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Country Male Artists Dominate 'Billboard' Charts in 2010

Brad Paisley
Brad Paisley

Male artists dominated the top spots on Billboard's yearend Country singles chart, but female performers also contributed in a big way to the genre's success in 2010.

"Love Like Crazy" by newcomer Lee Brice was the Number One Country song of 2010. The hit logged 56 weeks on the Country chart, breaking Eddy Arnold's 61-year record for most weeks spent on the list with one single.

Miranda Lambert's "Revolution" CD
Miranda Lambert's "Revolution" CD

Miranda Lambert, who was the highest-charting female on the list at Number 11, had a breakthrough year with her fourth album, "Revolution." The 27-year-old Texan earned a record-setting nine Country Music Association (CMA) Award nominations. She took home three trophies, including Female Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, and Music Video of the Year. In May, Miranda became engaged to her boyfriend of five years, Country star Blake Shelton. The couple plans to marry in early 2011.

Lady Antebellum was the Top Group of 2010. This marks the first time a Country act has earned that distinction. Lady A's "Need You Now" album was not only popular with Country fans. The title track became the longest-running Number One song by a Country group in the 50-year history of Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart.

Evidence of Country music's popularity was also seen in the year's concert box office tallies. Tim McGraw had the highest-grossing Country tour of 2010. Other Country acts on the overall list of Top 25 ticket-sellers are Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley, George Strait & Reba McEntire, Rascal Flatts, and Carrie Underwood.

Garth Brooks' 'The Ultimate Hits' CD
Garth Brooks' 'The Ultimate Hits' CD

Garth Brooks made an unexpected return to the concert stage this year. Although he's retired from touring until his youngest daughter turns 18 in 2014, Garth signed a long-term weekend engagement deal with The Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas. In addition, the Judds recently reunited for a month-long U.S. tour. Their "Last Encore" dates will continue into 2011. In a stunning development for Country fans, Brooks & Dunn announced their break-up after 20 years together. In August, the duo wrapped up its final tour in Nashville. Ronnie Dunn is now working on his debut solo album.

In 2010, two Country legends celebrated their 50th year in music. Loretta Lynn's anniversary was marked with the release of the multi-artist album, "Coal Miner's Daughter: A Tribute to Loretta Lynn." Fellow Country veteran Kenny Rogers invited an all-star line-up of musical friends to appear on his television special, "The First 50 Years."

In 2010, Country music fans mourned the passing of several legends, including honky-tonk singer Carl Smith, singer and actor Jimmy Dean, songwriter Hank Cochran, and session guitarist Fred Carter, Jr.

In other Country music news, Blake Shelton became the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry. And, the Country Music Association inducted Jimmy Dean, Ferlin Husky, Billy Sherrill and Don Williams into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Taylor Swift's 'Speak Now' CD
Taylor Swift's 'Speak Now' CD

Taylor Swift, who swept this year's Grammy Awards, is the first artist since 1992 to have two albums in the Top 10 on the year-end Billboard 200. On the Top Country Albums year-end chart, she ranks at Number 2 and Number 3 with 2009's "Fearless" and the recently-released "Speak Now." "Speak Now" sold more than one-million-copies its first week of release. Taylor shows no signs of slowing down in 2011. Concerts for her North American "Speak Now" tour are selling out quickly. Taylor's June 25 stop at the 68,000-seat Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts sold out in less than five minutes. She'll visit a total of 19 countries on the trek, which begins in February in Singapore.

During the past year, Nashville faced some challenges, most notably the floods that devastated Middle Tennessee in May. Artists banded together to rebuild the city, which sustained $2 billion in damages. Vince Gill held a telethon, Tim McGraw and his wife Faith Hill hosted an all-star benefit concert, and Garth Brooks recently performed nine shows in Nashville, which brought in $3.5 million for flood relief.

Brad Paisley was among the artists who lost instruments and tour gear in the city's flooded warehouses. Just days after the torrential rains, he launched his "H2O" tour. Its success helped bring Brad his first Entertainer of the Year honor at this year's CMA Awards.