Ashton Shepherd

Single Review: Chase Rice, “Ready Set Roll”

December 2, 2013 // 8 Comments

He may have been the runner-up on one of the weakest seasons of Survivor (finishing second to
this strategic powerhouse), but Chase Rice has beaten tough competition from the likes of Jason Aldean’s “1994,” Parmalee’s “Carolina,” Ashton Shepherd’s “This is America,” Blake Shelton’s “Boys Round Here,” Krystal Keith’s “Daddy Dance with Me,” and Luke Bryan’s “That’s My Kind of Night” for the title of 2013’s worst country single.

Getting to Know Brandy Clark

October 20, 2013 // 4 Comments

Brandy ClarkAs a general rule, you can scan the credits of any new country album and assume that if Brandy Clark is a writer on one of the songs, it’s the best song on the album. As Clark readies the release of 12 Stories, her debut album as an artist, it’s a great time for fans of that remarkable set to get caught up on Clark’s work to date.

Believe the hype. Clark really is as good as everyone is saying she is. Possibly even better, as these twenty tracks suggest. Scroll down to the bottom, and you can listen to snippets from all of them as you read along.

Single Review: Ashton Shepherd, “Look it Up”

December 11, 2010 // 44 Comments

Karmic retribution for every boring vocabulary lesson I ever bored my students with during my years as an English teacher.

I’d call this Jo Dee Messina’s B-material, but I’m pretty sure she’d have passed on this one, even though she’d sing it a lot better. I get that Ashton Shepherd is bringing country back to country, but a dull vocal isn’t improved by exaggerated twang. It just sounds forced.

The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 2: #180-#161

December 15, 2009 // 48 Comments

The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 2: #180-#161

180 Flatts Melt

“These Days”
Rascal Flatts
Peak: #1

It’s the pairing of aching nostalgia and all the power that comes with a Flatts country-pop ballad that makes this song so potent. – Tara Seetharam

179 Ashton

“Takin’ Off This Pain”
Ashton Shepherd
Peak: #20

Like a fiery-eyed hybrid of Loretta Lynn and Jennifer Nettles, Shepherd burst onto the scene snapping her newly ring-free fingers at the clueless sap not treating her right. Next Decade, please take note: you’ve got a star in waiting. – Dan Milliken

ACM Top New Artist Winners

March 29, 2009 // 13 Comments

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, Read More

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

February 11, 2009 // 10 Comments

In honor of FAIL Blog (the perfect workday distraction), here’s my take on the Academy of Country Music Awards nominations. Opinions expressed belong solely to the author, and do not represent the views of other contributors to Country Universe. WIN- Carrie Underwood, Entertainer of the Year A Grand Ole Opry induction, four No. 1 singles and best-seller status on the concert trail. Serious credentials for the reigning female vocalist, ensuring her a well-deserved Entertainer nod. WIN- Miranda Lambert, Single of the Year (“Gunpowder and Lead”) Lambert’s vengeful stand against domestic violence is amply rewarded with an appearance in the Single category. Her spicy snarl is an intimidating match for a clever, caustic lyric.

44th Annual ACM Awards Nominations Announcement

February 11, 2009 // 18 Comments

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. Entertainer of the Year Kenny Chesney Brad Paisley George Strait Carrie Underwood Keith Urban

44th Annual ACM Awards Projections

February 9, 2009 // 38 Comments

On Wednesday, February 11, the Academy of Country Music will unveil the nominees for their 44th annual awards ceremony. Last year, the usual suspects prevailed. Brad and Carrie repeated in the Vocalist categories, Brooks & Dunn claimed their 14th Vocal Duo prize and Kenny Chesney earned his fourth consecutive Entertainer of the Year award. As a prelude to the nominations announcement, here’s my projected slate for this year’s ceremony. (Favorites are in bold.) Entertainer of the Year Kenny Chesney Brad Paisley Sugarland Carrie Underwood Keith Urban Prognosis: The “no girls allowed” edict will likely be lifted.  Underwood is the genre’s most prominent ambassador, and Sugarland’s rise to the high ranks has both commercial and critical support. Note of interest: “The winner shall be determined by a combination of votes from the membership of the ACM and viewer voting.”

The First Annual Country Universe Readers’ Choice Awards

January 24, 2009 // 27 Comments

Carrie Underwood is the top winner of the inaugural Country Universe Reader’s Choice Awards, earning first place in all four of the races in which she was eligible. In addition to being named Artist of the Year and Female Vocalist, her #1 hit “Just a Dream” won for Single and Music Video. Also popular with readers this past year were: – Sugarland, who won Vocal Duo/Group by the widest margin of any of the winners, and placed second for Artist and Album.  Additionally, lead singer Jennifer Nettles placed second for Songwriter. – Jamey Johnson, who won for Songwriter, and placed second in the Male Vocalist race.  His hit “In Color” came in third in both the Single and Music Video races, and he also placed third in the Artist race. – Brad Paisley, who won easily for Male Vocalist and came in second for Music Video with “Waitin’ on a Read More

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