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Little Big Town

During the 2010s, few country-pop groups were as big on either the country or pop side of things as Little Big Town. The band's reliance on sumptuous four-part harmonies and interwoven lead vocals -- Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Phillip Sweet, and Jimi Westbrook alternated in the spotlight throughout their career -- helped evoke memories of Fleetwood Mac, a comparison the group would lean into once they began racking up hits on the country charts starting with 2010's "Little White Church." That was a downhome raver, but it was the breezy 2012 number one "Pontoon" that established their soft pop crossover potential, reaching 22 on the Top 40. Little Big Town achieved an across-the-board smash with 2014's "Girl Crush," a dreamy, slow dance number that climbed to 18 on the pop Top 40 and earned the band's second Grammy for Best Country Duo/Group Performance. "Girl Crush" gave Little Big Town license to try whatever they wanted, an opportunity they seized in 2016 by working with hip-hop producer Pharrell Williams, but they often chose to stick to their strengths: supple melodies and soothing harmonies that sounded at home in such cheerful settings as 2022's Mr. Sun. At the core of Little Big Town lies the relationship between Kimberly Roads and Karen Fairchild, a pair of Georgia natives who befriended each other while attending Samford University. Soon, their friendship turned creative -- Fairchild had a previous track record singing in the Christian groups Truth and KarenLeigh -- and in 1998, the duo decided to head to Nashville to pursue a career in country music. Jimi Westbrook, a friend of Fairchild's husband, turned the duo into a trio and Phillip Sweet completed the lineup not much later.Little Big Town sought a record contract in Nashville, eventually landing a deal with Mercury Nashville, but their work there never saw the light of day; they were dropped before any recording materialized. It was a setback, but the group filled the time singing support in the studio -- they appeared on Collin Raye's 2001 album Can't Back Down -- while working as writers behind the scenes. In 2002, they signed with Monument -- then riding high with the success of Dixie Chicks -- and released an eponymous album. Its singles, "Don't Waste My Time" and "Everything Changes," hovered around the lower reaches of the Hot Country Songs Top 40, a respectable start that was halted when Monument went under. Personally, their lives were in a state of upheaval, too, with Fairchild and Sweet divorcing their respective husbands that year.