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Say, check this one out, folks: Forbes has released a list of "The Next Breakout Stars"--billed as "ten personalities who click with audiences and have the potential to become household names."

Nearly all of these "breakout stars" are on television (six actors, a news anchor, a comedian, and a reality show host). There's only one musician on the list. It probably comes as no surprise to country fans that a country artist has taken the honor.

What does come as a bit of a surprise is which country artist we're talking about: Dierks Bentley.

I'm frankly shocked that Dierks continues to dangle in up-and-comer status and has not broken through to a wider audience--at least, wider as defined by the Forbes data, which comes from a Los Angeles-based research company and claims he only has a 14 percent public-awareness rating.

However, I have to scratch my head; in my opinion what exactly this data means is debatable. The guy's played Coachella and holds his own with an alternative rock crowd, been featured in People several times--the regular weekly version, not just the "Country Special" issue--and has two platinum-selling albums in his roster. Even back in his early days, I recall him playing to a packed house, dodging several bras thrown on stage (note: underwear is not an easy souvenir to grab from Los Angeles's notoriously jaded audiences).

Still--facts is facts. Forbes's source states 14 percent public awareness. This puts Dierks at about the same level as fellow Forbes listmaker Duff Goldman, the host of Food Network's reality show Ace Of Cakes. The good news is, thank heavens, he does have double the recognition of standup comedian Demetri Martin, so that's something.

I'm aware that as a music fan I live in a fishbowl of sorts--and as a country music fan, I'm in a bubble in that fishbowl. I have to admit, though, that this article had me considering my old copy of the classic How To Lie With Statistics.

What do you all think? Has Dierks made it in the public eye, or is he still in limbo? Let us know.

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