August 6, 2008
Following up on last night's discussion on who should be nominated for Male Vocalist this year at the CMA's, it seems logical to talk about the female vocalists next. There was a time when this was the most competitive race at the annual awards. We're nowhere near that nineties peak again, but there are good cases to be made for those who aren't among my personal top five, which are:
Everybody knows that the two women who have sold the most records in the past two years are Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift. Perhaps less widely known is that Alison Krauss is in third, thanks to the enduring popularity of her hits collection and duet album with Robert Plant. Oh, and she's done it without radio and with CMT running reality shows all day. Her appeal is far broader than country, but claiming her as one of their own makes country music look a lot better than it really is.
Here's the woman I'll be rooting for this fall. Along with Underwood, she's a mortal lock for a nomination. The ACM honored her with Album earlier this year, but that set wasn't released during the eligibility period for this year's CMA's. Lambe
rt strikes a balance between artistic merit and commercial success better than any other woman in the game right now.
It was a race between her and Dolly Parton for my fifth slot here, two women who have maintained relevance longer than most country stars in history, male or female. Parton made the better album of the two, and is the only woman in country right now who has a serious presence internationally. But McEntire had her biggest album in a decade and she happened to do her best singing on it in about as long.
I don't think I'll be rooting for her to win this year, since she already has two of them, but I wouldn't complain, either. Much like Trisha Yearwood, my reaction to Carrie Underwood being nominated for a vocalist will always be, “She's a damn good vocalist.” I think her singing was much stronger on her second album and she keeps wowing me when I least expect it. This year alone brought live covers of Eddy Arnold and George Michael, and they were both awesome.
This past year, Yearwood politely reminded all of us that she's still the best female singer we've got, and her taste in material is peerless. I think that for as long as Yearwood is actively recording, you might as well pre-print the ballots with her name on it, and ask the voters for four more nominees.
Which five women do you want to see nominated for Female Vocalist this year?