does. His undeniable vocal talent and fearless ability to tackle emotional, meaningful songs are evident in Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 - American Man. Case in point: the emotional, steel guitar-infused No. 1 hit "You're Gonna Miss This."

But Adkins isn't entirely serious. He's recorded his fair share of songs that are just plain fun, like "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk" and "Rough and Ready."