Whether you’re listening to the radio, looking at the Billboard charts or taking in the audience at the Country Music Association Awards on Wednesday night, one thing is very obvious: Country music is filled with bros.
For people not familiar with Nashville singers, it can be a little daunting. How do you tell a Cole Swindell from a Thomas Rhett? Are Chase Rice and Chase Bryant the same person? Wait, Dierks Bentley isn’t Billy Currington? You may have heard of some big names — Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton, Tim McGraw, Eric Church — but the rest might be a bit of a mystery.
Don’t worry. Just in time for the CMAs (the genre’s most prestigious award show) here’s a comprehensive guide to all the male solo artists — plus a few duos — that you need to know in country music. And because this is a civilized society, we have helpfully arranged them all by categories.
Nashville’s top-selling, massively popular singers. They routinely sell out arenas and football stadiums nationwide as they sing about girls, trucks and beer.
Known for: Booty-shaking dance moves in skintight jeans with a blindingly white smile.
Popular songs: “Country Girl (Shake It For Me),” “Play It Again”
Fun fact: Started crying when he won Entertainer of the Year at the 2013 Academy of Country Music Awards, firmly establishing his place among the Nashville elite.
Known for: Perpetual scowl while performing, never without a hat.
Popular songs: “Dirt Road Anthem,” “Burnin’ It Down”
Fun fact: TMZ snapped pictures of him kissing another woman while he was still married. They are now engaged and Aldean is releasing his sexiest songs ever.
Known for: Being a judge on NBC’s hit “The Voice,” husband of Miranda Lambert.
Popular songs: “Some Beach,” “God Gave Me You”
Fun fact: His expletive-laden Twitter feed, where he often boasts about getting hammered, has more than 8 million followers.
These men (in their 40s and 50s) might technically be a bit old to be a bro, but there’s no doubt that many bros on this list owe their careers to the influences of these longtime hitmakers.
Known for: Constant cowboy hat and ridiculous muscles, being married to Faith Hill
Popular songs: “Something Like That,” “Highway Don’t Care”
Fun fact: He dabbles in acting (“Friday Night Lights,” “The Blind Side”) and gets pretty decent reviews.
Known for: Songs about loving — like, really loving — America and the military. And drinking.
Popular songs: “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue,” “Red Solo Cup”
Fun fact: He was recently accused of being too drunk to perform at a concert. He did not care.
Known for: Ill-advised “Accidental Racist” duet with LL Cool J, particularly goofy lyrics.
Popular songs: “Mud on the Tires,” “Ticks”
Fun fact: He’s the George Clooney of country music — in the sense that he’s legendary for his pranks.
Nashville is landlocked, though you would never know it from the way these dudes sing about the ocean — or keep their music in a perpetual state of summertime with breezy songs.
Known for: After starting his career with very down-home country songs about going back in time to high school, he pivoted to an island-themed sound.
Popular songs: “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy,” “When the Sun Goes Down”
Fun fact: Obsessed with college football, Peyton Manning is one of his closest friends.
Known for: A particularly beach-y vibe (from growing up in Florida) that includes performing barefoot on stage.
Popular songs: “Alone With You,” “Beachin'”
Fun fact: He’s very injury-prone and frequently participates in dangerous sports.
Known for: A good run of fun, hit singles this year after struggling at first to gain traction.
Popular songs: “Helluva Life,” “Sunshine and Whiskey”
Fun fact: He won a singing contest that allowed him to open for Kenny Chesney’s stadium show in native Michigan, which is how he wound up moving to Nashville.
Looking for a love song in between happy-go-lucky tunes? No one strikes that balance better than these singers, all with different techniques.
Known for: Being the lead singer for enormously successful ’90s band Hootie and the Blowfish; one of the few rock acts to cross over to Nashville and be welcomed with open arms.
Popular songs: “It Won’t Be Like This For Long,” “Wagon Wheel”
Fun fact: He got the idea to record “Wagon Wheel” — his unbelievably successful cover of the Old Crow Medicine Show hit — at his daughter’s high school talent show.
Known for: Sick guitar skills, marriage to Nicole Kidman.
Popular songs: “Somebody Like You,” “Raining on Sunday”
Fun fact: Stuck out the Mariah Carey-Nicki Minaj season of “American Idol” and was rewarded with another year as judge.
Known for: Extremely deep bass voice, mixing in deeply religious songs with lighter fare.
Popular songs: “Your Man,” “Why Don’t We Just Dance”
Fun fact: Got a boost in popularity when vocal clone Scotty McCreery (see below!) started singing his songs on “American Idol” in 2011.
RISING STAR BROS
These guys all have the potential to sell out arenas one day. Even if they’ve stumbled at certain points, they still have bright futures.
Known for: Impressive run of No. 1 songs after toiling in Nashville for a decade as a songwriter — it all started with his ultra-catchy debut “Somethin’ Bout a Truck.”
