OFFSTAGE: 21st Century’s Country Classics

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

Taylor Swift and Miranda Lambert are essentials. Not just for right now, but for the entire 21st century. This, according to and their “21 Essential 21st-Century Albums” list. These are the ones they call “the albums that loom as the most influential in the new century, so far.” And while the majority of them are from bands I don’t love or, worse, have never even heard of, I was thrilled to see that two from country girls made the cut. Swift’s 2008 Fearless is on the list because she’s young, gifted, crossed over and appeals to multiple generations. (What girl can’t relate to having once been “Fifteen,” even if it was 40 years ago?) And Lambert’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend from 2007 is included for its ability to show off her Texas tough-girl side along with moments of tenderness. I have to agree with that since two of the best tracks from this one do exactly that: “Guilty in Here” and “Desperation,” respectively. Tomorrow, check back here for the one country man who made the essentials list.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.