Much like rock 'n' roll, country music was at a crossroads in the 1980s. Glossier pop-country became an even bigger commercial force, even as a slew of traditionalists emerged to give the genre a jolt of steely authenticity.

With the benefit of hindsight, however, it's easy to see that the '80s were a transitional decade for country music: a time when artists could try out different styles and approaches -- and, by extension, adopt new traditions that would come to reverberate in the '90s and beyond.

Each of the artists in The Boot's Top 10 Country Artists of the 1980s list, though, prioritized songs above all else, which ensured that their careers -- and legacy -- endure. Read on to learn more about them.