Category Archives: CMA Awards

CMA Live Blog 2010

WINNERS:

Entertainer: Brad Paisley

Female Vocalist: Miranda Lambert

Male Vocalist: Blake Shelton

Vocal Duo: Sugarland

Album: Miranda Lambert, Revolution

Vocal Group: Lady Antebellum

New Artist: Zac Brown Band

Song: “The House That Built Me” – Tom Douglas & Allen Shamblin

Single: Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”

Music Video: Miranda Lambert, “The House That Built Me”

Musical Event: Blake Shelton & Trace Adkins, “Hillbilly Bone”

Musician: Mac McAnally

Correct Prediction Tally:

9: Dan,Tara

8: Leeann

7: Kevin

LIVE BLOG:

10:59 Brad deserved it last year, got it this year. Carrie deserved it this year, will hopefully get it next year. When the history list is written though, nobody’s gonna care which year they won in, just that they were acknowledged. So a good end to an okay night. – KC

10:58 Very, very pleased! And what a sweet, sincere moment. – TS

10:57 You know, I’m kind of relieved. Granted, Brad gave possibly the worst performance of the night and is generally not someone I like much, but I just didn’t feel like having to listen to a bunch of whining tomorrow about Miranda or Lady A or someone winning. – DM

10:57 Pretty much the best acceptance speech for this category since…Shania Twain in 1999? Or maybe Garth Brooks in 1991? – KC

10:53 Entertainer: Brad Paisley

10:49 Miranda’s inability to pretend to be enthusiastic about silly stuff cracks me up. – DM

10:48 Kind of falls somewhere in between all the performances tonight, I guess. Plus, Vince makes any song country stronger. Yeah. I said that. -TS

10:47 Gwenyth sounds great so far, but wtf with the creepy limp-fingers guitar-playing? Just grab the mic. – DM

10:46 So. Gwyneth Paltrow on the CMA Awards. Don’t know what to say about that. – KC

10:43 Man, weird how stuff shakes out, isn’t it? I remember seeing Miranda’s first video for the lame “Me and Charlie Talking,” knowing nothing about her, and thinking she’d be out of a record deal within a year. Who’d have thought? – DM

10:37 Female Vocalist: Miranda Lambert

10:36 Loretta Lynn on Female Vocalist of the Year: “we’ve kept it with the girls, haven’t we?” – DM

10:36 Fun Fact: Loretta Lynn was the first woman to win Entertainer of the Year.  Sissy Spacek was the first woman to win Album of the Year. – KC

10:36 I don’t even particularly like this song, but it is such a breath of fresh air tonight. It’s just nice to hear some country phrasin’, ya know? -TS

10:35 Um, Loretta Lynn is holding up better than Sissy Spacek. – KC

10:35 Called it. – DM

10:34 We’re into the tribute version of “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” and Miranda’s come out sounding good. I didn’t see if they showed Loretta in the audience, but if they didn’t, betcha she comes out and sings a bit. – DM

10:33 Boo! Miranda sang “born”, not “borned.” – KC

10:32 Yeah, I kind of just feel nothing. – DM

10: 31 Meh. – KC

10:30 Thirty minutes left in the show, and I’m overall pretty unimpressed. How about the rest of y’all? – TS

10:26 Still, he could be doing almost any other song from this album and I would be enjoying it even more. – DM

10:24 …and possibly everything else. -TS

10: 24 OK, you can already tell Dierks Bentley is going to be the coolest performance of the night. At least in camera angles. – DM

10:23 With Dierks Bentley going home empty handed this year, and Jamey Johnson significantly under-performing last year, I’m wondering if the traditional voting bloc doesn’t have much pull anymore.  Or has label consolidation just made it harder for the bloc to have a large impact? – KC

10:21 Crazy perceptive Carrie fans, did she seem really nervous to you, too? -TS

10:21 I do love Mama Underwood in the video for this song. Soft spot. – DM

10:20 Not the best vocal performance I’ve heard from her. Not by a long shot. – KC

10:20 Can we get a shot of Mama Underwood, please? – TS

10:19 Carrie, I know I said I liked the “spirit”-y background vocals on “Mama’s Song,” but you didn’t have to go all The Shining with ‘em at the beginning. – DM

10:18 Not a big fan of the two performances per night thing, but can’t think of anybody who I’d particularly want to hear that would have a shot at a performance, so it’s hard to care. – KC

10:12 What’s up with all the blond curls these days? It looks like a Shirley Temple convention up in here.  – KC

10:12 Country music revelations: the boys Perry don’t sang that good. – DM

10:10 Somewhere, Collin Raye, Joe Diffie, Mark Chesnutt, Clay Walker, Tracy Byrd, and countless other platinum-selling male acts of days gone by are not pleased. – KC

10:09 WOW. And he’s the lowest-selling of the bunch! – DM

10:09 Wow. Shocked, really. -TS

10:08 Wow. First real surprise of the evening.

10:08 Male Vocalist: Blake Shelton

10:06 Oh, Lady A. Such a sincere attempt, but such a misguided attempt. -TS

10:05 This is like the soundtrack to a department store coma. – DM

10:04 I see…no reason to question my mediocre assessment of Lady Antebellum. – KC

9:58 “It’s been a wonderful few weeks for us of actually having music to promote. We’re proud to be your Vocal Duo of the Last Few Weeks.” – DM

9:57 So I’m getting left in the dust in the prediction derby, as Tara takes the lead! – KC

9:55 Vocal Duo: Sugarland

9:55 Cue the “WTF?” ABC presenters. But yay, JoAnna Garcia! – TS

9:54 I love Paisley for his wit and intelligence. This makes me sad. -TS

9:54 You know what was way, way better? Sugarland’s “Very Last Country Song.” But no, they’re prancing around in tutus. So we only have Brad’s take. Sigh. – KC

9:53 Ahhhh, so THAT’s what “Too Country” sounds like without Bill Anderson to make it good. – DM

9:51 SO SICK of the straw man. I’ve never met a person in my life who doesn’t have pride and respect for fallen soldiers. – KC

9:50 I think it’s a lovely jingle. – KC

9:49 Fighting the urge to instantly hate this song based on the fact that it falls under the “I’M COUNTRY!!!!” category. But…it’s Brad. What do I do? -TS

9:44 I can see that someone making you get out of the car and walk home. – KC

9:43 Ha! Much as I don’t think Kid Rock belongs on this show, I’m kind of weirdly enjoying this “Born Free” thing. I can see myself laying drunkenly in someone’s backseat singing this. – DM

9:42 Every year, there are more and more people on the CMA Awards that yell at me. Why have I angered y’all so much? – KC

9:40 See…this is where we insert Clay Walker. -TS

9:38 Perfect. -TS

9:38 YEAH BOYYY ALL CAPS FOR THE REST OF THE NIGHT!!! – DM

9:37 Album: Miranda Lambert, Revolution

9:36 I WANT LITTLE BIG TOWN TO HARMONICALLY PRESENT ALL THE AWARDS NEXT YEAR AND I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU THINK OF IT – DM

9:36 NEW RULE: Taylor Swift writes, Little Big Town sings.

9:35 I’m personally glad just because for a few years there it seemed like Kelly might have lost some of her voice. If she did, she’s hiding it well now. – DM

9:35 Dear God. THAT is what singing is, stupids. – DM

9:35 And Kelly outsings almost everyone so far. Take that, Borchetta. -TS

9:32 Although…I guess it’s not a terrible song by Jason’s standards. By KC’s is another story. -TS

9:32 Kelly Clarkson and Jason Aldean duet. Be still my heart. -TS

9:30 Having Jeff Gordon be Brad Paisley’s doppelganger would be funnier if Jeff hadn’t given the skit away on the Black Carpet. Fool. – DM

9:27 I heard a song off the new Reba album called “The Day She Got Divorced” on XM yesterday. It was goooood. – KC

9:26 That wasn’t a very good performance, but she did well on it in some CMT live performance earlier this year. And I’m sure the album performance will be better, too. – DM

9:25 How is it that Taylor Swift, Sugarland, Reba McEntire – in that order – and the age appropriateness is going in reverse? – KC

9:25 I don’t. I didn’t like that at all. I wanted to, though. -TS

9:24 I think I get what this song is fundamentally getting at, but I’ve always found the lyrics kind of muddled. I like Reba (bring “McEntire” back!) on it, though. – DM

9:22 Ok, “If I Were a Boy” always creeps me out. Anyone? -TS

9:21 Man, I don’t know. I still enjoy the Keith Urban ear candy, but I just feel like he’s been running on autopilot since the final catharsis that was Love, Pain and the whole crazy thing. – DM

9:19 Shout out to Leeann for making me appreciate this song! -TS

9:10 Vocal Group: Lady Antebellum

9:08 No reggae breakdown, no peace! Not that I have any reason to worry after that intro. – DM

9:07 Oh snap. This is ridiculous. But I freakin’ love this song. – TS

9:06 Sugarland done lost their minds. – KC

9:05 Anyone see her mouth “what” just before the curtain fell?! Ha! I want to know what that was! – DM

9:05 The thing that bugs me about Taylor is that she changes her singing accent so often, even if it’s subtle. Like…which one is it? – TS

9:05 Taylor S. doing her Taylor L. song. Somehow this performance is really “whatever,” and not just because the vocal is so weak. It’s like she’s already graduated from the CMAs and is just here as a formality. – DM

9:04 Fun Fact – The “snow” falling around Taylor Swift is actually Rascal Flatts on the rafters, shaking out their hair gel. – KC

9:02 Spotted: Blair Waldorf at the…CMA Awards? -TS

9:01 He did release it as a single. He confirmed on the red carpet. – TS

8:58 Since we’re talking about the upcoming Jason Aldean/Kelly Clarkson duet in the comments: if he does release that as a single, which it sounds like he will, it’ll instantly become my second-favorite Aldean single after “Amarillo Sky.” – DM

8:54 Man, I’m just saying: Kenny Chesney’s football thing is starting to weird me out. I’d feel the same If Laura Bell Bundy kept releasing songs that referred to how awesome and life-changing high school theatre was, and I actually DID that. – DM

