Kenny Chesney leads with nine nominations. Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, and Brad Paisley follow.
Check out the entire list of nominees here.
Kenny Chesney leads with nine nominations. Jason Aldean, Lady Antebellum, and Brad Paisley follow.
Check out the entire list of nominees here.
And some amount of us will be live-blogging the show tomorrow at 8 pm/7 central. Join!
Entertainer of the Year
Kevin: With three of the genre’s biggest entertainers left off the list – Lady Antebellum, Carrie Underwood, and Zac Brown Band – the field is clear for Taylor Swift, the only act of the six that truly was an Entertainer of the Year this year.
Dan: I’m mostly just Entertained by this bizarro Toby Keith nomination. But that’s why the ACMs are the Golden Globes of country music. Of the six, I’ll pick Lambert, who’s helped reinvigorate the mainstream creatively and now outsells many of the big guys. I’d be OK with Swift, too, though she’s carved out such a unique niche in popular music that it’s hard to think of her as “representing” a particular genre in the way this award suggests. With the fan vote still intact, I could see this going lots of ways, but I’ll guess Swift.
Leeann: Since Underwood isn’t in the running, Swift’s equally enthusiastic fan base seems most likely to push the votes her way.
Tara: I’d like to eventually support Lambert, but I’m not sure she’s fully formed as an entertainer just yet. Then again, this category seems to be morphing into something different than it used to be. Paisley and Urban are the consummate entertainers, Swift is a phenomenon, Aldean is a rising star and Keith, well, I’m as entertained as Dan is. It feels a little “take your pick”…and I guess my pick is Paisley. Now that Underwood’s voters are out of the picture, though, I think Swift will take this, with Paisley or Aldean as a close second.
Kevin: Too many repeat winners up against two newbies. I still find Shelton’s CMA victory ridiculous, and Aldean is long overdue for industry recognition.
Dan: But look – where’s Toby here?! Love you, ACMs! I’m thinking Aldean for this one, too. He’s not my favorite, but he does have his own thing going, and maybe the Academy has noticed that he moves lots of units and Blake Shelton doesn’t.
Leeann: While I’d love to see Shelton take it this year, since he somehow got nominated, I’m guessing it’ll reflexively go to Paisley again.
Tara: Lately I’ve been inexplicably craving Keith Urban: even the Urban-lite music of his past two albums excites me more than some of the stuff on the air right now. I think the voters will stick with the familiar, though, and reward Brad for the 61st time.
Kevin: I think the Lambert victory lap will continue, but Underwood’s the only one with recent output that I regularly listen to.
Dan: Lambert over Swift for the same reasons I mentioned in my Entertainer blurb.
Leeann: The Academy loves them some Miranda Lambert and, presumably, nothing in particular has happened in the last year to change that. So, this award is hers to lose.
Tara: Lambert is probably the best representation of the genre’s current momentum and direction, – and I think the voters will act on that, – but Underwood deserves some sort of recognition for her stellar Play On tour. This award is pretty much her last shot.
Kevin: I would be happy with LTB, ZBB, or TBP.
Dan: I mean, wouldn’t it be lovely to see Little Big Town rewarded just for being Little Big Town all these years? Back in reality, though, Lady A will fly a yawn cloud to the podium while Zac Brown Band and The Band Perry continue creeping up from behind.
Leeann: Randy Rogers Band out of the mix (let’s be realistic), Zac Brown Band is my favorite of the bunch. I expect Lady A to continue their winning streak, however.
Tara: Zac Brown Band released one of my favorite albums of 2010, and I’m digging how fresh their music sounds as of late. I think Lady Antebellum’s awards show ownage will continue, though.
Kevin: Who else?
Dan: If we were judging just by singles, Sugarland’s win here would be as deserved as it is inevitable. I don’t feel like rewarding The Incredible Machine, though. I wonder who Thompson Square is going to end up ousting from this category – JaneDear Girls, Joey + Rory or Montgomery Gentry?
Leeann: I know Joey+Rory doesn’t even deserve to win, but they’re honestly the only duo that I like in this category. I’d be a fool to bet against Sugarland, especially (as the others have said) based on their strong singles.
Tara: …I’m going to judge by singles and back Sugarland. Yeah. I don’t know.
Kevin: The whole fan-voted thing makes me think that Church will win, even though The Band Perry is more popular with record buyers.
Dan: I have a little more faith in the Perry siblings’ tastes and talents moving forward. Church’s fans always seem pretty revved up, though; I bet they’ll power him to the win.
Leeann: The Band Perry’s music is at least interesting, but Church has been around longer. So, it’s anybody’s guess.
Tara: The Perrys are almost always spunky and interesting, while Church is only sometimes a legit badass. If we’re rewarding the artist(s) who has the best grasp on his or her potential, I guess I’ll go with the former.
Kevin: Somebody had to pick up where the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band left off.
Dan: I think Swift made the most consistently strong set here, but Johnson made the most ambitious and unique, and he hasn’t actually won a major album award yet. But Lady A made money.
Leeann: I have a bad feeling about Lady A, but I’d be happy if either Jamey Johnson or Dierks Bentley proved me wrong.
Tara: You Get What You Give is my favorite of the set, but Up On The Ridge is the best. I have a funky/good feeling that the voters will agree with me. (And yes, NARAS, in case you were wondering: I’m still mad at you for what you did with this category.)
Kevin: I prefer ZBB and AJ on this one, but Lambert’s hit is in the same inevitability league as “I Hope You Dance” and “Live Like You Were Dying.”
Dan: “As She’s Walking Away” and “The House That Built Me” will both hold up over time. My preference here is slight.
Leeann: With the exception of “As She’s Walking Away”, it seems that “The House that Built Me” was set up to win based on the inferior quality of the other nominees. Either that or 2010 really was as bad for country music as I remember.
Tara: Truth be told, I enjoy “As She’s Walking Away” more than I enjoy “The House That Built Me.” But there’s an intangible quality to Lambert’s vocal performance that puts it on a slightly different level for me.
Kevin: “The House That Built Me” is what Song of the Year awards exist for. But I like the tender melancholy of “If I Die Young” quite a bit more.
Dan: Please just go read the second verse to “Love Like Crazy” and then come back.
Leeann: I can’t imagine that “The House that Built Me” won’t take it, but I do have a funny feeling about “As She’s walking Away.”
Tara: No question here.
Kevin: I think the Sugarland clip is the only one that is truly memorable, but this race gives voters the opportunity to hit two B-list stars with one stone.
Dan: I’m still very, very entertained by the “Stuck Like Glue” video. Maybe I shouldn’t be, since it’s about stalking and kidnapping and drugging and stuff. But I am.
Kevin: As Vocal Events ago, “As She’s Walking Away” ranks with the best of the last ten years.
Dan: This field reminds me of when Heath Ledger was nominated for The Dark Knight. The preordained winner and…some other people.
Leeann: I’m cheating, but ditto to Dan.
Tara: The ZBB/Jackson duet never loses its fiddle-y sparkle. I wonder if ten years from now, I’ll still get warm fuzzies when Jackson starts singing?
Here are this year’s nominees for the ACM Awards. Biggest surprises: Lady Antebellum, Carrie Underwood and Zac Brown Band not up for Entertainer; Rascal Flatts out of the Vocal Group race; Jason Aldean finally scores major nominations, both Entertainer and Male Vocalist.
