As 2012 comes to a close, let's look back on the top ten stories of the year in country music:
Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert Continue Reign as Country's Hottest Couple
Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert continued their reign as country's "It" couple in 2012, performing "America the Beautiful" at the Super Bowl in February. Blake was easily one of country music's visible stars with his role as a mentor on NBC's top-rated show The Voice. He alsoheadlined his own NBC Christmas special in December with guests Reba, Kelly Clarkson, Christina Aguilera, Jay Leno and, of course, Miranda. As a result of Blake's high visibility and continuing run of hits at radio, he walked away with the Entertainer of the Year prize at November's CMA Awards.
Miranda's On Fire tour played arenas around the country as her album Four the Record picked up ACM Album of the Year. Blake co-hosted the ACM Awards with Reba again this year. The hit song Miranda co-wrote with Blake about his late brother Richie, "Over You," was also named CMA Song of the Year. Blake and Miranda both took their third consecutive vocalist trophies at the CMA Awards too and picked up Grammy nods at year's end.
Miranda made her acting debut as an aspiring actress on NBC's Law & Order: SVU in February. She also took time to open her own store, The Pink Pistol, in their hometown of Tishomingo, OK. She's now working on her second album with her girl group, Pistol Annies.
Taylor Swift Painted the World Red in 2012
Taylor Swift had an incredible 2012 even before she broke new records in October with the global release of her fourth album, Red. The set moved 1.2 million copies in its first week in the U.S., making it her second consecutive album to break the million sales mark in that time frame. By year's end, Red was second only to Adele's 21 for the bestselling album of the year, with nearly three million copies sold.
The lead single from Red, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," also became Taylor's first #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. The song earned her three Grammy nods, including Record of the Year.
Prior to Red hitting stores, Taylor had accomplished quite a bit, including closing out her Speak Now World Tour in Australia in the spring. According to Billboard, the tour made more than $123 million and played to 1.6 million fans around the world over 110 shows. She scored a #1 country hit with "Ours" in March and took the fan-voted ACM Entertainer of the Year trophy in April. Her song "Safe and Sound" with The Civil Wars, from The Hunger Games soundtrack, earned her a Golden Globe nod for Best Original Song. Taylor also voiced the character Audrey in the animated film Dr. Seuss's The Lorax.
In addition to launching her second perfume, Enchanted Wonderstruck, Taylor also kept the gossip blogs in business this year with her summer romance with Conor Kennedy and her current fling with One Direction's Harry Styles, as well as all the endless speculation about which of her former boyfriends inspired the songs on Red.
Carrie Underwood Goes Dark with Platinum-Selling Album Blown Away
Carrie Underwood's fourth album, Blown Away, spent two weeks atop the Billboard 200 when it dropped in May ended up going platinum by year's end. The new project kicked off with up-tempo track "Good Girl," but things got dark quickly with the release of the project's next two singles, "Blown Away" and "Two Black Cadillac" -- both of which discuss a man meeting an untimely death. Carrie brought the new music to life on her theatrical Blown Away tour, and also played her first sold-out show in London at the Royal Albert Hall. In addition to co-hosting the CMA Awards with Brad Paisley for a fifth time this year, Carrie announced plans to play Maria Von Trapp in a live broadcast of The Sound of Music, coming to NBC next year.
Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw Celebrate Friendship with Brothers of the Sun Tour
Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw celebrated their 20-plus year friendship with the Brothers of the Sun stadium tour over the summer. The two shared the stage at the end of each show singing their new CMA Award-winning duet "Feel Like a Rock Star," among other hits. The tour took in more than $96 million to rank as Billboard's #1 country tour of 2012.
Kenny also released his new album, Welcome to the Fishbowl, scoring a big hit with the steamy song "Come Over." Tim scored a #1 country album with Emotional Traffic in February, even though he didn't promote it due to ongoing legal battles with his former label, Curb Records. His new project, Two Lanes of Freedom, is due out on his new label, Big Machine Records, early next year.
Tim also reunited with wife Faith Hill for a limited run of shows at the Venetian in Las Vegas starting in December. Kenny will hit the road again in March with his No Shoes Nation tour, playing stadiums and arenas coast to coast.
Jason Aldean Is Country's Hottest Ticket in 2012
Jason Aldean became country's hot new ticket seller in 2012 with his My Kinda Party tour playing to a total 1.9 million fans. His My Kinda Party album scored double platinum status in 2012, while the new set, Night Train, went platinum just four weeks after it was released late in the year. The number-one hits kept coming with "Fly Over States" and "Take a Little Ride" hitting the top spot.
Jason opened the CMA Awards in November with buddies Eric Church and Luke Bryan singing their new single, "The Only Way I Know." Jason also took part in the platinum-selling Lionel Richie duets album Tuskegee and appeared on the ACM special celebrating that project on CBS.
