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Top Country Moments Of 2010

Our Country

'Twas the last day of 2010, and what a year it was for country music. I personally never thought I'd see the day where I'd be able to discuss an Oscar-winning actress, a pro-marijuana Facebook page, a pet snake, a well-known lesbian, and Bret Michaels all in one place--AND have it all pertain to country music. Read on, fans, for the biggest events that took place in crazy, triumphant, record-breaking Nashville News 2010.

The Dixie Chicks emerge again--minus one Chick. Martie Maguire and Emily Robison form the duo Court Yard Hounds, a fine project which unfortunately gets somewhat overshadowed by 1) Assertations from the pair that the Chicks are still a viable band, and 2) Discussion of what exactly lead singer Natalie Maines is up to.

Lady Antebellum's incredible rise to the top. The group is the story of 2010, grabbing the highest-ranking band designation on Billboard's year-end list, as well as an armful of awards and a boatload of nominations for the upcoming February Grammys.

Chely Wright comes out. The star reveals she is gay, claiming she is the first major country artist to publicly do so. Reception to her announcement is mixed, with some believing she used timing to her advantage in order to publicize the release of her autobiography and new album.

Music City devastated by record floods. Tennessee is hit hard by storms, resulting in flooding that claims lives, displaces many residents, and puts the Grand Ole Opry (as well as Kenny Chesney's house) under water. Nashville's music community rallies to the rescue in record time--benefits are held throughout the year to help with the extremely expensive cleanup. The Opry is restored and triumphantly reopened ahead of schedule.

Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton get engaged. The longtime couple celebrate finally putting a ring on it by toasting with booze in plastic Solo cups. This would be the first of several momentous incidents for the pair in 2010--Lambert scoops up a record 9 CMA Award nominations, while Shelton is asked via Twitter to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. In November, the couple is termed the "new king and queen of country" after Lambert wins big and Shelton unexpectedly scores the Male Vocalist prize at the CMA Awards.

Willie Nelson cuts off his braids. In typical laid-back fashion, Nelson casually decided to lop off his trademark hair, saying it was getting to be too high-mainentance. Later in the year, he is busted for pot possession, then forms a pro-legalization group on Facebook which he terms the "Teapot Party."

Kellie Pickler gets engaged. She says "yes" to Nashville songwriter Kyle Jacobs on what would be her late grandmother's birthday, then tells the press she plans to recruit her pet snake as a ringbearer.

Carrie Underwood's wedding. Underwood and hockey star Mike Fisher take a break from their busy schedules to host a fantasy wedding in Georgia, complete with two princess gowns, a dog in a tuxedo, and a star-studded guest list. After a honeymoon in Tahiti, both go straight back to work.

Gwyneth Paltrow goes country. A hitherto unknown artist named "Kelly Canter" begins to appear on the country singles charts. It turns out to be, rather unbelievably, London resident and day-job actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who is tapped to play the lead in Nashville music biopic Country Strong. Paltrow proves her country mettle by performing live (and successfully) at the CMA Awards in November, and is praised highly for her skills by her movie costar, Tim McGraw.

Taylor Swift releases Speak Now. Arguably the most anticipated album of 2010, Swift's third studio release garnered headlines for months before it even hit the streets. Its first single is leaked online, resulting in a forced rush delivery to outlets--and a near-instant No. 1 on iTunes's top songs chart. The full-length itself breaks records by selling more than 1 million in its first week. Swift goes on to perform a memorable bury-the-hatchet tune to Kanye West at the 2010 VMAs in September.

Billy Ray Cyrus files for divorce. This wouldn't be the last problem Cyrus would face this year (daughter Miley saw to that)--but fans of the Cyrus clan were shocked to hear the news that Billy Ray and Tish were ending their nearly two-decade union. To make things extra fun, rumors of an affair between Tish and Bret Michaels cycled gossip circuits (Michaels denied the affair and later proposed to his longtime girlfriend). 

The inaugural American Country Awards are held. The new awards show faced fire from the beginning, with critics questioning its claim to "first fan-voted" ceremony as well as its general need to exist in a community already littered with awards programs. The show itself is spotty and receives mixed reviews despite booking prodigious talent. Better luck next year, ACAs.

Shania Twain gets engaged. Fans knew this one was coming--the notoriously reclusive Twain had been hinting for months at how blissfully happy she's been with beau Frederic Thiebaud. When the announcement finally came, nobody was too surprised. The press has a heyday coming up with clever ways to riff off ex-husband Mutt Lange's name in its reporting.

LeAnn Rimes gets engaged. In a year full of high-profile "will you marry me"s, this one probably stood out as the most interesting/controversial. Rimes suffered bad publicity all year long as a result of her relationship with actor Eddie Cibrian, which began while both were still married to their respective spouses. Opinion is still fiercely divided on the couple, with many saying "live and let live" and equally as many crying "homewreckers!"

And, that's all for 2010, folks. Happy new year to everyone, and see you in 2011!

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