Urban and Swift bring twang to the tabloids

Country acts find pitfalls embedded beneath their success.

With all the lucrative benefits that accompany success for country superstars Keith Urban and Taylor Swift, there are pitfalls and consequences that would drive just about anybody into seclusion. During the past few years both artists have hit personal and career peaks that many only dream about, but their accomplishments often are overshadowed by the public's feral desire for information about their personal lives and the media's desire to sell those tidbits.

Urban is one of the hottest country acts of the past decade, with multiplatinum sales and numerous industry awards. Nineteen-year-old Swift has made one of the biggest splashes in the country music industry in recent years, selling massive amounts of CDs and downloads, and touring with some of the biggest names in the business.

Regardless of what the tabloids print, Urban and Swift are at the top of their respective games. Their music may not be as dark and existential as Hank's or Loretta's, but in contemporary America, people seem to want their songs to be pretty and their news tawdry.

Celebrity couplings

Urban: After ending a long-term relationship with Nashville veterinary assistant Laura Sigler in 2002, Urban spent two years dating supermodel Niki Taylor after she appeared in one of his videos. He ultimately courted and married fellow Aussie and movie superstar Nicole Kidman, with whom he has a daughter, Sunday Rose.

Swift: Very reticent about her early relationships, Swift alludes to a few high school crushes, including dating a senior when she was a freshman. Her most public romance was with Jonas Brother Joe, which was fodder for the tabloids for months after it ended. No info is available on if or who her current flame may be.

Celebrity BFFs

Swift: They must be tight, because her first big single was titled "Tim McGraw," and she stayed at the McGraw-Faith Hill home in L.A. for a while. Swift has a recent duet single with former "American Idol" contestant Kellie Pickler, and she made an appearance in both Miley Cyrus' recent movie and the Jonas Brothers' live 3D concert film (done before the breakup, of course). Swift's odd pairing with Def Leppard on CMT's "Crossroads" will be the first official DVD release of the series, available June 16 at Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores.

Urban: Teaming up with his buddies such as Garth Brooks and the Dixie Chicks has long been one of Urban's strengths. His success continues with Brad Paisley, with whom he recorded and released "Start a Band," a hot dueling-guitars tune from Paisley's last album that won the ACM Vocal Event Award. Also, collaborating with longtime friend and fellow songwriter Monty Powell, Urban recently celebrated a No. 1 single with "Sweet Thing."

Tabloid scandals

Urban: Often referred to as one of country music's major hotties, Urban shocked his rather conservative fan base when he posed for Playgirl in 2001. Honest about his addictions, he did two stints in rehab for cocaine and alcohol abuse, including one just three months after marrying Kidman. To date, Urban appears to be clean and sober.

Swift: Lost the 2008 Grammy for best new artist to Amy Winehouse (how the mighty have fallen). The biggie was getting dumped by Joe Jonas over the phone and the ongoing questions about her "purity" and possible pregnancy —- "Impossible," she retorts.

Success is the best revenge

Urban: With a beautiful baby, new album success, sobriety, and a big-selling world tour, Urban has nothing to worry about. In addition, since 2004 he has won numerous Grammy, CMA, ACM and CMT awards.

Swift: The golden girl finally graduated from high school and became the best-selling artist in 2008 at more than 6 million units. She is planning her own upcoming headlining tour, and she continues to work with her personal fashion line sold at (you guessed it) Wal-Mart.