8:51 Wow, that was a cool set! – KC

8:50 How can you not get warm fuzzies inside when Alan Jackson starts singing in this song? It’s like seeing an old friend. -TS

8:49 Dude, I’m actually for this Zac Brown Band/Alan Jackson performance. This song has really grown on me. – DM

8:46 Wouldn’t it be nice to see Clay Walker back at these shows? He put out two great singles and one decent album this year. Just sayin’. -TS

8:44 New Artist: Zac Brown Band

8:43 From the Comments: “Does Jimmy Dickens live in Brad Paisley’s dressing room?” – Canadian Boy

8:40 Except, he sounds kind of off tonight. Is it just me? – TS

8:40 George Strait, you sing too pretty for Hallmark. – DM

8:39 Don’t like the song, but amazed at the irony that he sounds out of breath.  – KC

8:38 Is Carrie wearing a wedding cake? -TS

8:38 Totally agree, Dan. (Shocker!) – TS

8:37 I wasn’t sure how “That’s the Way the World Goes ‘Round” was gonna work out here, but I actually dug it. Makes more of an impression live than the sly “Only Prettier” would have. – DM

8:34 MIRANDA RAWK! MIRANDA SMASH! – DM

8:33 Agree with Ben from the comments: “All About Tonight” was a big hit, but a well-staged “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking” tonight could have deepened his image some. – DM

8:29 I don’t like the song either, but Blake sounds terrific. I’ve always been on the verge of BS fandom, just waiting for some slightly better songs. – DM

8:28 Not that there’s anything too bad about Shelton or his music, but his Male Vocalist nomination reminds me of Terri Clark and Sara Evans being up for Female Vocalist in the mid-2000′s. They didn’t so much work up to it as back up into it. – KC

8:27 I swear “All About Tonight” is like air to me. I get absolutely nothing out of it. -TS

8:26 Maybe I’m a cornball, but I want full versions of these parody songs. Extraneous Paisley comments omitted plzthx. – DM

8:24 So deserved. And happy birthday to Miranda! – TS

8:22 Song: “The House That Built Me” – Tom Douglas & Allen Shamblin

8:21 Man, Tara and I never agree on this stuff! – DM

8:20 Vintage Flatts: great song, mediocre performance. I’ll take it. -TS

8:19 Rascal Flatts sounding more controlled on “Why Wait” than they have in quite some time. If I liked the song, I’d be onboard. – DM

8:18 Rascal Flatts song isn’t as bad as they’ve been, but I still say Faith Hill did this better.

8:13 And Dan and Tara move ahead in the prediction count!  First time in CMA history that an artist wins Single of the Year twice in a row.

8:12  SINGLE: “Need You Now”, Lady Antebellum

8:11 A gay joke on the CMAs that isn’t completely offensive? Gotta be the Gwenyth. – DM

8:10 …OK, I’ll give him that one. That was pretty funny. – DM

8:10 I find this Lady A/Lady Gaga thing way too amusing. Maybe because I’ve had so many friends make the same mistake. Including my lovely mom. -TS

8:09 I would by a Brad Paisley Lady Gaga cover album. – KC

8:08 I say this as not a big fan of either of them: Carrie is way, way funnier than Brad. – DM

8:07 Disturbing and hilarious McGraw picture.-TS

8:06 Vince Gill ribbing Julia Roberts ’94 > Brad Paisley ribbing Gwyneth Paltrow ’10

8:05 he return of the Brad/Carrie musical parodies! Yessss. – DM

8:04 Never liked this song, but Carrie’s performances really have evolved. +10 for Keith Urban banjo breakdown. – DM

8:03 Cursing “Undo It” right now for stealing this song’s single spotlight. – TS

8:03 Nice to hear Urban rocking the banjo again. Well, it would be, if I could actually hear it. – KC

8:01 Underwood is rocking it out. Gonna be a loud night, I think. – KC

8:00 Crossing my fingers for the sweet “Single Ladies” ad lib that Carrie does when she sings this on tour. – TS

8:00 Ooo, Transformers-inspired new CMA logo. – DM

7:55 Let’s hope Gwyneth Paltrow isn’t as country as it gets tonight.  – KC

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2010 CMA Awards: Staff Picks and Predictions

When the nominees were announced in August for the 44th annual CMA Awards, they sparked a firestorm of headlines –and thoughtful commentary by critics and fans alike– thanks to the CMA voters’ surprisingly bold moves. It’s all about change this year, as the voters revamped the ballot with a slew of fresh faces in almost all of the big categories.

How will it all play out? We’ll know for sure on Wednesday at 8pm Eastern, but before Gwenyth Paltrow throws on her cowboy boots, check out our staff picks and predictions and join the discussion in the comments below. And be sure to drop by Wednesday night for all of the CU live blog madness!

Entertainer of the Year

Should Win:

  • Lady Antebellum
  • Miranda Lambert – Kevin
  • Brad Paisley
  • Keith Urban
  • Zac Brown Band – Leeann, Dan, Tara

Kevin:  Among the five nominees, Miranda Lambert has best represented the genre this year.

Leeann: I’m torn between Lambert and the Zac Brown Band as most deserving this year. I recently saw Lambert’s show and wasn’t incredibly impressed, however. While I have not yet attended a ZBB show, theirs is one of the few spots that I look forward to at awards shows these days. Moreover, I’m impressed by how much of a following they had even before they made any mainstream records.

Dan: Of these five, Zac Brown Band had the second-most success this year (after Lady A) and made the second-best music (after Lambert), so that’s pretty good standing. And I feel like giving this award to a grassroots act would be a good way for the industry to greet the future.

Tara: I’m consistently impressed by Zac Brown Band’s live performances, and it would be really refreshing to see them win – so I’ll go with them. (But I’m still disappointed that the first year my head and heart align on Carrie Underwood deserving an EOTY award, I can’t support her. I’m holding out for 2012…)

Will Win:

  • Lady Antebellum
  • Miranda Lambert – Tara
  • Brad Paisley – Kevin, Leeann, Dan
  • Keith Urban
  • Zac Brown Band

Kevin: I’ve probably learned nothing from last year’s Swift sweep by going with Paisley again, but he’s the only nominee of veteran stature who hasn’t won yet.

Leeann: I can’t imagine that Paisley won’t finally win this one.

Dan: I was going to guess Lady A, since they’re sort of 2010′s “flavor of the year” the way Taylor Swift was 2009′s. But when I think about it, Swift’s ascent was greater and more gradual, and she stood in contrast to the rest of her nominee pool (four male veterans) in a way Lady A don’t with theirs (in which they’re one of three new competitors). So, Paisley.

Tara: I have no rationale. My gut says Lambert.

Male Vocalist of the Year

Should Win:

  • Dierks Bentley – Kevin, Leeann, Dan, Tara
  • Brad Paisley
  • Blake Shelton
  • George Strait
  • Keith Urban

Kevin: Bentley made the best music this year.

Leeann: Bentley may not have the best technical voice out of these nominees, but he has the most interesting and distinctive of them, which is always something that I gravitate toward. Also, I agree with Kevin that he’s made the best music this year.

Dan: Shelton and Bentley are the only ones in this pool who made significant career strides this year – Shelton at radio, and Bentley creatively. Since I’m backing someone else in the Album category, this is where I’d like to see Bentley recognized for following his muse.

Tara: I guess Up on the Ridge is as good a reason as any to fall off the Brad-for-MVOTY bandwagon. He’s a close second for me, though.

Will Win:

  • Dierks Bentley – Kevin, Dan
  • Brad Paisley – Leeann, Tara
  • Blake Shelton
  • George Strait
  • Keith Urban

Kevin: I can see the roots album giving Bentley an edge. Then again, Paisley could just repeat again, or Shelton may suddenly have deep support among voters. I say, Bentley by a nose.

Leeann: I think that voters will reflexively give this one to Paisley again.

Dan: I’ll ditto Kevin.

Tara: I can’t really see Paisley losing this one, but I think if he does lose to Bentley, it’ll be a telling moment.

Female Vocalist of the Year

Should Win:

  • Miranda Lambert – Kevin, Leeann, Dan
  • Martina McBride
  • Reba McEntire
  • Taylor Swift
  • Carrie Underwood – Tara

Kevin: Underwood and McEntire are the women who made my favorite singles from the eligibility period, but Lambert’s the only one who hasn’t won this award.  She’s not overdue, but she’s due.

Leeann: Kevin’s right that Lambert is due to win this award now, not to mention that she’s my favorite female singer out of the bunch.

Dan: Lambert still isn’t at Underwood’s sales level, much less Swift’s, and I don’t see her catching up before traditional music sales die out altogether. Doesn’t matter, though: her habit of making creative music will sustain her regardless of industry conditions, and will elevate the genre in the long run. It’s time to look ahead.

Tara: I’m 50/50 on Lambert and Underwood. I’m not sure how to balance Lambert’s long overdue mega-year against Underwood’s continuous stream of solid success, ambassadorship and artistic growth. I’ll be happy either way, but personal investment’s got me in Underwood’s camp.

Will Win:

  • Miranda Lambert - Kevin, Dan, Tara
  • Martina McBride
  • Reba McEntire
  • Taylor Swift
  • Carrie Underwood- Leeann

Kevin: I’d be shocked if Lambert lost, and can’t even make a guess as to who she’d lose to, should she somehow lose.

Leeann: It’s between Lambert and Underwood, but I give Underwood the edge, especially since it’s somewhat surprising that she didn’t get an Entertainer nomination. Although Lambert has gained popularity in the past year, Underwood is still one of the two biggest females in the business and I refuse to predict that Swift will win the award.

Dan: Lambert’s had enough mainstream success this year to give tasteful voters an excuse to give her some props.

Tara: The voters love them some Lambert this year, and I think of all her nominations, this is the one she’s got in the bag.

Vocal Duo of the Year

Should Win:

  • Brooks & Dunn
  • Joey + Rory – Kevin, Leeann, Dan, Tara
  • Montgomery Gentry
  • Steel Magnolia
  • Sugarland

Kevin: I’m assuming “Stuck Like Glue” was after the eligibility period, so I think actually making some music over the year is important. Joey + Rory are the only duo I like who have yet to win.

