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Garth Brooks Named Country Music’s Best Living Performer

was named country music's best living performer this week during Ep. 1 of , a new video series on Taste of Country.

A trio of country music panelists chose 15 possible candidates for the title, and eliminated each one at a time until just one artist remained. There was just as much arguing and name-calling as you'd expect, but somehow, in the end, Brooks was a consensus pick. Watch for yourself or see a gallery of the Top 15 below.

, and Carena Liptak were the three panelists for Ep. 1 of .Together they created a list of 15 artists to choose from.Every panelist had one "block" to use. This prevents an artist from being eliminated.

The Country Music Hall of Famer's live show is well-documented, with every tour out-sizing the last until he decides to pull it back for an intimate, acoustic show. That's what he'll do in Las Vegas in 2023 — the  follows his multi-year World Tour of stadium shows.

It's this versatility that made him such an easy choice for our panelists, although it wasn't unanimous.  and  topped individual best living performer lists, but the unique rules to  made it impossible for all three to hang on to the final round.

and  are three more iconic acts that were considered. So, too. were newcomers including  and . Future episodes of  will aim to settle debates over the best drinking songs, best vocalists and most underrated legends.

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.

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 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. 

Luke Bryan

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

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. 

Lainey Wilson

If there 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. 

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. 

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. 

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.

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  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.

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 it longer. 

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. 

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

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. 

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.

Garth Brooks

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

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