2010 has been a great year for newcomers in country music. We’ve seen plenty of solo artists as well as new duos and groups make big splashes on the charts in their first year out. We view the following four artists as the Best of the Freshman Class of 2010. With these four artists just making their debuts, the future of country music looks very bright.
4. Jerrod Niemann
This year saw Jerrod Niemann make big splashes on both the country songs and albums charts. His hit “Lover, Lover” shot straight to number one which helped his album, Judge Jerrod and the Hung Jury, debut at number one on the albums chart. In fact, Jerrod’s album was the album that ended the 24-week reign that Lady Antebellum’s album, Need You Now, enjoyed at the top. In November, Jerrod was nominated for his first CMA award in the Best New Artist category. Jerrod is also one of the few artists that is releasing quality singles to radio as “Lover, Lover” and it’s follow-up, “What Do You Want?,” are some of the best singles released to radio this year. If 2010 is just the beginning for this talented newcomer, then I expect him to be around for a long time.
3. Steel Magnolia
Steel Magnolia is just another reason why auditioning for a talent competition can pay off big time. This new country duo won the second season of CMT’s Can You Duet? and have since splashed onto the country music scene. The duo’s debut single, “Keep on Lovin’ You,” peaked inside the top five of the country songs chart and the follow-up single, “Just By Being You,” which became the duo’s second top 25 single. They’ve nabbed nominations from both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association Awards for Duo of the Year all before releasing their debut album. In just their first year, the duo has already toured with CMA Entertainer of the Year Brad Paisley on his summer H2O tour. With their debut album expected for a January release, look for this talented duo to have an even bigger year in 2011.
2. The Band Perry
The family trio known as The Band Perry made their first appearance on the chart’s with their debut single, “Hip to My Heart,” which went on to become the group’s first top 20 single. The follow up single, “If I Die Young,” has become the group’s breakout hit. The song recently just hit number one on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and nabbed the group its first Grammy nomination in the Best Country Song category. The single was also just certified platinum for sales of over 1,000,000 copies while the debut album, The Band Perry, is well on its way to being certified gold. The group nabbed nominations at the CMA awards as well as the inaugural ACA awards and are no doubt a lock to nab a few nominations for the upcoming Academy of Country Music awards. With groups like Lady Antebellum rising to superstardom, look for this trio to be next in line in the next few years.
1. Easton Corbin
2010 has been good to all these artists but it hasn’t treated any of them like it has Easton Corbin. Corbin has had a record-breaking year thanks to his breakout singles, “A Little More Country Than That” and “Roll With It.” Easton became the first male artist to send his debut single to number one since Dierks Bentley’s “What Was I Thinking” and he became the first male artist to send his first two consecutive singles to the top spot in 17 years. His debut album, Easton Corbin, hit the top five on the albums chart back in March and has since sold nearly 300,000 copies. Easton received multiple CMA nominations including New Artist of the Year and Single of the Year. He co-led the inaugural American Country Awards nominations with 7 (tied with Lady Antebellum) and took home three of the night’s awards. Easton was also just named the top New Country Artist of the 2010 by Billboard and his album was named Country Breakthrough Album of the Year by iTunes. “Roll With It” also landed among the top ten country songs of the year while he was named among the top 10 male country artists of the year. In addition to the accolades from Billboard and iTunes, Easton Corbin also landed on our list of top 5 albums of the year. This has certainly been a breakthrough year for this country traditionalist and I see an extremely bright future for this talented 27 year old, Florida native.