The Year In Review: Top 20 Country Music News Stories Of 2008

Jim Malec | December 31st, 2008

20. Joey + Rory Rising: A Talent Competition Actually Finds Talent

Outside of American Idol winner Carrie Underwood and Nashville Star castoff Miranda Lambert, the spate of talent competitions that we’ve endured since the advent of reality TV has produced few artists who could be said to possess a level of talent that aligns them with the top tier of country stars. Idol also-ran Kellie Pickler’s bubbly personality, for example, is far more attractive than her mediocre voice, while counterpart Bucky Covington’s major label signing is simply inconceivable in other circumstances, as he has neither a particularly good singing voice nor particularly good looks. Add to the mix the legions of Nashville Star winners and finalists who have immediately faded into irrelevance, and you’re left with a group of “artists” who have sprung forth from a pop culture phenomenon without having anywhere near the talent or artistic savvy of their more well-traveled peers.

It is more than a little surprising, then, that one of 2008′s most talented new acts was born from such a competition, and it is even more surprising still that it was born from a talent competition that aired on the Viacom (MTV) owned CMT–a network which, in many ways, shares in the responsibility for building a mainstream format where image outweighs musical ability. The fact that a past-their-prime (in the eyes of a youth-hungry industry) husband and wife duo who openly adore each other could rise from that scenario defies all logic, and reminds us that even in our genre’s dark times there is still hope for the future of the music.

19. Kid Rock Goes Country–Again (Sort Of)

In a year that saw an alarming number of pop-to-country crossover acts, it was an artist who has never officially made a crossover attempt who claimed one of the format’s most successful and most pervasive singles. And not for the first time. Following in the genre-hopping footsteps of 2004′s Top 10 hit “Picture,” Kid Rock’s derivative (but catchy) “All Summer Long” successfully bridged the format gap and become the definitive anthem of Summer, 2008.

A cross format hit that dominated radio worldwide, it was the song’s rustic setting, carefree attitude and southern rock ties that endeared it to country audiences. With lyrics that urged us not to worry about tomorrow, it was a fitting and soothing sing-along for a time in which we had many things–a war, an election, a failing economy–to worry about. Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long” may not have been country, but it served as a welcome reprieve from the daily turmoil of American life in this often unsettling year.

18. Black Crowes Sue Gretchen Wilson For Copyright Infringement: Black Crowes First Overheard Asking “Who The Hell Is Gretchen Wilson?”

It was a bit of surrealism when once-notable rock band The Black Crowes sued once-notable country singer Gretchen Wilson.

It was Wilson’s “Work Hard, Play Harder” (which was used as a promo for the TNT original series Saving Grace) that caused the Crowes’ to get their feathers ruffled. The band alleged that Wilson infringed on its 1990 hit “Jealous Again,” with their manager claiming: “We find the musical verses of Wilson’s song to be such an obvious example of copyright infringement that I expect all parties to reach a relatively quick resolution to avoid litigation.”

Perhaps the most striking thing about Crowes v. Wilson, however, was the fact that it was Wilson’s most identifiable moment from 2008. Once considered a leading lady of country music’s next generation, Wilson continued an artistic decline that began with 2006′s “Politically Uncorrect”; Wilson, who burst onto the scene with a string of five consecutive Top 10 hits, hasn’t broken the Top 20 with any of her eight most recent singles.

17. No Depression Folds, Re-Launches Digitally

Leading Alt-Country/Americana magazine No Depression crumbled under the pressure of a shifting retail music landscape, generally declining print readership and a poor economy that lead to declining advertising revenue. The magazine, which became a bible of sorts for fans of a form of less commercialized country music, published for 13 years and it’s demise and re-emergence in online form reminded us that no part of the music industry or the media is immune to the ongoing evolution of information consumption.

16. Buddy Jewell’s Music Takes A Bitter, Polarizing Tone

Nashville Star‘s first winner, who scored two major hits in 2003 with “Help Pour Out The Rain” and “Sweet Southern Comfort,” tried to resurrect his dying career with the polarizing “This Ain’t Mexico,” a song that decried illegal Mexican immigrants. While the song served as a brief rallying cry for those who agreed with its central message (brief because it gained zero traction at radio), its lyrics were widely criticized for being offhandedly offensive.

Although Jewell refers to our current border situation as “an invasion,” It was not so much his expression of his opinion that rubbed some people the wrong way. Rather, it was the fact that the lyrics of “This Ain’t Mexico” were dismissive in a way that seemed to embrace certain topical aspects of Mexican culture while belittling the people from whom that culture comes from. Jewell declares his love for “Margaritas and them sizzlin’ fajitas,” in a way that seems to imply these things are at the core of his understanding of Mexican culture.

