The winners have been announced for three of the Top New Artist categories at this year’s ACM Awards:
Top New Male Vocalist: Jake Owen
Top New Female Vocalist: Julianne Hough
Top New Vocal Duo or Group: Zac Brown Band
Jake Owen’s victory is something of an upset, as he was nominated against James Otto and Jamey Johnson, two men who received multiple Grammy nominations. Johnson still has a shot at some ACM awards this year, as he’s nominated in three other categories: Single, Song and Album of the Year. Owen is nominated for Vocal Event for his part in Sugarland’s multi-artist “Life in a Northern Town.”
Julianne Hough was chosen over Sarah Buxton and Ashton Shepherd, while Zac Brown Band won over the Eli Young Band and the Lost Trailers.
Owen, Hough and Zac Brown Band will compete for the Top New Artist award during the three-hour telecast on Sunday, April 5. We’ll be live-blogging, of course. Look for our predictions and personal picks later this week.
Stuck in my car stereo over the last couple of weeks has been a CD loaded with tunes from some of my favorite Texas-affiliated artists. I’m a big fan of the singer-songwriter, old school and raggedy rock styles of country music, and Texas excels at all three. So any time I need a break from the current “Nashville sound,” I like to check in with Texas and see what they’re up to. Invariably, it’s more colorful and interesting.
I can’ t call myself an expert on Texas country by any stretch of the imagination and my education is nowhere remotely near complete (hint: feel free to recommend), but I do sense that it’s a style of music, or perhaps a musical sensibility, that is extremely important to maintain. Texas artists exude a certain spirit of creativity and sense of individuality that is sorely lacking elsewhere in country music. And in my opinion, great music and great artists only flourish in settings where both of those are encouraged.
Here’s a sampling of the songs I’m currently listening to:
“Dallas,” Jimmie Dale Gilmore
“Snowin’ on Raton,” Townes Van Zandt
“West Texas Waltz,” Joe Ely
“Greenville,” Lucinda Williams
“Tortured Tangled Hearts,” Dixie Chicks
“Transcendental Blues (Live in Austin),” Steve Earle
“Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” Willie Nelson
“Treat Me Like a Saturday Night,” The Flatlanders
“Bourbon Legend,” Jason Boland & The Stragglers
“Jesus Was a Capricorn,” Kris Kristofferson
“Angry All The Time,” Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis
“What I Deserve,” Kelly Willis
“Old Five and Dimers,” Billie Joe Shaver
“Heartbreaker’s Hall of Fame,” Sunny Sweeney
“Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line,” Waylon Jennings
What are some of your favorite Texas country tunes?
Successful country singer Dan Seals has passed away at the age of 61. Seals had a long run at the top of the country charts after a pop career as one half of England Dan and John Ford Coley. After the duo scored a huge hit with “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight,” Seals returned to his country roots.
Although he had a string of country hits, he is most remembered for his two award-winning chart-toppers. In 1986, he won two CMA awards: Single of the Year for “Bop”, and Vocal Duo of the Year for “Meet Me in Montana”, his collaboration with Marie Osmond.
Seals is survived by his wife and his four children. Share your memories and tributes to his music in the commments.
One of country music’s finest journalist has a new outlet for his talents. Chris Willman has written for Entertainment Weekly for many years and he also wrote the essential book Rednecks and Bluenecks, which explored the history of politics in country music.
One of Willman’s gifts as a writer is his ability to get artists to speak more deeply and more candidly about their craft. Thus, even an interview with an artist like John Rich, who I generally find insufferable, is still interesting. The article closes with tidbits about upcoming Tim McGraw and Brad Paisley songs, too.
The Huffington Post isn’t for everybody, so thankfully I can link directly to Chris Willman’s index page, avoiding the tabloid politics entirely. Since the man wrote my favorite line ever in a music review*, I’ll be checking it regularly for updates.
* His 2002 Shania Twain review -”Up! is like Abba Gold without all the melancholy.”
Next Tuesday will be “Grand Ole Opry” week on American Idol, and they’re bringing out the big guns. The guest mentor will be country music legend Randy Travis, who will also perform on the show. This year’s homecoming theme will also continue, as Carrie Underwood returns to perform.
This is the latest in a string of connections between Travis and Underwood. In addition to Travis inviting Underwood to join the Opry, she is currently moving quickly up the charts with a cover of “I Told You So”, a #1 hit both performed and penned by Travis.
Warner Bros. will release I Told You So, a 2-cd collection of Randy Travis hits, later this month.