Entertainer of the Year
Top Male Vocalist of the Year
Top Female Vocalist of the Year
Top Vocal Group of the Year
Top Vocal Duo of the Year
Top New Solo Vocalist of the Year
Top New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year
Album of the Year
Single Record of the Year
Song of the Year
Video of the Year
Vocal Event of the Year
Female artists dominated this year’s ACM Awards in a way that would have been unimaginable just five years earlier, with nearly all of the major winners of the evening coming from a female solo artist or a band that prominently features a female vocalist. More significantly, this year’s ACM dissented from the CMA this fall in the marquee categories of Entertainer and Female Vocalist, which makes this fall’s CMA Awards that much more unpredictable.
Here’s my spin on the show’s highlights:
Carrie Underwood wins Entertainer of the Year
Perhaps we should have known not to underestimate the fan base of Ms. Underwood, who helped deliver the singing siren her second consecutive win for Entertainer of the Year. With Taylor Swift dominating the Grammys and CMAs, it was easy to forget that Underwood has continued to do quite well in her own right. Her string of hits at radio – eleven consecutive top two hits, nine of which reached #1 – is unprecedented. She’s also had ten gold singles, three of which have sold platinum or better. Her third album, Play On, has moved her cumulative album sales past eleven million.
She’s consistently proven herself as a live vocalist and entertainer as well, with her once-awkward stage presence now a distant memory. She remains the genre’s most constant and dedicated ambassador, shown again with her heartfelt acceptance speech for the quite silly Triple Crown Award. So while I’m surprised by her win, I can’t say that I’m disappointed or that there’s another person who deserved it more.
Miranda Lambert wins Female Vocalist, Album, and Video
I suppose it shouldn’t be too shocking, since Lambert’s won Album at this show before and the ACM was the first to award Patty Loveless in the Female Vocalist category, proving that the CMA doesn’t always get it right before the ACM does. “The House That Built Me” is shaping up to be a career record for her, making Lambert the presumptive favorite at this year’s CMA Awards. Much can happen between now and then, but it’s not difficult to imagine her repeating in these categories and adding Single and Song to boot.
Rascal Flatts had quite the run, but it’s clear that Lady Antebellum is now the group to beat. “Need You Now” is arguably more deserving of the hardware it won than its predecessor “I Run to You”, which earned Lady Antebellum a CMA and a Grammy. This group is a force to be reckoned with, and has the potential to dominate its Vocal category for a long time.
Brooks & Dunn win Vocal Duo
I should’ve seen this coming, as all of my colleagues at CU were able to. The ACM has always loved these guys, giving them two Entertainer wins and sticking with them when the CMA switched over to Montgomery Gentry and Sugarland. It helped that Sugarland was completely off the radar this year, clearing the way for a sympathy vote. But as I watched them perform “My Maria”, the cover song picked by fans over two excellent originals, it felt like 1996 all over again. They’re good at what they do, but it’s hard not to notice that their music never evolved much over the twenty years they spent in the spotlight.
Brad Paisley wins his fourth Male Vocalist trophy
It’s funny that the guy who waited forever to finally win this race has now become so dominant in it that nobody’s been able to take it from him. I can’t picture somebody else getting this in the fall. Can you?
Taylor Swift shut out
Our predictions for Swift varied, with all of us expecting her to win both Entertainer and Video, and some of us expecting similar victories in her other categories. But the shut-out makes sense. “You Belong With Me” lost to “Need You Now” in the big races, and to belle of the ball Miranda Lambert in Video and Female Vocalist. Her speed dialers just couldn’t keep up with Underwood’s in the night’s biggest category, resulting in the first Swift-free country awards show since the 2008 CMA Awards, I believe. It felt rather abrupt after her CMA and Grammy sweeps, but it also felt good not having to wince at her being named a standard-bearer after yet another mediocre performance.
Laura Bell Bundy, Kenny Chesney, and live music
Though at least Swift sang live, and she wasn’t the only one to sound less than great while doing so. Chesney lip-synched his heart out without moving a step on stage, while Bundy did an amazing song-and-dance number with a live mic that recalled the very best of Reba McEntire’s showstoppers from the nineties. The Broadway background helped her command the stage in the way that our B-listers simply couldn’t, and let’s be honest: the genre is mostly B-listers these days.
There’s certainly more to talk about. Thoughts?
Vocal Event of the Year – Blake Shelton & Trace Adkins, “Hillbilly Bone”
Video of the Year – Miranda Lambert, “White Liar”
Song of the Year – Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”
Single of the Year – Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”
Top New Artist: Luke Bryan
Album of the Year: Miranda Lambert, Revolution
Top Vocal Group of the Year: Lady Antebellum
Top Male Vocalist of the Year: Brad Paisley
Top Vocal Duo of the Year: Brooks & Dunn
Top Female Vocalist of the Year: Miranda Lambert
Entertainer of the Year: Carrie Underwood
– – –
10:10 TS: Overall a solid show, with some colorful and sincere moments. And I had a blast doing my first live blog, y’all! Thanks so much.
10:07 DM: Anyway, it’s certainly been an interesting awards night. Thanks so much for your participation, everyone!
10:04 DM: I suspect the Carrie base was rattled by the CMAs and really buckled down this time. It’s hard to make numbers judgments, since Taylor has won other fan awards before (CMT Awards, for example).
10:03 KC: Maybe the Grammy performance did Swift in, though I suspect she was only hurt in the race for Female Vocalist because of that. Carrie Underwood has a stronger fan base voting for her, I guess.
10:02 TS: I’ve been hard on him in the past, but I enjoyed Darius’ bluegrass-y performance.
10:01 DM: Also significant: After the major CMA sweep, a completely award-free night for Taylor Swift! Interesting.
10:00 KC: Carrie Underwood is the first woman in history to win ACM Entertainer of the Year more than once.
9:58 DM: Now Darius is up playing “Forever Road”, which has a pretty country arrangement here.
9:58 KC: No complaints from me on this one. I do love having this woman as a genre standard-bearer. She seems to actually give a darn about it as a cultural commodity, not just a radio format.
9:57 TS: Back to irrational fan mode. So insanely happy right now.
9:56 DM: Not terribly surprised, actually. I feel like fan-voting guaranteed it’d be her or Taylor.
9:56 TS: Speechless.
9:55 KC: SHOCKER! I’m actually speechless!
Entertainer of the Year: Carrie Underwood
9:50 TS: This is trippy.
9:48 DM: So Keith is letting his fans film him or something. Whatever. Important thing is that he’s doing “I’m In”, the great Radney Foster song he covered on the latest album. Hope it’s the new single; even though it’s not my favorite version of the song, it does have the rare cool guitar solo.
9:44 TS: Miranda’s moment. Finally. (Not trying to stir anything up, but when she listed the people she couldn’t take this award from in a recent article, she left off Swift. Wonder if it was intentional or not considering she included her just now.)
9:44 KC: Not surprised, but happy to see Miranda win. Surprisingly Swift-free evening so far, but I still expect her to win entertainer.
9:43 DM: That was a Kool-Aid Guy thing, incidentally. Just the first thing I thought.
9:41 DM: OH YEAAAAAH.
Top Female Vocalist of the Year: Miranda Lambert
9:38 DM: Wow, and now Reba is performing “Keep on Loving You” right before the announcement of Female Vocalist. COULD IT HAPPEN?!?
9:31 DM: Third straight time tonight that an artist has performed right before the announcement of their win, if I’m counting correctly.
Top Vocal Duo: Brooks & Dunn
9:29 DM: Well, sound came back for the very end. Ronnie sounded great; bummed I missed most of it.
9:28 TS: Wow. Talk about anti-climatic. Come on.
