Category Archives: ACM Awards

ACM Top New Artist Winners

header_acm-awards1The winners have been announced for three of the Top New Artist categories at this year’s ACM Awards:

  • Top New Male Vocalist: Jake Owen
  • Top New Female Vocalist: Julianne Hough
  • Top New Vocal Duo or Group: Zac Brown Band

Jake Owen’s victory is something of an upset, as he was nominated against James Otto and Jamey Johnson, two men who received multiple Grammy nominations. Johnson still has a shot at some ACM awards this year, as he’s nominated in three other categories: Single, Song and Album of the Year. Owen is nominated for Vocal Event for his part in Sugarland’s multi-artist “Life in a Northern Town.”

Julianne Hough was chosen over Sarah Buxton and Ashton Shepherd, while Zac Brown Band won over the Eli Young Band and the Lost Trailers.

Owen, Hough and Zac Brown Band will compete for the Top New Artist award during the three-hour telecast on Sunday, April 5. We’ll be live-blogging, of course. Look for our predictions and personal picks later this week.


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ACM Announces Album of the Year Nominees

george-strait1This year’s nominees for ACM Album of the Year have been announced.

The nominees are:

  • Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Song
  • Montgomery Gentry, Back When I Knew it All
  • George Strait, Troubadour
  • Taylor Swift, Fearless
  • Carrie Underwood, Carnival Ride

George Strait’s nomination in this category gives him the opportunity to win all three industry awards for Album of the Year, having already won the Grammy and the CMA trophies for Troubadour. The last album to win all three was Fly by the Dixie Chicks, back in 2000-2001.


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The 44th Annual ACM Awards Reaction, Part Two (Fail Blog)


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.

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The 44th Annual ACM Awards Reaction, Part One


The Academy of Country Music revealed its nominees for the 44th annual awards show slated for Sunday, April 5. Album of the Year nominations will be announced in March, likely to coincide with the presentation of the Best New Artist nominees.

Brad Paisley- Paisley is the leader of the pack with six nominations. His video clip, “Waitin’ on a Woman,” (with legendary television star, Andy Griffith) is Paisley’s bid at a fourth Video of the Year victory. “Waitin'” is also in the running for Single and Song of the Year, and Paisley is a considerable threat to dethrone four-time champion Chesney for Entertainer of the Year.

George Strait- In a separate ceremony, Strait will be recognized as the Academy of Country Music’s Artist of the Decade, but his support runs deep even in the present day. He will bid for Entertainer of the Year and Top Male Vocalist, as well as Video of the Year for “Troubadour,” his first clip since 2006’s “The Seashores of Old Mexico.”

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44th Annual ACM Awards Projections


On Wednesday, February 11, the Academy of Country Music will unveil the nominees for their 44th annual awards ceremony. Last year, the usual suspects prevailed. Brad and Carrie repeated in the Vocalist categories, Brooks & Dunn claimed their 14th Vocal Duo prize and Kenny Chesney earned his fourth consecutive Entertainer of the Year award. As a prelude to the nominations announcement, here’s my projected slate for this year’s ceremony. (Favorites are in bold.)

Entertainer of the Year

  • Kenny Chesney
  • Brad Paisley
  • Sugarland
  • Carrie Underwood
  • Keith Urban

Prognosis: The “no girls allowed” edict will likely be lifted.  Underwood is the genre’s most prominent ambassador, and Sugarland’s rise to the high ranks has both commercial and critical support.

Note of interest: “The winner shall be determined by a combination of votes from the membership of the ACM and viewer voting.”

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Kenny Chesney's Not a Fan of ACM's Fan-Voted Entertainer Award

2008 ACM Entertainer of

the Year Kenny Chesney has gone on record to protest this year’s change that made the category fan-voted:

“The entertainer of the year trophy is supposed to represent heart and passion and an amazing amount of sacrifice, commitment and focus,” he said. “That’s the way Garth won it four times, that’s the way I won it, that’s the way (George) Strait won it, Reba (McEntire), Alabama all those years. That’s what it’s supposed to represent.”

He said his complaint is directed at the industry, not the fans — and that the method amounted to “complete disrespect” of the artists, saying the academy turned the award “into a sweepstakes to see who can push people’s buttons the hardest on the Internet.”

I think he makes a good point. Thoughts?


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ACM 2008 Live Blog

ACM Live Blog

11:02 From the comments: Jonathan notes that the AP says Tracy Lawrence won Vocal Event.   That settles the final open question of the evening.   All of you in the comments helped make a boring show interesting. Have a good night!

10:58 Any idea who won Vocal Event?

10:57 Kenny just mention what I think he mentioned about his parents?

10:56 Like I said when that whole foot thing happened, I don’t want to hear anybody complaining about this win!

