Oddsmaking: Best Country Solo Performance, Where Ludacris's Stamp Of Approval Makes A Difference

As part of this year's larger reduction in genre-specific awards, 2012 will see the country portion of the Grammys streamlined to just four categories: Best Solo Performance (which swallows Male and Female Vocal Performance), Best Duo/Group Performance (which swallows Best Duo/Group Vocal Performance and Instrumental Performance and Best Collaboration with Vocals), and Best Album and Best Song (which have been around since the beginning). This year, the last of those categories mixes old and new, split (along gender lines, as it turns out) between Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, and Martina McBride, who between them racked up 13 Female Vocal Performance nominations and four wins, and Jason Aldean and Blake Shelton, both up for the first time. Full breakdown below.

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The Band Perry, Taylor Swift Win Big At Last Night's Country Music Awards

Last night, country music's biggest stars (not to mention welcome outsiders like Lionel Richie and Kenny Loggins, who joined Male Vocalist of the Year Blake Shelton for a performance of "Footloose") convened in Nashville for the CMA's annual awards show. By the time hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood ended the ceremonies, joking that they'd see us at the Oscars, The Band Perry's three awards had put them above the rest of the pack, their "If I Die Young" winning both single and album of the year, and the group themselves taking home New Artist of the Year over Luke Bryan and Eric Church (who somehow qualified for the category despite releasing, between the two of them, four top-ten albums before 2010). And despite losing Album of the Year to Jason Aldean's My Kinda Party, Taylor Swift came out as entertainer of the year, thanking everyone who has a made a guest appearance on her ongoing Speak Now tour, a list that includes, among others, Tim McGraw, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Kenny Chesney, and T.I.

As far as performances go, the night's best both involved Paisley, though the first—a duet with Underwood, performing "Remind Me," the lead single off Album of the Year nominee This is Country Music—was dominated by his co-host's flawless vocals and the second —a run through three Glen Campbell songs with Keith Urban and Vince Gill—by the ailing man sitting in front of the stage. Meanwhile, before the show Sound of the City favorite Luke Bryan held his own reporting on the red carpet for Ellen. List of all winners below the fold.

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David Letterman Checking Out His Female Musical Guests: A Brief History

David Letterman is no stranger to lust: This is a man who had so much sex with his female employees that people once held a rally to get him fired for being a pervert. And though he remains a national treasure, his eyes do tend to wander, even today. On Monday night, British songstress Adele got a thorough once-over from the venerable talk-show host, as seen above. It wasn't the first time. Here we present more examples of Letterman not-so-discreetly checking out the female musicians who've visited his show over the years.

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Carrie Underwood's Play On Is #1

To the tune of a stunning 318,000 copies sold, good for the "largest sales week for an album by a woman in 2009 and the second-best sales week for a country release," according to Billboard. Sorry Mariah! MJ's This Is It halved its sales and still held onto #2, clocking second week numbers at 196,000. And, in an ominous augur of things to come, Andrea Bocelli's My Christmas debuted at #3--the first of what will surely be an adult-contempo onslaught that will swamp charts between now and Christmas. The Glee soundtrack, at 113,000, took #4, and the Now 32 "hits compilation" charted at #5, marking twin victories for robotically-selected collections of songs over albums made by humans. Speaking of which--Weezer! Ratitude is at #7, with a lackluster and satanic total of 66,000 copies sold, once again proving that internet ubiquity and Lil Wayne crossover lunges don't amount to much in a world where actual Taylor Swift albums (Fearless, one year old this week and still good for #6) still exist. [Billboard]