9:25 DM: WHO IS F—ING UP THE SOUND ON THE FINAL BROOKS & DUNN PERFORMANCE? Someone’s getting fired tonight.
9:25 DM: The final Brooks & Dunn! “My Maria”!
9:18 DM: Brad Paisley makes a shirtless Matthew McConaughey joke.
Male Vocalist of the Year: Brad Paisley
9:15 DM: Well, he fell into a pool. Pretty close.
9:15 TS: I like everything about this song but the lyrics. Who thinks water’s going to come pouring down “Should’ve Said No” style?
9:11 DM: Brad Paisley shows up with “Water”. Most of his singles I either really like or really don’t. This is one of the few I feel pretty much nothing about.
9:03 DM: Another song I’m indifferent to on record, but which gains something from the added visual element of live performance. Tired of these guitar solos, though.
9:03 KC: KC: Four months into 2010, “Still” remains my favorite single of the year.
Vocal Group of the Year: Lady Antebellum
9:00 KC: Funny that a ridiculously fake award produced the most genuinely real acceptance speech of the night.
8:59 TS: Excuse me while I turn into an irrational fan. So proud of that girl!
8:59 DM: A heartfelt moment is weirdly followed by the presentation of a totally weird “Triple Crown” award to Carrie for winning a bunch of other stuff. The new Crystal Milestone, I guess.
8:57 TS: Here’s the thing: this is as honest a moment as Miranda’s, regardless of how much more flash or vocal bombast it includes. Carrie’s emotion in this song is so incredibly pure. And I really wish people would see that.
8:57 KC: As always, I love Underwood’s sincerity and conviction. Her vocal isn’t up to her usual par, though.
8:54 DM: Carrie doing “Temporary Home”. Looking super pretty in pink-purple. Guitarist needs a tune-up, though, and I question the producer decision to have this performance directly after the other quiet, well-sung acoustic number of the evening.
8:50 TS: I feel like Seacrest should be giving out the EOTY voting numbers. There’s an amusing visual in my head of George Strait holding up four fingers and mouthing “Please!” OK, no more Idol references from me. Promise.
8:49 DM: A very frat-tastic performance with Jack, Dierks Bentley and a bunch of random crowd girls.
8:46 DM: Love that the ACMs gave Jack Ingram a performance slot, and love that he’s doing his old fan favorite, “Barbie Doll.” Good song.
8:45 KC: Nice to see MG get some love though, as they’ve had to play Bellamy Brothers to Sugarland and Brooks & Dunn for so long.
8:44 KC: Country Universe is proud to present the CU Humanitarian Award to the viewers at home for enduring this evening so far.
8:42 TS: Such an honest moment. And I’ll say it again – Miranda does not get enough credit as a strong vocalist. Although I think she’s about to get some.
8:41 DM: There’s a projector image of what looks like the Ryman in the backdrop toward the end. Intriguing.
8:38 DM: Miranda doing “The House that Built Me”. Excuse me while I actually listen to a performance.
8:33 TS: Miranda’s wonderful, fabulous, etc., etc. AOTY win made me immune to Jason Aldean’s performance. Thanks ACM!
8:31 DM: Jason Aldean’s terrible “Crazy Town” sounds exactly like Jason Aldean’s pretty bad “She’s Country”, miraculously making the latter sound good by comparison. Is that mean? Sorry.
8:31 KC: Lambert looking like a lock for Female Vocalist at this point. If she wins that, she gets to claim “big winner of the night” bragging rights that she’s currently sharing wtih Lady Antebelum.
8:28 KC: As for studio albums, only Dixie Chicks can claim two wins among those with XX chromosomes.
8:28 TS: Woah, not cool.
8:28 DM: Frank Liddell or Mike Wrucke (didn’t see which) gets cut off just as he’s starting to talk.
8:27 KC: Wow! First solo female artist in ACM history to win this award twice, unless you count Emmylou Harris for Trio and O Brother.
8:26 TS: YES!
8:26 DM: D@@#0wF%$*#*#W YES
Album of the Year: Miranda Lambert, Revolution
8:21 DM: As much as I still dislike a lot of mainstream country, I can’t tell you how much happier I am with the genre now that we’ve definitively cleared Rascal Flatts’ peak.
8:16 KC: Nobody’s owning the stage the way Bundy did. Perhaps we’ll make a stint on Broadway a new requirement for country music stardom.
8:16 DM: The chorus has a pretty melody, I’ll say that.
8:16 TS: Loved the intro to “Ameri-kin Honey,” but not so much the vocals. The song still makes me teary every time I hear it. I’ve moved past feeling like I need to explain why (I think).
8:11 TS: That was an awkward way to present an award, with mini sing-offs.
Top New Artist: Luke Bryan
8:08 KC: If the nineties were country music’s spin on seventies California rock, this decade must be country’s spin on eighties hair bands.
8:08 TS: I prefer Gloriana’s 25 seconds of cheese-tastic performance to Taylor’s pseudo-epic performance. So kill me.
8:07 KC: Hough apparently celebrated her Top New Artist win last year at the tanning salon.
8:07 DM: “Last year’s Top New Artist, Julianne Hough.” THIS IS WHY YOUR SYSTEM IS BROKEN, ACM.
8:05 KC: A big, loud choir should accompany every Taylor Swift glory note.
8:04 DM: Ah, here’s the outfit change. I was beginning to wonder.
8:01 DM: People keep describing Taylor Swift’s writing her own songs like it was a completely revolutionary idea.
7:59 DM: The Laura Bell Bundy haters are already coming out in droves on the social networking sites.
7:58 DM: Grumble, grumble.
7:58 TS: So predictable, but so deserved.
7:54 DM: I started typing that “Need You Now” was the winner before it was even announced.
Single of the Year: Lady Antbellum, “Need You Now”
7:46 DM: I don’t mean this cynically (especially since they were my choice), but I bet Zac Brown Band is currently receiving a good last-minute boost in the Entertainer race thanks to all the attention given to their USO stuff.
7:44 TS: TS: I think Toby is the only artist that elicits from me such polarizing feelings. That was lovely.
7:40 DM: “Cryin’ For Me (Wayman’s Song)”. Never been able to get into the recorded version personally, but it makes for a moving live performance.
7:35 TS: Ok, maybe a lot happy.
7:34 KC: Well, that was the best thing of the night so far. The most country, too. Things are weird.
7:34 TS: I’m having a similar reaction to Kara DioGuardi’s after Adam Lambert sang “Ring of Fire.” LBB left me “confused but sort of happy.”
7:31 DM: Laura Bell Bundy’s much-anticipated (by me, at least) performance going on now. She’s done well keeping up with the song so far. I think people are either going to hate this or kind of love it.
Song of the Year: “Need You Now”
7:28 TS: Faith looks younger. How is that even possible?
7:28 KC: Great. The first person I want to hear perform is presenting! Love Faith Hill.
7:27 DM: Reba wants to remind you to vote for the song Brooks & Dunn will perform tonight. “My Maria”, “Red Dirt Road”, or “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone”. I love all of them, but I’d rather one of the two oldies.
7:24 TS: Touche.
7:23 KC: I thought they were all non-country performances, and I’m hardly a purist.
7:23 TS: Four performances so far, and I’ve only enjoyed the non-country one. I feel a little bad.
7:19 KC: I think Kenny Chesney is lip-syncing.
7:18 DM: Kenny Chesney performing his current single, “Boring Freewheeling Lifestyle Song #7″.
7:16 DM: Billy Currington performing his recent #1, “Stupid ‘Country Boy’ Mentality Song #14″.