Leeann: I simply like them the most, but I know they don’t have a chance.

Dan: I mean, why not? Nobody on this ballot has done much but tour.

Tara: I’m not very excited about any of these acts right now, to be honest. It would just be heartwarming to see Joey + Rory pick this one up.

Will Win:

  • Brooks & Dunn – Kevin, Dan
  • Joey + Rory
  • Montgomery Gentry
  • Steel Magnolia
  • Sugarland – Leeann, Tara

Kevin: Sugarland’s year off helped guarantee a B&D victory lap, which would probably have happened anyway.

Leeann: It’s between Brooks & Dunn and Sugarland. I should just pick B&D because of their retirement, but I’m still going with Sugarland because of their popularity.

Dan: Brooks & Dunn, unless voters ignore the eligibility period and stick with Sugarland.

Tara: Isn’t the Brooks & Dunn retirement thing kind of old news by now, or am I just out of touch?

Vocal Group of the Year

Should Win:

  • Lady Antebellum – Tara
  • Little Big Town
  • Rascal Flatts
  • The Band Perry
  • Zac Brown Band – Kevin, Leeann, Dan

Kevin: Let’s start getting some variety in this category, instead of having Lady A own it for five years.

Leeann: They’re the only group that I like right now.

Dan: I’ll probably be rooting for Little Big Town come ACM season, but for now…

Tara: I don’t want Lady A to own this for five years, either, but I do think they deserve to win this year. At least in my opinion, their huge success on the charts and with album sales can be attributed much to their ability to (I know, I know – I’m a broken record) hone in on specific emotion and deliver it in a way that people can really connect with. There’s some meat (and a heck of a lot of potential) behind their success that tends to go unnoticed.

Will Win:

  • Lady Antebellum – Kevin, Leeann, Dan, Tara
  • Little Big Town
  • Rascal Flatts
  • The Band Perry
  • Zac Brown Band

Kevin: Lady A and Zac BB are both very popular with voters, but I’m thinking that this is the only race where voters can reward Lady A for dominating at retail this year.

Leeann: Ditto to Kevin.

Dan: New Artist will be ZBB’s consolation prize.

Tara: …And I think the voters will agree with my pick, if not for the same reasons.

New Artist of the Year

Should Win:

  • Luke Bryan
  • Easton Corbin
  • Jerrod Niemann
  • Chris Young – Leeann
  • Zac Brown Band - Kevin, Dan, Tara

Kevin: ZBB is in another league, which makes me wish they still called this the Horizon Award.

Leeann: It’s weird to see ZBB here considering their nominations elsewhere, so I think that Chris Young has the most potential of the remaining nominees.

Dan: I’d love to see Young take this, but ZBB can’t be denied.

Tara: This is a great line-up, but there’s no question that ZBB deserves this win.

Will Win:

  • Luke Bryan
  • Easton Corbin
  • Jerrod Niemann
  • Chris Young
  • Zac Brown Band – Kevin, Leeann, Dan, Tara

Kevin: ZBB is nominated for Entertainer of the Year, much like Ricky Skaggs was when he won Horizon in 1982. (Skaggs also won Male Vocalist, which means I may have to rethink my pick for Vocal Group, too.)

Leeann: Kevin’s argument is too compelling not to follow. Also, they are the most popular of the nominees, therefore, probably the most deserving.

Dan: Everyone here but Niemann has had a significant breakthrough. With ZBB in the mix, though, it’s no contest.

Tara: It’s a funky set-up to have ZBB nominated for both the top and bottom (figuratively) prizes, and I think this one will play out exactly the way Kevin explained it.

Album of the Year

Should Win:

  • Dierks Bentley, Up on the RidgeLeeann
  • Lady Antebellum, Need You Now
  • Miranda Lambert, Revolution – Dan, Tara
  • George Strait, Twang
  • Carrie Underwood, Play OnKevin

Kevin: I have all five of these albums, and Underwood’s is the one that I listen to the most, with Strait a not-too-close second. In 2010, of course, “listening to an album” really means “how many songs do I pull off the album and put on a play list,” which has Underwood ahead by three tracks.

Leeann: If I follow Kevin’s test, Bently wins with Lambert as a close second. Bentley’s is, hands down, my favorite album of these choices. I’d love to see something this different from the mainstream win.

Dan: Also employing Kevin’s test, I flip-flop Leeann’s first and second choices. Only about two thirds of Revolution click for me a year later, but those two thirds have helped redefined what I thought modern country could be (still flipping about “Me and Your Cigarettes”), and the stray third at least tried.

Tara: I’m not going to follow Kevin’s test: I don’t play Revolution quite as much as three of the other albums on here, but I feel it’s the most deserving. It’s sharp, smart and an excellent example of an artist taking her potential by the horns.

Will Win:

  • Dierks Bentley, Up on the Ridge
  • Lady Antebellum, Need You Now
  • Miranda Lambert, RevolutionKevin, Leeann, Dan, Tara
  • George Strait, Twang
  • Carrie Underwood, Play On

Kevin: I really do think Lambert will sweep. I think she should’ve won for her last album, which wasn’t even nominated, but I’m not going to complain about an ambitious album getting the prize.

Leeann: I’m guessing either Lambert or Underwood. Although Lambert has the better album, Underwood has the slight edge because it sold better. I wouldn’t be especially surprised if Lady A takes it though.

Dan: Seems to me like a toss-up between Lady A’s commercial favorite and Lambert’s critical one. Lambert?

Tara: This is Lambert’s to lose, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if Lady A (or maybe Bentley?) snatched it.

Single of the Year

Should Win:

  • Easton Corbin, “A Little More Country Than That”
  • Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”
  • Miranda Lambert, “The House That Built Me” – Kevin, Leeann, Dan, Tara
  • Miranda Lambert, “White Liar”
  • Blake Shelton featuring Trace Adkins, “Hillbilly Bone”

Kevin: It’s the big chunk of meat in a category of mashed potatoes and candied apples.

Leeann: Kevin just made me really hungry, therefore, kind of distracted. It’s a good thing that my choice doesn’t need justification then.

Dan: “Need You Now” had the biggest impact, of course, but “The House That Built Me” was no slouch either – four weeks at #1 – and was arguably the riskiest, most rewarding release. Also of note: she sang it real pretty.

Tara: “Need You Now” and “The House That Built Me” are performed equally well, but “House” is the better-written song. I’ll go with “House” on the basis of that, but I do think country music will be represented justly either way. Both songs resonate with pure, compelling sentiment.

Will Win:

  • Easton Corbin, “A Little More Country Than That”
  • Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now” - Dan, Tara
  • Miranda Lambert, “The House That Built Me” - Kevin, Leeann
  • Miranda Lambert, “White Liar”
  • Blake Shelton featuring Trace Adkins, “Hillbilly Bone”

Kevin: I think Lady A would have a better shot if they hadn’t won last year for “I Run to You.”

Leeann: It’s simply the clear winner.

Dan: Again, somewhat for diversity’s sake, I’ll guess that many voters have already forgotten about “I Run to You” – I certainly have – and will use this category to recognize the biggest hit, while they use Song to recognize the best one.

Tara: I’m jumping on Dan’s train…

Song of the Year

Should Win:

  • “A Little More Country Than That” – Rory Lee Feek, Don Poythress & Wynn Varble
  • “Need You Now” – Dave Haywood, Josh Kear, Charles Kelley & Hillary Scott
  • “The House That Built Me” – Tom Douglas & Allen Shamblin – Kevin, Leeann, Dan, Tara
  • “Toes” – Zac Brown, Wyatt Durrette, John Hopkins & Shawn Mullins
  • “White Liar” – Natalie Hemby & Miranda Lambert

Kevin: Overall, I think that “Need You Now” is a better Single than Song, and that “The House That Built Me” is a better Song than Single, but “House” is better than “Need” on both counts.

Leeann: I’m just being repetative now. It’s the best single and song of the year.

Dan: It’s the deepest-cutting of the five and the most unique.

Tara: “The House That Built Me” is, quite simply, beautifully written.

Will Win:

  • “A Little More Country Than That” – Rory Lee Feek, Don Poythress & Wynn Varble
  • “Need You Now” – Dave Haywood, Josh Kear, Charles Kelley & Hillary Scott – Kevin
  • “The House That Built Me” – Tom Douglas & Allen Shamblin – Leeann, Dan, Tara
  • “Toes” – Zac Brown, Wyatt Durrette, John Hopkins & Shawn Mullins
  • “White Liar” – Natalie Hemby & Miranda Lambert

Kevin: Here’s where they can honor “Need You Now” without shortchanging Lambert.

Leeann: I just see “House” sweeping in all possible categories.

Dan: They often manage to pick the actual best song of the five, especially when that song is also the most “serious.”

Tara: This just seems way to obvious; I don’t see how the voters could bypass the most clearly deserving song.

Musical Event of the Year

Should Win:

  • Dierks Bentley featuring Jamey Johnson & Miranda Lambert, “Bad Angel” – Tara
  • Kenny Chesney with Dave Matthews, “I’m Alive”
  • Alan Jackson with Lee Ann Womack, “‘Til the End” – Leeann, Dan
  • Blake Shelton featuring Trace Adkins, “Hillbilly Bone” – Kevin
  • Zac Brown Band featuring Kid Rock, “Can’t You See”

Kevin: I don’t find any of these five songs particularly compelling, so I’ll go with the two artists who are longest overdue for some CMA love.

Leeann: I’m not big on any of these either, but the Jackson/Womack collaboration is the one I like the most if I have to choose.

Dan: I’d be fine with either “Til the End” or “Bad Angel”. Whatevs.

Tara: The Jackson/Womack song falls squarely within my typical taste, but “Bad Angel” gets under my skin – in a good way. It’s just a really cool record.

