Albums of the Decade: Running the Numbers

  

I guess it’s no secret that Country Universe and The 9513 have been running simultaneous Best Country Albums of the Decade countdowns, which both wrapped up yesterday. While you might reasonably expect a bit of bias on my part, I honestly think anyone who followed only one of the countdowns missed half the fun, which came from seeing the overlaps and differences in the two lists reveal themselves day by day. With the appearance of each new album, you’d wonder if it had been ranked higher or omitted entirely by the other site.

There were certainly some surprising twists and turns along the way in this head-to-head countdown extravaganza. Now that the data is all in, we can compare and contrast a bit more systematically.

First, a chart of the 39 albums that appeared on both lists. They’re ranked by straight addition (CU rank + 9513 rank), may the lowest sum win. Remember that we’re going on each site’s overall list (i.e. the published version). Calculating from the personal rankings by all contributors involved would give a different result, since The 9513’s overall rank was created from twice as many personal lists.

(Note: Don’t be shy about correcting any transcription errors you see. This post was a bear to type up, so it’s quite possible that I messed up a couple times along the way. Extra sets of eyes are helpful.)

# Album 9513 CU Total
1 Dixie Chicks – Home (2002) 4 1 5
2 Gary Allan – Tough All Over (2005) 7 3 10
3 Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson – Rattlin’ Bones (2008) 11 2 13
4 Kathy Mattea – Coal (2008) 9 5 14
5 Patty Loveless – Mountain Soul (2001) 6 10 16
6 Lee Ann Womack – There’s More Where That Came From (2005) 2 19 21
7 Loretta Lynn – Van Lear Rose (2004) 16 8 24
8 Vince Gill – These Days (2006) 21 9 30
9 Trisha Yearwood – Heaven, Heartache, and the Power of Love (2007) 8 30 38
9 Miranda Lambert – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2007) 34 4 38
11 Various Artists – O Brother Where Art Thou Soundtrack (2000) 5 35 40
12 Alison Krauss & Union Station – Lonely Runs Both Ways (2004) 26 16 42
13 Patty Loveless – Sleepless Nights (2008) 12 33 45
14 Jamey Johnson – That Lonesome Song (2008) 1 48 49
15 Johnny Cash – American IV: The Man Comes Around (2002) 3 49 52
16 Alison Krauss & Robert Plant – Raising Sand (2007) 27 26 53
17 Dolly Parton – Little Sparrow (2001) 19 38 57
18 Pam Tillis – Rhinestoned (2007) 37 29 66
19 Willie Nelson & Asleep at the Wheel – Willie and the Wheel (2009) 10 57 67
20 Todd Snider – East Nashville Skyline (2004) 43 25 68
21 Alan Jackson – Like Red on a Rose (2006) 17 52 69
21 Buddy & Julie Miller – Written in Chalk (2009) 35 34 69
23 Dixie Chicks – Taking the Long Way (2006) 58 12 70
24 Lee Ann Woomack – Call Me Crazy (2008) 14 66 80
25 Ashley Monroe – Satisfied (2006) 42 39 81
26 Various Artists – Livin’, Lovin’, Losin': Songs of Louvin Brothers (2003) 18 83 101
27 Brad Paisley – American Saturday Night (2009) 49 56 105
28 Bruce Robison – Country Sunshine (2001) 65 60 125
29 Josh Turner – Everything Is Fine (2007) 50 76 126
30 Rodney Crowell – Houston Kid (2001) 71 61 132
31 Miranda Lambert – Kerosene (2005) 47 90 137
32 Kris Kristofferson – This Old Road (2006) 52 89 141
33 Guy Clark – Workbench Songs (2006) 56 88 144
34 Faith Hill – Fireflies (2004) 99 47 146
35 Dolly Parton – Halos and Horns (2002) 54 97 151
36 Lee Ann Womack – I Hope You Dance (2000) 66 86 152
37 Ralph Stanley II – This One Is Two (2008) 81 84 165
38 Big & Rich – Horse of a Different Color (2004) 91 78 169
39 Dwight Yoakam – Population Me (2003) 95 91 186

There were 61 albums on each list that didn’t appear on the other, making for a grand total of 161 albums covered between both lists. Here are the 20 highest-ranked unique albums from each site:

Top Unique Country Universe Albums
6. Old Crow Medicine Show – Old Crow Medicine Show
7. Johnny Cash – American III: Solitary Man
11. Nickel Creek – Why Should the Fire Die?
13. Shania Twain – Up!
14. Dwight Yoakam – Blame the Vain
15. The Be Good Tanyas – Blue Horse
17. Caitlin Cary and Thad Cockrell – Begonias
18. Bill Chambers – Sleeping With the Blues
20. Nickel Creek – This Side
21. Neko Case & Her Boyfriends – Furnace Room Lullaby
22. Keith Urban – Be Here
23. Sugarland – Love on the Inside
24. Randy Travis – Worship and Faith
27. Peter Cooper – Mission Door
28. Patty Loveless – Dreamin’ My Dreams
31. Keith Urban – Golden Road
32. Justin Townes Earle – Midnight at the Movies
36. Tim O’Brien & Darrell Scott – Real Time
37. Carrie Underwood – Some Hearts
40. Tim McGraw – Live Like You Were Dying