7:13 KC: NYC people know about country music, and we’ve all been south of Queens. This entire song is built upon a ridiculous stereotype.
7:13 DM: Blake and Trace doing “Hillbilly Bone.”
7:12 DM: Miranda looked like she had NO IDEA who that person was. Love it.
7:12 TS: Is anyone else completely blind-sided by Cher? What…?
7:11 KC: Cher and Reba share a doctor.
7:08 KC: A Kirstie Alley fat joke? Really?
7:05 KC: KC: Couldn’t this have been done just as easily with a country song and a country legend?
7:05 TS: Um, I kind of ridiculously loved that. FIERCE vocals.
7:03 DM: Carrie, Miranda, Brad, Fogerty, and CHARIE FREAKIN’ DANIELS rocking out to “Travelin’ Band.” Pretty kickass, although it might have been nice if they’d done a slightly countrier CCR song like “Lookin’ Out My Back Door.”
7:00 DM: Yes, Matthew McConaughey is back! His Carrie speech shout-out last year was classic.
6:58 TS: Let the shenanigans begin. I’m pretty stoked for this much-buzzed-about opener…ready to see Miranda and co. rock out!
6:51 DM: RAaAaaaAAAHH DANNY GOKEY RaAAaAH GO AWAY!!!
6:50 DM: John Fogerty on the carpet now. He’ll be playing tonight with Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert, and Carrie Underwood. Shaping up to be a super-cool night.
6:30 DM: I’m happy to see Sarah Buxton staying in the public eye on the orange carpet, but I’d be happier if she still had a record deal. Stupid Disney.
6:15 DM: Apparently CMT is going to be re-airing this past year’s CMA Awards at the same time as the ACMs. Doesn’t that seem kind of like a cheap attempt to grab confused viewers?
6:08 DM: All right folks, Kevin, Tara and I will be triple-teaming it tonight! And Blake Shelton is on the orange carpet doing some great fake-bragging about his Vocal Event win.
Nashville takes over Vegas this Sunday for the 45th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, and it could actually be an interesting night. Eight acts are vying for Entertainer of the Year, one trio is poised to sweep the show, and a certain artist’s performance may solidify her as Music Row’s Lady Gaga. We’ll find out for sure Sunday at 8 pm Eastern, but in the meantime, we’ve picked ‘em and predicted ‘em. Sound off in the comments below.
Kevin: While I suspect that this will be the end of her impressive awards show victory lap, Swift should easily win this award. Does she deserve it? Probably. If I was an ACM voter (traditional member or willing to go vote online), I guess that I’d vote for George Strait, though my favorite among those with a real shot at this is Carrie Underwood.
Leeann: I predict Swift, though I don’t know if the backlash against her will thwart my prediction. Then again, the fan voting debacle will likely still work in her favor. I’ll throw my personal vote to Zac Brown Band, since I’ve really dug their live performances that I’ve seen on television. They seem like natural entertainers.
Dan: Fan-voted = Taylor Swift, with a possible Underwood repeat. But Swift hasn’t been as interesting post-Grammys. So I’ll also go with our resident grassroots heroes, ZBB.
Tara: One of the most rewarding aspects of being a five-year Underwood fan has been watching her stage presence gradually become as killer as her vocals, resulting in a powerful combination. I’d love for this to be properly recognized, and rationale seems pointless now that the EOTY race is a glorified internet fan war…but I can’t ignore that Underwood spent most of 2009 off stage. I’m going with Paisley.
Dan: It feels like Paisley’s winning streak may be just about up, which is a shame, since this year has actually been stronger material-wise for him than the years for which he’s won. Honestly, as much as I hate to say it, Jason Aldean had a bigger year than any of these guys.
Tara: Paisley and Strait were the only two who impressed me in 2009, and Paisley’s material feels fresher and more interesting. But I agree with Dan that his winning streak has probably run its course, so I’ll go out on a limb and say Strait will be the one to edge him out.
Kevin: I agree with Dan but suspect that there isn’t another nominee with enough momentum to upset the status quo in this race. If I’m wrong, I hope it’s because Urban or Strait pull it off.
Leeann: I think Paisley just might have another year of winning left in him.
Tara: It’s really a toss-up between Lambert and Underwood for me, with personal preference and investment swaying me towards the latter artist. I’m eerily optimistic that the ACM voters will stick to the truest sense of the award’s title – as I adamantly believe they should – and sidestep Swift.
Kevin: This is the first time in my twenty years as a country fan that I’m rooting for Reba McEntire to win Female Vocalist, though I wanted her to win Entertainer every year she was nominated in the nineties. Consider me smitten by “Consider Me Gone.” As always, I’d be happy with an Underwood victory and I wouldn’t mind Womack or Lambert, either. I’m guessing that Lambert will actually win, given her widespread appeal among ACM voters and the fact that she’s had a big radio and retail breakthrough during the voting period.
Leeann: The Academy seems to like Lambert pretty well. Since this has been her biggest year to date, it’s hard for me to imagine that she won’t be rewarded for it.
Dan: I’m going to cautiously predict that Swift’s CMA win will carry over to ACM, but Underwood has been reliably successful, and Lambert’s got stronger momentum than ever. The latter is also my favorite mainstream act at the moment, so it’s a no-brainer that I’m rooting for her to take it.
Leeann: Lady A has the hype and momentum that makes it impossible for me to bet against them. I’d sure love to see ZBB prove me wrong ,though.
Dan: Little Big Town’s new single has me thinking I’ll probably be gunning for them again soon, but for now, I’m with Zac Brown Band.
Tara: I have a feeling the coming year(s) is going to be Lady Antebellum’s year o’ accolades, so I’d like to see the equally deserving Zac Brown Band pick this one up while they still have some momentum.
Kevin: This is becoming a habit. Predict LA, root for ZBB. This was so much easier when the Dixie Chicks were in the running.
Kevin: A sympathy vote might give B&D one more trophy, but it seems that both the CMA and ACM see this award as one that is passed down from one duo to the next, and not very often at that. I wonder if they will be calling this “The Sugarland Award” like it was once called “The Judds Award” and “The Brooks & Dunn Award.”
Leeann: I’d love to see Joey + Rory win, but I know it wouldn’t actually be fair if they did. So, I’m not officially picking them here. I’m pretty sure this one will go to Brooks & Dunn as a parting gift, though they’d be totally undeserving at this point. Really, Sugarland is probably the duo that makes most sense. It’s just too bad I’m not more personally invested in them, though I’ve warmed up a bit.
Dan: Sugarland have been off the radar since “Joey” trailed off months ago, and I still remember how ACM stuck with Brooks & Dunn that one year even after CMA had passed the torch. So I see the veteran duo winning again in a shrug. I’m indifferent, personally.
Tara: I keep going back on forth on this one. I want Brooks & Dunn to win, but I can’t rationalize it. I think the ACM voters may feel the same.
Kevin: It’s categories like this that make me feel out of touch with contemporary country music. I love Joey + Rory, but can’t see them winning. Who’s bigger now, Bryan or Gloriana? I’m taking a guess here.
Leeann: I’m like Kevin. I love Joey + Rory, but don’t imagine they’ll have enough votes to win. So, between Bryan and Gloriana, I’ll flip a coin and predict the latter.
Dan: Given the fan vote, I imagine this award will boil down to whether or not Taylor Swift has been urging her peoples to back Gloriana like she did with the AMAs. She hasn’t tweet-commanded it, and that’s as much research as I’m willing to do on the subject. So I’ll go with Bryan.
