Category Archives: ACM Awards

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)

ACM LIVE BLOG

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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ACM Awards 2007: Picks & Predictions

There are three major country awards given by the music industry, and each particular show reflects the preferences of a different section of it.

The CMA Awards, given every fall, are the Music Row awards, where the Nashville music industry – labels, talent agencies, publishers and the like – have the most sway. There is also a sect of voters who favor strong traditionalism in country music, which has allowed for some surprising upsets over the years. Commercialism matters, but isn’t the only factor at the CMA’s. If a big act doesn’t have too much substance, they aren’t likely to win many CMA awards.

The Grammys, given every February, are the most prestigious musical honor. Voted on exclusively by artists, musicians, producers and engineers, the country categories have always been dominated by artists with technical merit – singer’s singers and musician’s musicians. Sales don’t mean much at all to these voters, but credibility does. Top winners for the genre include Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, Chet Atkins, Johnny Cash, Dixie Chicks, Ricky Skaggs and Emmylou Harris.

Then there’s the ACM’s, the spring country awards show that actually predates the CMA’s but is generally regarded as less meaningful. ACM voters are primarly in the radio and concert booking fields, so commercialism is a huge factor here. The list of ACM winners from the past is almost exclusively populated by top-selling artists that are also radio favorites. This year’s nominations ensure that tradition will continue.

Here’s a rundown of this year’s nominees, along with my predicted winner and personal pick for each category:

Entertainer of the Year

  • Brooks & Dunn
  • Kenny Chesney
  • Tim McGraw
  • Rascal Flatts
  • George Strait

Should Win: Kenny Chesney

Will Win: Rascal Flatts

The CMA may be hesitant to honor Rascal Flatts outside of the Vocal Group category, and they don’t have a chance in hell of winning a Grammy, but the ACM is just the type of show to give the highest honor to the act that’s selling the most records right now besides Carrie Underwood, who isn’t a nominee. They’re doing well on the road, too, but aren’t yet in the league of fellow noms Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney. The latter continues to break attendance records and is actually selling out stadiums. Throw in another great year at radio, a top-selling album and music videos that are expanding the medium for the genre, and it should add up to his third consecutive victory. I just don’t think it’s going to happen.

Top Male Vocalist

  • Kenny Chesney
  • Toby Keith
  • Brad Paisley
  • George Strait
  • Keith Urban

Should Win & Will Win: Brad Paisley

I’m not much of a fan of Brad, but he is long overdue in this category. He’s been a consistent hitmaker for almost a decade now, and has shown steady growth while many fast-rising stars have already disappeared. I think he’ll finally win it this year, foreshadowing what could be a very, very big night at the 2007 CMA awards.

Top Female Vocalist

  • Sara Evans
  • Faith Hill
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Martina McBride
  • Carrie Underwood

Should Win & Will Win: Carrie Underwood

Sara Evans snuck in there last year to win, but her career has cooled considerably since. Underwood is the obvious winner, as she’s not only the genre’s top-selling artist, she’s also the best singer to boot.

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ACM Nominees Announced

For contemporary country artists, there’s no award more prestigious than the ACM Award. Except for the CMA Award. And the Grammy. Okay, at least it’s better than a Flameworthy. Voted on by radio and industry folk, these awards tend to favor commercialism, though they often follow the CMA’s lead in the major categories. Major labels have a lot of pull here, particularly BMG, which received some very surprising nominations for its second-tier acts. Overall, this is a stronger list than usual from the ACM’s. When Alison Krauss gets five nominations, it’s a good year indeed.

Here are the nominees in the major categories, with my choices for winner in bold:

Entertainer Of The Year
Brooks & Dunn
Kenny Chesney
Toby Keith
Tim McGraw
Keith Urban

How does Brooks & Dunn keep getting nominated in this category over bigger acts? Shania Twain, Alan Jackson and George Strait all had bigger years in 2004 than the duo that never dies. It’s cool to see a new face in this category – Keith Urban has certainly earned it. But the artist with the most commercial, touring and creative success this year is Tim McGraw.

Top Male Vocalist
Kenny Chesney
Alan Jackson
Toby Keith
Tim McGraw
Keith Urban

The CMA gave it to Keith Urban, and he deserved it. He’s the strongest new male artist of the last few years, and besides legend Alan Jackson, he’s the best singer in the category.

