In honor of FAIL Blog (the perfect workday distraction), here’s my take on the Academy of Country Music Awards nominations. Opinions expressed belong solely to the author, and do not represent the views of other contributors to Country Universe.
WIN- Carrie Underwood, Entertainer of the Year
A Grand Ole Opry induction, four No. 1 singles and best-seller status on the concert trail. Serious credentials for the reigning female vocalist, ensuring her a well-deserved Entertainer nod.
WIN- Miranda Lambert, Single of the Year (“Gunpowder and Lead”)
Lambert’s vengeful stand against domestic violence is amply rewarded with an appearance in the Single category. Her spicy snarl is an intimidating match for a clever, caustic lyric.
FAIL- George Strait
This is the first and final time I write the word “fail” next to George Strait’s name. He’s a worthy recipient of the Artist of the Decade award, and his Top Male Vocalist nod is justified, but the Entertainer of the Year trophy belongs elsewhere. Where art thou, Sugarland?
WIN?- Heidi Newfield’s five nominations
“Johnny and June,” her ode to undying devotion, just hints at her considerable solo potential (as does her debut disc, What Am I Waiting For). Newfield, though, is a fresh face in the Top Female race, ending Martina McBride’s streak of eleven consecutive nominations. As the frontwoman of Trick Pony, sassy songstress Newfield earned five nominations in 2003, and her popularity with radio and concert promoters pays massive dividends once again.
WIN- Ashton Shepherd, Top New Female Vocalist
Coolers are surely slushin’ in Shepherd’s neck of the woods with the news of her first awards show nomination. The built-in fanbase of Dancing with the Star‘s Julianne Hough likely limits her chances in the Best New Artist category, but Shepherd’s in it for the long haul.
WIN- Lee Ann Womack, Top Female Vocalist
Womack, one of the best singers in the business, earned three nominations in 2006, but elected not to attend the ceremony after executives insisted she shorten her performance. She returns to the Top Female category, an award that’s proved elusive in her twelve-year career. Call me crazy, but isn’t she due a statue?
BOB THAT HEAD?- Rascal Flatts, Entertainer of the Year
For the second straight awards show, Rascal Flatts sits this rodeo out. In other news, the country music industry frowns upon illicit Sonic stops on Friday nights.
FAIL?- Top New Vocal Group/Duo
ACM voters hollered back at The Lost Trailers with an ill-fitting nomination Husband-and-wife duo Joey + Rory are an indie success who deserved recognition (if only for those cutesy Overstock commercials). The other two nominees, Eli Young Band and Zac Brown Band, are worthy entries, but they lacked the clout to crash the Top Vocal Group category.
FAIL- Alan Jackson, Top Male Vocalist
“Small Town Southern Man” was an underrated gem from the understated Georgia native. While his absence in the Single and Song categories was expected, his failure to claim a Top Male Vocalist nomination is disappointing.
WIN- Jamey Johnson, Single & Song of the Year (“In Color”)
A Top New Male Vocalist nominee, Johnson’s first Top Ten hit is a picture-perfect country song. Saving a performance slot for Johnson would be a sharp move by the academy. Having him bellow “High Cost of Living” would be pure bliss.
WIN- Leann Rimes, Home Depot Humanitarian of the Year
At 26, Rimes has been a country music star for half her life. Though she wasn’t nominated for an ACM award to mark her musical ventures, her humanitarian efforts drew notice this year. Rimes (the 2001 ACM Awards host) was selected by a special committee of industry professionals in honor of her community service and charitable gifts.