Tara: My best guess is that there’s enough fan overlap for Swift’s votes to lift Gloriana to victory.
Kevin: I’m expecting a Lady Antebellum sweep. They’re just ridiculously popular right now. But I could see any one of these five winning. I revisit the Underwood set more than any of the others.
Leeann: I can’t ignore Lady A’s popularity right now, but I’d love to see Lambert be recognized for one of my two favorite albums on this list, Paisley’s album being the other one.
Dan: Revolution doesn’t have the punch or consistency of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, but it’s got some brains, and I like that. I’m expecting a Lady A sweep too, though.
Tara: If my co-bloggers are right about a Lady A sweep, I’ll be pleased to see the trio’s underrated debut album take this award. But frankly, every album in this line-up is substantial, authentic and layered. I’m backing Revolution because it’s the sharpest of them all, created by the artist who has the firmest grasp on her potential.
Kevin: There’s only one career-changing single in the running here.
Leeann: Ditto to Kevin. But also, it’s my favorite in terms of melody.
Dan: I swear I’m not just being a spoilsport. I know “Need You Now” sounds great, and in many respects it was the single of the year. But I can’t get past how boring Lady A’s lyrics always are. There’s just not a single original phrase in that song, and it puts a damper on my experience listening to it.
Tara: It’s never been my personal favorite, but “Need You Now” finds the trio excelling at what it does best – honing in on specific, raw emotion and expressing it potently and believably. In a category as weak as this one, and with a performance as haunting as Scott’s, “Need You Now” is the clear winner.
Kevin: I like the writing of “Need You Now” more than the performance, even if it’s just a college dorm knock-off of “I May Hate Myself in the Morning.” I range from indifference to active dislike for the rest of these entries.
Leeann: I think Lady A will sweep these awards, but I doubt that Swift will walk away with nothing. Since she’s most lauded for her songwriting skills, I predict that the Academy will continue the trend in this category.
Dan: “You Belong with Me” combines a memorable melody with telling details. Subject matter notwithstanding, it’s the only one of these songs I take seriously as a composition.
Tara: Unlike Kevin, I think “Need You Now” is better performed than written, but it’s still a great composition. I wouldn’t mind if Swift took this award, though.
Tara: The “You Belong With Me” video is brilliant in that it embodies everything that makes Swift relevant and appealing. I just really wish Paisley’s video had been better directed, because its message is so compelling.
Dan: That Swift video is mega-charming. But Lambert’s is a close second.
Kevin: I’m rooting for the only video I don’t reflexively skip past while channel surfing.
Kevin: Nice to see Griffin on the ballot, but “I Told You So” is among both my favorite Underwood and favorite Travis singles.
Leeann: Frankly, I’m not crazy about any of them, as long as the B&D collaboration doesn’t get the token vote.
Dan: Wish I liked “Seeing Stars” more. I’d actually probably go with presumptive favorite “Hillbilly Bone” if the song itself didn’t feel like such a Music Row toss-off. There’s charm in the idea and performances, but again, limp lyrics.
Tara: Underwood and Travis’ collaboration is the strongest and most exquisite of the bunch, but it feels a little like old news, with the news of the day being the inescapable (but nonetheless solid) “Hillbilly Bone.”
As with the similar CMA category of Single of the Year, looking over the history of this category is the quickest way to get a snapshot of country music in a given year. There is a quite a bt of consensus among the two organizations here, and it is very rare for the winner at one show to not at least be nominated at the other. The winners list here would make a great 2-disc set of country classics, at least for those who don’t mind a little pop in their country. The ACM definitely has more of a taste for crossover than its CMA counterpart, and the organizations have only agreed on 17 singles in the past four decades and change.
As always, we start with a look at this year’s nominees and work our way back to 1968.
There’s usually a “Huh?” nominee among the ACM list in recent years. This year, it’s David Nail. Good for him! Currington hasn’t won yet for this hit, even though he got himself a Grammy nomination for it. With Lady Antebellum reaching the upper ranks of the country and pop charts with “Need You Now”, my guess is that they’re the presumptive favorites. Then again, Miranda Lambert is a nominee for the third straight year, and she’s up for her biggest radio hit.
Adkins has been a fairly regular fixture on country radio since 1996, but this was his first major industry award. He also won the ACM for Top New Male Vocalist in 1997.
“Stay” swept the Song of the Year categories at all three industry shows, along with winning the ACM for Single Record. Allan’s presence here shows that being a little West Coast can still help a guy at the ACMs.
George Strait earned his second ACM Single Record award a decade after his first (“Check Yes or No”) and two and a half decades after having his first radio hit. Underwood won at the CMAs later that year. “Give it Away” is one of a small group of ACM winners to not receive a nomination at the CMA ceremony.
In the battle of biblical hits, the CMA picked Brooks & Dunn but the ACM picked Carrie Underwood. Much like George Strait would later win a CMA trophy for a different single (“I Saw God Today”), Underwood later triumphed at the CMA with “Before He Cheats.”
Because McGraw picked up the trophy at the CMAs in 2004, the field was cleared for Womack to win the CMA later in 2005. McGraw had won the ACM before for “It’s Your Love.”
Among all the lead nominees, only Toby Keith wasn’t a previous winner. Still, the award went to the new alcoholic’s creed, winning over a more pensive Jackson track and a big comeback hit for Randy Travis.
Chesney spent nearly two months at #1 with this hit, perhaps giving him the edge over the other mega-hits at radio from Keith, Urban, and Wills. As for the Trick Pony nomination, somebody really should find out what Heidi Newfield has on those ACM voters.
Jackson’s powerful 9/11 reflection stands out as the only ballad among his four ACM Single Record victories.
Toby Keith’s run of four consecutive nominations began this year. His album of the same name proved victorious that evening. Womack’s massive hit became an instant standard, and is incidentally the most recent winner to also be a genuine crossover hit.
As pop hits go, this one was a monster. “Amazed” even topped the Hot 100, the first country single to do so since “Islands in the Stream.”
Hill and hubby Tim McGraw each have two ACM trophies in this category, one solo and one shared.
While Yearwood had won over Rimes at the Grammys a few weeks earlier, the ACM sidestepped the big controversy of the year and gave the trophy to the biggest hit in the bunch.
It’s rare that the ACM goes with the song that was least successful at radio, but don’t let that #10 peak of “Blue” fool you. That hit was responsible for millions of record sales.
It was a stroke of marketing brilliance: add two singles to a box set of a genre superstar. When the first single became one of his biggest hits, the box set quickly became the top selling in country music history.
There have been a few wedding standards to win this award, though Montgomery’s hit didn’t cross over in its original form.
Jackson won the ACM with his massive hit, but the McEntire/Davis duet and the Yoakam track were Grammy winners.
Brooks & Dunn are among the most nominated artists in this category’s history, but this is their only victory.
This was Jackson’s first major industry award.
Garth-mania was beginning to peak in 1991. He swept the ACMs that year.
Clint Black is one of only three artists in the last twenty years to win for their first proper single, with Carrie Underwood and LeAnn Rimes being the other two.
Mattea’s award-winning hit had such a high profile that it was even referenced in the dialog of the hit movie Rain Man.
Travis won for the second year in a row with what would become his signature hit.
This was technically his first single, but when released under the name Randy Traywick, it bombed. Warner Bros. then released “1982” under Randy Travis, and it went top ten. They then re-released this song, and it became his first #1 hit.
So successful was this winning single that the four legends would go on to release future collaborations as the Highwaymen.
Say what you want about this winner, but it was popular enough to sell two million 45s.