Top Unique The 9513 Albums
13. Johnny Cash – American V: A Hundred Highways
15. Dailey & Vincent – Dailey & Vincent
20. Willie Nelson – You Don’t Know Me: Songs of Cindy Walker
22. Porter Wagoner – Wagonmaster
23. Brad Paisley – Mud on the Tires
24. Alan Jackson – Drive
25. Hayes Carll – Trouble in Mind
28. Alan Jackson – Precious Memories
29. Billy Joe Shaver – Everybody’s Brother
30. Miranda Lambert – Revolution
31. Ray Price, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard – Last of the Breed
32. Justin Townes Earle – The Good Life
33. Joey + Rory – The Life of a Song
36. Randy Travis – Around the Bend
38. Charlie Robison – Beautiful Day
39. Gene Watson – A Taste of the Truth
40. Gary Allan – Alright Guy
41. Patty Loveless – On Your Way Home
44. Zac Brown Band – The Foundation
45. The Steeldrivers – The Steeldrivers

The agreement on where particular albums should fall within the Top 100 was sometimes surprising – even when there wasn’t much consensus on what other albums should surround them.

Consensus (Cases In Which Rankings Were <6 Apart)
Dixie Chicks – Home (4-1)
Gary Allan – Tough All Over (7-3)
Kathy Mattea – Coal (9-5)
Patty Loveless – Mountain Soul (6-10)
Alison Krauss & Robert Plant – Raising Sand (27-26)
Buddy and Julie Miller – Written in Chalk (35-34)
Ashley Monroe – Satisfied (42-39)
Bruce Robison – Country Sunshine (65-60)
Ralph Stanley II – This One Is Two (81-84)
Dwight Yoakam – Population Me (95-91)

At other times, there was agreement that a particular album should be in the Top 100, but widely divergent ideas about where it should fall within that range. Here are some of the most extreme cases.

Disagreement (Cases In Which Rankings Were >40 Apart)
Jamey Johnson – That Lonesome Song (1-48)
Johnny Cash – American IV: The Man Comes Around (3-49)
Willie Nelson and Asleep at the Wheel – Willie and the Wheel (10-57)
Dixie Chicks – Taking the Long Way (58-12)
Lee Ann Womack – Call Me Crazy (14-66)
Various Artists – Livin’, Lovin’, Losin': Songs of the Louvin Brothers (18-83)
Miranda Lambert – Kerosene (47-90)
Faith Hill – Fireflies (99-47)
Dolly Parton – Halos and Horns (54-97)

It’s hard enough to land one album in the Top 100 of the Decade. When you manage multiple entries on two separate lists, you’re clearly doing something right.

Artists With Multiple Entries on Both Lists
Alison Krauss, Brad Paisley, Dixie Chicks, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Lee Ann Womack, Miranda Lambert, Patty Loveless, Rodney Crowell and Vince Gill (incl. Notorious Cherry Bombs)

Arguably, the place where the two lists most differentiate themselves is in the artists with multiple entries on one list and none on the other. You might call these site favorites.

Artists With Multiple Entries on Country Universe, None on The 9513
Carrie Underwood, Dierks Bentley, Keith Urban, Nickel Creek

Artists With Multiple Entries on The 9513, None on Country Universe
Billy Joe Shaver, Dale Watson, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Taylor Swift

Finally, I couldn’t help but notice…

Artists With No Entries on Either List
Chuck Wicks, Jimmy Wayne, Richie McDonald

Thanks to The 9513 and Country Universe for two excellent lists.

Comments

  1. Rick says

    WOW C.M. that was a lot of work to compile this comparison! The Country Universe list was definitely a bit more schizophrenic as it included more utterly commercial albums from big name artists and more albums from really obscure artists as well. Nothing o the 9513’s list really surprised me but seeing the Bill Chambers’ album on the CU list at such a high position was a bit of a shock! Overall both lists were a good read and a lot of fun and will have absolutely no impact on my music purchase decisions! (lol)

  2. says

    While there were quite a few other artists, including many favorites of mine, who weren’t on either list, I was most surprised that Brooks & Dunn didn’t make it. I’m not a big fans of the duo – I just have their greatest hits cds – but they’ve won so many awards and are one of the biggest names in country music. I thought they would have at least had an entry near the bottom.

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