Before Blake Shelton became a country superstar and The Voice coach, he was just another aspiring singer with a dream. He took an early step toward stardom, however, on July 31, 2001, when he released his self-titled debut album.
Blake Shelton features 10 songs, including the singles "Austin," "All Over Me" and "Ol' Red." "Austin" had been released in April of 2001, on Giant Records, but when the label closed its doors while the future No. 1 song was climbing up the country charts, Shelton moved to Warner Bros. Nashville.
Shelton's debut album was certified platinum and peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. It also climbed to No. 45 on the all-genre Billboard 200. "All Over Me" was a Top 20 single (No. 18), while "Ol' Red" went to No. 14 -- and, these days, is the namesake tune of Shelton's chain of bars, Ole Red.
Blake Shelton launched Shelton's career, and earned him a legion of devoted fans, but how do its songs stack up against each other? Read on to see how we rank 'em:
"She Doesn't Know She's Got It"
One of the most tried-and-true themes in country music is crushing on someone and professing your love, which is exactly what Shelton does in "She Doesn't Know She's Got It," written by Chris Waters, Big & Rich member John Rich and Tom Shapiro. "She doesn't know she's got it / She doesn't know how bad I want it / She doesn't know she's got it / And that's what's a gettin' to me," he sings, pining away for a woman who doesn't realize how amazing she is.
"That's What I Call Home"
As the saying goes, there's no place like home, and Shelton's "That's What I Call Home" captures those feelings of comfort, love and support. "Daddy don't know a stranger / A handshake and he's your friend / Oh, and Mama, she's an angel / She'll hold you tight 'til the heartache ends," Shelton sings in the song's warm chorus. "Just a place made of nails and wood / But it's the love that makes you feel so good / That's what I call / That's what I call home."
Shelton co-wrote "That's What I Call Home" with Michael Kosser and Richard Mainegra.
"Every Time I Look at You"
Running into an ex is never fun. "Every Time I Look at You" addresses that awkward situation: "It brings back an old feeling / Running into you like this / I'm really not afraid of hurting / But I can't stand the awkwardness / Do I laugh? / Do I cry? / Do I dare look in your eyes?" Shelton begins. Later, he confesses that some things never change: "Oh no, here it goes / My hands start to shake / My heart's gonna show / Like the day we met / To the night you said we're through / Every time I look at you."
In "Problems at Home," Shelton gets real about the hidden struggles that people face, both globally and personally. The song opens focused on starving children in Guatemala and fires in the rainforest, but with each chorus, the problems get closer to home, with Shelton's character revealing that he and his wife have a sick baby "fighting a battle she may not win."
"And I pray they'll find the answer / That there's a way to right the wrong," Shelton sings in the final chorus. "Now I'm just one man, a grain of sand / In a troubled world, I know / But I've got a problem / Right here at home."
Shelton wasn't sugarcoating his feelings about the direction of country radio when he released "Same Old Song." "Now, I love country music / And I guess I always will / But these days, when I turn on the radio / It's just not the same thrill," he sings in the Bobby Braddock-penned tune. "I like a song that gives me chill bumps / Now and then, there's some that still do / But I'm fed up with the same old vanilla / Hey how 'bout you?"
"I Thought There Was Time"
"I Thought There Was Time" is a sobering song about putting things off until it's too late. "I knew something was the matter / It really needed my attention / And I had planned to look into it someday," he sings, mourning the love he's lost. "But I was busy making money / I wanted you to be proud of me / Now I wish I could turn the clock back some way."
Don Henry and Lauren Braddock penned this track, in which Shelton promises the world to a woman he wishes would love him.
The second single from Blake Shelton, "All Over Me," was released in October of 2001. The song debuted on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in the 54th position, eventually working its way up to No. 18. Shelton co-wrote the song with Earl Thomas Conley and Mike Pyle. "She was all over me / And I used to let it get all over me / And now, to prove that I love her / I'd crawl on my knees for the whole world to see / Now that she's all over me," sings Shelton.
Penned by James "Bo" Bohon, Don Goodman and Mark Sherrill, "Ol' Red" was recorded by both George Jones (for 1990's You Oughta Be Here With Me) and Kenny Rogers (for 1993's If Only My Heart Had a Voice) before Shelton tried his hand at it. Those were big shoes to fill, but Shelton took his version of the prisoner's tale of escape by trickery (and literal puppy love) to No. 14 on the country charts after he released it as Blake Shelton's final single in March of 2002.
Shelton scored big with his debut single, "Austin." The now-classic became his first No. 1 hit after its April 2001 release, and spent five weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart, tying a record set by Billy Ray Cyrus' debut single, "Achy Breaky Heart," in 1992.
"Austin" was a widespread success, hitting No. 18 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100. Sure, its tale feels extra rom-com-y these days (because texting), but it's one heck of a love story.