10:55 Entertainer: Kenny Chesney

10:53 Where’s Dolly Parton?

10:52 Okay. I totally thought that was Dr. Phil in a biker fetish outfit.

10:50 Wasn’t Dolly supposed to perform?

10:48 I think the two straight wins for Carrie at ACM and CMA (and Grammy) were a given. It will be interesting to see if she can be a three-time winner this fall and next spring.

10:45 Female Vocalist: Carrie Underwood.

10:44 “Country music legend Dwight Yoakam.” That both pleases me to hear and makes me feel old.

10:43 What’s with all the oddly colored microphones?

10:41 LeAnn Rimes is singing “Family.” I was hoping for “What I Cannot Change.” The sound mix just doesn’t favor loud songs like this, as the lyrics get lost in the shuffle.

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ACM Awards 2008: Personal Picks

As has become our annual custom, Country Universe will be live-blogging this year’s ACM awards, which air on CBS Sunday, May 18 at 8 pm Eastern. The ACM’s are always an interesting show, with a bigger emphasis on commercial success than the CMA’s or the Grammys. Reba McEntire is back as host, and while she was a little too tart in 2006, she was pure class in 2007, so here’s hoping for a repeat performance on her part.

The ACM’s are mixing it up a bit this year by making Entertainer of the Year fan-voted, which gives Rascal Flatts their best shot yet at winning the award, even if their reason for coveting it has been taken away. As has surprisingly been the case the past few years, the veterans that no longer get the stage at the CMA’s can be found at the ACM’s, with this year featuring a performance by living legend Dolly Parton.

Here’s a rundown of this year’s nominees, along with personal picks from both Country Universe writers in every category. Tune in tomorrow night, and drop in on our live blog. I bet we can top the comment thread from the Grammys in February!

Entertainer of the Year

  • Kenny Chesney
  • Brad Paisley
  • Rascal Flatts
  • George Strait
  • Keith Urban

Kevin’s Pick: Keith Urban

I don’t think there’s a better all-around entertainer these days than Keith Urban. His live show is electric, his songwriting top-notch and as his latest hits collection has proved, he’s been an unfailingly consistent recording artist, managing to make his music more interesting while still turning out the hits. This year’s race is going to come down to the fans with the most dedication, but using the criteria that the award calls for, my pick is Urban.

Leeann’s Pick: Brad Paisley

Since I have not been to a live concert of any of these artists, I have to make my choice by recollecting the concerts that I’ve either viewed on television or heard via a radio broadcast. Therefore, I cannot claim to know what it is actually like to be at their concerts. So, my choice is somewhat based on how I imagine their concerts would be.

My choices in this category vascilate between Brad Paisley and Keith Urban. Both entertainers are known for their energetic shows and incredible guitar prowess. I, however, choose Brad Paisley when it comes right down to it. I think his concerts have a good mixture of energy, talent and humor that does an excellent job of keeping an audience entertained.

Top Male Vocalist

  • Rodney Atkins
  • Kenny Chesney
  • Brad Paisley
  • George Strait
  • Keith Urban

Leeann’s Pick: Keith Urban

To me, the clear choice is Keith Urban. He has a unique voice that is instantly recognizeable. Not only does his gritty, soulful voice wrap perfectly around any song of his choosing, he has proven his ability to step back as a complementary background vocalist as well, as evidenced by his vocal appearances with Rhonda Vincent and Trisha Yearwood.

Kevin’s Pick: Keith Urban

Rodney Atkins is the only artist nominated who has yet to win this award, and this is his first nomination. Kudos to him for making the race on the strength of his very successful second album, but I don’t think he’s yet reached the caliber of the other four contenders. Since those other four have already won this, I’m going with Urban, who continues to grow as a vocalist. It’s a shame, however, that Josh Turner and Gary Allan aren’t in the running.

Top Female Vocalist

  • Miranda Lambert
  • Martina McBride
  • LeAnn Rimes
  • Taylor Swift
  • Carrie Underwood

Kevin’s Pick: Carrie Underwood

There’s quite a bit of turnover in this category, with LeAnn Rimes and Taylor Swift joining the party. Rimes made the best album of her career, while Swift has spent most of this year at the top of the charts with her debut disc. Miranda Lambert is making far better music than the rest of the lineup. But Carrie Underwood is still the finest singer out there right now, and I think she deserves to repeat. She’s had another great year.

Leeann’s Pick: LeAnn Rimes

Except for one nominee, this is a tough category to judge. Nevertheless, my ultimate choice has to be LeAnn Rimes. While her voice was impressively mature as a 13-year-old singer of “Blue”, she has surpassed all of my hopes for her vocal maturity. Twelve years later, her voice has gained a richness and depth that is greatly deserving of this award.