15. Jamey Johnson’s Hardcore Country Finds A Home At Radio

Few people could have predicted that Mercury, home to mainstream acts including Sugarland, Billy Currington and Julliane Hough, would have picked up Jamey Johnson’s previously independent release That Lonesome Song, an album which opens with a song that references weed, cocaine and whores. More unpredictable still is that fact that from that album would come a genuine mainstream country radio hit. Johnson’s “In Color” somehow managed to claw its way up the charts and into the Top 10, an acoustic beacon of traditional country music in the midst of so much pop confection. Johnson’s success was one of the year’s most heartening stories, as it proved that real country music remains not only artistically significant, but commercially viable.

14. Shania Twain and Mutt Lange Split

Entirely unexpected was the news that Shania Twain and her husband of 15 years Mutt Lange were ending their relationship. Lange, who has produced some of rock’s biggest albums, worked extensively with Twain throughout her career and was largely responsible for helping the Canadian singer mold her sound into one that would make her one of the best selling country artists of all time.

The couple, who lived in semi-seclusion in Europe, had kept mostly out of the public eye since 2002′s Up!, Twain’s most recent studio album (which has sold more than 11,000,000 copies to date).

Twain was met with a standing ovation when she appeared at November’s CMA Awards to present Entertainer Of The Year.

13. Dixie Chick Natalie Maines Sued For Defamation

December found Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines in a potentially sticky situation after being sued for defamation over comments she made at an Arkansas “West Memphis Three” rally in 2007. Maines was speaking on behalf of three individuals who were controversially convicted of murder in 1993. Terry Hobbs, who is a stepfather to of one of three eight-year-old boys killed in the incident, claimed that Maines “recklessly published or caused to be published malicious, libelous, slanderous, and false statements.”

Hobbs was referring to a 2007 letter posted on the band’s website in which Maines cites DNA evidence that allegedly links Hobbs to the victims.

12. Nashville Star Hits The Big Time, Misses On Every Level

With the news that Nashville Star was moving from USA to NBC, there was an air of hope that a major network could usher in a new era of heightened competition and respectability to a show that had largely remained inconsequential throughout its first five seasons. Exactly the opposite happened. Hosted by Billy Ray Cyrus, and boasting a judging panel that consisted of a non-country singer (Jewel), a highly successful but largely unknown country songwriter (Jeffrey Steele), and an egomaniac (John Rich), Nashville Star was more formulaic, with more artificial drama and commercial pandering, than ever before. What’s worse was that this so-called “country” competition featured very little country music of any kind, as the contestants were routinely led through a series of bizarre musical themes.

It was, in a way, American Idol without the occasional brilliant Idol performance–not a single moment stands out as memorable or in any way remarkable. In that sense, it was a show that celebrated mediocrity to an almost unprecedented degree.

11. Gone But Not Forgotten

Every year we are faced with the loss of those who helped shape country music, but that fact never makes the losses any easier or less painful. 2008 saw the passing of a number of truly great individuals, all of whom will be missed.

Ken Nelson, 96 (January 6): Nelson, who was inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001, is recognized as one of the leading figures in the growth of country music. Nelson produced hits for artists including Merle Haggard, Buck Owens and Hank Thompson.

Bobby Lord, 74 (February 16): Lord hosted The Bobby Lord Homefolks Show and reached the Top 10 in 1956 with the single “Without Your Love.” Lord will also be remembered for his book Hit The Glory Road, of which The 9513′s Paul W. Dennis writes: “[It] remains as fascinating to read today as it was when first published. The book includes interviews with such notables as Roy Acuff, Bill Anderson, Boudleaux & Felice Bryant, Skeeter Davis, Jake Hess and Tex Ritter, discussing their concepts of religion, morality and country music, as well as relaying a number of truly funny stories.”

Eddy Arnold, 89 (May 8): Eddy Arnold sold more than 85,000,000 records, pioneered the “Nashville Sound,” was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1966, and won the CMA’s first ever Entertainer of the Year award in 1967. Eddy Arnold will be remembered as one of country music’s biggest and most beloved stars. Legendary is the only fitting word.

Don Helms, 81 (August 11): A member of Hank Williams Sr.’s band the Driftin’ Cowboys, Helms’ influential steel guitar work appears on over 100 of Hank’s recordings and is an indispensable part of a number of the artist’s hit. Helms also played on Patsy Cline’s “Walkin’ After Midnight” and Lefty Frizzell’s “Long Black Veil,” among many others.

Buddy Harman, 79 (August 21): Buddy Harman was a renowned session drummer and the first house drummer on The Grand Ole Opry. He is credited as having appeared on over 18,000 recordings.

Jerry Reed, 71 (August 31): Jerry Reed was a singer, actor, and immensely talented guitar player. Known for his defining hits “Amos Moses,” “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot,” and “East Bound and Down,” Reed also appeared in 12 feature films and received a Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance in 1972. Reed is widely considered one of country music’s all-time great guitarists.

Charlie Walker, 81 (September 12): Walker was an Opry member (1967) who was best known for his hit “Pick Me Up On Your Way Down.” Walker also worked as a DJ and was inducted into the Country Radio Hall of Fame (1981). He also appeared in Sweet Dreams, the 1985 film about Patsy Cline.

