No matter who else officially claimed the title, the 2012 duo of the year award clearly belongs to Toby Keith and his “Red Solo Cup.” That insanely infectious ditty not only won music video of the year honors from the ACM and CMA, it has also become the best-selling single of Keith’s career. In June, it was certified double platinum, meaning it had racked up 2 million downloads.
Touring continued to be a big part of Keith’s appeal. Prior to launching his Live in Overdrive tour in June with Brantley Gilbert as his opening act, Keith and his band did a 12-day, five-nation sweep of military installations for the USO and Armed Forces Entertainment.
Keith detoured briefly from the road in June to co-host the CMT Music Awards with actress Kristen Bell and to join Willie Nelson, the Zac Brown Band, Jamey Johnson and Darius Rucker in a raucous rendering of “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.” He also took time out that same month to appear as the Incognito Bandito at a Nashville benefit to raise funds for the cancer-stricken wife of his bass player.
The year ended well for Keith, with Forbes magazine listing him as the world’s 10th highest-paid musician (a tie with Justin Bieber) via estimated earnings in 2012 of $55 million. That’s a lot of red Solo cups.