Blake Shelton
pet world
Who Is Country Music’s Best Living Performer?

Every fan of country music has debated who the best living performer is. Carrie? Kenny? Garth? ? Which artist puts on the best concert?

Ep. 1 of  formalizes the argument. Watch as a trio of country music panelists make a case for and against 15 hitmakers, including , , and . There are a few rules and twists you'll pick up along the way, and you're guaranteed to want to throw something.

In the end there was something like consensus, but that doesn't mean you'll agree.

Singer, songwriter and  podcast host  represents the artist perspective during this episode of .  — co-host and producer for the ACM nominated  radio show — brings the heat and hot takes as he reps the industry. Taste of Country writer Carena Liptak rounds out the panel, representing the fans. Here's a taste of the video before you dive into the full episode:

Taste of Country's  was created to formalize the great country debates that pass through the generations. It'd be a stretch to say we settle any differences — fans of several artists may leave this video feeling snubbed — but at least all sides of the conversation were heard.

 hosts these monthly videos. If there is a topic you'd love to see debated, .

Country Music's Best Living Performers, Ranked — Certified

Who is country music's best living performer? It's a debate country fans have all the time and there are passionate arguments for any one of a couple dozen stars. Taste of Country's new video series certifies this water cooler discussion.

Singer , radio host  and ToC writer assembled 15 candidates and eliminated one at a time, round-robin style. Everyone had one block to use, which means each panelist could stop someone from eliminating an artist.  the full video on YouTube or check out the results below.

Bryan Bedder, Getty Images

Brad Paisley

Someone had to be first. ’s elimination from the board proved to be more personal than professional, but none of the panelists were willing to use a block this early in the game. 

Jason Kempin, Getty Images

Jason Aldean

The first block was used just prior to ’s elimination, and that proved to be essential to how the game would play out. The country-rocker was praised by the panel but everyone felt there were stronger live performers. 

Jason Kempin, Getty Images

Luke Bryan

Aldean’s Georgia-mate went next and once again it felt personal. Patrick Thomas praised ’s contribution to stage, urging people to move past his perception as a carefree, hip-shaking country boy. “It’s an incredible experience … every time,” he says. 

Jason Kempin, Getty Images

Eric Church

’s early elimination may be the biggest shock on this list. The panel was united in saying, “I hope he doesn’t see this.” There are very few more tireless country music performers alive but — on this list anyways — No. 1 quantity doesn’t equal No. 1 quality. 

Jason Kempin, Getty Images

Lainey Wilson

If here was a surprise it’s that  was named the 11th best living performer in country music. She’s not the youngest artist on this list but she’s perhaps the least famous. Multiple people nominated her, showing how more than the usual “A-List” artists were considered. 

Matt Winkelmeyer, Getty Images

Morgan Wallen

’s rise to fame came when country concerts weren’t happening, giving him a smaller body of work than most artists on this list of the best country music performers. One wonders if — in time — he’ll rise. 

Jason Kempin, Getty Images

George Strait

Two panelists gasped when the third chose  for elimination. He’s an all-time great — perhaps even a Mount Rushmore artist — but placed ninth here. “Listen, we all know we don’t love George for his live show. It’s a good show … but not the best ever,” Thomas explains. 

Michael Loccisano, Getty Images

Cody Johnson

 is another artist many would be surprised to see on a list of country music’s best living performers. His resume almost demands it however. At this point, it’s hard to find being eliminating insulting. This is, after all, the best living performer in ALL of country music. 

Jason Davis, Getty Images

Carrie Underwood

One has to assume Stephanie Quayle would have blocked to save  if she hadn’t used hers early in the game. The singer makes a case for Carrie as ACM or CMA Entertainer of the Year — a suggestion that’s difficult to argue if you saw the Denim & Rhinestones Tour in 2022/23. Her elimination from this list of country’s best living performers came after a second block was used, meaning she was un-blockable. 

Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Luke Combs

 checks in a No. 6, making him the highest-ranking “new” artist (although that descriptor will only last another tour or so). He sells out stadiums for a reasons, but others have been doing in longer. 

Vivien Killilea, Getty Images

Shania Twain

After the third and final block was used (find out who the blocks were used on next),  was eliminated. This was a particularly difficult pill to swallow for panelist Carena Liptak, who grew up idolizing the ‘90s legend. She’s in good company among the Top 5. 

Jason Kempin, Getty Images

Keith Urban

 is the first of three, previously-saved artists to be eliminated. Patrick Thomas blocked for him two rounds earlier, citing the many ways the multi-time Entertainer of the Year can thrill an audience. Every time you see him it’s different, which is a sign of a true professional. 

Miranda Lambert

Jason Kempin, Getty Images

Miranda Lambert

The next two artists on this list are interchangeable because Stephanie Quayle tried to eliminate , only to be reminded that she tried that earlier in the game and was blocked. That means she couldn’t pick him again, so with apologies she chose . Ironically, Quayle saved Lambert earlier in the game. The panel noticed. 

Ethan Miller, Getty Images

Kenny Chesney

Not everyone predicted Chesney and  would end up No. 2 and No. 1 on this list of country music’s best living performers, but both seemed destined to end up in the Top 3.

Mary Kouw, CBS Via Getty Images

Garth Brooks

Twenty five minutes of arguing ended in consensus with Garth Brooks being selected as the No. 1 live performer. Do you agree? 

Katherine Heigl Reacts to Alex and Izzie's Shocking 'Grey's Anatomy' Reunion
Kelly Clarkson takes a mighty fall, but still sticks the landing... moments before singing the National Anthem at the Indy 500
Kelly Clarkson Falls To The Floor After Anne Hathaway Recognizes ‘Since U Been Gone’ First
Kelly Clarkson and Brett Eldredge Spark Dating Rumors After Chemistry-Filled Performance
Kelly Clarkson reunites with original 'American Idol' judges to receive her star on Hollywood Walk of Fame
Kelly Clarkson and Reba McEntire Butting Heads Over Brandon Blackstock
Kelly Clarkson's Stepdaughter, Savannah Blackstock, Reveals She's Expecting Her 1st Child
Kelly Clarkson: Celebs were ‘really mean’ after ‘American Idol’!
Kelly Clarkson takes a mighty fall, but sticks the landing... moments before singing at the Indy 500
Heartwarming! Kelly Clarkson and Brett Eldredge intimate at her 40th birthday party!