Country music's pop influences have never been as obvious as they are today. Top artists claim pop and rock bands as childhood favorites. Rock producers are shaping the format's top new albums. And the occasional guest appearance from a Music City outsider has become the rule, not the exception, on just about every country release.

Taste of Country writer Billy Dukes argues that while the seeds for country's pop invasion were planted decades ago, 2005 was a watershed year. Two events led to a wide expansion of the genre that's left many today wondering what is and what isn't "real" country music.

It'd be overstating things to say 2005 is country's most important year -- it's hardly what 1969 was to rock -- but admitting it's an important year recognizes the importance of Los Angeles and New York City's influence on the Nashville Sound. Watch to see what Dukes is referring to, and share your comments below.

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