TMZ caught Jason appearing to get intimate in photos with a former American Idol contestant at a Los Angeles club, but Jason promptly apologized and the incident seems to have had little effect on his career. Look for Jason to play more stadium shows on the Night Train tour in 2013.
Luke Bryan Rides tailgates & tanlines to New Heights
Luke Bryan scored three #1 hits in 2012 from his platinum-selling album, tailgates & tanlines. That set was also nominated for CMA Album of the Year, and Luke scored his first nod as Male Vocalist of the Year at the November ceremony. Luke played to 1.9 million fans as the opening act on Jason Aldean's My Kinda Party tour, and he's graduating to full time headliner status in 2013 with the Dirt Road Diaries tour.
Luke continued to give back to the farming community with his annual Farm Tour, and co-hosted ABC's CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock special this year with Kimberly Perry of The Band Perry. In December, Luke swept the American Country Awards, winning nine categories including Artist of the Year. His "I Don't Want This Night to End" clip was also named Video of the Year at the 2012 CMT Music Awards, and he also was honored as one of the CMT Artists of the Year.
Eric Church Breaks Through to Country Super-Stardom
Eric Church cemented his place in country music in 2012 thanks to his platinum-selling release Chief, which was named CMA Album of the Year in November. Eric also broke through at radio, scoring two #1 hits with "Drink in My Hand" and "Springsteen." He even got a personal note from Bruce Springsteen, with The Boss telling him he loved the song.
Though Eric took a little heat for his comments to Rolling Stone about artists who come from TV talent competitions, he could do no wrong on the road with his Blood, Sweat & Beers tour regularly selling out arenas. Besides playing a few solo shows and opening the stadium dates on Kenny Chesney's No Shoes Nation tour, Eric plans to take most of 2013 to write his fourth album.
Little Big Town Takes Over the Airwaves with "Pontoon"
Little Big Town's "Pontoon" scored the group their first #1 hit after 13 years as a band. The song was everywhere over the summer and led to Little Big Town taking CMA Single of the Year and Vocal Group of the Year in November. Their new album, Tornado, held the top spot on Billboard's Country Albums chart for five consecutive weeks, and they played most of the album every night on Rascal Flatts' Changed tour. Little Big Town's Kimberly Schlapman also launched her cooking show, Kimberly's Simply Southern, on GAC this year. The second season will debut in 2013.
Lady Antebellum Owns the Night with Two Hit Albums and a Global Tour
Lady Antebellum spent eight weeks at #1 on Billboard's Country Albums chart in 2012 with Own the Night, and won the Best Country Album Grammy for the project in February. Their Own the Night tour played to packed houses around the world throughout the year, and they captured the experience in a new concert film released on DVD in time for the holidays. Lady A also released their new Christmas album, On This Winter's Night, which was one of the hottest holiday collections of the year.
Lady A also hosted a prom for the students from Henryville, IN as a tie-in with their #1 hit, "Dancin' Away with My Heart." Henryville High School was nearly destroyed by a tornado earlier this year. Lady A also hosted a benefit concert for the school in nearby Louisville, KY.
The Lady Antebellum family got bigger in 2012 with band members Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood both tying the knot with their respective spouses. Additionally, Hillary announced in December that she and husband Chris Tyrell are expecting their first child in 2013.
Country Music's New Generation Steps Up in 2012
2012 was a great year to be a new artist, with several acts breaking out in a big way. Hunter Hayes scored his first #1 hit with "Wanted in September and also scored the New Artist of the Year trophy at the CMA Awards. In addition to touring with Carrie Underwood on the Blown Away tour, Hunter also picked up three Grammy nominations, including Best New Artist in December.
Kip Moore hit #1 for the first time with 'Somethin' 'Bout a Truck" in June and scored a second chart-topper by the end of the year with "Beer Money." Kip closed out 2012 with an opening spot on Eric Church's Blood, Sweat & Beers tour. He also secured a performance spot on Fox's American Country Awards in December.
Florida Georgia Line rode their #1 hit "Cruise" to platinum status in 2012. Their debut LP, Here for the Good Times, set the charts on fire, moving more than 60,000 copies its first week on sale. "Cruise" also received Twitter love from the likes of Keith Urban, Taylor Swift and Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland. Florida Georgia Line finished 2012 on the road with Jake Owen, and they'll open Luke Bryan's Dirt Road Diaries tour starting in January.
Brantley Gilbert launched his first headlining trek, the Hell on Wheels tour, in 2012 after scoring his second #1 hit, "You Don't Know Her Like I Do," in July. Before playing his own shows, Brantley enjoyed high-profile spots on both Toby Keith and Eric Church's 2012 tours. He also started dating fellow country star Jana Kramer this year. She hit the top five in 2012 with her first country single, "Why Ya Wanna."
Provided by ABC News Radio © 2012
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