Popular songs: “Beer Money,” “Hey Pretty Girl”
Fun fact: Thanks to his raspy powerhouse voice and blue collar material, he gets his share of comparisons to Bruce Springsteen.
Known for: Winning USA’s short-lived reality show “Nashville Star.”
Popular songs: “Tomorrow,” “Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song)”
Fun fact: His song “Voices” made history by initially flopping on the charts, being re-released years later, and then going No. 1.
Known for: Co-writing a Garth Brooks song to launch his career; singing sugary sweet, romantic ballads in between tailgate anthems.
Popular songs: “A Woman Like You,” “I Don’t Dance.”
Fun fact: He played football at Clemson. Also, it’s impossible to listen to his “I Drive Your Truck” without crying.
Just like any other industry, some up-and-comers are lucky enough to have an established star notice some serious potential.
Known for: Writing multiple songs for Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan (“This is How We Roll,” “Beer in the Headlights”) before launching his own career.
Popular songs: “Chillin’ It,” “Hope You Get Lonely”
Fun fact: Worked at Bryan’s merchandise table for years, and the superstar has since taken him under his wing.
Known for: Co-writing songs for more popular singers, including Jason Aldean (“1994”) and Florida Georgia Line (“Round Here”).
Popular songs: “Beer With Jesus,” “Get Me Some of That”
Fun fact: He’s the son of extremely successful Nashville songwriter Rhett Akins.
Known for: Being the baby-faced singer who’s the closest thing country music has to Justin Bieber and already racking up four Grammy nominations.
Popular songs: “Wanted,” Tattoo”
Fun fact: He wrote a co-wrote a song for Rascal Flatts when he was still a teenager; the trio invited him to open up for them on tour a couple years later.
Sure, country music is billed as being one big happy family, but these men all operate on their own terms.
Known for: As Nashville’s reigning outsider, not caring what anyone thinks. He was once famously fired from a Rascal Flatts tour, and was singing about marijuana before it was cool.
Popular songs: “Springsteen,” “Smoke a Little Smoke”
Fun fact: He rarely takes off his sunglasses while performing indoors at his very rowdy concerts.
Known for: Taking a break from regular country music to produce an acclaimed bluegrass album.
Popular songs: “What Was I Thinkin,'” “Drunk on a Plane”
Fun fact: He’s been nominated for many Grammy Awards and never won.
Known for: Writing Jason Aldean’s biggest hits, including “Dirt Road Anthem” and “My Kinda Party.” It was a point of contention among his fans.
Popular songs: “Country Must Be Country Wide,” “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do”
Fun fact: He’s literally an outsider, leaving Nashville for his native Georgia. This is possibly because of his brief time in the tabloid spotlight when engaged to singer/actress Jana Kramer.
OLD SCHOOL BROS
Don’t be surprised if you listen to their music and feel like you’ve been transported to “back in the day.”
Known for: One of the best country music song titles ever with “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off.”
Popular songs: “Brokenheartsville,” “The Impossible”
Fun fact: It’s hard to find a country song with more double entendres than his album cut “Hee Haw.”
Known for: He is frequently confused for Dierks Bentley, another curly-haired dude.
Popular songs: “Good Directions,” “Hey Girl”
Fun fact: Not so much a fun fact, but more like “soul-crushing”: “Walk a Little Straighter,” about a kid talking to his alcoholic father, is possibly the saddest country song of all time. Just so you know.
Known for: A distinctively ’90s country sound that sets him apart from his younger peers.
Popular songs: “A Little More Country Than That,” “Lovin’ You is Fun”
Fun fact: He’s rumored to be the musical entertainment for a date on “The Bachelor” next season.
MUSICALLY RISKY BROS
R&B sound? Check. Auto-Tune? Check.
Known for: Using Auto-Tune on songs like “Donkey” … with mixed results. Also, his close friendship with grizzled Nashville crooner Jamey Johnson, who he credits with motivating him to create a hit album.
Popular songs: “Lover, Lover,” “Only God Could Love You More”
Fun fact: He recorded all nine vocal parts of “Lover, Lover” — from the lowest to highest note — by himself.
Known for: As The Post’s Chris Richards points out in this profile, expertly melding country music and hip hop in a way the genre hasn’t seen yet.
Popular songs: “Leave the Night On,” “Cop Car”
Fun fact: He co-wrote Keith Urban’s “Cop Car” based on a real-life experience; Urban gave Hunt a shout-out on national television during “American Idol.”
Known for: Co-writing “Cruise,” the inescapable smash from Florida Georgia Line.
Popular songs: “Buzz Back,” “Ready Set Roll”
Fun fact: He was first in the spotlight as the runner-up on “Survivor” in 2010 and used the spotlight to perform a song at a reunion show.
