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The musical highs and lows of the past year

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There were plenty of musical highs and lows throughout 2010, and what better way to recap all that went down during the year than with some subjective awards.

* Concert of the Year: My Morning Jacket‘s five-night stand at Terminal 5
The Louisville, Ky.-bred band played five October shows at this top-notch New York venue, each night playing one of its studio albums from start to finish. Sure, this concept has been done before by other acts, but it usually coincides with some sort of release or anniversary. In this case, it was just for the sheer enjoyment of their fans (and with proceeds going to charity).
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* Story of the Year: The Beatles’ catalog on the Apple iTunes Store
It happened late in the year, so the impact probably won’t be felt until 2011, but this is a game-changer. Now that one of the last big holdouts of the digital age has migrated over to iTunes, the collectors and vinyl holdouts can now repurchase all that Fab Four material digitally. The Beatles are the Star Wars of music: Just when you think there is no way to squeeze another dime out of the fanatics, they find a way.
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* Song of the Year: “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum
This perfect country crossover hit took off early in the year. It was one of the most-played songs on radio all year, and it still hasn’t gotten boring or annoying with repeat listening.
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* Album of the Year: Croweology by The Black Crowes
There isn’t any new material here — instead, the album contains re-recorded versions of some of the Atlanta band’s best-known songs. If the Crowes had only written and recorded material this memorable for their last three albums, maybe they wouldn’t have to go on hiatus every five years.

* Joke of the Year: Modern country music
This is now the most self-indulgent genre of music, so the heat is off rap music for now. Here’s why: Take a long look at the current crop of mainstream country acts, and it seems eerily similar to ’80s hair-metal bands. There are very few unique modern country artists — especially in the female category, where blondes are all the rage. Plus the “party ‘til you pass out” message in the songs and videos makes one nostalgic for the days of soundstage performances on Dial MTV.

— By Mike Madden