Narrowing down a decade's worth of albums into a list of just 10 is brutal business.

In a 10-year period that saw tremendous change in the musical landscape (goodbye, cassettes and CDs ... hello, digital downloads!), the artists who not only survived, but thrived, in the 2000s did so mostly on their own terms, distinguishing themselves even further.

For this list, The Boot took a whole bunch of factors into consideration: critical reception, public reaction, radio response and overall impact for both the artist and the country music industry. With those factors in mind, these are the 10 records that stood out in the '00s.

This list was originally compiled by Stephen L. Betts, and revised by Christina Vinson.

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