They’ve got the soul — not just in their vocal ability, but in some seriously emotional songs beyond their radio singles.
Known for: A reputation as one of the best male vocalists in Nashville; beautiful but depressing piano-driven songs.
Popular songs: “Let It Rain,” “Whatever She’s Got”
Fun fact: He’s from Missouri and a major St. Louis Cardinals fan, which landed him a high-profile TV spot singing “God Bless America” at the World Series last year.
Known for: Co-writing lots of hits for other people, particularly Eli Young Band’s “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” which earned Paslay a Grammy nomination for Best Country Song.
Popular songs: “Friday Night,” “Song About a Girl”
Fun fact: “Friday Night” was originally a Lady Antbellum track, though it languishes as an album cut while Paslay’s version soared up the charts.
Known for: Having a multi-year gap between hit songs, but coming back with a vengeance recently thanks to a couple summertime anthems.
Popular songs: “How Country Feels,” “Runnin’ Outta Moonlight”
Fun fact: He co-wrote Trace Adkins masterpiece “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.”
They may not be household names yet, but it might just be a matter of time.
Known for: Honestly, probably that viral video that showed him getting hit in the head with a beer can on stage at a concert.
Popular songs: “Cowboys and Angels,” “Where It’s At”
Fun fact: His No. 1 hit “Where It’s At” has the most effective use of the phrase “yep, yep” in any song, ever.
Known for: The extraordinarily sad “Raymond,” about an old woman with Alzheimer’s who thinks a nursing home employee is her son who died in the war.
Popular songs: “Don’t Ya,” “Beat of the Music”
Fun fact: He showed up on “Big Brother” this summer to plug his single “Mean to Me” while fan favorite players Jeff and Jordan got engaged. Mildly embarrassing, but he made it work.
Known for: Singing one of the creepier No. 1 songs of all time, virtual stalker anthem “Redneck Crazy.”
Popular songs: “Redneck Crazy,” “Whiskey in My Water”
Fun fact: Counts “Duck Dynasty” star Willie Robertson as one of his pals who appeared in the “Redneck Crazy” music video.
Yeah, “bro” is singular, but it very much applies to these duos.
Dan + Shay
Known for: Harmonies that radio host Bobby Bones once compared to Savage Garden, and helped them already make an impressive mark on the charts for a new group.
Popular songs: “19 You and Me,” “Show You Off”
Fun fact: They’re managed by Scooter Braun, who’s responsible for bringing us Justin Bieber.
Florida Georgia Line
Known for: Completely dominating the country music scene over the last couple of years with lots and lots of party anthems.
Popular songs: “Cruise,” “Round Here”
Fun fact: Thanks to that Nelly remix, “Cruise” is the top-selling digital country single in history.
Love and Theft
Known for: A bumpy history (it used to be a trio) that is finally starting to settle down and get some radio hits.
Popular songs: “Runaway,” “Angel Eyes”
Fun fact: Taylor Swift wrote “Hey Stephen” (on the “Fearless” album) about her crush on the band’s lead singer, Stephen Barker Liles.
SMALL TOWN BROS
If you don’t believe that country music is about one-stoplight towns, their songs will easily convince you.
Known for: Driving home the small-town thing until you want to yell “WE GET IT!”
Popular songs: “Small Town USA,” “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away”
Fun fact: He is very, very short, and it’s especially obvious when he’s on TV.
Known for: The best product placement for McDonalds chicken nuggets ever in his song “Watching You.”
Popular songs: “These Are My People,” “It’s America”
Fun fact: He likes to play the national anthem before concerts to force people up on their feet before the show begins.
Known for: Winning “American Idol” in 2011 over Lauren Alaina.
Popular songs: “See You Tonight,” “Feelin’ It”
Fun fact: Despite country success, he still attends college at North Carolina State University. He recently switched to part-time enrollment when the schedule became too grueling (classes Monday through Wednesday, tour Thursday through Sunday).
EVEN NEWER BROS
Don’t recognize these names either? Give it a few more months.
Known for: Being one of the beneficiaries of Clear Channel’s extremely influential “On the Verge” program, which sent his first single shooting up the country charts.
Popular songs: “Take It On Back”
Fun fact: His Nashville roots run deep: His grandfather was a back-up musician for Waylon Jennings, and his uncles founded the ’90s group Ricochet.
Known for: A surprisingly solid start for a new solo artist who seemingly came out of nowhere.
Popular songs: “What I Can’t Put Down,” “Up All Night”
Fun fact: He’s earned high praise from country legend Alan Jackson, who invited him to be an opener on his 25th-anniversary tour next year.
Known for: Co-writing songs with the guys of Love and Theft, another rising duo.
Popular songs: “Love You Like That,” “We Got Us”
Fun fact: He was a contestant on “The Amazing Race” in 2009 with his girlfriend, though they didn’t get very far in the competition.