Will Win:

  • Dierks Bentley featuring Jamey Johnson & Miranda Lambert, “Bad Angel”
  • Kenny Chesney with Dave Matthews, “I’m Alive”
  • Alan Jackson with Lee Ann Womack, “‘Til the End”
  • Blake Shelton featuring Trace Adkins, “Hillbilly Bone”- Kevin, Leeann, Dan, Tara
  • Zac Brown Band featuring Kid Rock, “Can’t You See”

Kevin: Its presence in the Single category makes “Hillbilly Bone” the most likely winner.

Leeann: It’s the most mainstream of all the choices.

Dan: “Bad Angel” could play a welcome spoiler, since all three of the artists behind it command a lot of respect right now. I still see this going to the hit, though.

Tara: I’m predicting the big boys will win this one. It’s a decent song, but it makes me laugh that it gets as much love as it does – I mean, this is the song that has Adkins admitting that he’s “always wanted to sing a bone song”…!

Music Video of the Year

Should Win:

  • Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”
  • Miranda Lambert, “The House That Built Me”
  • Miranda Lambert, “White Liar” – Kevin, Dan, Tara
  • Brad Paisley, “Water”
  • Blake Shelton featuring Trace Adkins, “Hillbilly Bone”

Kevin: Lambert made the two best clips, with the humor of “Liar” outpacing the literalism of “House.”

Dan: The “House” video is beautifully conceived and directed, but somehow the “White Liar” one just sticks out more. Maybe it’s because “White Liar” is a thinner song, so the video has more of a chance to establish its own identity.

Tara: The “White Liar” video is the brightest and most creative of the bunch.

Will Win:

  • Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”
  • Miranda Lambert, “The House That Built Me”
  • Miranda Lambert, “White Liar” – Kevin, Dan, Tara
  • Brad Paisley, “Water”
  • Blake Shelton featuring Trace Adkins, “Hillbilly Bone”

Kevin: I think “White Liar” has won all the video awards this year, so I guess it will win again.

Dan: This is the logical place to reward the other Lambert single the CMA liked this year.

Tara: One of Lambert’s videos will win for sure. My best guess is “White Liar” since it’s won before, like Kevin said.

Musician of the Year

Should Win:

  • Paul Franklin (steel guitar) – Kevin, Leeann, Dan, Tara
  • Dann Huff (guitar)
  • Brent Mason (guitar)
  • Mac McAnally (guitar)
  • Randy Scruggs (guitar)

Kevin: Paul Franklin is the nominee I’m rooting for the most this year. Give the man, and the steel guitar, some long overdue recognition!

Leeann: It’s the steel guitar for heaven’s sake! It should be a no-brainer, even though it’s clearly not.

Dan: I won’t pretend I know what’s going on. I’m just going to root for the guy who hasn’t won yet until he finally does.

Tara: How can you pass up the steel guitar?

Will Win:

  • Paul Franklin (steel guitar)
  • Dann Huff (guitar)
  • Brent Mason (guitar)
  • Mac McAnally (guitar) – Kevin, Leeann, Dan, Tara
  • Randy Scruggs (guitar)

Kevin: Mac McAnally won the last two years, so I guess he’s the favorite. Did I mention that Franklin is 0-for-17 going into this year’s ceremony?

Leeann: I suppose its a habit to give it to McAnally at this point. So, why should I be so bold as to predict anyone else?

Dan: No justice!

Tara: Just going off of pattern here.


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CMA 2010: Female Trouble

It’s pretty rare that the CMA nominations garner much attention outside of the country music press, but the always excellent Whitney Pastorek at Entertainment Weekly has a lengthy article trying to rationalize the exclusion of Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift from the Entertainer category.

It’s amazing that in a year where a record was set for the most nominations by a female artist, there can still be a valid accusation of gender bias among the nominations.  Women have been poorly represented in the Entertainer category for pretty much the entire history of the CMA Awards.  Even when you include duos or groups with female members, there have never been more than two out of five nominees that are women.

Never. Think about that for a minute. If this category’s nominees are to be considered reliable, the CMA is essentially saying that there has never been a time in the past 44 years that more than two of the genre’s top five acts have been female, and in the past decade, there’s never been more than one.

Why is this coming to a head this year, when it’s been a problem all along?  Because there is no rational argument that exists, in this era of decreased record sales and economic downturn, for the exclusion of Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift from this category.  Ironically, the inclusion of another female artist – Miranda Lambert – makes the oversight even more obvious.  By any historical standard for this category, Lambert would be jockeying for fourth or fifth place, at best.

With all due respect to Brad Paisley and Keith Urban, their success this year would not get them into this category if they were women. Yet two women who have far exceeded them this year by every measurable standard, two women who are more immediately recognizable and widely beloved than Paisley and Urban have ever been, are left off of the list.

There’s a bias here, and it’s hurting the credibility of the CMA. How is it possible that acts long past their prime, like Brooks & Dunn or Vince Gill, were still getting Entertainer nominations regularly, yet superstars like Shania Twain, Faith Hill and Taylor Swift only made the cut once?  Has there truly been no woman besides Reba McEntire in the last 25 years who has been one of the five top entertainers more than once?

Even if you strain your reason to justify Swift’s exclusion because she was a little less visible during the last three months of the eligibility period, the Underwood snub is the most blatantly unfair this category has seen since the days of Shania Twain, who somehow only earned one nomination while she was absolutely destroying the competition at an international level that has never been matched.

Perhaps the voting methodology of the CMA awards, which allows voters to pick up to five nominees in each category, has exacerbated the “token female” dilemma.  I don’t know, and I really don’t care. Because in an era where even the ACM Awards are showing better taste than the CMA’s, the flagship organization of country music needs to address its female trouble while it still has a single shred of credibility left.

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2010 CMA Nominations

Last month, I suggested an infusion of new blood at the CMA Awards. They’ve exceeded even my wildest expectations, rejecting the usual nominees in nearly every race.  Lady Antebellum, Zac Brown Band, and Dierks Bentley have quite a bit to celebrate, but this year’s awards belong to Miranda Lambert, who earned a stunning nine nominations, a record for a female artist.

Let’s take a look at this year’s nominees:

Entertainer

  • Lady Antebellum
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Brad Paisley
  • Keith Urban
  • Zac Brown Band

Who’s In: Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Zac Brown Band

Who’s Out: Kenny Chesney, George Strait, Taylor Swift

Snap Judgment: All of the new nominees are justified, but the exclusion of Carrie Underwood is shocking and quite unfair.  Leaving off Taylor Swift is also a big surprise. It’s difficult to justify Keith Urban in either of their places.  Then again, the CMA hasn’t nominated two solo female artists in this category since 1979, despite several years where it was warranted.

Male Vocalist

  • Dierks Bentley
  • Brad Paisley
  • Blake Shelton
  • George Strait
  • Keith Urban

Who’s In: Dierks Bentley, Blake Shelton

Who’s Out: Kenny Chesney, Darius Rucker

Snap Judgment: Good to see them mixing it up in this race. I wonder if being engaged to Lambert helped push Shelton over the edge here?

Female Vocalist

  • Miranda Lambert
  • Martina McBride
  • Reba McEntire
  • Taylor Swift
  • Carrie Underwood

Who’s In: Nobody.

Who’s Out: Nobody.

Snap Judgment: Same lineup as last year. Who could argue for anyone else?

Vocal Duo

  • Brooks & Dunn
  • Joey + Rory
  • Montgomery Gentry
  • Steel Magnolia
  • Sugarland

Who’s In: Steel Magnolia

Who’s Out: Big & Rich

Snap Judgment: Oh look, five nominees who are all actively recording! Big progress for this category.

Vocal Group

  • The Band Perry
  • Lady Antebellum
  • Little Big Town
  • Rascal Flatts
  • Zac Brown Band

Who’s In: The Band Perry

Who’s Out: Eagles

Snap Judgment: Who are The Band Perry? That’s what the Gloriana camp is probably saying right now, though with two top twenty hits under their belt, Band Perry is one to watch.

New Artist

  • Luke Bryan
  • Easton Corbin
  • Jerrod Neimann
  • Chris Young
  • Zac Brown Band

Who’s In: Luke Bryan, Easton Corbin, Jerrod Neimann, Chris Young

Who’s Out: Randy Houser, Jamey Johnson, Jake Owen, Darius Rucker

Snap Judgment: Quite a bit of turnover, given that four of last year’s five nominees were eligible again. Rucker’s victory last year clears the way for Zac Brown Band to get a mantle companion piece for their Best New Artist Grammy.

Album

  • Dierks Bentley, Up on the Ridge
  • Lady Antebellum, Need You Now
  • Miranda Lambert, Revolution
  • George Strait, Twang
  • Carrie Underwood, Play On

Snap Judgment: A nice balance of commercial success and critical acclaim.

Single

  • Easton Corbin, “A Little More Country Than That”
  • Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”
  • Miranda Lambert, “The House That Built Me”
  • Miranda Lambert, “White Liar”
  • Blake Shelton with Trace Adkins, “Hillbilly Bone”

Snap Judgment: Quite a bit of love for newer artists, plus some overcompensation for the CMA’s lack of Lambert love in the past, as she becomes one of the only artists in history to score two Single nominations in the same year.

Song

  • “The House That Built Me” – written by Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin
  • “A Little More Country Than That” – written by Rory Lee Feek, Wynn Varble and Don Poythress
  • “Need You Now” – written by Dave Haywood, Josh Kear, Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott
  • “Toes” – written by Zac Brown, Wyatt Beasley I. Durrette, John Hopkins and Shawn Mullins
  • “White Liar” – written by Natalie Hemby and Miranda Lambert

Snap Judgment: This year, “Hillbilly Bone” gets the “cool enough to be a single nominee but not deep enough to get a song nomination” label, with “Toes” taking its place in this race.

Musical Event

  • “Bad Angel – Dierks Bentley with Jamey Johnson and Miranda Lambert
  • “Can’t You See” – Zac Brown Band featuring Kid Rock
  • “Hillbilly Bone” – Blake Shelton featuring Trace Adkins
  • “I’m Alive” – Kenny Chesney featuring Dave Matthews
  • “‘Til the End” – Alan Jackson with Lee Ann Womack

Snap Judgment: Amazing that the only nomination for Kenny Chesney is in this category.

