The Chicks Ranked
Why The Chicks?
Pam Tillis was the artist that launched my country music fandom, making her the perfect artist to launch this Country Universe feature with. The Chicks are the reason that Country Universe exists.
Way back in 2004, I started Country Universe to provide an outlet for country music fans that were beginning to feel marginalized by the sidelining of female artists in general and the banning of the Chicks in particular. It’s hard to remember now, but before “the incident,” the Chicks were the only artist that pretty much everyone could agree on as being top tier. They were banned during the album cycle for Home, which was their fastest-selling and most critically acclaimed album to date.
I wanted Country Universe to be a place where people could still talk about – and write about – the music. In the early years of the site, they returned with Taking the Long Way, which produced their biggest crossover hit and swept the 2007 Grammy Awards. Then for many years we just waited, as the members pursued side projects while occasionally touring.
They finally returned with Gaslighter in 2020, which stood up remarkably among their best albums. Thing is, all of their albums are among their best albums, making this feature a cornucopia of riches. There are only 81 tracks to rank, and honestly? There isn’t a bad one in the bunch. They even made a live Christmas duet with Rosie O’Donnell work.
That makes this edition of Ranked more influenced by personal taste. They’ve made five excellent studio albums, each one of them completely different from the last. Even Fly was a major departure from Wide Open Spaces, despite those two albums being the only time they worked with the same production team. So share your own rankings in the comments and feel free to disagree loudly and proudly with my rankings.
How Does This Work?
Country Universe has identified 81 individual records from the Chicks to include in this ranking, with release dates ranging from 1998 to 2020.
- All of the tracks included on their five studio albums
- All standalone singles and contributions to soundtracks, various artist compilations, etc.
- Collaborations where the Chicks contribute vocally or instrumentally
- Live tracks released commercially for which a studio recording does not exist
Not included are:
- Live recordings for which a studio recording exists
- Anything from the pre-Natalie Maines era
- Solo/side projects, such as Maines’ solo singles and albums and the two Court Yard Hounds projects
Also, a formatting note: Not only did their band name change from Dixie Chicks to the Chicks, but the last names of Emily and Martie have also changed during the course of their recording career. For the sake of clarity and simplicity, the band will be referred to as the Chicks and the sisters as Martie Maguire and Emily Strayer, regardless of what their names were at the time any given release.
The list will be posted in three parts, and we’re kicking things off with the bottom third of the list: #81-#51. Look for #50-#26 and #25-#1 later this week.