Danny Dill, 84 (October 23): Danny Dill was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1975. He wrote “Detroit City,” as well as the classic Lefty Frizzell hit “Long Black Veil.”

10. Willie Nelson Turns 75

Although 2008 found us mourning a number of losses, it also found us celebrating the life and vitality of one of our most beloved icons. Willie Nelson, who turned 75 in April, released an adventurous (if not entirely successful) new album with producer Kenny Chesney (Moment of Forever), collaborated with trumpeter Wynton Marsalis on a full-length album titled Two Men With The Blues, stared with Toby Keith in a movie (Beer For My Horses), co-wrote a Western novel (A Tale Out Of Luck), had a biography (An Epic Life) and a Box Set (One Hell of a Ride) released, and played dozens of shows all around the country.

We should all hope to be that badass at 75. God bless Willie Nelson.

9. Taylor Swift Continues To Dominate

Taylor Swift’s self-titled debut album wasn’t an instant classic–it took weeks for that album to claw its way up to the #1 spot on Billboard’s Country Albums chart. But once Swift made it to the summit, she stayed there. Taylor Swift continued to dominate the charts in 2008, and when July’s Wal-Mart exclusive Beautiful Eyes EP sold 45,000 copies in its first week, landing at #2 behind Taylor Swift, the teen sensation became the first country artist to hold the top two slots since another teen sensation, LeAnn Rimes, did it in 1997.

Swift continued to flex her sales muscles with her sophomore release Fearless, which sold nearly 600,000 copies in its first weak to debut as the number one album in the country (in all genres). Currently, Fearless sits at #1 while Taylor Swift sits at #4, although the two have a strong possibility of claiming the top two spots when #2 (Faith Hill – Joy To The World) and #3 (Elvis – Christmas Duets) lose their holiday sales boost.

8. Trace Adkins Makes It To Celebrity Apprentice Finale

Trace Adkins proved that he is as formidable a force in the board room as he is in the recording studio when he outlasted all but one of his opponents on NBC’s The Celebrity Apprentice. Adkins, who was competing to raise money and awareness for the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, lost the competition to British media personality Piers Morgan.

Adkins skillfully maneuvered through the show’s tasks as the episodes went on and the pool of contestants was whittled down, but his ultimate undoing came at the hands of Morgan’s ability to bring out big spenders to a end-of-series charity auction. Morgan raised $376,000 to Adkins’ $64,000.

Before announcing Morgan as the winner, Apprentice host Donald Trump had this to say about Adkins: “Trace, you have an amazing family, beautiful children. You’re a special guy–you’re a special human being. A beautiful guy. I’ll always love you.”

7. Carrie Underwood Leads New Grand Ole Opry Members

The 9513′s Matt C. correctly predicted that Underwood would be the next (at that point) named to the Opry roster, and later described the selection as a “perfect choice.” Underwood was surprised with the announcement by Randy Travis as she sang a cover of his classic “I Told You So,” and was later inducted by fellow Oklahoman Garth Brooks.

Also inducted in 2008 were Charlie Daniels and Craig Morgan. Morgan later expressed surprise at not being asked to join earlier, saying: “But when she [Underwood] was asked to be a member, it was like, ‘Wow, you know, I’ve kind of been at this a while.’”

6. “Country Music’s Biggest Night” Decidedly Un-Country

Kid Rock may have earned the right to perform on the CMA Awards by producing one of the biggest songs of the year, but that does nothing to explain the association’s inclusion of The Eagles, The Wailers, Lil’ Wayne, or Kellie Pickler, who sang a super-slick power pop song while prancing around in a rubber go-go dress. Add in Sugarland’s abstract and utterly perplexing umbrella choreography, and a Taylor Swift performance that reminded of a poorly executed high school musical, and the result was an evening that was many things but country.

5. Mindy McCready’s Downward Spiral

What started out as the possibility of a new beginning for trouble country singer Mindy McCready quickly deteriorated in a series of disappointing setbacks. McCready, who has been hospitalized for substance abuse and who had twice (prior to 2008) attempted suicide, was released from jail in January after serving an abbreviated sentence for probation violation (stemming from a drug arrest). At the time, McCready said that she was “The happiest girl in the world.”

McCready was able to keep a low profile for much of the early part of the year, and even began talking about piecing her debilitated career back together. But April’s headline-grabbing news report that she had, since the age of 15, been engaging in an affair with baseball pitcher (and alleged steroid user) Roger Clemens brought her a wealth of unhealthy attention. Two days after the story broke, McCready all but confirmed the relationship, stating simply, “I cannot refute anything in the story.”

Then, in June, McCready was again arrested on probation violation, this time for allegedly falsifying documents pertaining to her community service requirements. In September, McCready voluntarily surrendered to the police, and was set to serve a 60-day sentence stemming from the June arrest.

McCready served only 30 days of her sentence and was released on Halloween. Then, on December 18th, the singer was taken to a Nashville hospital for “treatment and a psychological evaluation,” after apparently severing a tendon in what would be her third on-record suicide attempt to date.

