Articles by Dan Milliken
Here’s a kooky little love song. It lilts by so sweetly that you kind of miss the verse lyrics at first. After another listen, you realize that the night of marital bliss in the chorus apparently stems from that couple feeling smug compared to another, less successful couple from earlier that night. And the other couple are their friends! You’re cold, Kellie and Kyle.
Because this kind of release begs some blog attention, simply for the fact of what it is: a meeting of highly buzzy but divergent artists, and the first soundtrack cut from a hotly anticipated movie (The Hunger Games, adapted from Book 1 of Suzanne Collins’s mega-popular young-adult series). On paper alone, it’s a reminder of why the award shows optimistically call the duet category “Vocal Event.”
11:33 Ben: I had a blast. Big thanks to Dan for doing a bang-up job leading the live blog, and thanks to everyone who partipated in the comments. See y’all at ACM season!
11:32 Tara: Thanks for hanging out, y’all! Tonight’s show kind of grew on me, with its surprising focus on the music (how quaint). And lest we forget: when Adele wins, we all win.
11:27 Dan: And we close the show with a spirited “Carry that Weight” with Paul McCartney, The Boss, Dave Grohl, and a bunch of guitar dudes I’m ashamed to say I don’t recognize. Slow night, but some really nice moments!
A sound sentiment stuffed in a sound-impaired package.
The generic “moody” 90’s production does some of the damage, as does a patchwork melody that can’t seem to connect its phrases. But you can also hear McGraw still ironing out his vocal technique, as his likably nervous tremor in the verses meets a series of clumsy trills and some pitchy “baby”s and “maybe”s.
One of those great country titles that says it all upfront.
Unfortunately, it’s also one of those country titles that carries an entire song. The melody here lands just shy of memorable, and ditto to the story, which never takes its characters deeper than their charming first encounter at the jukebox. (Instead it does that annoying second-verse thing where it just rephrases the chorus and spells out a few obvious inferences the listener has already made.)
Although I might append a “-ly Cool” to that “Ridiculous” depending on the day you asked me.
But yeah, let’s talk about this. She’s playing up her primary marketing persona to such an extreme as to make its artifice glaringly, even amusingly obvious. In a way, that doesn’t bug me – it’s not like any of us ever actually believed her to be a vengeful pyro/ex-girlfriend/abuse victim.
It’s always interesting to see how music industry awards reflect (or don’t reflect) larger narratives in the industry itself.
If you’re interested in the narratives behind this year’s CMAs, look no further than the two men who’ve made the biggest strides on the ballot: Blake Shelton and Jason Aldean. Both show up in Entertainer and Male Vocalist, plus Album and Single, plus assorted other stuff. But the marketing approaches that have gotten them there are vastly different.