Country music's dominance at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 was a major storyline in 2023, but a string of tragic deaths will be what the year is remembered for.

Here are a few of the artists found in this Year in Review list: Jason Aldean, Morgan Wallen, Lainey Wilson, Oliver Anthony, Toby Keith and Reba McEntire. Some are here for their achievements, while others are on the list for some kind of turmoil.

The No. 1 news item on this list may never stop hurting.

Related: Remembering the Country Stars Who Died in 2023

These 23 news stories are ranked by reader reaction to the original news stories and follow-ups on Taste of Country. Social media impressions also helped shape this list. The extent to which a story was picked up by national media also proved to be important.

While unexpected deaths take most of the top five spots, 2023 included some beautiful inspirations, courtesy of artists like Wilson, Jelly Roll and Luke Combs. The country music genre may have finally caught up with pop when it comes to streaming and social media impact, and the result was a summer dominance not seen in 50 years!

Controversy is still clicky, however. It's the good and the bad, mixed with a little bit of awful and at least moment of harmony. Find the year's Top 40 country songs below this list of the Top 23 country moments from 2023.

Country Music's Top 23 News Stories of 2023

Stunning tragedies fill most — but not all — of the top spots on this list of country music's biggest stories from 2023. These are the most memorable songs, deaths, performances and moments from this year.

Gallery Credit: Billy Dukes

The Top 40 Country Songs of 2023, Ranked

The best country songs of 2023 fit snugly over your life and experiences. Each is written from personal experiences, but somehow, translate as if they were custom to each of us.

We've loved, we've longed, we've lost and we've cut loose in the country.

Airplay charts, sales data and streaming numbers helped make this list of country music's Top 40 songs of 2023, but staff and Taste of Country reader opinion were most influential. Songs included on previous Top Country Songs lists were not eligible. A song may have been released in 2022, but it had to have the majority of recorded airplay or impact this year to count.

Gallery Credit: Billy Dukes

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