Another pop smash that moved two million 45s. Is there anybody over 30 who can’t sing along to the chorus?
Nelson’s had quite a few signature hits, but none bigger than this one.
This might be the most pop-flavored lineup in category’s history. Even the Mandrell hit doth protest too much.
Jones capped his biggest comeback in a career defined by them with several awards for this classic hit.
West Coast represent!
In a category of superstars, the Gentle Giant of Country Music was the victor.
All of these records made a big impact on both the country and the pop chart.
A surprising win, perhaps fueled by the momentum of Gilley’s previous single, “Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time.”
Campbell made quite the comeback with this one, and it later inspired the Dolly Parton film vehicle Rhinestone, which earned an ACM nomination of its own for the Tex Ritter Award.
Smith may not have gotten all the recognition that his talent warranted, but he made two undeniable classics: “The Lord Knows I’m Drinking”, and his winner here.
Rich’s two hits were so big that even with vote-splitting, he still emerged the winner.
Fargo was a local star on the West Coast before she broke through nationwide with this hit, dominating the 1973 ACM Awards as a result.
This gold-selling classic helped Hart triumph over the superstars of his day.
Each one of these is a classic in its own right. In a battle of Kristofferson-penned hits, Price emerged victorious, though Smith won the CMA later that year.
Haggard’s only victory in this category came on a night where he also won Album of the Year for the only time in several nominations.
Miller’s known for his legendary songwriting, but his winning hit here was penned by Bobby Russell.
A young Vern Gosdin made up half of the nominated Gosdin Bros., a nice historical footnote to the first year of this category. Glen Campbell’s victory was appropriately West Coast for the ACMs first attempt at honoring the national country music scene.
Facts & Feats:
Most Nominations Without a Win
Singles that Won Both the ACM and CMA Award:
The ACM Awards has traditionally been overshadowed by the CMA Awards, despite its longer existence. This is for several reasons. First, the ACM originally existed to emphasize the West Coast country music scene, whereas the CMA Awards represented Nashville from the start. The ACM has also been more commercially-oriented from the beginning, as the history of this category proves. Eighteen of the last twenty winners in this ACM category are multi-platinum sellers, and the organization allowed greatest hits albums to compete for more than a decade.
Still, the ACM category has bragging rights of its own. Critically-acclaimed albums like Storms of Life, Trio, Killin’ Time and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend won at the ACMs but were overlooked by the CMAs. Additionally, women have also been far more successful at this ceremony. Only five women have ever won the CMA Album trophy, and one of them was Sissy Spacek! At the ACMs, women have dominated the category for the past three years, and the category has honored everyone from Loretta Lynn and Donna Fargo to K.T. Oslin and Shania Twain.
A special note about ACM flashbacks. Like the Grammys, the ACMs issue their award for a given year the following year, so the awards for 2009, for example, are given out in 2010. For the purposes of the flashbacks, Country Universe notes the year the award is presented. While the ACM first presented awards in 1966, the Album category wasn’t introduced until 1968.
As with other flashbacks, we begin with a look at this year’s nominees:
Three previous winners – Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley, and Carrie Underwood – compete against the debut albums of two hot bands. Lady Antebellum and Zac Brown Band each picked up a Grammy this year and are well represented on the rest of the ACM ballot. This is a very competitive race. Even the sales-friendly nature of the ACMs doesn’t help much here, as four of these albums are platinum and Lambert’s just went gold.
Taylor Swift became the third consecutive female artist to win in this category, a feat that would’ve seemed unthinkable earlier in the middle part of the decade, when country radio all but exiled women from radio.
A visibly shocked Lambert accepted the trophy for her critically acclaimed sophomore set. While it did go gold, it remains an anomaly among ACM album winners. You have to go all the way back to 1979 (Oak Ridge Boys) to find another ACM album winner that didn’t sell platinum or higher.
Carrie Underwood became the first solo female artist to win this award in eleven years with her 7 million-selling Some Hearts.
A strikingly strong lineup, with the victory going to Brad Paisley. Due to differences in eligibility between the two shows, there are two CMA winners in this category. Not only did Paisley repeat his victory the following fall, Womack won the CMA the previous year.
Though he’s always been popular with the CMA and Grammy voters, Urban’s only Album award to date came courtesy of the ACMs. Oddly enough, they haven’t nominated him since.
On an evening where he won several major awards, Keith picked up his second Album of the Year trophy from the ACMs for an album that included the #1 hits “American Soldier”, “Whiskey Girl”, and “I Love This Bar.”
If you think all of those 2009 nominations for Heidi Newfield were surprising, check out Trick Pony’s presence in this category among four albums that sold more than 4 million copies each. Alan Jackson picked up his third trophy in this category for the album that included “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” and “Drive (For Daddy Gene)”.
Big comeback albums for Brooks & Dunn and Travis Tritt were nominated, but it was no surprise to see the victory go to the landmark soundtrack that sold more than eight million copies in the end.
Even Keith was a veteran in comparison to Gilman and Paisley, who were nominated with their debut albums, but the biggest surprise was the nomination of Cash for his third project with Rick Rubin. Even the CMA didn’t recognize those collaborations until the fourth volume and “Hurt.”
An impressively eclectic lineup is unsurprisingly represented by the consensus choice Dixie Chicks, the one act that everybody used to agree on.
For the fourth time in the nineties, the trophy went to an artist’s breakthrough album. After their shocking win at the Grammys a few weeks earlier, this Dixie Chicks victory wasn’t quite as surprising.
Strait’s third victory in this category tied him with Alabama for most wins. It was also his first album to top the overall Billboard 200, a feat he’s repeated with three additional albums.
Strait’s victory came with an album that featured the #1 hits “Blue Clear Sky” and “Carried Away”, along with the rodeo-themed “I Can Still Make Cheyenne.”
Although Loveless won the CMA award the previous fall, the ACM sided with the Grammy winner for Best Country Album, Shania Twain’s landmark set, The Woman in Me.
McGraw’s only victory in this category came with his first nomination. This set remains his top-selling to date, thanks to the presence of the massive hits “Don’t Take the Girl”, “Indian Outlaw”, “Down on the Farm”, and the title track.
Alan Jackson picked up his second victory in this category with an album that included “Chattahoochee”, which would remain his biggest hit for nearly a decade.
These are some big selling albums. Wynonna and Mary Chapin Carpenter both sold five million and they are tied for last place among the nominees. It’s easy to forget how fresh the Brooks & Dunn sound was when it first arrived on the scene. Five hits, including the classic title track, “Neon Moon”, and “Boot Scootin’ Boogie”, helped power them to a win.
In perhaps the most bizarre moment in this category’s history, Garth Brooks competed again with No Fences, which won the same award last year. Alan Jackson emerged victorious with his sophomore set.
No Fences includes the Garth Brooks classics “Friends in Low Places”, “Unanswered Prayers”, and “The Thunder Rolls”. It remains his highest-selling album to date, and second only to Shania Twain’s Come On Over among all single-disc country albums in history.
The winning album demonstrates why Clint Black was the head of the Class of ’89, even though he’d soon be overshadowed by fellow newbie Garth Brooks.
K.T. Oslin dominated the awards circuit in 1988 and 1989, with her final victories coming at the ACM Awards. Her Album of the Year winner included the #1 hit “Hold Me”, along with the top five hits “Hey Bobby” and the title track.
The classic project by legends Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmylou Harris also won a CMA for Vocal Event and a Grammy for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.
The neo-traditionalist movement at its peak, with a win by its standard-bearing artist with his standard-bearing debut album.