You read that right. This week, the highly praised and Grammy-nominated LeAnn Rimes single “What I Cannot Change” finally reached #1 – on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play chart.
While the song’s admirers most certainly would have preferred it to be a #1 country single, at least the song’s being heard somewhere. Rimes is the first country artist in the chart’s history to score a #1 single. She breaks Reba McEntire’s 13-year hold on the highest charting country remix in the chart’s history. McEntire scored a #2 hit with a cover of The Supremes classic “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.”
Perhaps Johnny Cash will be the next country star to top the chart.
Only three country acts are among the past year’s top moneymakers in music:
If anyone had any doubt that touring is where the money is in the music business, a quick look at the top Moneymakers for 2008 should hammer the point home.
Regardless of genre, retail sales or radio play, each of the 20 acts on Billboard’s Moneymakers list toured in 2008. (Taylor Swift mostly opened for Brad Paisley but doesn’t get credit for that revenue). For almost all of them, touring generated the most revenue. And in a year when recorded-music sales declined yet again, many earned more at the box office than ever before.
1. Madonna: $242,176,466
2. Bon Jovi: $157,177,766
3. Bruce Springsteen: $156,327,964
4. The Police: $109,976,894
5. Celine Dion: $99,171,237 6. Kenny Chesney: $90,823,990
7. Neil Diamond: $82,174,000 8. Rascal Flatts: $63,522,160
9. Jonas Brothers: $62,638,814
10. Coldplay: $62,175,555
11. The Eagles: $61,132,213
12. Lil Wayne: $57,441,334
13. AC/DC: $56,505,296
14. Michael Buble: $50,257,364
15. Miley Cyrus: $48,920,806 16. Taylor Swift: $45,588,730
17. Journey: $44,787,328
18. Billy Joel: $44,581,010
19. Mary J. Blige: $43,472,850
20. Kanye West: $42,552,402
The top five Moneymakers are also the five acts that earned the most on tour, and in the same order, according to Billboard Boxscore. Eight of the top 10 Moneymakers are in the Boxscore top 10.
I’m not surprised to see touring becoming increasingly significant as a moneymaker, but I am curious to see if any of our readers actually caught one of the shows above. I went to one, but I would’ve enjoyed seeing a few others. Just not any of the country acts.
A Peter Cooper article in today’s edition of theTennessean:
The album of the year nominees are … as yet unannounced. That’s because the Academy re-thought its prerequisite that album contenders sell at least 300,000 copies. Several of last year’s most acclaimed country albums, including Jamey Johnson’sThat Lonesome Song, did not meet the sales requirement, and ACM officials held a board meeting, waved the prerequisite and mandated a re-vote. Results of the re-vote will be announced in March.
Album rule was outdated
Romeo said it became clear during the voting process that the sales requirement in the album category had become antiquated due to changes in the way people consume music. The ACM normally uses an initial vote to take the field of album nominees down to 20, from which five finalists will be chosen. But only nine albums this year survived the 300,000 minimum.
“Does this mean country music isn’t doing business?” Romeo asked rhetorically. “No. But it means that the kind of business we’re doing is changing. It may not be albums anymore; it may be singles downloads and ring tones.”
There had been ongoing discussion and dissention centering around the ACM’s album category rules, with many holding upThat Lonesome Songas a case in point. Though it has not been a slam-dunk sales success, the album helped Johnson to two Grammy nominations, and it was Music Row’s most critically acclaimed album of 2008. Thus, Johnson’s record company argued, the album would appear to merit consideration.
“We want to be inclusive and fair, and I think this change shows that if we feel something’s not right, we’re not afraid to change it,” Romeo said.
The Academy of Country Music membership clearly made the right decision. In the last two years, the academy has shown a willingness to look beyond the charts in the Single of the Year category. Miranda Lambert’s “Famous in a Small Town,” which peaked at No. 14 in November 2007, was a losing nominee in last year’s race; this year, two No. 1 singles (“Waitin’ on a Woman” and “You’re Gonna Miss This”) are matched with Lambert’s “Gunpowder and Lead” (No. 7), Jamey Johnson’s “In Color” (No. 10) and Heidi Newfield’s “Johnny & June” (No. 11). The Album of the Year category should recognize the most essential album released during the year, and a little technicality shouldn’t squash an album’s chance of being nominated. With the current buzz building around his career, expect Johnson to be celebrating a gold record sometime in 2009.
The Academy of Country Music announced nominees for their 44th annual awards ceremony this morning at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. Julianne Hough, Kellie Pickler, Leann Rimes and Jessica Simpson were on hand to present this year’s nominees. More analysis to follow.