4. Sugarland Sued By Former Bandmate

Not long after the release of Sugarland’s highly anticipated third album Love On The Inside, the duo was swept up in the news that they were being sued by former bandmate and founder Kristen Hall to the tune of $1.5 Million. Hall claims that Sugarland was a three-way partnership from its inception, and that she had an agreement with Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush to share all future profits from the band (not just royalties for which she was legally due).

The lawsuit raised further questions about Hall’s departure from the band, and shed light on a number of inconsistencies surrounding the situation. There had previously been rumors that Hall, an openly gay woman, was forced out of the group, though those rumors have consistently been denied by essentially all parties (though Hall has never directly responded).

In the light of Sugarland’s upbeat image, this lawsuit served as a harsh reminder about the big money behind big-name country music.

3. John Rich

Here are a few of my top John Rich moments from 2008

2. John Rich Speaks For Johnny Cash

John Rich may have penned the John McCain theme song “Raising McCain,” but it was Rich’s comments about another John that caused a firestorm. “I’m sure Johnny Cash would have been a John McCain supporter if he was still around,” Rich told an audience at a Florida concert in August.

Rosanne Cash, the late icon’s daughter, fired back:

“It is appalling to me that people still want to invoke my father’s name, five years after his death, to ascribe beliefs, ideals, values and loyalties to him that cannot possibly be determined and to try to further their own agendas by doing so. Even I would not presume to say publicly what I ‘know’ he thought or felt. This is especially dangerous in the case of political affiliation. It is unfair and presumptuous to use him to bolster any platform.”

1. The Pop Exodus

No story in 2008 is more telling than the pop exodus that lead so many former superstars to Nashville’s promised land. Darius Rucker, Jewel, and Jessica Simpson have each sold millions of albums, and each turned to country music as their careers continued to trend into irrelevance. Of the three, Rucker’s conversion was the most interesting and most successful, although his album Learn To Live had its country sensibilities tempered by a label who was looking for something more pop-sounding that the shuffles and two-steps Rucker originally brought to the table.

While Rucker claimed that he had always wanted to make country music, having grown up listening to it and having been especially drawn to Buck Owens, Jewel insisted (somewhat awkwardly) that she had always been making a form of country music, but that it had simply never been marketed correctly. Perfectly Clear featured a small number of truly outstanding country pieces which showcased the incredible quality of the singer’s voice, but most of the John Rich-produced collection was as bland and uninteresting as the later part of her pop catalog.

Jessica Simpson, on the other hand, didn’t even try to claim that there was artistic merit behind her stylistic switch. Her qualifications seemed to be that she listened to some country music while she was growing up in Texas, and more than once she name-dropped Patsy Cline, as if that name were some sort of ticket to credibility within our community of country bumpkins.

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  1. Chris D.
    December 31, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    Wow, this reminded me how much John Rich annoyed me this year…

  2. Stormy
    December 31, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    I think it was more “Buddy Jewell’s music takes on a desperate, pandering tone.”

  3. Jeff
    December 31, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    Maybe the year is best summed up as “Country Music begins to sing about a caricaturized segment of society rather than represent a segment of society.”

    that would explain the torrent of songs talking about what it means to be country, and the lack of songs describing what real life is like.

  4. J.R. Journey
    December 31, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    Reba changing labels after 24 years with MCA is not one of the top stories of the year?

  5. Marc
    December 31, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    I hardly think Gretchen Wilson is or was notable, or a leading lady of country music’s next generation.

    See, a one hit wonder can happen with a “country voice”.

    Is it because she can’t sing, aligned herself with John Rich, or both? You decide.

    :)

  6. Jim Malec
    December 31, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    J.R.–Perhaps.
    Marc–I’d hardly say that Gretchen Wilson was a one hit wonder, and if you think she wasn’t being heralded as a savior by some within the industry, I don’t think you were paying attention.

  7. Cheryl
    December 31, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    Best Post EVER! lol I applaud your sense of humor, and very well written.

  8. Cheryl
    December 31, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    I actually think Gretchen Wilson has a decent voice…better then many of the blonde want to be’s posing as country artists right now (I am talking to you Taylor) but she has put out boring, lame songs since her 2nd album. Album 3 was horrid.

    With the right songs, she could make a come back…but it is sad what has happened to her.

  9. Rick
    December 31, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    I think Gretchen Wilson’s welcome at Top 40 country radio was withdrawn due to poor choices for single releases starting with her “All Jacked Up” era. As mentioned above “Politically Uncorrect” was a mistake and “California Girls” didn’t fit the mold radio wanted from her. Its too bad that catchy and fun songs like “Skoal Ring” and “One Bud Wiser” weren’t released as singles for fear they were “too country” for mainstream radio. Maybe the biggest factor was the emergence of Carrie Underwood as an instant female country superstar. This caused radio programmers to tend to lean more pop and forget about the redneck woman who wouldn’t appeal to Carrie’s huge fan base.