Music Video

  • “Hillbilly Bone” – Blake Shelton with Trace Adkins; directed by Roman White
  • “The House That Built Me” – Miranda Lambert; directed by Trey Fanjoy
  • “Need You Now” – Lady Antebellum; directed by David McClister
  • “Water” – Brad Paisley; directed by Jim Shea
  • “White Liar” – Miranda Lambert; directed by Chris Hickey

Snap Judgment: Lambert’s dual nominations are another indication of her popularity’s depth this year, even if it’s not quite as amazing as those two Single nominations.

Musician

  • Paul Franklin
  • Dann Huff
  • Brent Mason
  • Mac McAnally
  • Randy Scruggs

Who’s In: Randy Scruggs

Who’s Out: Eddie Bayers

Snap Judgment: Three-time winner Scruggs is back in the race for the first time since 2007, taking the place of Eddie Bayers, who has yet to win despite ten nominations.  All of this year’s nominees have won at least once, except for Paul Franklin, who received his 18th nomination this year.

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Picking the CMA Nominees: Female Vocalist of the Year

In the Entertainer and Male Vocalist races, I’ve been making the case for fresh blood. In those categories, the routine nominees are mostly past their peaks, and there’s room to let some rising stars in on the action.

Oh, to be able to make the same case for the Female Vocalist race. Let’s take a look at last year’s nominees:

2009

  • Miranda Lambert
  • Martina McBride
  • Reba McEntire
  • Taylor Swift
  • Carrie Underwood

For the first time in this category’s history, I believe voters are facing a dilemma that plagued the Vocal Duo category for most of the nineties: there just aren’t enough worthy nominees to finish out the category.

Even earlier in this decade, when radio was barely playing any women at all, there were women like Alison Krauss, Dolly Parton, and Patty Loveless who earned nominations for their critically acclaimed roots records.  Krauss was even a regular in this category for a good chunk of the decade, and despite being largely absent from radio, she sold more records than some of her fellow nominees.

This year, there isn’t even a woman who could step forward and claim that mantle.  So my picks don’t bring anything new to the table. Maybe some of you can make the case that I’m unable to, and suggest new blood in the comments.

Picks for Female Vocalist

Miranda Lambert

She deserves her fourth consecutive nomination, and on the strength of Revolution and its hit single “The House That Built Me”, I think that she deserves the win this year.

Martina McBride

In any other year, this would be the slot that should be up for grabs. McBride didn’t release a new album, and while she had some success at radio with “Wrong Baby Wrong”, it didn’t crack the top ten or reignite album sales. Still, who is standing in her way? Kellie Pickler? Gretchen Wilson? Laura Bell Bundy?   I fully expect her to earn her thirteenth consecutive nomination, matching Reba McEntire’s record run from 1983-1995.

Reba McEntire

Speaking of McEntire, she’s been popping up in this category again in recent years.  After those thirteen consecutive nominations ended in 1995, the race was far too competitive for a good while.  She’s earned three nominations since then, in 2004, 2006, and 2009.  Her massive hit “Consider Me Gone” and surprisingly strong record sales mean that this won’t be a filler nomination. She’s earned it.

Taylor Swift

Yes, I know the idea of her winning vocalist awards makes many wince, but c’mon now. There’s no denying she’s one of the top female artists today. Until Eminem’s recent comeback, she was the biggest star in all of music, period.  And she’s got a shot at reclaiming that title with her third album, if initial reaction to “Mine” is any indication.

Carrie Underwood

The three-time winner is radio’s favorite artist and her album sales have remained strong. If Lambert hadn’t surged with “The House That Built Me”, I think that Underwood would be ahead in the race this year.  If she makes the final ballot for Entertainer, I suspect that voters will reward her in that category and give Female Vocalist to Lambert.  There’s good precedent for this, as Dolly Parton (1978), Barbara Mandrell (1980), and Shania Twain (1999) won Entertainer without winning Female Vocalist that night.  It’s happened even more in the Entertainer/Male races, given that the big prize has gone to men far more frequently.

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Picking the CMA Nominees: Male Vocalist of the Year

If turnover has been slow in the Entertainer category, it’s been nothing less than glacial in the Male Vocalist race.  Over the past ten years, only eleven men have received nominations.  Four of those eleven – Dierks Bentley, Vince Gill, Darius Rucker, and Josh Turner – have been nominated only once.

Now, Toby Keith and Tim McGraw were regularly invited to the party in the first half of the last decade, with four and three nominations, respectively. But the race has essentially been dominated by the same five men: Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, George Strait, and Keith Urban, who combine for forty nominations in just one decade.

The recent history has been pretty boring. After two consecutive wins by Alan Jackson, we’ve had three consecutive wins each by Keith Urban and reigning champ Brad Paisley.

Will there be a new winner this year, or even a new nominee? Should there be?

Let’s take a look at last year’s race:

2009

  • Kenny Chesney
  • Brad Paisley
  • Darius Rucker
  • George Strait
  • Keith Urban

Darius Rucker was the new face to enter the race last year. No brand new nominee has been nominated again in this category since Keith Urban earned his first nomination in 2004. He’s been in the race ever since.  I’d say Rucker’s close to a lock, along with Paisley. But just like in the Entertainer race, a case could be made for a decent shake-up, especially some of this category’s veteran acts have dipped at radio and retail.

Here’s who I would nominate this year. Share your picks in the comments:

Jason Aldean

Anybody else notice that this guy’s outselling the rest of the male solo artists? All the while, he’s been completely ignored at the country awards shows for his last two projects.  He’s not overdue just yet, but he’s due.

Dierks Bentley

He went out of his comfort zone to release a bluegrass-flavored album that was pretty darn good.

Brad Paisley

He just missed my list for preferred Entertainer nominees, but he’s at the head of the pack in this category. With his domination at radio, not to mention a stronger studio album than his previous two, I wouldn’t be shocked for him to become the third artist in history to win four of these.

Blake Shelton

His hit-making has certainly been kicked up a notch as of late.  He may be destined to toil just under the radar of this category like Trace Adkins and Gary Allan before him, but it would be nice to see him get a nod.

Josh Turner

A decent comeback at radio and retail, coupled with him being a great singer who’s been overlooked, makes me hope he finishes out this category.

___

I left off previous nominees Keith Urban, George Strait, and Darius Rucker because they haven’t put out new albums during the eligibility period, so it seems like a good time to let some new folks get a chance. I left off Kenny Chesney because he’s been doing nothing but stopgap releases for the past year, none of which sold to  his normal standards.  I left off Tim McGraw, even though he’s made some music I really like lately, because he hasn’t been doing as well as usual at radio and retail.

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Picking the CMA Nominees: Entertainer of the Year

As we did last year, it’s time to share our preferences for this year’s CMA Awards.  Last year, Taylor Swift was the belle of the ball, winning four awards.  Some long winning streaks came to an end, as Swift replaced both Kenny Chesney as Entertainer of the Year and Carrie Underwood as Female Vocalist of the Year.  Lady Antebellum ended Rascal Flatts’ long run as top Vocal Group, and were the surprise winners of Single of the Year as well.

Once again.  I’ve selected the five artists that I believe are most deserving of an Entertainer of the Year nomination.  But first, let’s take a look at last year’s race:

Entertainer of the Year (2009)

  • Kenny Chesney
  • Brad Paisley
  • George Strait
  • Taylor Swift
  • Keith Urban

Swift was victorious in her first nomination in this category.  She competed against three previous winners:  Kenny Chesney, who has gone 4 for 8 in this category;  Keith Urban, who is 1 for 5; and the incomparable George Strait, who is 2 for 17.  Brad Paisley lost for the fifth year, tying Kenny Rogers for the most nominations without a win.

As the numbers above show, this has been a largely static category for the past ten years.  Only thirteen artists earned nominations from 2000-2009. The CMA noms can be very predictable.

But looking at radio and retail these days, there’s been a big changing of the guard.  I think that this category more than any other should reflect that.  I’m putting my personal tastes aside here, as there are only two artists I list that I actually listen to regularly.

Entertainer of the Year (2010)

The nominees should be:

Lady Antebellum

Their second album has already spent 25 weeks at #1, and “Need You Now” was such a big hit that it’s led to pop airplay for “I Run to You”, the award-winning hit from their debut album.  It would be an early nomination in terms of their career, but Alabama and Dixie Chicks were elevated to this category even faster, so there’s precedent for vocal groups.

Miranda Lambert

She’s always had the critical success, and she’s always sold records.  But she’s selling them a heck of a lot faster these days and radio is suddenly, shockingly, spectacularly on board.  It’s time for the CMA to catch up with the ACM, who have been away ahead in acknowledging this artist.

Taylor Swift

Being nominated the year after winning is not a given, but it’s the norm.  While it was common in the seventies, it’s been very rare in recent years.  Shania Twain (1999) was the last winner to not receive another nomination the following year, with the others being:  Dolly Parton (1978), Mel Tillis (1976), John Denver (1975), and Charlie Rich (1974).

So she’s probably a lock for a nomination, and she deserves one. Though things have been quiet on the Swift front for the past couple of months, she had a massive tour and sold a ton of records during the eligibility period.

Carrie Underwood

She really should be enjoying her third nomination this year, but a (flimsy) case could be made for her not making the ballot in 2008 and 2009. But no nomination this year would be inexcusable. She had a very successful tour, continued to dominate radio, and her third album is quickly approaching double platinum.  At this point, she shouldn’t just get a nomination. She should win.

Zac Brown Band

Their live performances are well-regarded, radio is fully on board, and their first major label album is double platinum.  A case could be made for Brad Paisley getting this spot, but sales of his new album have fallen quite a bit short of previous efforts.  The same goes for other perennial nominees Keith Urban, George Strait, and Kenny Chesney.

So those are my five choices. What are yours?

