Billboard unveils new methodology today for the long-standing Hot Country Songs, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Hot Latin Songs charts. Each receive a major consumer-influenced face-lift, as digital download sales (tracked by Nielsen SoundScan) and streaming data (tracked by Nielsen BDS from such services as Spotify, Muve, Slacker, Rhapsody, Rdio and Xbox Music, among others) will now be factored into the 50-position rankings, along with existing radio airplay data monitored by Nielsen BDS. The makeovers will enable these charts to match the methodology applied to Billboard’s signature all-genre songs ranking, the Billboard Hot 100.
On the surface, this seems like a good idea. After all, the country singles chart included both sales and airplay data for decades, until switching to airplay-only in 1989. Declining availability of retail singles made this change necessary.
The list of nominees for the 46th annual Country Music Association Awards has been released. Eric Church had a big breakthrough this past year, and such is reflected in the nominee list – Church leads the pack with five nominations. Current favorite power couple Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert follow with four each, including a shared Song of the Year nod for their co-write “Over You.”
Eric Church has said that “Smoke a Little Smoke” is the single that changed his career. He’s totally right. Though he’d had bigger chart hits with tamer material, “Smoke” reintroduced Church as a fully formed artist, marrying his all-too-established swagger to a bold lyric and one of Jay Joyce’s feistiest productions. It didn’t matter that the gatekeepers at country radio winced, stalling the song at #16; fans made “Smoke” a Gold single, and critics joined them in eagerly awaiting Church’s next effort.
A famed member of the Class of ’89, Travis Tritt suburbanized the Outlaw sound for a broad new country music audience.
The 54th annual GrammyAdele Awards air this Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern. Look for appearances by Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley and Lady Antebellum as well as country-ish performances by Jason Aldean, Glen Campbell (with the Band Perry and Blake Shelton), Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood. We’ve picked and predicted the awards below – share your thoughts, and be sure to drop by on Sunday night for our live blog!
One Sunday afternoon you go about rummaging through your attic, looking for items to donate to a local rescue mission…..and suddenly you find yourself re-acquainted with a bedroom poster depicting your favorite artist growing up, lightly caked in dust. At that very moment you let out a bittersweet sigh, and fondly stare into space as you reminisce of an early flame that came and went in your life, while that artist contributes the soundtrack to your saudade.
Of course, it’s not just the Americana acts that can’t get radio play these days. Even top-selling albums by Scotty McCreery and Alison Krauss & Union Station weren’t embraced.
Country Universe editors and contributors each submitted a list of their ten favorite albums of 2011. 31 different albums were included on our lists, and over the next two days, we’ll share with you our collective top twenty.
Top Twenty Albums of 2011, Part One: #20-#11
Beat the Devil and Carry a Rail
His tenure with the Punch Brothers and his winning of the first annual “Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass” in 2010 both earned Noam Pikelny the clout to release Beat the Devil and Carry a Rail, his second solo album and first since 2004. Joined by an all-star roster of fellow pickers, Pikelny’s mostly instrumental set is a showcase both for its lead artist’s extraordinary technical skills and for the banjo’s wide-ranging potential. – Jonathan Keefe
In this aggression-heavy era of Eric Church and Jason Aldean, it’s easy to take Keith Urban’s brand of swagger for granted. It’s a little smoother around the edges, a little less gritty – but when he finds the right song to marry it to, it’s as natural and dynamic as any in the field.