The only #1 hit from this album was the title track, but “The Fireman” and “The Cowboy Rides Away” have since become signature songs for the legendary artist.
Their third victory in four years came on the strength of the hits “Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)”, “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band)”, “(There’s a) Fire in the Night”, and “When We Make Love.”
Over a field of traditionalists old and new, the pop-country supergroup Alabama won their second Album award. In addition to the hit title track, The Closer You Get… included the hits “Lady Down on Love” and “Dixieland Delight.”
Nelson’s biggest single powered the album of the same name to victory. It also included a pair of #2 hits: “Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning” and “Let it Be Me.”
With the exception of George Jones, all the nominees here enjoyed significant pop success with these projects. Alabama won their first trophy in this category with Feels So Right, which included the hit title track, “Old Flame”, and their biggest crossover hit, “Love in the First Degree.”
For all that it’s been maligned, the Urban Cowboy soundtrack does have a lot of classic hits on it. Some of them were recycled, like “Devil Went Down to Georgia” and “Lyin’ Eyes”, but some were introduced on the soundtrack, most notably Anne Murray’s “Could I Have This Dance” and Johnny Lee’s “Lookin’ For Love.”
Those of you wondering how on earth Larry Gatlin was the winner in this field should know that this was actually a platinum-selling album. Perhaps its big hit, “All the Gold in California”, endeared the project to west coast voters.
They had made several albums as gospel stars, but it was their first big country hit that fueled this win for Album of the Year.
This self-titled album was renamed “Lucille” in later pressings to capitalize on its biggest hit.
Gilley’s winning album features his most well known hit, “Don’t the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time.” It’s the most recent album in the category’s history that hasn’t reached at least gold status.
This shared award is the only Album trophy that either Lynn or Twitty won from the ACM or CMA, though Lynn did go on to win Best Country Album three decades later at the Grammys.
Denver’s biggest country album, it spent thirteen weeks atop the country album chart. The title track topped the chart, and “Annie’s Song” became a wedding standard.
Rich’s classic set has sold four million copies, an unheard of tally for a country album from this time period. It didn’t hurt that the title track and “The Most Beautiful Girl” were crossover hits, with the latter actually topping the pop singles chart.
Donna Fargo triumphed in a field of six albums, half of which were recorded by Merle Haggard! The Fargo set produced two million-selling singles – the title track and “Funny Face”.
The title track was a massive hit, helping Hart’s Easy Loving reach gold status and spend nine weeks atop the country albums chart.
Who knows how many times Haggard could’ve won this award if he wasn’t nominated against himself? This year, Ray Price’s For the Good Times was the victor, thanks to the Kristofferson-penned title track.
Haggard’s only victory in this category was for a live album. Incidentally, he won over two other live albums and a pair of greatest hits sets.
Campbell won for the second year in a row, this time sharing the victory with Bobbie Gentry of “Ode to Billie Joe” fame.
California favorite Glen Campbell won the first ACM trophy in this category, and he’d remain a favorite of the Academy over the next decade.
Facts & Feats
Most Nominations Without a Win:
Albums that won the ACM Award and the CMA Award:
Albums that Won the ACM award and the Grammy for Album of the Year:
Albums that Won the ACM award and the Grammy for Best Country Album (only presented in 1965-1966 and 1995-present):
You know the drill. For each of the categories, we’ll look at who’s broken in since last year, who’s been excused, and then make a totally judgy statement about what it all means.
Entertainer of the Year
Who’s In: Who isn’t?
Who’s Out: No one.
Snap Judgment: My best guess about the surprise expansion of this category is that ACM thinks the Oscars are onto something. They’re not. But while the Oscars risk having a Best Picture nomination lose some of its prestige, I don’t think the same quite holds true for ACM Entertainer, since an artist can already be nominated multiple times throughout a career anyway (and most are). So this could actually work, I guess. If nothing else, it’ll be interesting.
Top Male Vocalist of the Year
Who’s In: Darius Rucker
Who’s Out: Toby Keith
Snap Judgment: No surprises here; it’s the same pool the CMA picked this past fall.
Top Female Vocalist of the Year
Who’s In: Reba McEntire
Who’s Out: Martina McBride
Snap Judgment: Martina shaft! Drama drama!
Top Vocal Group of the Year
Who’s In: Zac Brown Band
Who’s Out: The Lost Trailers
Snap Judgment: I imagine Love And Theft’s and Gloriana’s managers will be spending the morning trying to figure out who the hell Randy Rogers Band is. Seriously, I don’t know how RRB keeps squeezing into this race. Not complaining, though!
Top Vocal Duo of the Year
Who’s In: Steel Magnolia
Who’s Out: Big & Rich
Snap Judgment: What’s this? Five duos who actually did something in the last year? Get outta here.
Top New Solo Vocalist of the Year
Who’s In: Chris Young, Luke Bryan (both re-entries from previous years)
Who’s Out: Jake Owen (won last year), James Otto
Snap Judgment: I’m just pretending this is the Top New Male category, since ACM’s annual changing around of award names and criteria can be kind of silly. This is going to be an interesting race to watch, especially since all three of these guys are nominated their second time here. It’s the last chance any of them will have to win it.
Top New Vocal Duo of the Year
Who’s In: This category was merged with New Vocal Group last year, so none of these duos (being duos) were there.
Snap Judgment: Seriously, doesn’t this whole “actually having semi-active vocal duos” thing kind of weird you out at this point? (P.S. Vote for Joey + Rory!)
Top New Vocal Group of the Year
Who’s In: Gloriana
Who’s Out: Zac Brown Band (won last year)
Snap Judgment: Love And Theft HQ must be a grim, grim place today.
Album of the Year
Snap Judgment: Not a bad lineup, but the ACM’s lenience in the Album category never ceases to amaze. Lady Antebellum came out two full years ago.
Single Record of the Year
Snap Judgment: I’m used to scratching my head in this category. Whatever.
Song of the Year
Snap Judgment: …It’s like, do people even pay attention to lyrics anymore?
Video of the Year
Snap Judgment: Actually not a bad pool. The Lady A video is pretty boring, though.
Vocal Event of the Year
Snap Judgment: Eh.
– – –
What are y’all’s thoughts?
ENTERTAINER: Carrie Underwood
ALBUM: Taylor Swift, Fearless
SINGLE: “You’re Gonna Miss This” – Trace Adkins
FEMALE VOCALIST: Carrie Underwood
MALE VOCALIST: Brad Paisley
VOCAL DUO: Sugarland
TOP NEW ARTIST: Julianne Hough
VOCAL GROUP: Rascal Flatts
SONG: “In Color” – Jamey Johnson
11:00 Wonderful ending to a pretty good night!
10:59 ENTERTAINER: Carrie Underwood!!!
10:57 Matt and Jamie Foxx should co-host next year.
10:56 Matthew M. was the “Walkaway Joe” in Trisha’s video from 1992.
10:54 The show got better as it went on. I’ve really enjoyed most of the later performances.
10:49 This is the best I’ve heard Rascal Flatts in a very long time. I would buy this song arranged and performed like this.
10:47 Not much in the way of multiple winners tonight, at least in the marquee categories. Brad Paisley has 3 (Male, Video, Vocal Event), Julianne Hough has 2 (New Artist, New Female Artist.)
10:45 ALBUM: Taylor Swift, Fearless (Leeann has to be far ahead by now)
10:42 Blake got Brad Paisley’s slot, I think. Good to hear him. I like this song.
10:36 Who will win Female Vocalist? You need a better teaser than that. Who’s in charge of the clips here?