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ACM Burning Questions, Answered

Before I started the live blog of last night’s ACM Awards, I listed a few burning questions. Here are the answers:

Will Carrie Underwood pull a Dixie Chicks and go five for five tonight? I can see it happening easily, but the only mortal lock she has is Top Female Vocalist.

Well she didn’t sweep, but she did win three awards: Female Vocalist, Album and Music Video. George Strait played spoiler and took Single and Song. She had the classiest speech of the night, immediately acknowledging the stunning Tim McGraw performance that preceded her final win of the evening.

Speaking of the Dixie Chicks, can this join the CMA telecast from last year and last three hours without a joke at their expense? I think Reba is more of a Vince Gill than a Jeff Foxworthy, and she was clapping with enthusiasm when they won the Grammy for Song of the Year, so I’m hoping it can happen.

The only reference was a veiled one, and a good-natured one at that. Last year, Reba took a pot shot at the Dixie Chicks at the end of the telecast, and it was widely reported. She noted that she’d learned that the “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” rule didn’t apply to her comedic material. She was an outstanding host, and while her celebrity jabs still seem forced, she was elegant and good-humored throughout the evening. Not Vince, but pretty close.

Will we get some serious turnover in some of the stale categories this year? Can Sugarland unseat Brooks & Dunn, or Little Big Town shock Rascal Flatts?

I’ve finally learned my lesson over the years: betting against Brooks & Dunn winning Vocal Duo is like betting against Joe Torre’s Yankees winning the American East division. No matter how much it looks like someone else’s year, it probably isn’t. Rascal Flatts may be the top-selling modern country act, but they remain ghettoized in the Vocal Group categories, in terms of wins at least. Then again, McDonald’s won’t top the Zagat guide no matter how many Big Macs it sells, so there’s still something to be said for substance.

Will the new single Faith Hill is debuting justify the three-month delay of her hits project?

I’d say yes. The sound system at the ACM’s was its typical mess, but I heard a great song in spite of it. Her records are always well-produced, so I’m sure it will be a keeper. Of course, Hill’s spotlight was stolen by hubby McGraw, who debuted “If You’re Reading This” and gave the performance of the night. If you’re like me, you’re still waiting for a YouTube clip so you can watch that one on a loop.

What is the mystery reason that Shania Twain is there for the festivities? Surprise tribute? To Dolly? Reba? Toby? Who knows!

She introduced Reba and gave out Entertainer. Hardly worth her time, though she proved she’s still the most impossibly beautiful woman in country music, despite all the cute young things signed in the ten years since she showed sexy sells country records, too.

And finally, can Country Universe break its one-day record of visitors on the strength of another live blog?

I’m still the only one who cares, but sometime while I was at work today, the one-day stat record was easily broken. I’m sure today’s record will hold until it’s time to do it all again with the CMA’s. God bless the refresh button!

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ACM Awards: 2007 Live Blog

ACM Winner Miranda Lambert (above)


10:59: Just FYI:  Carrie won Video, so she went 3/5.   “Building Bridges” by B&D, Vince and Sheryl Crow won Collaboration.

10:57 Entertainer: Kenny Chesney, three in a row.   Good. He earned it.

10:56 Vince Gill, brilliant as always. Here comes Shania.  Still impossibly beautiful.

10:45 Female Vocalist: Carrie Underwood. And she gives a shout-out to Tim McGraw that shows real class. As usual.

10:44 Martina’s crying. Me too.

10:42 Tim gets the nod for best performance of the night. What an unbelievable song, a letter written by a soldier just in case he dies in battle. This is why I love country music.

10:37 Just saw an ad for the 400th Episode of The Simpsons. I was in fourth grade when that show started. How long ago was that? People were sick of The Judds always winning Vocal Duo awards every year.

10:33 Top Vocal Duo: Brooks & Dunn. Enough already.

10:32 The Sugarland performance was very cute.

10:28 Funny that Reba just mentioned Idol. I’m catching up on tonight’s episode during commercial breaks. Melinda Doolittle can out-sing many of those on the ACM stage tonight. Hard to mess with Jennifer Nettles though.

10:23 Where are all the awards at, anyway? Only 37 minutes left of show.

10:22 So, Faith has herself another big crossover hit. This will dominate AC radio easily. The melody is awesome.

10:19 Faith’s song is new. Very, very new. Can’t wait to hear it.

10:18 Reba going to a wake?

10:15 Top Vocal Group: Rascal Flatts. Meh.

10:12 There’s a guy backing B&D wearing a t-shirt that says “Willie, Emmylou, Merle and Lacy J.” That would instantly be the most interesting performance on the show if it was to happen.

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