    My biggest shock for 2008 is that Jamey Johnson, Ashton Shepherd, and Joey + Rory got decent levels of mainstream radio airplay. Having traditional country oriented newcomers make it on Top 40 radio these days is almost a miracle. I wish it was the start of a trend.

    I’m wondering if John Rich will make news in 2009 when his recent marriage turns out to be shorter than Kenny Chesney and Renee Zellweger. Getting barred from Nashville nightclubs due to underage female companions and cutting rock musicians faces because the women present won’t accomodate John doesn’t sound like a foundation for a strong marriage.

  10. Davey
    December 31, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Rick, great comments. the Carrie part was dead-on. I’m sick to death of her and her comrades taking over country radio like they have a right to be there, and then THEIR popularity dictating what is and is not popular. I almost stroke when people publish articles about her sticking to her countryness by not changing her songs for pop radio. well, duh, she doesn’t have to because they are!
    Congrats to all the serious country stars on top 40!
    John Rich will be in jail by the end of the year. odds are 3 to 1. Takers?

  11. denny
    December 31, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    I don’t know how you came up with your order.
    But I would think the seperation of the most powerful and successful musical couple(Shania and Mutt) in the last 20 years would be the #1 story.
    This story was a cover story on every magazine in the country and people magazine did a huge 6 page cover story on the shania-mutt split.
    To me that was the most shocking and biggest story by far.

  12. Brady Vercher
    December 31, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    As far as Reba switching labels, it’s kinda been in the works since she made the remarks about fulfilling her contract obligations with the Duets album. Little Big Town leaving and signaling the failure of Equity, Tim McGraw’s dispute with Curb, and the creation of Carolwood were probably bigger stories.

    Concerning Shania’s divorce, there are at least a half dozen country related divorces every year. Granted Shania and Mutt’s collaboration translated into tremendous commercial success, they haven’t exactly been productive lately. I guess I could go either way on that one, but I wouldn’t consider it #1.

  13. Rick
    December 31, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    Rick’s Random Tidbits: Here’s a chart that will appeal to all you Texas types:

    http://www.texasregionalradio.com/YearlyTop100.asp

    I thought that female artists were under represented on Top 40 mainstream country radio, but on the Texas regional charts they are almost extinct! Crikey!

  14. Nashville4U
    January 1, 2009 at 1:46 am

    Great list guys and Happy New Years to Brody, Jim, and the whole staff, wish you guys continued success.

  15. paul
    January 1, 2009 at 6:07 am

    once notable black crowes? never notable or relevant malec

  16. Kelly
    January 1, 2009 at 8:30 am

    Paul, that’s just dumb. The Black Crowes were extremely successful, relevant and fairly trend-setting (in a revivalist sort of way) in the mid to late 90′s. A string of platinum albums and more radio hits than most of todays “country” acts would suggest that they were quite notable as well. While they arent as popular as they once were (nor are they country), they are still putting out quality cd’s, unlike many bands who enjoyed their prime in the 90′s. Next time, back up your thin statement with something that might be difficult to argue with…

  17. Clemson Brad
    January 1, 2009 at 8:41 am

    Enjoyed this, but to say Jeffrey Steele is an unknown country songwriter is crazy.

  18. Brody Vercher
    January 1, 2009 at 9:57 am

    I could ask any one of my friends if they know who Jeffrey Steele is, and I’m pretty sure I’d get blank stares.

  19. J.R. Journey
    January 1, 2009 at 10:44 am

    I only know of Jeffrey Steele from that god-aweful NBC Nashville Star. Not up on his list of hits, but I hear he writes for Rascal Flatts …

  20. Kerri/Kgator
    January 1, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Thank you for mentioning Bucky Covington. Whatever you at this place think of him, Bucky is an extremely talented and handsome country music artist with three consecutive Top Ten singles from his very first album. THAT is all that needs to be said.

  21. Vicki
    January 1, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Black Crowes? I know they had one big hit..but I thought the rest was just so-so.

    I learned about Jeffrey Steele while watching GAC’s “The Hitmen of Music Row”. I thought that show was hilarious.

    CMT’s “Can you Duet” was surprising just because, it was good. 100% better than that horribly, embarrassing “Nashville Now”.

    Happy New Year to everyone.

  22. glory
    January 1, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    WoW! Quite a list of John Rich dislike comments, I definitely disagree with you, and you could have used this space for better comments, like on the blitz of blonde singers being honored and displayed instead of real country singers, George Jones, Trace Adkins, Reba etc, and many more.

  23. denny
    January 1, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Brady, you make no sense at all.
    Shania and Mutt changed the face of country music and were the most successful music couple in the last 20 years in any genre. I would consider that split to be #1 by any standards.
    This was huge news worldwide outside of country music and was cover story material for many magazines.
    I think you may be showing your jealousy because Shania became so much bigger than country music and tracended the genre worldwide.
    No doubt the shania mutt split is easily the #1 story this year.

