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Best and Worst 2012: The year in country music

Ah, what a year in music it’s been! Here at EW, we’ve been in retrospective overdrive, looking back at the best and worst albums, singles, lyrics, and soundtracks that 2012 had to offer.

But since I’m already primed to hop onto a plane and head home down South for the holidays, I thought it might be fun to take let my music tastes do the same and take a deep-dive into the country music world. Here’s my take on the year that was — country music style:

BEST: Little Big Town The hard-working quartet has always had the respect of Nashville for their on-point harmonies and sumptuous live performances, so it was nice to see them find true mainstream success in 2012. “Pontoon” was a fresh, tongue-in-cheek summer smash that motorboated all the way to No. 1.

BEST: Eric Church With a sand-papery voice, a trademark baseball cap (which have now officially replaced cowboy hats), a drink in his hand, and some genuinely great melodies, Eric Church joined country’s A-list this year. “Springsteen” was a wide-open crossover hit that gave his confidently country disc Chief the mainstream appeal it deserved. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Chief won the CMA Award for Album of the Year, either. READ FULL STORY

Album Sales: Usher dances to No. 1; Rush, Ed Sheeran start off strong

Here’s some news sure to make Usher “Scream.”

The R&B/pop crooner’s 7th studio album Looking 4 Myself topped the Billboard 200 in its debut week, shifting 128,000 copies. While that start can’t compare to the first-week sales of his last effort, 2010’s Raymond vs. Raymond, which sold 329,000 copies in its first week, that’s not exactly a surprise. Usher hasn’t produced a “DJ Got Us Falling In Love”-sized smash from Looking 4 Myself yet — the album’s lead single “Climax” only reached number 17, while its follow-up “Scream” has peaked at 13.

In second, Canadian prog-rockers Rush demonstrated remarkable resilience with their latest, Clockwork Angels, which moved 103,000 copies — up from the 93,000 their last album, 2007’s Snakes and Arrows, sold in its first week. In 2002, their Vapor Trails debuted with 110,000 units sold; the fact that their numbers haven’t eroded in the last decade is impressive. READ FULL STORY

Sade comes roaring back to top the albums chart

Looks like Sade (the band)’s commercial appeal is every bit as timeless as Sade (the lead singer)’s voice: Soldier of Love, the soul act’s first album since 2000, sold a whopping 502,000 copies in its first week, according to Nielsen SoundScan. That’s more than enough to secure Sade the top spot on the new Billboard 200 albums chart — indeed, it’s the strongest debut anyone has managed since Susan Boyle notched 701,000 last fall. Lady Antebellum, for instance, bowed with a bit less (481,000) last month; this week their Need You Now sold 208,000, falling for the first time to No. 2.

R&B crooner Jaheim scored a No. 3 debut with a very nice 112,000 copies sold of his Another Round. Speaking of rounds, something tells me the next few are on Jaheim! (Sorry, that was a very lame joke.)

Country’s Josh Turner might not know who Rick Astley is, but that shocking fact didn’t stop 85,000 people from buying his Haywire, enough for a No. 5 finish. Turner’s hit single “Why Don’t We Just Dance” no doubt helped boost those sales.


Josh Turner Q&A: Country star has faith, several hit songs, and no idea who Rick Astley is

Josh Turner is the youngest male member of the Grand Ole Opry, and why wouldn’t he be? The guy’s sold millions of records and scored two No. 1 country hits (“Your Man” and “Would You Go with Me”), and his baritone could melt paint off a Buick. On the eve of his fourth album, Haywire — whose first single, “Why Don’t We Just Dance,” is on its way to the top of the charts, too — we interrupted Turner’s tour rehearsals to chat, and apparently ask a real stumper of a first question.

Entertainment Weekly: Are you going to be offended if I sometimes think of you as country music’s Rick Astley?
Josh Turner: Country music’s what now?

Country music’s Rick Astley.
I don’t know who that is. [laughs]

You remember Rick Astley!
No, I don’t.

[Lamely sings] “Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down…” He was a pop singer in the 1980s. Are you too young to remember?
I’m not too young, I just didn’t listen to pop music in the ‘80s.

He was this young, good looking guy, but he had this crazy deep voice that sounded like it was coming out of someone else entirely. You remind me of him.
I’ll take it as a compliment. READ FULL STORY

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