The Year in Music 2023: Country welcomes Jelly Roll, Bailey Zimmerman, Nate Smith as the class of 2023

The superstars are still going strong: the Lukes (both Bryan and Combs), Lainey WilsonMorgan WallenJason Aldean and many more. But 2023 brought an impressive stream of newcomers, eager to elbow their way into their ranks: 

 Jelly Roll officially walked away with CMA New Artist of the Year honors this year, on the strength of #1 hits like January’s “Son of a Sinner” and August’s “Need a Favor.” By December, “Save Me” with Lainey Wilson became his third consecutive #1, just one of an impressive array of collaborations, confirming he’s one of the hottest tickets in town.

 Bailey Zimmerman delivered on the promise of 2022’s “Fall in Love” by also topping the chart this year with “Rock and a Hard Place,” as well as the title track of his debut album, Religiously. Though this certainly isn’t “Where It Ends,” that does happen to be the name of his newest single.

 Nate Smith took “Whiskey on You” to #1 in February 2023, before setting out on tour with Thomas Rhett and Cole Swindell. In 2024, he’s headlining his own trek and playing with Morgan Wallen, as “World on Fire” sets the chart aflame.

 Megan Moroney topped the chart with “Tennessee Orange” and went on to win a CMT Music Award. She was also nominated for an ACM and two CMA Awards. She’s now climbing the chart with her own “I’m Not Pretty” and “Can’t Break Up Now” with Old Dominion.

 Cory Kent followed up his success in his native Texas by hitting #1 with the Morgan Wallen-penned “Wild As Her.” He rides into 2024 with “Something’s Gonna Kill Me” from his RCA debut, Blacktop.

 Waterloo Revival‘s George Birge struck out solo, following up his viral hit, “Beer Beer Truck Truck,” with his first radio success, “Mind on You.” 

– “Pretty Little Poison” never tasted so sweet, as Pennsylvania native Warren Zeiders turned the potentially lethal into his debut hit.

– After the TikTok buzz over “I Hate Alabama,” Nashville native Conner Smith overflowed with potential, as he turned “Creek Will Rise” into his first bona fide hit.

 Chayce Beckham became the first person to win American Idol with an original song back in 2021, but in 2023, that same song — appropriately titled “23” — became a hit on the radio. He shares a manager with Idol judge Luke Bryan and was featured prominently on the superstar’s tour this year.

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