Top Female Vocalist
Terri Clark
Sara Evans
Martina McBride
Gretchen Wilson
Lee Ann Womack

Martina McBride has won this award a few times already; the other four nominees have never won. Gretchen Wilson is too new to warrant a win in this category, even though she sold the most records. The other three women – Terri Clark, Sara Evans and Lee Ann Womack – are all established artists who have been making great music lately. My gut says Womack because I love her new album so much, but it’s a 2005 release, and this award is for the calendar year of 2004. I prefer Terri Clark over Sara Evans in terms of her musical legacy, but in 2004, it was one great single after another from Sara. I think I’d give it to her, but it’s a close call. I just hope Martina loses.

Top Vocal Group
Alison Krauss & Union Station

Diamond Rio
Lonestar
Rascal Flatts
The Notorious Cherry Bombs

I’ve never understood why Alison Krauss & Union Station were left out of this category in favor of putting Krauss in the Female Vocalist lineup. As a group, they are so above and beyond their competitors here it’s laughable.

Top Vocal Duo
Big & Rich

Blue County
Brooks & Dunn
Montgomery Gentry
The Warren Brothers

Say it with me – Big & Rich! Big & Rich! Big & Rich!

Top New Artist
Big & Rich

Josh Gracin
Julie Roberts
Josh Turner
Gretchen Wilson

I’ll say it again – Big & Rich! Big & Rich! Big & Rich!

Album Of The Year
Kenny Chesney, When The Sun Goes Down
Sara Evans, Restless
Tim McGraw, Live Like You Were Dying
Keith Urban, Be Here
Gretchen Wilson, Here For The Party

Sara’s album has a lot of filler between a few great singles; I’m shocked she’s nominated, given that labelmate Alan Jackson had a new studio album last year and he’s been snubbed. Regardless, the best album here, far and away, is Tim McGraw’s epic Live Like You Were Dying.

Single Of The Year
“Bless The Broken Road” – Rascal Flatts
“Days Go By” – Keith Urban
“I May Hate Myself In The Morning” – Lee Ann Womack
“Live Like You Were Dying” – Tim McGraw
“Redneck Woman” – Gretchen Wilson
“Whiskey Lullaby” – Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss

The mega-hit war between “Redneck Woman” and “Live Like You Were Dying” will end with a victory for Tim. But my favorite single of 2004 is actually nominated, even though it’s been hanging out at #14 for the last few weeks and hasn’t had near the radio impact of the other five nominees. Lee Ann Womack better prepare herself for a whole lot of CMA nominations this fall if even the ACM’s are acknowledging her masterpiece There’s More Where That Came From.

Song Of The Year
“American Soldier” – performed by Toby Keith; written by Toby Keith & Chuck Cannon.
“Bless The Broken Road” – performed by Rascal Flatts; written by Marcus Hummon, Bobby Boyd and Jeff Hanna.
“I May Hate Myself In The Morning” – performed by Lee Ann Womack; written by Odie Blackmon.
“Live Like You Were Dying” – performed by Tim McGraw; written by Craig Wisman & Tim Nichols.
“Whiskey Lullaby” – performed by Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss; written by Bill Anderson & Jon Randall.

Again, Tim’s hit will be victorious. I fully expect him to sweep. But I think “I May Hate Myself In The Morning” is a song for the ages. Just today, I mentioned the title, and my co-worker wanted to know more. After saying the first verse, she said that’s brilliant, and couldn’t wait to hear it. It’s just so damn true to life, it almost hurts.

Video Of The Year
“Girls Lie Too” – Terri Clark
“Live Like You Were Dying” – Tim McGraw
“Redneck Woman” – Gretchen Wilson
“Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy)” – Big & Rich
“Whiskey Lullaby” – Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss

One more time – Big & Rich! Big & Rich! Big & Rich! Sorry, but I friggin’ love these guys.

Vocal Event Of The Year
“Creepin’ In” – Norah Jones and Dolly Parton
“Hey Good Lookin'” – Jimmy Buffett with Clint Black, Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Toby Keith and George Strait
“Party For Two” – Shania Twain with Billy Currington
“When The Sun Goes Down” – Kenny Chesney with Uncle Cracker
“Whiskey Lullaby” – Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss

My head says “Whiskey Lullaby” (which will probably win) and I fear a slight loss of credibility here, but the Shania/Billy track is too infectious to resist.

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