Surprising Moments In Country Music 2009

Our Country

It's hard to dispute that this year has been one of the most...tumultuous for country music in quite a while. As we wind down the days of 2009, let's take a look back at some of the craziest events--positive, negative, and everywhere in between--fans have been witnessing over the past 12 months.

In no particular order...

Gloriana wins Breakthrough Artist of the Year at the American Music Awards. A lot of people scratched their heads over this--Gloriana who? And how did this Gloriana chick, whoever she is, win over the formidable Lady Gaga? Country fans, of course, knew that Gloriana is a band, not a singular female, and that they are awfully darn talented as well as good to look at. And that we're proud of them for winning! Go, Gloriana, go!

The Raconteurs score a CMA nomination. Jack White had an inexplicable grip on Nashville the past year, from the Oak Ridge Boys covering "Seven Nation Army" to Taylor Swift musing about a duet with his decidedly non-country outfit the Raconteurs getting a Country Music Association nomination for Musical Event of the Year. "Old Enough" (featuring Ricky Skaggs and Ashley Monroe) was plenty good enough, but it ended up losing to the bulldozer force of Brad Paisley and Keith Urban's collaboration.

Darius Rucker wins a CMA Award. The Hootie & the Blowfish lead man became the first black artist in nearly 40 years to win a major individual CMA Award. Not only a refreshingly groundbreaking move for the country music industry, it's especially fitting in a year that we also swore in our first black president.

Kenny Chesney announces he's quitting his summer tour. Oh hell, now what are we going to do next summer when we feel like getting rowdy and chugging cheap beer? Go to Hooters and listen to, fercryin' out loud?

LeAnn and "Deane" break up. LeAnn Rimes takes up with actor Eddie Cibrian on the not-so-sly, pissing off Cibrian's wife and inspiring a lot of lip-smacky tabloid gossip. Then she finally breaks it off for good with her husband of seven years, Dean Sheremet, misspelling his name in her divorce announcement to fans on her website. (Runner-up in the LeAnn category: LeAnn gives an operatic rendition of "Jizz In My Pants" at the MTV Movie Awards.)

Shania Twain emerges from her cocoon. Speaking of divorces--Shania Twain seems to be doing just fine Mutt-free. This year, she posted a couple of updates to her fans, including a spirited video of her recent world travels with her new man. She also joined the American Idol panel at an open call, serving as a guest judge.

Sugarland does "Love Shack" live with the B-52s at the CMT awards. This sounds a lot cooler than it actually was. In reality, it seemed a bit off and sort of forced. Kind of like Taylor Swift doing the T-Pain thing at the same awards show. You laugh at first, but then you think...what was that all about anyway?

Kellie Pickler is rumored to be dating Kid Rock. If it were Sheryl Crow, sure--that wouldn't surprise us. But our little ole cute n' cuddly Kellie with that foul-mouthed boy from Detroit? Pass the sweet tea before I faint!

Garth Brooks comes out of retirement. The thunder started rolling, right along with all the dice on the craps tables, in Las Vegas when the best-selling solo act of all time returned to the stage at the Encore December 11. (Reviews? Mixed. He could have worn something a little nicer for the occasion, for one thing.)

Brooks & Dunn announce retirement. The award-collecting duo agree to call it quits in 2010, resulting in news outlets across the globe racing to come up with the cleverest play on homonyms "Dunn/Done."

George Jones blasts "New Country." The legendary Jones raised some eyebrows (and drew some cheers) when he told newfangled stars like Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift to claim their own danged kind of music and stop calling it country.

Taylor Swift wakes up, gets out of bed, and something historic happens. All year long.

I'm sure I'm forgetting some, but these were my personal favorites. Be sure to weigh in and let me know what were your own standout moments in country music this year. Happy holidays!

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