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But with the red-hot status of country music, and Lambert and Shelton's superstar positions within it, comes a brighter spotlight than ever. With Shelton's stardom growing as a result of The Voice, his last album, Based on a True Story..., was the ninth-best-selling album of 2013 (moving 1.1 million units, according to Nielsen SoundScan), and he's putting up the best touring numbers of his career. He and Lambert have become huge targets for the tabloids and paparazzi. "It takes some getting used to," she says. "I always heard 'no publicity is bad publicity,' and I don't necessarily agree with that. But, if they're talking about you, it's a good thing, especially if you have a record coming out."

Still, some of the tabloid stories have been "hurtful" - not to mention contradictory, with the same publication that declared they were expecting a baby announcing their marriage was over a few months later. "None of it's true," she says. "All of a sudden this page turned, and it was like overnight we couldn't go to a restaurant. There's people outside waiting, flashing cameras in our face, and I'm going, 'What just happened?' Nobody told me about this. I thought this was only in the magazines I bought at the airport, and now we're in them!"

Miranda Lambert for Billboard

Tabloid reports notwithstanding, those close to the pair say the Lambert/Shelton union remains strong. "The two of them are in such a good place that they can look at this as a couple and say, 'We're in Oklahoma, and obviously the world seems to care about what we do or don't do, and they make up these stories,'" says Marion Kraft, Lambert's manager at Shopkeeper Management. "If we had a choice of saying 'Yes, please' or 'No, thank you,' we'd absolutely say, 'No, thank you.' It doesn't mean anything in the big picture, but does it interfere? It's easier for us to say it's no big deal because it's not true, but it is her face and her name and the world's reading things about her that are made up. It can't feel that good."

Shelton, says Lambert, "just shrugs it off. He doesn't care at all. But girls are more sensitive. I'm like, 'But they're telling lies!' So dramatic. Now, it has actually brought us closer, which is probably the opposite of what they're trying to do. We just laugh about it. I think I've had like five sets of twins in the last two years, and we've been divorced four times, and one of us had a $100 million divorce. We both agreed, 'If one of us has $100 million, one of us is killing the other.' It's craziness."


Lambert showed up looking particularly svelte at the Academy of Country Music Awards in April, generating a wealth of media comments about her weight loss. "It just feels like you can't do anything for yourself anymore. There's always got to be some reason behind everything," she says. "Have you ever thought I might just be turning 30 and trying to get a little ahead of the game? Isn't that just a normal thing to do?"

So if the weight observations touched a nerve, it wasn't for the usual reasons. "I'm super into giving girls - especially younger girls - a positive body image," says Lambert. "I'm just a normal-sized girl, the girl you would probably come over and have a beer with if you lived next door right now, and we'd probably be frying chicken. I don't ever want to stray away from that. A lot of female fans come up to me and say, 'Thanks for being normal. You made me feel OK about my size 8.' Or, 'I threw my scale away today thanks to you. You're so confident in who you are.' So whenever they talk about my weight loss and all this crap, that doesn't define me. I'm so much more than my jean size - it's not even about that."

Platinum stands as an of assessment of sorts. With the gift of perspective, Lambert says she now views her 20s as "work hard, play hard" and "also a little bit about learning who I am, learning who I was, figuring out everything, and sort of controlled chaos.

"Really, I started making a living at music when I was 17, and I haven't stopped," she says. "I'm 30, and I'm married happily, and I have a life up here in Oklahoma that I'm enjoying ... When you're just a kid, you fly by the seat of your pants: 'Who cares?' But it's a lot different once you have your roots set."

Chaos or no, she says there's nothing she would have done differently. "Of course, I have random regrets, bad decisions, hungover mornings," she says. "But I learned a lot, and I'm sitting perfectly where I want to be sitting right now at 30."

Miranda Lambert for Billboard