  24. denny
    January 1, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    And are you seriously trying to compare all the other divorces in country music to the divorce of the most successful music collaboration in the last 20 years lol!!!!

  25. J.R. Journey
    January 1, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    A divorce is a divorce. It’s not like they were Sonny and Cher …

  26. Joanna Campbell
    January 1, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    I still find it hard to accept that mysterious people make the decisions on who “makes it” and who does not. Season 2 winner of Nashville Star “BRAD COTTER” and Chris Young (who ALSO won his season on Nashville Star) have NOT had a lot of Radio play and they were the MOST Talented ones to come from that show. Last season was a joke-I am a BIG fan and hated last season. Also, CAN YOU DUET had big WINNERS in CAITLIN AND WILL who are just FANTABULOUS!!! I also liked Joey and Rory but CAITLIN AND WILL are sooooo talented and you better be looking for them this year! Their album comes out in February and it is gonna be B-I-G!!!!!! Wait and SEE!!!

  27. denny
    January 1, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    J.R, wrong again. They were much more successful than Sonny and Cher. Shania is one of the biggest and most successful artists of alltime and Mutt Lange is one of the most successful producers of alltime having produced 7 of the top 100 albums of alltime.
    The only difference is that Mutt is behind the scenes and a recluse.
    And a divorce isn’t just a divorce when you have a billion dollar fortune together and you are so successful and when you have created some of the biggest albums and songs of alltime together.

  28. Stormy
    January 1, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    This is country music thought. Lets face it, Shania and Mutt will always be more boring than Tammy and George. And less heartbreaking a loss of musical colaberationship than Rosanne and Rodney. Or, apparently, Butch and Allison.

  29. France
    January 1, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    Have to speak up for my boy, Bucky Covington. You’re not giving him his due here. No, his singing voice isn’t the greatest ever. He’ll probably never be in the same league as George Strait or Willie Nelson. But, he is good, and a very good entertainer!
    Also, very good looking, charming and courteous to all his fans!!
    I suggest you take another look at this one.

  30. Pierce
    January 1, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    J.R., I’m with you (and Jim) on this one.

    Denny – “The only difference is that Mutt is behind the scenes and a recluse.” – Um, yeah, that’s a pretty big, blaring difference, though.

    You’re talking about two “retired” country music figures who were virtually invisible and irrelevant to country music in 2008 (until after the divorce).

    If Tim & Faith, Garth & Trisha, or even Brooks & Dunn (ha!) split up this year, they’d probably be a top 5 story of the year. It’s all about “what have you done for me lately?”.

  31. J.R. Journey
    January 1, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    I’m with Stormy. On every point she made.

  32. Leeann Ward
    January 1, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    Denny Rhymes with Kenny and both Denny and Kenny write like Jake, George, Paul, etc. Interesting!

  33. Judy
    January 1, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    Rick, you said it dead on. I remember when I saw Gretchen in concert several years ago and thought why the hell is she headlining? She wasn’t ready and California Girls and Politically Incorrect were the decline, lastly excellent point about Carrie. Driving down the road tonight, I had the same exact thought about Jamey Johnson! We are on the same wavelength. PS I’m in on the bet that John Rich ends up behind bars – good lord he is annoying.

  34. Judy
    January 1, 2009 at 10:21 pm

    Oh I forgot to add that I cannot see where Shania and Mutt would be a number one story, I mean really? Number one? If any split is number one it would definitely be Taylor Swift and Joe Jonas, or Nick or was it the other one? I always get those dang kids confused! I need to go find my old copy of Tiger Beat and see which one dumped her in a 27 second phone call. Now, that definitely had my attention this year- I vote it as the number one split.

  35. Nashville4U
    January 2, 2009 at 9:20 am

    Sadly Judy that was probably CMT’s most ran story or most mentioned thing on their website over the past few weeks since that whole thing happened. CMT is becoming more and more pop and a lot of true country fans are kind of getting annoyed as well.

  36. denny
    January 2, 2009 at 10:41 am

    I am laughing so hard at the people jealous of Shania’s massive fortune and fame worldwide.
    You claim that the split between the most successful music collaboration in the last 20 years isn’t a #1 story but yet the Shania and Mutt split got more attention all over the world than any other country music story.
    TAylor Swift and Jonas brother? lmao!!!!!

    I don’t see any story on your list getting a cover story on people magazine.
    But the Shania-Mutt split got a 6 page cover story on people magazine and huge news worldwide.
    I hate to break it to you country bumkins but even while on hiatus Shania is bigger news and a much bigger icon than anyone else in country music.

  37. Jim Malec
    January 2, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Well Denny, you just need to remember that these are the top COUNTRY MUSIC news stories, not the top Celebrity Gossip news stories. Shania doesn’t have a free pass here–she’s been gone for six years, and no one is really sure if she’s coming back.

