Taste of Country’s summit to decide the Top Songs of the Century didn’t spend much time on Zac Brown Band’s “Chicken Fried.” The participants unanimously agreed the group's debut hit belongs on this list.

“Chicken Fried” introduced mainstream country music fans to a group that had built a loyal grassroots fanbase out of offices in Georgia. Within years they’d be selling out theaters, then arenas, and finally, stadiums. Zac Brown Band brought needed musicianship to a genre that was unfairly becoming known for a cookie-cutter sound. In the years that have followed they've maintained a certain underground charisma, despite significant mainstream success.

A critic could argue “Chicken Fried” is a little hokey, but four million (and counting) fans can’t be wrong, right? That’s how many downloads of the song have been sold since 2008. It was a chart-topper and ACM Award nominee and remains a radio favorite. It's a song that inspired future musicians — any time you see a young country rocker jamming like he's in the Grateful Dead, thank ZBB.

The format and Zac Brown Band have become more experimental, yet this uptempo picker about no-frills relaxation is as much a prescription for what’s stressing you today as it was nearly a decade ago.

About this list: Taste of Country’s Top Country Songs of the Century were decided by a panel of country music experts and fans using sales and chart data, a song’s social and musical impact and lyrical integrity. Select artists were also asked to name their top song of the 21st century. You’ll hear from several throughout the list.

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