Best and worst of 2012? In the past year many songs were both. It was more case of who’s the most polarizing. Little Big Town’s Pontoon, Taylor Swift’s” We Are Never Getting Back Together” and Jason Aldean’s “The Only Way I Know” cover both extremes.
Little Big Town scored the song of the year with an unlikely song about boating’. After lukewarm success with initial hits like “Boondocks” followed by a dry spell and then “Little White Church” and then more quiet some industry insiders had left LBT for dead. Still, everyone seemed to like the group. So when “Pontoon” came along it planted their eight feet back on the path to the A list.
Some immediately hated the song. Others were smitten, and – like all the songs on our polarizing list – airplay was undeniable. For a moment Country music was pop culture.
In fact “Pontoon” written by Natalie Hemby, Luke Laird and Barry Dean, went on to win the 2012 CMA Single of the year award at the Country Music Association Awards. The song hit number one on the radio and is the band’s first Platinum selling single.
LBT is keeping up the momentum by launching The Tornado Tour with David Nail and Kacey Musgraves in the new year.
In a different twist, Taylor swift came to radio with an obvious pop song that was instantly memorable. Despite producing a “Country Mix” that was nearly identical to the pop mix (both super bubblegum) hundreds of country and pop stations jumped on the launch of the- then mystery- single’s world premiere. In an evening YouTube live release Swift played the song to a room full of teenage girls and disclosed “Never Getting Back Together” as the first single and the album art and title (RED). Clear Channel issued every hour airplay on hundreds of stations. Many listeners complained about the repetition with dislike. Clearly many others were humming along with a smile as “We Are Never Getting Back Together” became an instant number one on iTunes and helped propel the full release of “Red” to epic sales numbers. Records include the first artist to sustain 6 weeks at #1 on the Billboard album charts with three consecutive albums. Also she is one of the first artists since Garth Brooks to hold a number one slot the week before TWO Christmas Holidays (with 2 different albums).
Jason Aldean has never played it safe. In 2012 he released a unique “event” song called That’s The Only Way I Know where he teams up with fast rising country stars and tour mates Eric Church and Luke Bryan.
It was another bold step towards infusing rap into mainstream country on the radio. Aldean has been the only one to succeed with the spoken word delivery in the past so it was a daring move but proof that he can pull it off as more than just a novelty. There could be more of e sound to come as a future track on Night Train called 1994 gives us a hilarious Joe Diffie tribute is rumored for a 2013 radio single choice.
Pontoon, Never Getting Back, and The Only Way I Know are songs that may not receive continued strong airplay(or GOLD as it’s called) on the radio due to their polarizing nature, but – love ‘em or hate ‘em – there is no doubt they’ve left their mark on 2012.