  38. denny
    January 2, 2009 at 10:46 am

    Peirce, shania and mutt country music figures and retired? lmao!!!!
    First of all Mutt is the geatest rock producer of alltime and Shania is one of the biggest selling and successful music acts of alltime that far expanded outside of country music.
    So they are music icons in their own category far reaching outside the country community.
    And retired? lmao!!!!
    Shania is just on hiatus and still gets more attention than those working. Even her appearance at the CMA got a standing ovation for just appearing.
    Hate to break it to you country bumkins but when Shania returns she will take the spotlight away from everyon and not just in country music.

  39. denny
    January 2, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Jim Malec, are you living in the real world?
    Nobody is sure Shania is coming back? lmao!!!!
    I think she made it quite clear by her appearance at the CMA she is coming back soon. She has been working on a new album for months now and we can expect an announcment from the label soon.
    I thought you work in country music?
    Are you that out of touch of what is going on?
    I can’t believe you could make such a stupid comment like not sure she is coming back.

  40. nm
    January 2, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Stormy, I didn’t realize that anyone besides me was still mourning the loss of Butch and Allison as collaborative partners.

    Wonderful list, btw.

  41. Jim Malec
    January 2, 2009 at 11:34 am

    This is a country music publication. Nobody is sure she’s coming back to country music.

  42. denny
    January 2, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    Jim, that is the most absurd comment ever.
    Did she not say at the CMA that she hopes to be seeing alot more of everyone.She wouldn’t even of made an appearance at the CMA if she didn’t intend to come back to country music.
    To me that means she will be envolved in country music to some extent.
    You need to do more research or even ask her label. The signs are quite clear.

  43. Josh
    January 2, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Alright…everyone spewed themselves on practically all issues, but I’m wondering about Buddy Jewell…what’s happening to him now?? I will miss him if he falls off completely because he had THE voice for country music. Nice of Clint Black to give him the leg up, but I would be sure his voice would carry him through.

  44. Chris N.
    January 2, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    You’re never going to win an argument with a Shania zealot, Jim.

  45. Kelly
    January 2, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Josh, last we saw Jewell he was being shoved into the back of a van from the back-door of a mexican restaurant after he was seen eating fajitas and overheard telling the staff to go back to Mexico…

  46. Stormy
    January 2, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    I’m not even convinced she is coming back to music.

  47. JD
    January 2, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Joey & Rory…while I agree that the “talent” on these shows is lacking, it wasn’t really a level playing field when you consider that one of the winning performers is actually a professional Nashville songwriter, being judged by the same.

    Hooray for the home team!

  48. Kelly
    January 2, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Joey + Rory didnt win though…

  49. Matt B.
    January 2, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    JD,

    Like Kelly said, Caitlin & Will won the show and they aren’t professional songwriters. Oh, by the way, professional songwriters were allowed on that show. Aimee Mayo knew Rory and Joey from stuff around Nashville but they were hardly ‘best friends’ or anything. Should these shows only have amateur people? Isn’t someone who already works (successfully) in the industry good for shows like this?

  50. Paula_W
    January 2, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    They weren’t the only ‘pro’ songwriters on the show either. Jared Johnson is a staff writer for Craig Wiseman’s “Big Loud Shirt” publishing.

  51. J.R. Journey
    January 2, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    I hate to be the one to egg on a Shania zealot, but I do think she’ll return to music (what else is she gonna do? become an actress?)- whether that music will be country or not remains to be seen …

  52. Vicki
    January 3, 2009 at 6:34 am

    I think it’s fine for people who have been in Nashville, working,trying to get a break, to have their chance on these shows with quality like “Can You Duet”.

  53. Cheryl
    January 3, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    Rick/Davey: I strongly disagree with you about Carrie being to blame for Gretchen’s downfall. I am a Carrie fan but I also like Gretchen alot, so your theory is invalid. Many Carrie fans like traditional country music, and are actually fans of Gretchen. I am a fan of good singing, period. I happen to love Trisha and Reba, too, because they sing beautifully… just like Carrie does.

    I think some of you Hate Carrie so much that you would blame her for Global Warming and the National Debt if you could spin it the right way.

    Seriously, Carrie is a wonderful singer and 10000x more country and talented then Taylor Swift… so why does she get bashed here so much?

  54. northtexas
    January 3, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    Cheryl

    Carrie’s been praised by Sunny Sweeney, Loretta Lynn, Vince Gill, Randy Travis, Reba & Patty Loveless. I would trust their opinions over Rick & Davey.

  55. Andrew L.
    January 3, 2009 at 9:17 pm

    “Carrie is a wonderful singer and 10000x more country and talented then Taylor Swift”

    What’s 10000x nothing? I don’t think anyone denies Carrie has a good voice, the problem is she also has one of the worst cases of Shrieking Diva Syndrome I’ve ever heard.

  56. northtexas
    January 4, 2009 at 10:34 am

    According to The Big Time with Whitney Allen Carrie’s next single will be “I Told You So” by Randy Travis.
    First the ‘traditionalist’ criticized her for being ‘pop country’ now her fan boards are upset because she about to release a more traditional country song. Sometimes you just can’t win for losing…LOL!

