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Thomas Rhett

Thomas Rhett

With his easy charm and friendly voice, Thomas Rhett slipped into the space opened up by Sam Hunt's smooth fusion of modern country and R&B. Rhett debuted at the tail-end of the bro country craze of the 2010s, eventually finding his groove in 2015 with "Crash and Burn" and "Die a Happy Man," a pair of Country Airplay number ones from 2015. (The former found the singer fleet on his feet, while the latter showcased the domesticated romantic side that became his calling card.) Over the next few years, long-term love songs, epitomized by the 2017 number one "Marry Me," kept Rhett at the top of the charts, a position that he owned into the early years of the 2020s. By the time he released Where We Started in early 2022 -- it followed swiftly on the heels of 2021's Country Again: Side A -- Rhett had racked up 17 number one singles on the Billboard Country Airplay charts, cementing his place as one of the biggest country-pop singers of his era, a feat he celebrated with the 2023 compilation 20 Number One Hits.

Georgia-born singer/songwriter Thomas Rhett, the son of award-winning country crooner Rhett Akins, didn't seriously consider following in his father's footsteps until his senior year in high school. Raised on a steady diet of Merle Haggard, Hank Williams, Led Zeppelin, and the Rolling Stones, Rhett inked a publishing deal with EMI just two years into his college career, and landed a song ("I Ain't Ready to Quit") on fellow country-rocker Jason Aldean's 2010 release My Kind of Party. Like Aldean, Brantley Gilbert, and Justin Moore, Rhett splits the difference between slick contemporary country and rowdy good-time rock & roll, an equation he put to the test on his 2011 debut single, "Something to Do with My Hands." A self-titled EP appeared early in 2013, and later that year his debut full-length, It Goes Like This, arrived. The album reached number six on the Billboard 200 and the Top 30 in Canada on the strength of the Top Ten Country hit singles "It Goes Like This," "Get Me Some of That," and "Make Me Wanna," all of which topped Billboard's Country Airplay chart.

Led by the single "Crash and Burn," which reached number one on Billboard's Country Airplay chart and number two on the Hot Country chart, Rhett's sophomore album, Tangled Up, appeared in September 2015. A second number one smash, "Die a Happy Man," and third single, "T-Shirt," helped turn Tangled Up into a big hit that stayed on the charts into 2016. That year, a deluxe edition of the album appeared, featuring the single "Star of the Show," which went to the Top Ten as well.

In 2017, Rhett returned with his third studio album, Life Changes, which included the single "Craving You," featuring Maren Morris. "Look What God Gave Her" followed in 2019 as the lead-off single to the full-length Center Point Road, which arrived that June. Both of these albums topped the Billboard 200 and Top Country Albums charts, with the latter LP earning a nomination for Best Country Album at the 62nd Grammy Awards. In March 2020, Rhett released the track "Be a Light," which also featured Reba McEntire, Hillary Scott, Chris Tomlin, and Keith Urban. Designed as a beacon of hope during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic -- proceeds of the song went to MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund -- "Be a Light" peaked at number two on the Billboard Country Airplay chart.

Rhett returned to harder country with 2021's Country Again: Side A, the first installment of an intended double album. The singer announced his shift with "What's Your Country Song," another Country Airplay number one issued at the tail end of 2020, followed in early 2021 by a second chart-topping single, "Country Again." The album itself was another success, peaking at number two on the country chart. Late that year, Rhett offered up "Slow Down Summer," the first single from Where We Started, an album that debuted at number 12 on Billboard 200. Rhett pushed back the release Country Again: Side B to a later date, thanks to a hot creative streak documented on Where We Started. Instead of releasing Side B of Country Again in 2023, Rhett delivered the compilation 20 Number One Hits, a collection that also featured "Mamaw's House," a new duet with Morgan Wallen. The romantic "Beautiful as You" marked his first single of 2024. ~ James Christopher Monger

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