Contemporary - What Is It? 2000 - Present

Several rock and pop stars have ventured into country music. In 2000, Richard Marx made a brief cross-over with his Days In Avalon album, which features five country songs and several singers and musicians. Alison Krauss sang background vocals to Marx's single "Straight From My Heart." Also, Bon Jovi had a hit single, "Who Says You Can't Go Home", with Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland. Other rock stars who featured a country song on their albums were Don Henley and Poison.

One infrequent, but consistent theme in modern country music is that of proud, stubborn individualism. "Country Boy Can Survive" and "Copperhead Road" are two of the more serious songs along those lines; while "Some Girls Do" and "Redneck Woman" are more light-hearted variations on the theme.

In 2005, country singer Carrie Underwood rose to fame as the winner of the fourth season of American Idol and became a multi-platinum selling recording artist and multiple Grammy Award winner. Underwood also made history by becoming the seventh woman to win Entertainer Of The Year for the Academy of Country Music Awards, and the first woman in history to win Entertainer of the Year for the Academy of Country Music Awards twice, as well as twice consecutively. Underwood's debut album, "Some Hearts", was not only the fastest-selling debut album by any country artist in history, but was ranked by as the #1 Country Album of the 2000-2009 decade.

In 2008, Taylor Swift rose as a major country-pop artist, with her single "Love Story" becoming the first country song to reach No. 1 one on the Nielsen BDS CHR/Top 40 chart. Another of her singles, "You Belong with Me", also reached No. 1, making Swift the only country artist to have two No. 1 singles atop the chart. Both "Love Story" and "You Belong with Me" became the best-selling country song of all time, with "Love Story" in the first position with a domestic total of 4.4 million digital copies sold, and "You Belong with Me" in the second with 3.4 million sales, respectively. In 2010, Swift's sophomore album "Fearless" was awarded the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, becoming the first album in history to win the American Music Award (AMA), Academy of Country Music Award (ACM), Country Music Association Award (CMA), and the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in the same year.

In the same year, Hootie & the Blowfish vocalist Darius Rucker released his second solo album and country music debut, Learn to Live. The first three singles from that album all debuted at No. 1, making Rucker the first solo artist to debut with three No. 1 hits in over a decade. He is also the first African American with a No. 1 country hit since Charley Pride in 1983.

In 2009, George Strait was named Artist of the Decade by the Academy of Country Music.