  57. Stormy
    January 4, 2009 at 10:51 am

    I criticized the song because she doesn’t seem to understand what it is actually about. Does she really not realize, when she is power noting her way through the chorus, that she is speaking in the tone of her former lover telling her that he (or she) was wrong in the first place and is never going to be able to be with them again? Cause she might not want to sound so stridently triumpant there.

  58. northtexas
    January 4, 2009 at 11:12 am
  59. Stormy
    January 4, 2009 at 11:19 am

    I would likely like her version too, if she were paying me.

  60. Really
    January 4, 2009 at 11:49 am

    So, when you get the chance to say I told you so, you’re not sometimes very boisterous about it. I know I am. Maybe it’s a fault of mine, but still.

  61. Stormy
    January 4, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    Really: Carrie doesn’t get the chance to say I Told You So in the song. She is the one being told I Told You So.

  62. Dan Milliken
    January 4, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Someone needs to address this:

    Carrie is a wonderful singer and 10000x more country than Taylor Swift”

    Hate to burst your bubble, but Carrie sings country-pop too. Her songs might not get remixed for pop radio, and that’s nice, but that doesn’t change the fact that the songs are written fundamentally like pop songs, not country songs (if you can explain the musical similarity between Carrie’s songs and Loretta Lynn’s, then we’ll talk). I actually agree that Taylor’s music has even less to do with country than Carrie’s, but it’s not nearly to the extent that you think it is.

  63. Really
    January 4, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Stormy: Very true, but I guess I see that part of the song as Carrie asking is that what you would say and using the inflection that the ex would probably use. I like the song and I like the way Carrie sings it. Difference of opinion I guess.

  64. Stephen
    January 4, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    Stormy, she sings ITYS with longing. As someone noted earlier, when one says “I Told You So,” they normally do it in a condescending tone. The power behind that line can easily be interpreted as her partner angrily, condescendingly, almost proudly, saying that he was right. This is especially clear when she follows up the power note with a softer repetition where her partner realizes that even though he was right, he didn’t want to be right. He doesn’t want the pain of seeing a former lover.

    All interpretation, obviously, but I see the power note as a way of Carrie expressing how she sees the song. Sorry that you see it as otherwise.

  65. Stormy
    January 4, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Or it could just be that Carrie never met a glory note she didn’t love, whatever it does to the meaning of the song.

  66. Stephen
    January 4, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    Exactly. Either way, she sounds amazing.

  67. Paul
    January 4, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Note to Craig Morgan: Should’ve signed to a major label years ago, then you wouldn’t have had to wait to be inducted. You just weren’t ‘good business’ till Columbia got you.

    Another note to Craig, why don’t you move your pathetic ass over and make way for some real talent, like Hank.

    yes, he touched a nerve – even then.

  68. Rick
    January 4, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    If Shania’s first album was any indication of her talent as a solo artist, then if it weren’t for Mutt she likeky never would have made it in country music here in the US (Canada yes, here no). Mutt is both a brilliant producer and songwriter with amazing pop and rock sensibilities and as Shania’s “Svengali” he transformed her into the star she became. Without Mutt around I think maybe it would be a mistake for Shania to get back into the country music game unless she found another muse of equal ability, and that’s not likely. She’s got enough money and kids to raise, so I think she should be in Garth Brooks style retirement.

    I consider Carrie Underwood to be an extremely technically proficient female country music fembot with programming perfectly suited to American Idol audience types. I personally just don’t like the sound of Carrie’s singing voice, so I don’t care what she does with it regardless of how dazzling the vocal pyrotechnics. I enjoy these arguments about whether Carrie is truly a “country music artist” because as one of the two dominant females in the mainstream country music business these days it doesn’t really matter. Carrie and Taylor Swift are redefining the Top 40 concept of country music whether its intentonal or not. When it comes down to all things Carrie related I adopt the Rhett Butler attitude because frankly my dear I don’t give a damn…..

  69. JD
    January 5, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    “Joey + Rory didnt win though…”

    Ooops…goofed again….

    Gotta search for another reason why this incredibly average vocalist got a record deal…

  70. northtexas
    January 5, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    “When it comes down to all things Carrie related I adopt the Rhett Butler attitude because frankly my dear I don’t give a damn…..”

    Then why are you contantly posting comments about her?

  71. Peter
    January 5, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    “if Shania’s first album was any indication of her talent as a solo artist, then if it weren’t for Mutt she likeky never would have made it in country music here in the US (Canada yes, here no).”

    yes we’re all just rubes up here….

  72. Michael
    January 21, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    Oh, John Rich really bothers me. His obnoxious, in your face political views are hard to separate from his music (which really isn’t that remarkable). I hope he fades away from the spotlight this year.

  73. alayna crandall
    May 23, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    i think carrie underwood is the best singer of all time…shes amazing!! i love that girl

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