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CMA Live Blog 2009

CMA AwardsWinners

Musician of the Year – Mac McAnally

Musical Event of the Year – “Start A Band”, Brad Paisley & Keith Urban

Music Video of the Year – “Love Story”, Taylor Swift

Single of the Year – “I Run To You”, Lady Antebellum

Song of the Year – “In Color”, Jamey Johnson, Lee Thomas Miller, James Otto

Vocal Group of the Year – Lady Antebellum

New Artist of the Year – Darius Rucker

Album of the Year – Fearless, Taylor Swift

Vocal Duo of the Year – Sugarland

Male Vocalist of the Year – Brad Paisley

Female Vocalist of the Year – Taylor Swift

Entertainer of the Year – Taylor Swift

- – -

11:05 DM: Final tally of CMA staff predictions: Leeann – 9, Dan – 7, Tara – 6, Kevin – 5 (not counting Video). Leeann triumphs again! Thanks for joining us, everyone!

11:04 KC: Artists who have won 4 CMA awards in one night: Johnny Cash. Merle Haggard. Vince Gill. Alison Krauss. Dixie Chicks. Taylor Swift.

11:00 DM: Well, this certainly feels like some kind of watershed moment for country music. I guess we’ll see what happens, huh?

10:59 KC: Though to get us back to reality: Female winners of the Entertainer of the Year award – Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Barbara Mandrell, Reba McEntire, Shania Twain, Dixie Chicks, Taylor Swift.

10:57 KC: And she brought out the band. And she thanked the fans. And she’s crying. Darn you, Taylor Swift. Making me be happy for you!

10:56 KC: And her parents just made me get misty.

10:55 KC: Okay, she deserved this one.

10:55 DM: A clean sweep.

Entertainer of the Year: Taylor Swift

10:54 DM: After that, no Entertainer result could surprise me.

10:52 KC: Before the show, I told Dan that I hoped there would be some surprises tonight. God says “Ha!”

10:48 DM: Dave Matthews is pretty cool. It’s a shame he couldn’t be here for a more interesting song. Anybody remember his Crossroads with Emmylou Harris? That was cool.

10:46 KC: Pardon my absence. I had to put a “Kanye Was Right” sticker on my car.

10:42 DM: Well, the backlash should start pretty soon here. I don’t even wanna know what’s being said in the Carrie Underwood fan forums right now.

10:40 DM: Speechless.

10:40 KC: Oh dear.

Female Vocalist of the Year: Taylor Swift

10:37 KC: People are crazy. Crazy enough to give Lady Antebellum single of the year, but not quite crazy enough to give it to Billy Currington.

10:35 DM: Billy Currington. I feel a power-nap coming on!

10:34 KC: Also praying that Reba can drag George Strait up to the NYC metro area when they tour together.

10:33 KC: This decent Reba single reminded me of an interesting piece of trivia: All five female vocalist nominees are in the top 20 of the singles chart this week. See what’s possible when you don’t nominate Alison Krauss?

10:31 DM: Have you guys noticed how Reba is just going by the one name now? Not a fan. She still sounds good, but it’s time for some better singles.

10:26 KC: Now they brought the Hall of Fame CMA moment back? After the Emmylou Harris induction has already come and gone?

10:24 KC: Okay George Strait just saved it. Perhaps because he actually has been country all along?

10:24 KC: Let’s all pray that Martina isn’t previewing Timeless II.

10:24 KC: Even if Roy Clark was dead, it wouldn’t be excusable for Barbara Mandrell to get such a lopsided amount of attention.

10:21 DM: Well, I’m glad they’re doing something for the inductees. Even if it involves “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool.”

10:21 KC: I have this fear that Taylor Swift is going to win Female Vocalist.

10:19 KC: That sounds like a dangerous thing to do on a tractor.

10:18 DM: Is Jason Aldean really at superstar status now? Bummer.

10:15 DM: Upsets at every turn.

Male Vocalist of the Year: Brad Paisley

10:11 KC: To answer LeAnn’s question, “By listening to their music.”

10:10 KC: I didn’t know who I was supposed to be at 19, either.

10:09 From the Comments, Diamond: Kanye. NOW. Please…

10:08 KC: I wonder how LeAnn Rimes feels about all of this.

10:07 DM: Gotta say, there are probably at least five girls in a ten-foot radius of Swift who could be up there singing this better.

10:04 DM: Wow, burn.

10:03 KC: Rascal Flatts commercial for Wendy’s. A celebrity endorsement that is completely believable.

10:02 KC: Why didn’t B&D get up and talk? Way to sink a classy moment.

10:01 KC: Sugarland: A standing O I can get behind.

10:00 DM: Don’t think we didn’t notice your complete lack of applause for Joey + Rory, CMA! For shame.

Vocal Duo of the Year: Sugarland

9:59 KC: B&D’s retirement announcement was timed so it could impact CMA voting. Let’s see if it did the trick.

9:58 KC: In terms of personal grooming, he’s somewhere between Jennings and Cousin It.

9:57 KC: Still don’t think Johnson’s schtick is particularly authentic.

9:56 DM: John Rich got a mention. Not going to do much to help that smugness thing.

9:54 DM: Jamey Johnson doing “Between Jennings and Jones” at the CMAs. If he doesn’t kick ass, he’s going to come off really smug.

9:54 KC: Dan, the time for steel-tipped intervention was when they were considering recording it in the first place.

9:52 DM: I remember Ronnie doing a good job on “It’s Getting Better All The Time” some number of years back.

9:52 KC: This final B&D CMA performance has me feeling sentimental for all of those amazing CMA performances from them over the past eighteen years, of which I can’t name one.

9:51 DM: Brooks & Dunn’s final CMA performance is “Honky Tonk Stomp.” I’d like to kick the balls of whoever made that call.

9:48 KC: KC: Shout-out to Cutting the Treacle, living up to the name and the comment thread’s MVP so far.

9:46 KC: Women who’ve won Album of the Year: Sissy Spacek, Anne Murray, Patty Loveless, Dixie Chicks, Lee Ann Womack, Taylor Swift. Rank them as you wish.

9:44 KC: Shocked that Jamey Johnson didn’t win.

9:45 DM: And the tweens have it.

Album of the Year: Fearless, Taylor Swift

9:42 DM: I think my dad may have had that ugly black Aloha-cowboy vest.

9:42 KC: My dad also went out with his Boots On.

9:41 KC: My dad had that POW MIA hat!

9:39 DM: Seriously, Nettles has better stage presence than just about anybody else we’ve seen tonight. Maybe Zac Brown Band could compete. Still not digging her head voice, though.

9:38 KC: KC: Love this song. Love this duo.

9:36 DM: Carrie has a lot more charisma this year. And speaking of charisma, here comes Jennifer Nettles!

9:30 DM: …So how about Tim’s jester pants?

9:27 DM: Tim forgot his first few words because he was looking around waiting for that “famous Southern people” montage Kevin promised to start up. Now that it has, he’s good.

9:25 DM: I really want to like this song – it’s certainly something new for Keith – but I just can’t get into it somehow. Doesn’t feel accessible.

9:23 DM: Keith Urban debuting his new single about how depressing empty carnivals are.

9:21 DM: I don’t know whether to smile that Little Jimmy got a spot at all or weep that it was just so he could deliver a limp Kanye joke.

9:15 KC: For me, the Tennessee line just meant that I had another three hours of driving until Nashville or another twelve until New York.

9:12 KC: Much like cheddar cheese and Grey Goose, Vince Gill makes everything a little bit better.

9:11 DM: Good thing Daughtry is here. I was worried they might mention the Country Music Hall of Fame inductees or something.

9:10 KC: Darius Rucker joins Shelby Lynne in possession of both a country new artist award and the Best New Artist Grammy.

New Artist of the Year: Darius Rucker

9:08 KC: Wynonna – you look great, but you won the HORIZON AWARD, not the New Artist award

9:07 KC: Songs that stink live and on record: “Alright”, whatever Taylor sang.

9:07 KC: Songs that haven’t: “White Liar”, “Welcome to the Future”

9:07 KC: Songs that have sounded better live tonight: “Need You Now”, “Cowboy Casanova”, “Twang”

9:06 KC: Also, very cool set piece

9:05 KC: Why is it that the whole “they sound bad because of the sound system” argument falls apart every time that Carrie Underwood opens her mouth and puts the rest of them to shame?

9:05 DM: I meant that positively. She looks hot.

9:03 DM: Oh man. This performance is going to inspire drag shows for years to come.

9:02 DM: Carrie launching into “Cowboy Casanova.”

9:00 KC: Dan, it’s taking all my strength to get through this show without medication, and I’m watching at home.

8:58 DM: Now the healing can begin.

8:57 KC: Rascal Flatts didn’t win, which is more satisfying than any winner could be.

Vocal Group of the Year: Lady Antebellum

8:56 DM: OH! VOCAL GROUP MOMENT OF TRUTH!

8:55 DM: Is it me, or do the TV star presenters always seem the most medicated?

8:54 KC: That’s Jamey Johnson and Kid Rock up on the rafters, shaking out their hair.

8:53 KC: I bet Miranda Lambert feels just like that string of Christmas lights.

8:50 KC: If Jason Aldean recorded this, it would sound like a Metallica record.

8:50 KC: Amazing how this man has managed to wade through at least three “Country Goes Crazy for Crossover” phases without even sullying his crisp white shirt.

8:48 KC: The CMA needs a little “Twang” too. Thanks George!

8:47 DM: Incidentally, the awards for Video and Musical Event were given out pre-show. The winners are “Love Story” and “Start A Band”, respectively.

8:45 KC: I cursed on the CMAs. That means I’m hard-core!

8:44 DM: But point taken – it was a breath of fresh air.

8:44 KC: Scratch that – AK&US  and Nickel Creek have been on the show since then.

8:43 KC: Though  to be fair, it’s the first time since the Dixie Chicks ruled the CMAs that a band has actually played well live on the stage.

8:42 KC: The devil went down to K-Mart, he was looking for some clothes to wear. He found a polo shirt and stone-washed jeans for his big awards show affair.

8:40 DM: Alright, this is the most interesting CMA performance I’ve seen in some time. They’re so un-glamorous compared to the rest of the crowd that it’s a little mesmerizing.

8:40 KC: Loving the tambourine guy.

8:39 KC: Halloween was eleven days ago and a lot less scary.