10:35 SINGLE: “You’re Gonna Miss This” – Trace Adkins (His first industry award since winning ACM Top New Male Vocalist twelve years ago.)
10:34 Anybody else lose sound?
10:33 She’s getting a Crystal Milestone award for winning an award last year? Really?
10:30 I really need to see them live. If they’re this good on award shows, they must be amazing with their own audience.
10:29 Jennifer Nettles attended Keith Urban’s charisma workshop.
10:28 Reba just said “Any-hoo.”
10:22 The contrast in phrasing between Adkins and the choir is jarring. But Good Lord, this is the best song of the night.
10:19 Amazing how war songs are timeless, even when they describe wars from long ago.
10:15 FEMALE VOCALIST: Carrie Underwood
10:13 She’s getting lost in the mix, but from what I can hear, it’s like “For My Broken Heart” with a brighter morning.
10: 12 New Reba. Good so far.
10:07 Little Jimmy Dickens got served.
10:05 MALE VOCALIST: Brad Paisley
10:04 None of these guys are really at the top of their game.
10:02 She really does put everyone else to shame. This is better than the record.
10:01 Carrie saw it in the window and she just had to have it.
9:54 It’s been 34 minutes since the last award. Yeesh.
9:53 “Hell Yeah”, Part II. Among country recycled grooves, I dig MG’s the least.
9:51 Ladies and gentlemen, Anita Cochran on lead guitar!
9:50 Then again, I’m not sure she’s singing live. Anybody heard the record?
9:49 Alright, I’ll say it. She’s got better vocal chops than most of the people on tonight’s show. I’d like to swap teen idols with pop music right about now.
9:47 Perhaps one of the reasons it’s been such a wild ride for both you and Miley is that you won’t get off her horse.
9:45 Random aside: Is anyone else seeing the Gene Simmons commercial for Cherry Dr. Pepper? Why doesn’t Cherry Coke Zero get such a big promotional push???
9:42 Coming up…Miley Cyrus and Carrie Underwood. Why not?
9:41 This live blog brought to you from New York City. We’re not part of the real world, but thankfully the internet can beam us to those of you who live in it.
9:40 Good to know some tools are still made in America.
9:39 A rundown of working class anthems should’ve included Aaron Tippin.
9:37 I didn’t realize LeAnn Rimes did so much humanitarian work. I guess she has nothin’ better to do.
9:35 She dances like Natalie Maines. Heh.
9:34 I like the imagery. She’s quite the songwriter, assuming that she wrote this.
9:33 Am I the only one who can’t help but think about Mindy McCready’s “Maybe He’ll Notice Her Now” with these lyrics?
9:32 New Miranda Lambert song. Can’t wait to hear it.
9:26 Urban reminds me just how much the new artists lack charisma. He should give workshops on charisma.
9:23 Of all the country superstar recycled grooves, Urban’s is my favorite.
9:21 If Nettles had turned quickly at an angle, this show would be on tape delay next year.
9:20 VOCAL DUO: Sugarland (Finally! First time B&D ever lost a pure Vocal Duo race at the ACM’s!)
9:19 I think we may have peaked for the evening. Sigh.
9:17 So far, this is the only performance of the night that I can say improves on the recorded performance.
9:15 Lee Ann Womack is doing “Solitary Thinkin’.” One of the better tracks from Call Me Crazy.
9:10 Lady Antebellum sounds very generic.
9:06 She gets a crystal milestone award for her incredible record sales? Her albums combined haven’t matched the sales of Underwood’s first album, the first three Dixie Chicks albums, three Shania Twain albums. Why didn’t Rascal Flatts get this award? John Michael Montgomery? Toby Keith? Kenny Chesney? I’m just confused.
9:05 This reminds me of the Brooke White girl from Idol last year.
9:03 David Copperfield did not, in the end, pull an auto-tuner out of his hat.
8:54 Standing O? Wow, the value of those have plummeted. Must be the economy.
8:53 TOP NEW ARTIST: Julianne Hough
8:52 We like to blame the sound mix for less than par performances. But notice how George Strait still sounds great – and mark my words, Carrie Underwood will, too.
8:51 I love this song. “Troubadour” couldn’t be a better fit for him.
8:50 I wonder how many of the new artists knew that was a George Strait song.
8:49 He could do a sketch as Wanda the Ugly Girl trying to out-dress Carrie Underwood.
8:48 Seriously, he’s killing. Please let him host next year.
8:47 Jamie Foxx. I’d love to see him host the show next year.
8:43 Poor Nashville viewers had to deal with storm warnings during the Johnson performance. How cool would it have been if those popped up last year during Taylor Swift’s performance of “Should’ve Said No”?
8:41 As for the actual performance, he sounds good. Still overwhelmed by the backing track, but that seems inevitable on these shows. I’m surprised they didn’t do a stripped-down performance a la “Stay.” Those are the only ones that ever sound good on these shows.
8:40 So I get the whole conceit here, but give me a break. There weren’t huge projection screens in the days of black-and-white photographs. Or TV for that matter. This is way too pretentious for my tastes.
8:39 Oh dear God. It’s in black and white. I didn’t see that coming.
8:38 Here comes Jamey Johnson. I suspect we’ll see it in color.
8:36 I wonder if McGraw’s production differences had something to do with those screens behind the artists?
8:35 Toby Keith’s best recent performance wasn’t on a country music award show. Check out his roast of Larry the Cable Guy.
8:29 I’m excited for Toby Keith, though he always seems to do rave-ups. Shame, since he’s such a great balladeer.
8:27 VOCAL GROUP: Rascal Flatts (There goes my lead)
8:26 I wonder if next year she’ll be back singing “Amy and Vince” or “Tim and Faith.”
8:23 I feel bad that Heidi Newfield has nearly no chance despite five nominations. A bit weird to see her dolled up. She was Gretchen Wilson before Gretchen Wilson was Gretchen Wilson.
8:22 Home Depot has been a big friend to this show. They supply the wooden performances.
8:17 Methinks that Jamey Johnson would look better out of color. Yikes.
8:16 SONG: “In Color” – Jamey Johnson (I called this one, y’all – he’ll repeat at the CMA’s)
8:15 J Love is a huge fan of country music. I’m a huge fan of the Ghost Whisperer. Cool.
8:14 Random pics in the back of young college-age girls partying. Weird.
8:12 Anyone in the comments want to explain the appeal of Chesney playing live? What are his shows like? I’ve never been.
8:11 First time in a long time there’s been a woman in there. I think the Dixie Chicks were the last ones.
8:10 Who’s on the couch with Brad Paisley and Little Jimmy Dickens?
8:09 A gay joke? Really?
8:09 George Strait is indeed the man himself.
8:08 Please say Rascal Flatts from the behind of a cow.
8:07 That was interesting, but I wonder how much cooler it could’ve been if it was done later in the show, and was built around ballads with “Very Last Country Song” being the framework.
8:06 I do not want to hang with you and your gang.
8:05 I think they’ve run through all of country’s multi-platinum acts.
8:04 Love me some Carrie Underwood. Hope she has a big night.
8:03 Sugarland, I wouldn’t mind hearing the full song. At least Leeann got a bit of “It Happens.”
8:02 Wow, George Strait snarled at his reference until he noticed the camera was on.
8:01 Taylor Swift doing “Picture to Burn.” Is this a medley of annoying songs performed poorly?
8:00 We’re starting with some sort of jam beginning with Brooks & Dunn. “Play Something Country” still annoys me. The melody is ripped off from “Shut Up and Kiss Me.”