2012 was an awesome year in country music, so putting my list of top albums together was not easy.  Quick Fact: Overall sales in the country music genre rose 3.2% from last year at this same time!*  That should tell you something.  Yeah, ...the music is GOOD.  REAL GOOD!  If you don't happen to see your favorite album on this list, don't get bent....it's just one person's opinion.  OK, here we go!  I've broken my "Top Albums List" down into "Top 5", "Honorable Mention" and "Sleeper Pick."

JOSH'S TOP 5 ALBUMS OF 2012 (in no particular order)

1. Lee Brice- Lee Brice's "Hard To Love" had to be one of my favorite albums of the year.  "A Woman Like You" was the first single, followed by the title track of the album, "Hard 2 Love."  Just a few weeks ago Brice released "I Drive Your Truck."   All 3 songs released were really good tunes, but the album is even deeper than that.  "Parking Lot Party" is a fun song as is "Beer".  I mean,  c'mon....a song called "Beer" has to be good.  Really though....get this album.  It's awesome

2. Taylor Swift- Taylor Swift's "Red" is breaking records left and right. Whether you like her material or not.  Whether its country enough for you or not, she makes catchy tunes and sells BIG!  I have to admit... I'm a fan of this album.  "I Knew You Were Trouble" is HOT!  Say what you want, but "Begin Again" and "All To Well" are well written.  Take a listen before you quickly trash something!  I did this time...and it wasn't half bad.  ( this album sneaked into the Top 5)

3. Zac Brown Band- Zac Brown Band's "Uncaged" is filled with great music and great writing.  If you haven't jumped on the Zac Brown Band "train" yet....what are you waiting for???  Take a listen to the whole album.  It is very diverse.  "The Wind" will bring the country out of you.  "Goodbye In Her Eyes" may just hit home for you...and those are just the radio singles.  "Jump Right In" and "Island Song" will make you feel like you are on a cruise or in the Bahamas.  Get this album.....it's worth it!

4. Little Big Town- Little Big Town's "Tornado" came out kind of late in 2012, but the first single "Pontoon" surely made its mark on country radio.  People LOVE that song!  And why not.....any time you're motorboatin', you should have a big smile on your face.  No, really....Little Big Town has super harmonies and they really displayed in on this album.  The song "Tornado" was a great follow up to "Pontoon."  I'm just really glad this group finally got the recognition they deserve.  Other tracks to check out- "Front Porch Thing" and " Your Side Of The Bed."

5. Lionel Richie- Lionel Richie's Tuskegee was just a really cool album.  Obviously, nothing beats his original recordings of the hits, but to hear your favorite country stars sing with Lionel was a treat.  Haters will complain that Richie is not country, but my question is... "What is"?  Hearing Blake Shelton sing "You Are" or Kenny Chesney do "My Love" is cool to me.  Seeing these artists jump out of genre and sing songs they know and might love, is a neat thing.  Best Tracks: "Stuck On You" w/ Darius Rucker...and "Hello" with Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland.

HONORABLE MENTION- (next best albums of 2012)

1. Love and Theft- self titled

2. Kip Moore- "Up All Night"

3. Dierks Bentley- "Home"

4. Jason Aldean- "Night Train"

5. Toby Keith- "Hope On The Rocks"

SLEEPER PICK OF 2012- Kellie Pickler- "100 Proof"