8:39 DM: Zac Brown Band doing “Devil Went Down To Georgia.” I’m sure they can play it, but seriously, WTF?

8:38 KC: The history geek in me wants to tell Brad that he just woke up the founder of the Lutherans, not the leader of the civil rights movement

8:36 KC: Apparently in the future, you don’t have to sing into the microphone.

8:35 DM: Seconded.

8:35 KC: Seriously, if Mario or Link show up, I’m switching my Entertainer vote to Brad

8:34 KC: Pac-Man!

8:33 KC: PONG!!!!

8:31 DM: I know what you mean, Kevin. I get to a point where I just have to stop reading reviews in order to enjoy music.

8:29 KC: This song’s grown on me a bit. Miranda’s talent and her hype keep switching leads in their ongoing race. Right now, it’s hype by a nose.

8:28 KC: Craig Wiseman won Song in 2004 and 2006. Bill Anderson in 2005 and 2007. Jamey Johnson in 2007 and 2009. Next year, Jennifer Nettles better prepare a speech!

8:27 DM: Wow, this mix is terrible. She’s singing well, but she and the drums are about all you can hear.

8:24 DM: Miranda Lambert doing “White Liar.” Interested to hear how it sounds live.

8:24 KC: Jamey’s comment about not thinking he’d ever be allowed to come to stuff like this would seem a bit more believable if he hadn’t already won in this category before.

8:22 Song of the Year: “In Color”

8:21 KC: Darius, we already knew white people don’t have any rhythm. You didn’t have to rub it in.

8:20 DM: This song does not deserve a giant light-up sign of its title.

8:20 KC: Way to set the bar at just “Alright” and still not even approach it.

8:18 KC: Nobody’s EVER made the leap from rock to country as gracefully as Darius Rucker? Somewhere, the family of Conway Twitty is screaming.

8:17 KC: I think Brad & Carrie just locked in hosting duties for the next five years.

8:16 DM: Why can’t Carrie Underwood record countrier music? She’s cleaning up on these song parodies.

8:16 KC: Check out our Country Universe spin-off site launching tomorrow: ladyantebellumsingleoftheyearseriously????.com

8:13 KC: Full disclosure. I purchased the cassingle of Victoria Shaw’s “Cry Wolf” back in ’94.

Single of the Year: Lady Antebellum, “I Run To You”

8:12 DM & KC: WHAT????

8:11 KC: Look! Skeeter Davis grew a beard!

8:11 KC: Kid Rock. Performing AND presenting. Of course.

8:09 DM: Gotta say I’m actually liking some of the opening monologue this time. The gags on Tim & Faith’s colognes and the Brooks & Dunn/Sugarland competition are pretty solid.

8:07 KC: Hope that’s the first and last Kanye joke.

8:06 DM: For a second I thought they were actually just going to stand there and sing old country songs. Bummer.

8:05 DM: Ditto, Kev.

8:04 KC: All of my objective, “She’s the top performer right now and should be acknowledged” comments are difficult to stand by when I hear her sing

8:03 DM: Dramatic moments in song = key time to start singing in fake British accent.

8:01 KC: It’s 8:01. Do you know where your Pro Tools are?

8:00 DM: Taylor performance. She’s doing that Joe Jonas harangue song.

7:59 DM: Show time’s almost here! Kevin and I will be doing double-duty throughout the night and highlighting some of your comments. Get pumped!

Given that CMA Live Blogging has become so widespread that even the super-cool Whitney Pastorek at Entertainment Weekly is doing it, our “update the post repeatedly while you add your comments” approach seems almost quaint.

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CMA Awards: Predictions and Personal Picks

The CMA Awards are upon us again, and I must say that this is the most underwhelming lineup I’ve ever seen, and I started watching the show back in 1991. We’ll be back to live blog the festivities on Wednesday night. In the meantime, enjoy our personal picks in each category, along with who we think will actually win.

brad-paisleyEntertainer of the Year

Should Win:
  • Kenny Chesney
  • Brad Paisley – Leeann, Tara
  • George Strait
  • Taylor Swift – Kevin, Dan
  • Keith Urban
Will Win:
  • Kenny Chesney
  • Brad Paisley – Kevin, Leeann, Tara
  • George Strait
  • Taylor Swift – Dan
  • Keith Urban

Kevin: Much like the field finally cleared for him in the Male Vocalist race two years ago, I expect that this is Paisley’s year to win with his sixth nomination. I think Taylor Swift deserves to win, though. There’s no getting around the fact that she’s the biggest thing out there right now.

Leeann: I won’t be shocked (or really even disappointed) if Taylor Swift picks it up, but I really feel it’s finally Brad’s year.

Dan: Swift is the face of the genre right now, and she’s putting out better-written material than many of the veterans in this category. It looks like a race between her and Paisley, and I think she may actually get it.

Tara: It wouldn’t be inappropriate for Swift to take this award, and I would much (understatement) prefer her to win this over the vocalist award. But to me, Paisley is the all-around entertainer, and I think it’s his year to be recognized.

brad-paisleyMale Vocalist of the Year

Should Win:
  • Kenny Chesney
  • Brad Paisley – Leeann, Tara
  • Darius Rucker
  • George Strait – Dan
  • Keith Urban – Kevin
Will Win:
  • Kenny Chesney
  • Brad Paisley – Kevin, Leeann, Dan, Tara
  • Darius Rucker
  • George Strait
  • Keith Urban

Leeann: I have no doubt that Paisley will win again, as he  has had a strong year and the CMAs tend to prefer him for this award.  While I think Urban is technically a very worthy opponent, the combination of Paisley’s warm voice and stronger album makes me continue to root for him.  I’d also be just as happy if Strait won, however, and feel that his and Paisley’s albums were the strongest of the year.

Dan: Looks like an easy Paisley win, but I’ll give Strait the nod for all-around strength this past year.

Tara: I don’t anticipate that Paisley’s winning streak will be broken. I’m pulling for him on the strength of his material, but wouldn’t mind one bit if Urban took the award. Just please, CMAs, don’t give it to Rucker!

Kevin: Paisley’s poised to pick up his third trophy, with his only real competition being five-time winner George Strait. I’d give a fourth trophy to previous winner Keith Urban over the rest of the field. He really sang rings around the rest of ‘em when comparing their latest albums.

Carrie Underwood 09Female Vocalist of the Year

Should Win:
  • Miranda Lambert - Leeann
  • Martina McBride
  • Reba McEntire
  • Taylor Swift
  • Carrie Underwood – Kevin, Dan, Tara
Will Win:
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Martina McBride
  • Reba McEntire
  • Taylor Swift
  • Carrie Underwood – Kevin, Leeann, Dan, Tara

Dan: I tend to find Underwood boring, but I do think she released some of her better singles this past year. Swift just isn’t a strong enough vocalist to merit this prize, and I’d rather see Lambert win in a year where she has more momentum going, which could well be next year.

Tara: It will no doubt spark controversy when Underwood takes her fourth trophy and joins the ranks of Reba McEntire and Martina McBride, and that’s another discussion all together – but looking at the nominees for this year, it’s clear she deserves to win. In terms of sheer vocal talent, few artists in the genre come close to her. I’d love to see Lambert take this award (and Underwood would too!), but like Dan, I don’t think it’s her time just yet.

Kevin: I won’t believe a different winner in this race until I see it. I was underwhelmed by the latest albums from Lambert, McBride, McEntire, and Swift, and quite frankly, Underwood is the only lady of the five to put out more than one single this year that I actually really liked (“Just a Dream”, “I Told You So.”) I remain in her corner.

Leeann: Carrie will deserve to win this award when she wins it this year.  I, however, still prefer Lambert’s voice and feel that her output (album) is the most interesting of the nominees.

Sugarland JoeyVocal Duo of the Year

Should Win:

  • Big & Rich
  • Brooks & Dunn
  • Joey + Rory
  • Montgomery Gentry
  • Sugarland – Kevin, Leeann, Dan, Tara
Will Win:
  • Big & Rich
  • Brooks & Dunn
  • Joey + Rory
  • Montgomery Gentry
  • Sugarland – Kevin, Leeann, Dan, Tara

Tara: Sugarland continues to excite me, and I think they deserve this award again.

Kevin: I love Joey + Rory, but Sugarland have really been blowing me away lately.  I’d pick them for Entertainer if they’d been nominated.

Leeann: I’d technically love for Joey + Rory to win, but I know full well that Sugarland is the duo that truly deserves to win based upon their impact this year.

Dan: Sugarland. But I want to talk to whoever is picking their singles.

lady-antebellum-and-a-chairVocal Group of the Year

Should Win:

  • Eagles
  • Lady Antebellum – Tara
  • Little Big Town
  • Rascal Flatts
  • Zac Brown Band – Kevin, Leeann, Dan

Will Win:

  • Eagles
  • Lady Antebellum – Kevin, Leeann, Dan, Tara
  • Little Big Town
  • Rascal Flatts
  • Zac Brown Band

Kevin: I find Zac Brown Band more interesting, and I think they have a real shot at winning this. I suspect Lady Antebellum has a bit more industry support, though, so I’ll give them the edge.

Leeann: Lady A will win because they’ve got more industry support and popularity with radio, but the Zac Brown Band has certainly put out more interesting music and have a refreshingly unique sound that deserves to be rewarded.

Dan: Pretty much what Kevin and Leeann said. “Chicken Fried” notwithstanding.

Tara: It’s definitely a race between Zac Brown Band and Lady Antebellum, and I can understand why my co-bloggers are rooting for the former. But even if Lady Antebellum’s talent needs a little cultivating, their music strikes a very personal chord with me, and I’ll be thrilled when they take this award. Can you believe Rascal Flatts might actually walk away from an awards show empty-handed?

zac-bbNew Artist of the Year

Should Win:
  • Randy Houser
  • Jamey Johnson – Dan
  • Jake Owen
  • Darius Rucker
  • Zac Brown Band – Kevin, Leeann, Tara

Will Win:

  • Randy Houser
  • Jamey Johnson – Kevin
  • Jake Owen
  • Darius Rucker – Dan, Leeann, Tara
  • Zac Brown Band

Kevin: A weak lineup that speaks volumes about why country music is where it is today. I think Zac Brown Band should win. They’ve really been the real breakthrough act of the five. But I suspect in this battle of “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” co-writers, Jamey Johnson will emerge victorious.

