Friday, December 21, 2012

Country Music 2012 Year in Review Part One: Is Luke Bryan Worthy of All Those Awards and Kudos?

Oh yeah. No doubt. 

Fueled by Tailgates and Tanlines, 2012 was Luke Bryan’s year.

This month alone, Luke racked up 9 awards including Male Artist of the year and Artist of the Year on the fan-voted American Country Awards December 10th on Fox (plus, earlier this year, an American Music Award). 

He also was singled out as Overall Artist and Male MVP in this week’s Country Aircheck.  Again, deservedly so.

He’d have won the Albright & O’Malley & Brenner’s “Best Testing Artist of the Year” award as well if we offered it (note to Fox producers).

Each year A&O&B produces a list of the top testing songs of the year based on call-out and online listener research. And this year, Luke led the list.

Luke Bryan scored 3 titles in our Top 10 for 2012. This is the fourth time this has happened in the past 10 years: Blake Shelton in 2011, Zac Brown Band in 2010, and Toby Keith in 2003.

Good company.

Besides Luke, Jason Aldean and Eric Church were the only artists to have three songs in the A&O&B’s top 30. Blake placed two in the top 20 as did Lee Brice. Dierks Bentley was the only other artist to place two songs inside the A&O&B top 30.

That Bryan, Aldean, Shelton, and Church all had big years mirrors data the February data we reported in A&O&B’s 2012 Roadmap online perceptual study where the “New Songs from Millennial Stars” cluster (where these artists reside) was the #1 25-54 music cluster among the 12 we tested.  

In all, 90% of songs in our top 1/3 were from Millennial Artists and there were no artists in the Top 10 whose discography (major label) precedes 2000.

Meanwhile, Historical Superstars (defined here as current or previous ‘Essence/Core Artists’ who had multiple chart hits prior to 1997) placed no songs in the top 10 (second year in a row) and just two in the top 1/3 – one each from Kenny Chesney and Toby Keith.

“New Songs from Historical Superstars” as a music cluster still was one of the top four 25-54 clusters in terms of appeal in Roadmap 2012, and Kenny Chesney (4 songs), Toby Keith (3), and Tim McGraw (2) did place multiple songs on the year-end list while George Strait and Alan Jackson had one each. However the overall presence of Historical Superstars in the top 1/3 has been trending down since 2008.

While we had more artist diversity in terms of the number of different artists overall, the top third had less. In fact, this is the second “least diverse” top 1/3 since we began tracking this in 1998.

Artists that were new to this year’s chart had a smaller footprint as well. Kip Moore had the highest chart position for a first-time-on-the-charts-in-2012-artist; Hunter Hayes made it to the top 20.

So back to Luke and his three in the A&O&B Top 10 joining a select group of artists. Listeners responding so positively and passionately to "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye," "I Don't Want This Night to End" and "Drunk on You" puts a punctuation mark on what has been a great year. 

Next in Part Two: How This Year’s Music Compared to Previous Years 

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