Where did the year go? It seems like only yesterday we were ringing in 2012, and now it’s 2013 already. It’s been a big year for country music, with plenty of awards, tours, albums and scandals that set social media alight with gossip and chatter. But 12 months is a long time, and I suspect there’s a lot we’ve all forgotten, so here’s my summary of some of the biggest news of 2012 in country music.
Where do I begin? Country stars were getting domestic this year, with engagements, marriages and new country heirs being born left, right and center. Jake Owen was pretty busy as he did all three in 2012, getting engaged to and marrying Lacey Buchannan in the spring/summer and welcoming Olive Pearl on Thanksgiving. Jennifer Nettles also gave birth in early December, to Magnus Hamilton, and her high-profile pregnancy was even made a joke of at the CMAs. In addition, Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum announced her pregnancy towards the end of the year, due sometime next summer.
Aside from that, Hillary also got married this year, as well as her band member Dave Haywood, and a whole host of other country stars such as Thomas Rhett, Angaleena Presley of Pistol Annies and Hannah Blaylock of Eden’s Edge, and on the list of engagements, there were Lee Brice, Tom Gossin of Gloriana, Ashley Monroe of Pistol Annies and Kelly Clarkson.
We also had a few deaths this year sadly, and these included the late Earl Scruggs, Andy Griffith and Kitty Wells, who will all be sorely missed and remembered.
As for award shows, Eric Church won big this year with his critically acclaimed 2011 album ‘Chief’ and the accompanying singles ‘Homeboy’, ‘Drink In My Hand’, ‘Creepin’’, and the smash hit ‘Springsteen’, which has now been nominated for a 2013 Grammy. Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert were pretty much the couple of the year when they cleaned up at the Country Music Association Awards, including Blake taking the highest accolade of Entertainer, and Luke Bryan surprised everyone when he took home every award he was nominated for at the recent American Country Awards, totalling 7. Carrie Underwood released her fourth album, ‘Blown Away’ in May 2012, which was recently certified platinum and has hit number ones all around the world.
There have been tours galore with Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw’s combined tour reaching 7th on the biggest tours of 2012 across all genres, garnering an impressive $96,458,890 gross income with 1,085,382 attendees at a mere 23 shows. Jason Aldean and Lady Antebellum took 13th and 14th respectively with Brad Paisley on 16th (all high above pop superstars like Justin Bieber I might add), and Taylor Swift and Rascal Flatts were 24th and 25th.
Meanwhile country stars have been popping up in the news constantly, with Kellie Pickler shaving her head for breast cancer after finding out her best friend’s diagnosis; Taylor Swift’s ‘Red’ breaking records endlessly; George Strait announcing his final tour of 2013/14 ‘The Cowboy Rides Away’; and Randy Travis’ sad but quite amusing drunk shenanigans that seemed to occur every few months. He’s apparently now got himself cleaned up so we look forward to new music and a marriage from him next year. There were many other ‘OMG’ moments, when Jo Dee Messina slammed Chris Young on Twitter after bumping into him at country radio, and when Eric Church blasted Blake Shelton and TV talent shows in Rolling Stone Magazine, resulting in an online commotion, a public apology and angry tweets from Blake and Miranda Lambert.
Meanwhile Luke Bryan found himself in the midst of a mini-scandal after he was caught with lyrics to ‘Star Spangled Banner’ written on his hand, when singing it at the 2012 MLB All-Star Game, and Taylor Swift’s many relationship dramas and the release of her new album provided a stream of news and debates all over the internet. They even made a joke out of it at the CMAs (although it is claimed she didn’t find it amusing). Meanwhile Carrie Underwood was seen to give a 12-year-old boy his first kiss at a Louisville show, and Emmylou Harris has recently been investigated for a hit-and-run.
Blake Shelton continued his run as a coach on ‘The Voice’, while Keith Urban joined the judging panel on ‘American Idol’, providing some sanity between Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj. In addition, a small feud occurred between Blake and Simon Cowell over the clash of ‘The Voice’ and Simon’s similar show ‘The X Factor’, although it never really came to anything apart from a few snide comments. A new TV show ‘Nashville’ debuted in the Fall season, to rave reviews and fantastic ratings, in its drama-filled depiction of the city of Nashville and the country music industry that inhabits it.
Billboard announced a new way of compiling its charts this year, and was the subject for much debate after it was revealed the drop in importance of country radio and the addition of digital sales to its data. This resulted in Taylor Swift dominating the country charts with some tracks that hadn’t even been released as singles, and this news was reached with a lot of hostility amongst country fans, who argued that Taylor is now a pop singer. Kelly Clarkson did the opposite and appeared to ‘go country’, making small inroads and being rewarded with a nomination for Female Artist at the CMAs. She ended the year with a well-received duet with Vince Gill called ‘Don’t Rush’.
A new country festival was announced in December, to take place in London in March 2013, and is the first major festival with major artists to grace UK shores. Meanwhile, several country artists completed USO tours in 2012, including Kellie Pickler, who had a busy year after the release of her album ‘100 Proof’ that was critically praised but commercially flopped, and being dropped from her label before signing with a new one, Black River Entertainment.
I put a plea out on social media for people to contribute with their personal country music highlights of 2012, and here are some of them:
@brittwv: “luke bryan & jason aldean tour!!!!”
@WildAngel92: “ CMA Fest, Carrie Underwood at Royal Albert Hall, Lady A in Manchester and The Band Perry at KoKo. Amazing year :)”
@cuddlyhippo: “@carrieunderwood at Royal Albert Hall, @ladyantebellum at Hammersmith, seeing @thebandperry twice in London & interviewing them!! Plus joining @officialUKCM of course!... When Neil Perry said 'yes ma'am' to me when I was about to ask him an interview question... and having a conversation on twitter with Chris Cagle about cruises & him telling me a joke. Surreal moment!”
Jimmyjammfannin: “The personal highlight for me was working security at Wrigley Field for the Brad Paisley/Miranda Lambert concert. Such a good show!”
Also thanks to musicsfan1 and udder-madness for their contributions to my list of general country music events of 2012.
So, it’s been a busy year, as you can see, with plenty of other stuff that I haven’t mentioned. I’d just like to say I started writing about country music this year and it’s been amazing and rewarding and really fun, and I love anyone who has ever read any of my articles on here, and even more if you shared them or talked about them, or it made you think, even if you didn’t agree. 2012 has been my favorite year for country music because of this and I hope it was yours too.
So, is there anything you think I should have included in my list of country music highlights/dramas and didn’t? What were your personal country music highlights of 2012? Was 2012 your favorite year in country music? What are you most looking forward to in country music in 2013? Let me know in the comments!
[PS: I had a lot of sources and couldn't be bothered linking them all in, so if you're wondering where I got something, email me or comment]