Blake Shelton’s multi-decade career in country music hasn’t changed him a bit. Born in the small town of Ada, Oklahoma, despite his catapult to fame in 2001, the country king still resides in the Sooner State on a farm in Tishomingo. When he’s not planting or harvesting crops, he stars on the hit music competition show The Voice as one of its longtime judges.
But before his success on primetime TV, he experienced a string of hits early on in his music career with his debut, self-titled album. Since then, the hits have kept on coming, in a good way. The country singer has racked up 28 number ones and over 100 awards along the way. His singles have reached Platinum status several times over, making him one of the country genre’s best-selling artists.
The Grand Ole Opry member has become a tour de force among country music veterans over the years and remains a towering figure among Nashville culture, both figuratively and literally (the country star is 6 feet 5 inches tall). Check out the cool stories behind Blake Shelton’s biggest songs below.
10. Happy Anywhere (feat. Gwen Stefani)
Power couple Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani teamed up together for the fourth time with their lovey-dovey single, ‘Happy Anywhere.’ The tune focuses on the affection they feel for each other and how now matter what happens in life or where they end up as long as they’re together they’ll be okay. Shelton teamed up with longtime co-writers Josh Obsorne and Ross Copperman for the track. Fellow songwriter Matt Jenkins also hopped on board during the songwriting process. The song was completed during the height of the pandemic, so it took on extra meaning for Shelton and Stefani, who found themselves with extra time on their hands together for the first time. Of course, they chose to spend their time off recording this popular radio single in the studio.
9. God Gave Me You
Shelton scored his fifth consecutive top hit with country single ‘God Gave Me You.’ Originally written by Christian songwriter Dave Barnes, the second Blake heard it on the radio one day while driving through Oklahoma, he knew he had to record it himself. Barnes wrote it as a tribute to his wife, and Shelton was going through a tough time with his soon to be bride Miranda Lambert when he first heard the stirring track. It moved him so much he had to pull his truck over to the side of the road. He spent the rest of the day with the song on repeat and by nightfall, he told his manager he wanted to record it. When it was released on his 2011 Red River Blue album, the single scored him his 10th number one hit.
An early top 20 hit for the country singer, ‘Austin’ is an emotional ballad about hoping for a second chance after losing the one you love. Despite objections from Shelton, his producer convinced him to release the heartbreak track as his first single from his self-titled debut album. Luckily, the future country star listened. ‘Austin’ made quite the splash. On country charts, it spent time at #1, and it debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at a highly respectable #18. The tune resonated deeply with female country fans, who kept it at the top of country charts for more than a month. Because of his home run with his first single release, Shelton became the country artist with the best official debut since the days of legendary Billy Ray Cyrus’ debut, line-dance-worthy single, ‘Achy Breaky Heart.’
Recommended: More songs about reconnecting with an old love.
7. I’ll Name the Dogs
When Blake wanted to get back to a more traditional country sound, Nashville songwriters Josh Thompson, Ben Hayslip, and Matt Dragstrem had just the song for him. With the hook, “You name the babies, I’ll name the dogs,” the three writers had Shelton’s blossoming relationship with fellow musician Gewn Stefani in mind. When the song premiered after the release of his Texoma Shore album, the single sparked a surprising debate on social media, with fans speculating about whether the heartfelt, marriage-focused song was about Shelton’s recent ex-wife of the time, country star Miranda Lambert, or his then-current flame (and now wife), Gwen Stefani. While it was uncomfortable for Shelton, the fanfare worked great for album sales.
6. Some Beach
A cheeky play on words involving a popular swear, ‘Some Beach’ finds the country artist trying to shake a bad mood due to life’s curve balls. Rory Feek of the country duo Joey + Rory had a hand in writing this sassy tune. A coffee shop outing with fellow Nashville songwriters inspired the track as they regaled each other with all of the problems they had been dealing with while juggling life on the road. Shelton loved the tune and decided to cut it, but he had no idea it had hit potential. Much to their surprise, the tune climbed the country charts all the way to #1 after its debut. Feek thinks it’s because it was Blake’s first single that really let his firecracker personality shine, and fans loved it.
Recommended: Our pick of fun vacation songs.
5. Nobody But You (Duet with Gwen Stefani)
Hit country songwriter Shane McAnally had a heavy hand in penning this top 20 chart climber. ‘Nobody But You’ is another collaborative effort Shelton undertook with Stefani, but it didn’t start out that way. When he played the song while driving around with Gwen, he was amazed at how closely the lyrical story resembled the essence of their relationship. While McAnally and several other songwriters originally wrote it for Blake to sing solo, the country crooner called an audible and brought Gwen into the studio last minute to make it a duo recording.
4. Honey Bee
A special live performance acted as the catalyst for this record-breaking hit. Shelton was on tap to host the ACM Awards as he had done previous years. But in 2011, he withdrew from hosting duties so he could perform his brand new single, ‘Honey Bee,’ poised to be released right after his live rendition ended. The marketing ploy turned out to be a lucrative one. The awards show appearance spurred the single straight to the top spot on iTunes. It debuted at #13 on Billboard’s Hot 100, which was better than any other country male solo artist in the 21st century. In the song’s initial week available to listeners, it sold 139,000 downloads. This marked the best week of sales ever for a solo male country musician.
Recommended: More songs that mention tea in the lyrics (yes, random, and so is the list!)
3. Boys ‘Round Here (feat. Pistol Annies & Friends)
Famed country songwriter Rhett Akins helped pen this top country dance club request. With help from country supergroup The Pistol Annies (fronted by Shelton’s former wife Miranda Lambert), Blake and Co. serve up a groovy, R&B-tinged, pop-country hit that has become one of his most listened to tracks. Shelton loved how much of an autobiographical tune it was, giving a nod to his rural, small town roots he never left behind despite fame and fortune. The studio-produced track pays tribute to humble roots as well. The songwriting team used a $200 guitar for the demo. While recording, they loved the tone so much, they kept the demo guitar in the final track despite having $80,000 guitars at their disposal.
2. Ol’ Red
Appearing on his debut, self-titled album, though ‘Ol’ Red’ wasn’t a huge hit for Shelton compared to his other early singles, it has since become his trademark tune. One of his top requests, and one of his personal favorites to this day, the swampy, country-blues tune tells the southern gothic story of a prisoner who plans his escape from jail by befriending the prison yard’s top tracking dog. Though the memorable, dark tune is now closely associated with the country singer, he wasn’t the first to cover it. Both George Jones and Kenny Rogers released their own renditions of the classic country song before Blake convinced his label to release his version as a single. While Jones’ and Rogers’ recordings were met with respectable reviews, Blake’s cover blew theirs out of the water and remains the standard for the contemporary country tale.
Recommended: Our playlist of slammer-related songs.
1. God’s Country
A heavyweight track among Blake Shelton’s long list of singles and hits, ‘God’s Country’ is a defining work of contemporary country music. Part rock, part homage to rural, small town America, country songwriting giant Hardy helped pen this anthemic tune. The songwriters’ rock roots are definitely present in the recording, with both Hardy and fellow ‘God’s Country’ writer Devin Dawson penning lyrics and composing the melody. When Shelton first heard the demo, he was planting crops on his Oklahoma farm and immediately connected with the lyrics’ focus on traditional values anchored by self-sufficiency. A country radio mainstay since its release, the #1 chart topper won Song of the Year at the CMA Awards and Single of the Year at the ACM Awards show.