For the second year in a row, our seven writers – Kevin Coyne, Leeann Ward, Dan Milliken, Tara Seetharam, Ben Foster, Jonathan Keefe, and Sam Gazdziak – individually listed our twenty favorite albums and singles of the year. It’s a diverse crop of singles, some of which dominated country radio, while others were primarily heard in the Americana, bluegrass, and alternative country worlds. Today, we present the first half of our singles list, with the conclusion to follow tomorrow. Share your favorites in the comments!
“Someone Somewhere Tonight”
Individual rankings: #16 – Ben; #19 – Tara
A sweeping power ballad anchored by an intimate chorus and Pickler’s pleading sincerity. – Tara Seetharam
Grammy Pre-Telecast Winners
Here are the winners in country and country-related categories, including all-genre categories that include a country-related nominee:
Best Long Form Music Video: Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros & Old Crow Medicine Show, Big Easy Express
Song Written for Visual Media: T Bone Burnett, Taylor Swift, John Paul White & Joy Williams, “Safe and Sound”
Americana Album: Bonnie Raitt, Slipstream
Bluegrass Album: Steep Canyon Rangers, Nobody Knows You
Folk Album: Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile, The Goat Rodeo Sessions
Country Duo/Group Vocal Performance: Little Big Town, “Pontoon”
Country Song: Josh Kear & Chris Tompkins, “Blown Away”
As reflected by the title of our web site, our choices for Top 40 Albums of 2012 span the farthest reaches of the country music universe. In previous years, the Country Universe staff has counted down twenty albums and forty singles, but this year our album picks included such a wide variety that we were able to stretch our Top Albums countdown to a full forty slots. What did we miss? That’s where you, our readers, come in. Please join in the discussion, and share which albums you had in heavy rotation over the past year.
The Garden of Love – Songs of William Blake
Martha Redbone Roots Project
Trace Adkins, “Just Fishin'” (Listen)
Written by Casey Beathard, Monty Criswell and Ed Hill
Wish this weren’t quite so heavy-handed about driving home the theme; a subtler approach could have made it a Strait-ish classic. Still a nice, fresh idea, though.
The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 9: #40-#21
“This Is Me You’re Talking To”
Flawless. Proof positive that the nineties formula at its best is better than anything on naughties radio. Perhaps they can’t play it too much for that reason. It’s not good for business to park a new Lexus in a used car lot of Ford Pintos. – Kevin Coyne
“Famous in a Small Town”
This is one of those slice-of-life songs that anyone from a small town can easily relate to. What sets it above the pack of songs of that ilk is the witty nugget of truth that “everybody dies famous in a small town.” The Springsteen-esque vibe of the production is pretty cool, too. – Leeann Ward