Leeann: While I’m tempted to root for Jamey Johnson, I think Zac Brown Band has a chance of keeping me intrigued over the next few years (even if they fall out of the mainstream), though I don’t think they’ve reached their potential  just yet.  I predict that Darius Rucker will actually win, however, as he’s been the most successful in the last year.

Dan: Time will tell whether Johnson is able to remain a strong artistic force, but I’d say he has as good a chance as any of these five if he can keep from getting self-important. Rucker is the biggest star on the ballot, though, and I suspect he’ll squeak the win over Johnson and Zac Brown Band.

Tara: Johnson and Zac Brown Band are both deserving recipients of this award, but I personally prefer the band’s music. With the commercial success Rucker’s seen in the past year, though, I think it’s his award to lose. Not too sure how I feel about that.  

thatlonesomesongAlbum of the Year

Should Win:

  • Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Song – Leeann, Dan
  • Brad Paisley, American Saturday NightTara
  • Sugarland, Love on the InsideKevin
  • Taylor Swift, Fearless
  • Keith Urban, Defying Gravity
Will Win:
  • Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Song – Kevin, Dan, Tara
  • Brad Paisley, American Saturday Night
  • Sugarland, Love on the Inside
  • Taylor Swift, Fearless – Leeann
  • Keith Urban, Defying Gravity

Leeann: While Johnson’s album hasn’t really stuck with me over the past year or so, I still think it’s the best album out of the bunch.  I think Swift will win, however, due to the volume of sales and hit singles.

Dan: All of these albums have strengths, but That Lonesome Song is the only one that makes me optimistic about country music’s future. I expect it to triumph, though Swift’s has a great shot, too.

Tara: Paisley’s album, to me, strikes that sweet balance of traditional and contemporary. I think it’s a strong, interesting and relevant album that epitomizes why Paisley is so deservingly successful. But Johnson will deserve this award when he takes it, and I recognize and appreciate his positive influence on mainstream country music.

Kevin: I expected more nods overall for Jamey Johnson. I think that the eligibility period hurt him, with the project less fresh in voters’ minds. But the CMA values traditional country more than any other awards organization, so I expect him to win this. I enjoy the Sugarland album far more than any of the other four, so I’m rooting for that one.

Jamey smile 2Single of the Year

Should Win:

  • “Chicken Fried” – Zac Brown Band
  • “I Run to You” – Lady Antebellum
  • “In Color” – Jamey Johnson – Kevin, Leeann, Dan, Tara
  • “People Are Crazy” – Billy Currington
  • “Then” – Brad Paisley
Will Win:
  • “Chicken Fried” – Zac Brown Band
  • “I Run to You” – Lady Antebellum
  • “In Color” – Jamey Johnson – Kevin, Leeann, Tara
  • “People Are Crazy” – Billy Currington – Dan
  • “Then” – Brad Paisley

Dan: I’ve just got a bad feeling about that Currington single. “I Run To You” does have some smokin’ production, but “In Color” is the only one of the five I can still stand.

Tara: Ouch. I’m pleased that “I Run to You” is nominated as it’s a personal favorite, but I don’t think any song other than “In Color” is deserving of this award. Again…ouch.

Kevin: This is the weakest lineup in the history of this category.

Leeann: Johnson’s song feels old to me now, but it’s the best song in this underwhelming category, though I’m sure David Letterman disagrees.  While I like the production on “People Are Crazy” the best in this line-up, the hook (not to mention the frustratingly weak story development) is just lame.

randy-travisSong of the Year

Should Win:
  • “Chicken Fried” – Zac Brown & Wyatt Durette
  • “I Told You So” – Randy Travis – Kevin, Leeann, Tara
  • “In Color” – Jamey Johnson – Dan
  • “People Are Crazy” – Bobby Braddock & Troy Jones
  • “Then” – Chris Dubois, Ashley Gorley & Brad Paisley
Will Win:
  • “Chicken Fried” – Zac Brown & Wyatt Durette
  • “I Told You So” – Randy Travis – Leeann
  • “In Color” – Jamey Johnson – Kevin, Dan, Tara
  • “People Are Crazy” – Bobby Braddock & Troy Jones
  • “Then” – Chris Dubois, Ashley Gorley & Brad Paisley

Tara: I would absolutely love to see Travis take this award; Underwood’s success with the song proves that the best-written country songs are timeless. I think “In Color” has more pull, though.

Kevin: I think Johnson will win, but kudos to Carrie Underwood for recognizing the value of the Randy Travis-penned gem and making it a hit all over again.

Leeann: This is not one of my favorite Randy Travis songs, but for nostalgia’s sake, I’m rooting for him to win this one. I even think it has a chance of winning, since it was a hit song for one of today’s country music’s most popular artists. I think the Paisley composition is, by far, the weakest though.

Dan: I like probable-winner “In Color” marginally more than “I Told You So.” Any of the other three winning would hurt me way down deep.

randy-travis-and-carrie-underwoodMusical Event of the Year

Should Win:

  • “Cowgirls Don’t Cry” – Brooks & Dunn featuring Reba McEntire
  • “Down the Road” – Kenny Chesney with Mac McAnally
  • “Everything But Quits” – Lee Ann Womack with George Strait
  • “I Told You So” – Carrie Underwood featuring Randy Travis – Kevin, Tara
  • “Old Enough” – The Raconteurs with Ricky Skaggs and Ashley Monroe – Leeann, Dan
  • “Start a Band” – Brad Paisley and Keith Urban
Will Win:
  • “Cowgirls Don’t Cry” – Brooks & Dunn featuring Reba McEntire
  • “Down the Road” – Kenny Chesney with Mac McAnally
  • “Everything But Quits” – Lee Ann Womack with George Strait
  • “I Told You So” – Carrie Underwood featuring Randy Travis – Kevin, Dan, Tara
  • “Old Enough” – The Raconteurs with Ricky Skaggs and Ashley Monroe
  • “Start a Band” – Brad Paisley and Keith Urban – Leeann

Kevin: Will the CMA really pass up the chance to give a trophy to Randy Travis for the first time in 21 years? I hope not.

Leeann: Paisley’s and Urban’s collaboration was originally accidentally left off the ballot, but the superstar pairing is the most likely to win.  Conversely, I suspect that the inclusion of the collaboration with Ricky Skaggs and Ashley Monroe was likely an accident, but I’d still love to see this dark horse nomination win. It’s certainly the most interesting song of the category.  I might have gone for the Underwood/Travis pairing if Travis’ inclusion didn’t seem so random.  I liked Underwood’s original version better, as Vince Gill’s harmony seemed more natural.

Dan: It’s totally between “I Told You So” and “Start A Band”, but I’m pulling for the underdog Raconteurs record, too. I like my collaborations a little spontaneous like that, and it’s always great to see outsiders included in the CMA fold.

Tara: While I have a particular soft spot for “Down the Road,” which I thought was one of the best singles of 2008, it should come as no surprise that I’m pulling for the beautiful, rough-and-pure “I Told You So.” I think it will easily win.

george_straitMusic Video of the Year

Should Win:
  • “Boots On” – Randy Houser
  • “Love Story” – Taylor Swift
  • “People Are Crazy” – Billy Currington
  • “Start a Band” – Brad Paisley and Keith Urban
  • “Troubadour” – George Strait – Kevin, Dan, Tara
Will Win:
  • “Boots On” – Randy Houser
  • “Love Story” – Taylor Swift – Kevin, Dan, Tara
  • “People Are Crazy” – Billy Currington
  • “Start a Band” – Brad Paisley and Keith Urban
  • “Troubadour” – George Strait

Dan: I enjoy the Strait video most, but Swift’s is the flashiest, and that tends to win out.

Tara: Strait’s video is poignant and tastefully done. I never understood the appeal of Swift’s Shakespearean video, but apparently a whole generation of country music fans does. My money’s on Swift.

Kevin: I think the Swift fairytale will get the most votes, but the Strait clip hypnotizes me every time it’s on. Who knew a simple slide show could be so powerful and such a perfect fit for a song?

paul-franklinMusician of the Year
Should Win:
  • Eddie Bayers (drums)
  • Paul Franklin (steel guitar) – Kevin, Leeann, Dan, Tara
  • Dan Huff (guitar)
  • Brent Mason (guitar)
  • Mac McAnally (guitar)

Will Win:

  • Eddie Bayers (drums)
  • Paul Franklin (steel guitar)
  • Dan Huff (guitar)
  • Brent Mason (guitar)
  • Mac McAnally (guitar) – Kevin, Leeann, Dan, Tara

Dan: I should really start paying more attention to this kind of thing. But I know Paul Franklin’s been doing steel for everyone from Lyle Lovett to Rascal Flatts in the past year. Respek!

Tara:
Franklin’s the one I’m most familiar with, and I agree with Kevin and Dan that he deserves it. I’ll admit I’m not entirely sure how to gauge who’ll win this year, but I suppose I’d go with McAnally again.

Kevin: I guess that McAnally will repeat his victory from last year. The other previous winners won quite a bit of time ago – Dann Huff in 2001 and 2004, Brent Mason in 1997 and 1998.  My sympathy goes to Eddie Bayers, who is nominated for the tenth time and has yet to win. I have no choice but to pull for Paul Frankin, though, who has lost this award sixteen times.  Here’s hoping that seventeen’s a charm!

Leeann: Please don’t let it be Dann Huff! That’s all I ask.  Of course, I’m partial to the steel guitar, not to mention that it’s a shame that a steel guitar player has to work so hard to win a country music award.

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If It’s Comin’ from the Country , It’s Comin’ from the Heart

Country Universe reader, Sheldon, brought this clip to my attention. It’s Dolly Parton singing a song that was specially written for the opening of the 1988 CMA awards that she was hosting that year. Oh, how I wish the Association would have Dolly and Vince host the show someday. But alas, that’s beside the point. Enjoy this fun video.

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