Tyler Dickerson and Houston County found themselves without much to do once their labels re-structured or disappeared. Both acts could resurface on other labels in the near future while another artist, Matt Kennon enjoyed a Top 30 hit with “The Call” and saw his album for BamaJam Rec1ords get released but his label, too, fell into a bit of chaos after separating from promotional support from Stroudavarious Records. Coldwater Jane released “Bring On The Love” but really found the goings tough as the sister duo looks towards 2011 to release new material on Mercury Records Nashville. The same can be said about the brilliantly talented Chris Janson, whose debut single “’Til A Woman Comes Along” failed to even scrape the Top 40.
Josh Thompson released Way Out Here to solid reviews and scored two Top 20 singles in “Beer On The Table” and “Way Out Here.” His Album hit the Top 30 of the Billboard Hot 200 albums chart and scored a Top 10 debut. His newest single, “Won’t Be Lonely Long” may just be his true break-out single in 2011. Danny Gokey entered 2010 as a former American Idol contestant, racked up his first two Top 30 hits in “My Best Days Are Ahead of Me” and “I Will Not Say Goodbye” and saw My Best Days score solid reviews and pass 200,000 copies sold. He’s currently working on new material to release from a sophomore album in 2011. A star on Broadway and of TV and film, Laura Bell Bundy’s debut Achin’ & Shakin’ gave us the fantastic “Giddy On Up” and “Drop On By” singles and while the latter failed to become a big hit, it did show off Bundy’s ability to sing. Add in her fun youtube video series and fantastic music videos, it looks like Laura Bell may be well on her way to having ‘it all’: success in all aspects of media.
The three biggest newcomers on our “Ones To Watch” list were Jerrod Niemann, The Band Perry and Easton Corbin. All three of these newcomers scored #1 hits with the latter being the first to do so with “I’m A Little More Country Than That.” Niemann followed with the hit of the summer, “Lover, Lover” and then The Band Perry became the last newcomer of 2010 to score a #1 in the same year as their sophomore single “If I Die Young” hit #1 in early December. The trio also scored a platinum sales certificate for the single, something that neither Niemann nor Corbin achieved although Jerrod did garner a Gold certificate for his “Lover, Lover” single. Corbin scored a second #1 single in “Roll With It” and has sold nearly 300,000 copies of his self-titled debut album, which scored a Top 5 country and Top 10 Hot 200 Albums chart debut in March of this year. Niemann released Judge Jerrod & The Hung Jury in July and has sold nearly 200,000 copies of the album after a #1 Country and Top 10 Hot 200 Albums debut while second single “What Do You Want” ended the year in the Top 20. The Band Perry have tapped into the youth audience with their effervescent brand of folksy and rootsy country pop and and have sold nearly at 300,000 copies sold for their self-titled album as well. The album scored a #2 country and Top 5 Hot 200 debut thanks to their first single “Hip To My Heart” and “If I Die Young.” They look poised to join Little Big Town, Lady Antebellum and Zac Brown Band as groups with the ability to dominate the next decade.
While these artists certainly provided a mixed-bag of ‘ones to watch’ in 2010, there were a few others who we didn’t ‘profile’ to begin the year but ended up making a splash anyway. One of these artists was Steel Magnolia, the 2009 winners of CMT’s Can You Duet. They released a Top 5 hit single in “Keep On Lovin’ You” and followed that up with a Top 30 hit in “Just By Bein’ You (Halo and Wings).” Third single “Last Night Again” was released in late 2010 and their self-titled debut (which was delayed from a packed fourth quarter of releases ) will finally be released in the next few weeks. Jaron and the Long Road to Love released the ‘viral’ single “Pray For You” and saw the song scrape the Top 13 and garner well over 400,000 in singles sales while also allowing the one man ‘band’ to score a #2 country and Top 20 Hot 200 Albums chart debut for his Getting Dressed in the Dark album. His follow-up single “That’s Beautiful To Me” is currently rising the charts.
Lee Brice also found himself in a good position this year to finally breakthrough after a few years of trying. The Gold-selling single “Love Like Crazy” was on the Billboard Hot Country songs chart for 56 weeks and ended up being 2010’s most-played single, according to Billboard. His debut album of the same name was released in June and scored a Top 10 debut. Current single “Beautiful Every Time” is set to hit the Top 40 sometime early in the new year. While a known commodity in the pop/rock world, Kid Rock’s buddy Uncle Kracker’s released his first country music album and single in 2010 and found “Smile” – which also was a big AC chart hit – score a #6 peak on the charts while Happy Hour: The South River Road Sessions scored a Top 5 debut this year. The JaneDear girls released their debut single “Wildflower” in April and by the end of the year the single is a Top 20 success. Their debut album will be released January 18, 2011.
Jessica Harp, Whitney Duncan, Thompson Square, Randy Montana, Jennette McCurdy, David Adam Byrnes, Blake Wise, James Wesley, Frankie Ballard, Craig Campbell, Brett Eldredge, Christian Kane, Adam Fisher, Burns & Poe, Mallary Hope, Ash Bowers, LoCash Cowboys, Michael Sarver, Scott Lindsey, Brantley Gilbert, Due West, Ken Domash, Lathan Moore, Matt Gary, Troy Olsen, Walker Hayes, Savannah Jack, Ward Davis, Melanie Denard, Train, Mark Cooke, Amber Hayes, Sunny Sweeney, Daisy Mallory, Stealing Angels, Adam Brand, Sarah Marince, Chelsea Field, Joanna Smith, Margaret Durarte, and Josh Kelley all released debut country singles and/or albums in 2010. Some of these artists will be part of our Ones To Watch in 2011. Some others on this list who don’t make our list are certain to also break-out in 2011 while others not known as of yet will arrive seemingly out of nowhere.