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Country Music Thrives in 2012

  • Mary Morningstar

Taylor Swift arrives at the 46th Annual Country Music Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Taylor Swift arrives at the 46th Annual Country Music Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Country music thrived during 2012 with increased album sales from the previous year, a strong tour season and even a new television drama, appropriately titled “Nashville.”

Jason Aldean released his fifth studio album in 2012. “Night Train” was recently certified platinum for shipments of one million copies and ranks at Number Nine on “Billboard” Magazine’s year-end Country Albums chart. Jason also appears on the Top 10 Country Albums list at Number Six with his 2011 album, “My Kinda Party.”

Taylor Swift lands on many year-end charts, thanks to the huge crossover success of her latest album, “Red.” “Red” is the Number One Country album of 2012 and ranks at Number Two on the “Billboard” 200 year-end list. The album sold 1.2 million copies its first week of release and ends the year with total sales of more than 2.3 million units. Taylor is the Number One Country Artist of 2012, the Number Three Artist in all genres and the Number 10 Hot 100 Artist.

“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” was the lead single from Taylor Swift’s “Red” album. The track spent nine weeks at Number One on the Top Country Songs chart, which set a record for the longest run at the top of that list by a female solo artist. The Grammy-nominated hit sold 623,000 digital copies its first week of release, setting records for the biggest digital sales week ever by a female artist and highest debut by a female Country artist in the 21-year history of the all-genre Hot 100 chart.

Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw had the Number One Country tour of 2012. Their 23 “Brothers of the Sun” stadium concerts brought in more than $96.4 million. Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, Brad Paisley, Taylor Swift and Rascal Flatts also placed in the year’s overall Top 25 tours.

During the past year, Country fans mourned the death of a number of artists. Among them were Country legends Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson and Kitty Wells.

Country music’s other big news stories in 2012 included George Jones’ and George Strait’s announcement that they’ll be retiring from the road after performing Farewell Tours in 2013. Shania Twain and Tim McGraw and his wife Faith Hill launched their much-anticipated Las Vegas residencies. Hargus “Pig” Robbins, Connie Smith and Garth Brooks earned induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. And, Keith Urban and Darius Rucker became the newest members of Nashville’s famed Grand Ole Opry.

Speaking of the Opry, many acting stars from ABC’s new television drama “Nashville” made their debut on Music City’s famous stage in 2012. They included Hayden Panettiere, Connie Britton and Charles Esten.

Carrie Underwood’s international appeal grew in 2012 with the release of her million-selling album, “Blown Away.” In March, she’ll return to the United Kingdom to perform for the second time in less than a year. Carrie will join Tim McGraw, Vince Gill, LeAnn Rimes, and others at “C2C: Country to Country,” the first-ever two-day Country music festival at London’s O2 Arena.

By all indications, 2013 will be another exciting year for Country fans. Tim McGraw, The Band Perry, Faith Hill and George Strait are among the Country stars with new albums slated for release. And, major tours have already been announced by Miranda Lambert, Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan, Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean and Keith Urban.

The Number One Country single of 2012 is a song that didn’t reach the top of the weekly popularity chart. But, Josh Turner's “Time Is Love” spent a total of 39 weeks on the Top Country Songs list making it the most-played radio hit of the year.