Long before his participation on The Voice took Blake Shelton’s celebrity to a new level, the amiable Okie had already logged an impressive number of hits on the country charts. This summer, he steps away from his swiveling chair to hit the road again on his Ten Times Crazier tour which has been garnering rave reviews across the nation. Here’s a look at the songs that have propelled Shelton from his mullet-sporting early days to the Country Music Association’s reigning male vocalist and entertainer of the year.
Shelton moved to Nashville as a teenager and spent years knocking on doors before landing a deal with Giant Records. His debut release, “Austin,” became a huge success, spending five weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s country singles chart. (Shortly after “Austin” was released, Giant Records closed and Shelton was transferred to Warner Bros Records.) The lyric tells the tale of a couple who break up, yet the guy is ever hopeful, and each time he records an outgoing message on his answering machine, he tags it with a heartfelt message to his ex — “I still love you.” It pays off, and by the end of the song, she’s left a message saying she feels the same. This weekend marks 12 years since the song hit the summit on Aug. 11, 2001. It remains one of Shelton’s best.
The third single from Shelton’s self-titled debut album only peaked at No. 14, yet the impact of this song on Shelton’s career is greater than the chart number indicates. “Ol’ Red” is one of his most frequently requested hits, and Shelton considers it his signature song. Penned by James Bohan, Don Goodman and Mark Sherrill, “Ol’ Red” had previously been recorded by George Jones and Kenny Rogers before Shelton released it as a single. The lyrics tell the story of a prisoner who ensures a successful escape by getting the prison’s skilled bloodhound interested in a female dog, knowing when he’s released, “Ol’ Red” will go straight to her, allowing the prisoner to get away. The song was accompanied by a video that was essentially a mini-movie, giving Shelton an opportunity to display his acting chops and a long, unruly mane of hair.
Though his debut single, “Austin,” was a No. 1 hit, Shelton’s next two singles — “All Over Me” and “Ol’ Red” — peaked at No. 18 and No. 14, respectively. With the release of “The Baby,” Shelton returned to No. 1 on Feb. 22, 2003, and remained there for three weeks. The first single from his sophomore album, The Dreamer, the song was written by Michael White and Harley Allen. It’s a tearjerker that tells the story of a dying mother and her special affinity for “the baby” of the family. When he gets the call that his mom doesn’t have long to live, he races home to be by her side but gets there just after she passes away.
He has now placed 37 titles on Billboard’s country songs chart, including 13 No. 1 hits, but early in his career, consistency wasn’t exactly Shelton’s strong suit at country radio. After having a three-week No. 1 with “The Baby,” Shelton’s next three singles languished in the 20s and 30s on the chart before he hit the summit again with “Some Beach” in December 2004. Penned by Rory Lee Feek and Paul Overstreet, the catchy tune was the second single from the Blake Shelton’s Barn & Grill album. The song’s clever double entendre provided a showcase for Shelton’s mischievous personality, and his engaging performance earned him four weeks at the top of the chart.
Initially a hit for Canadian crooner Michael Bublé, who co-wrote the song with Alan Chang and Amy Foster-Gillies, Shelton released “Home” on Feb. 1, 2008, and hit the top of the country chart on July 19. Featuring guest vocals from future wife Miranda Lambert, the single spent two weeks at No. 1. It was included on the June 2008 re-issue of Shelton’s 2007 album Pure BS and Blake Shelton Collector’s Edition, an EP available exclusively at Walmart. The song enjoyed new life when Shelton asked Bublé to write new lyrics for a Christmas version, and the two artists recorded it on Shelton’s 2012 Cheers, It’s Christmas album. Usher joined Shelton in singing “Home” to close the Healing in the Heartland concert at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City in May 2013. The duet has been released with proceeds benefiting Oklahoma tornado victims.
“She Wouldn’t Be Gone”
Following the 2008 success of “Home,” Shelton followed up with “She Wouldn’t Be Gone” and achieved back-to-back No. 1’s when the song topped the chart on Feb. 7, 2009. The mid-tempo hit was the first single released from Shelton’s fifth studio album, Startin’ Fires. Penned by Jennifer Adan and Corey Batten, the song is about a man who realizes too late all the things he should have done to keep his relationship alive. The lyric oozes pain and regret, and Shelton waded deep into the emotional angst to deliver one of his most potent performances.
This rowdy duet with Trace Adkins topped Billboard’s country chart in March 2010 to ignite a streak of No. 1 hits that includes “All About Tonight,” “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking,” “Honey Bee” and “God Gave Me You.” The title track of Shelton’s EP released in March 2010, “Hillbilly Bone” was written by Luke Laird and Craig Wiseman and celebrates the fact there’s a little bit of country in everyone. The single was accompanied by a video of Shelton and Adkins that spotlighted the two country boys looking a little out of place in a fancy restaurant until they get the stuffy patrons to loosen up and join in a little hillbilly fun. The single was certified gold and remains a fan favorite.
Written by Rhett Akins and Ben Hayslip (two thirds of a trio of Georgia born songwriters who call themselves the Peach Pickers), this chart-topping hit was the first single released from Shelton’s sixth studio album Red River Blue. He debuted “Honey Bee” on the 2011 Academy of Country Music Awards, and the song sold 138,000 digital downloads in its first week, setting a new record for the most first-week downloads by a male country artist. The lyric finds Shelton professing his love in such lines as “If you’ll be my Louisiana/I’ll be your Mississippi/You’ll be my Little Loretta/I’ll be your Conway Twitty/You’ll be my sugar, baby/I’ll be your sweet iced tea/You’ll be my honeysuckle/I’ll be your honey bee.” The song hit the top of the chart June 25, 2011, and stayed at No. 1 for four weeks.
“God Gave Me You”
Shelton followed the Grammy-nominated “Honey Bee” with another chart-topping single. This beautiful love song was written by singer-songwriter Dave Barnes, who was inspired by his wife Annie. Barnes released the song in January 2010 as the lead single from his album, What We Want, What We Get. Shelton heard the song on a contemporary Christian radio station and says it inspired him to propose to Miranda Lambert, whom he married in 2011. The song was No. 1 for three weeks, has been certified double platinum and earned a Grammy nomination for best country song.
“Sure Be Cool If You Did”
When this song debuted on Billboard’s country chart at No. 32 in January 2013, it became the second-highest debut of the Oklahoma native’s career and sold 98,000 downloads its first week of release. Written by Rodney Clawson, Chris Tompkins and Jimmy Robbins, the song was the lead single from Shelton’s seventh studio album, Based on a True Story. The lyric finds a guy wooing a girl in a bar, telling her, “You don’t have to throw back your pretty pink lemonade shooter/And lean a little closer … but it’d sure be cool if you did.” The song became Shelton’s eighth consecutive No. 1 and remained at the summit for five weeks, thus tying his debut single “Austin” as the Shelton single to log the most weeks at the top of the chart. “Sure Be Cool If You Did” helped propel sales of Based on a True Story, which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard country albums chart in April and spent five weeks at the summit, more than any other Shelton album to date.