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The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 5: #120-#101

December 18, 2009 Dan Milliken 44

The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 5: #120-#101

120 Keith Urban Be Here

“Tonight I Wanna Cry”
Keith Urban
Peak: #2

A chillingly frank portrait of loneliness, awkward reference to “All By Myself” notwithstanding. Few mainstream vocalists today could pull off something this intense. – Dan Milliken

119 Loretta Van Lear Rose

“Portland, Oregon”
Loretta Lynn with Jack White
Peak: Did not chart

If you can take a healthy dose of dirty rock ‘n’ roll in your country, this is one of the coolest-sounding records of the decade, a classic one-night-stand duet. That it’s a very cross-generational pairing singing it would be creepy if not for the goofy smiles shining through Lynn’s and White’s performances. – DM

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The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 3: #160-#141

December 16, 2009 Dan Milliken 17

The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 3: #160-#141


“Last Call”
Lee Ann Womack
Peak: #14

Womack’s second-best Aughts song about late-night temptations is still better than a lot of people’s first-best songs about anything. Even in avoiding her drunken ex’s advances, she sounds positively heartbroken, suggesting she’d gladly make the other decision if she didn’t know better. – Dan Milliken

159 Shania Up

“She’s Not Just a Pretty Face”
Shania Twain
Peak: #9

Her motivation for her music has always been escapism, but I love the personal touch she slips into this one. Her late mother is the one who she’s referring to when she sings “at night, she pumps gasoline.” – Kevin Coyne

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100 Greatest Albums of the Decade, Part 3: #80-#71

December 1, 2009 Kevin John Coyne 10

The 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade, Part 3

80 Martina

Martina McBride, Timeless

McBride has a voice that would have been as relevant in country music fifty years ago as it is today, and her album of cover songs exemplifies this. She doesn’t attempt to move any of the songs to a different level, but instead inhabits the artists’ original style with precision and spirit. The result is a pure, respectful homage to the country greats. – Tara Seetharam

Recommended Tracks: “Make The World Go Away”, “Pick Me Up On Your Way Down”

79 Felice

Felice Brothers, Yonder is the Clock

The Felice Brothers are the least-known among the members of ‘The Big Surprise Tour’ headlined by Old Crow Medicine Show and featuring Dave Rawlings Machine with Gillian Welch, and Justin Townes Earle. Melding country-rock and folk-rock, they are roots-influenced and made their start playing in the subway. While it may take an extremely big tent to call them “country,” consistent Dylan comparisons make Yonder is the Clock hard to ignore. – William Ward

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CMA Awards: Predictions and Personal Picks

November 8, 2009 Kevin John Coyne 83

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.

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CMA Noms ’09

September 9, 2009 Dan Milliken 78


It’s that time of year again! For each category, we’ll look at who’s broken in since last year, who’s been booted out, plus some initial thoughts. As always, we invite you to share your own opinions in the comments. Without further ado:

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Picking the CMA Nominees: Vocal Duo and Vocal Group

July 30, 2009 Kevin John Coyne 34

It’s often argued that Vocal Duo and Vocal Group should be combined into one category, but this is one of those rare years where the two categories have more than five worthy nominees between them.

My picks for Vocal Duo:

  • Big & Rich
  • Brooks & Dunn
  • Joey + Rory
  • Montgomery Gentry
  • Sugarland

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Big Kenny, “Long After I’m Gone”

July 13, 2009 Kevin John Coyne 0

If you live your life only for yourself, all that you’ve lived for dies with you. If you live your life for others, your life’s work lives on long after you’re gone.

That’s the lesson Big Kenny is imparting on his new single, his first since breaking through to stardom as one half of Big & Rich. He may seem a bit young to be concerning himself with what his legacy will be, but he’s remarkably clear-eyed, reaching the conclusions that many others fail to reach until it’s too late, if they ever reach them at all.

It’s a message that could be preachy if told in the second person, but since it’s presented as self-revelation, the lesson can be learned by example rather than prodding.

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ACM Awards: Predicted Winners

April 3, 2009 Kevin John Coyne 17

As we gear up for the 2009 Academy of Country Music Awards, the writing staff of Country Universe have prepared our predicted winners among this year’s nominees. Check out our Personal Picks as well, and share your own predictions in the comments. As always, we’ll be live-blogging the festivities this Sunday, starting at 8 EST.

ACM 2009: Country Universe Predicts the Winners

Entertainer of the Year

* Kenny Chesney – Dan
* Brad Paisley
* George Strait
* Carrie Underwood – Kevin, Leeann, Lynn
* Keith Urban

Kevin: For as much as the industry favors male acts, it’s the female acts who really post the big numbers. I think that the fans having a say will put Underwood over the top, though the industry is certainly behind her, too. The depth and breadth of her appeal warrants the win.

Leeann: I know how zealous Carrie Underwood fans are. So, I’d be shocked if she doesn’t win it. I like the way Lynn said it though.

Dan: You know, I really have no idea. It’s not going to be George Strait, and I probably wouldn’t anticipate a win for Keith Urban this year. I’ll say Chesney again, but either Paisley or Underwood could conceivably take him down with the help of the fan voting.

Lynn: If the fans are truly allowed to have their say…Ms. Underwood, please watch your step on the way up to receive your first Entertainer of the Year award.

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ACM Awards: Personal Picks

April 3, 2009 Kevin John Coyne 6

As we gear up for the 2009 Academy of Country Music Awards, the writing staff of Country Universe have prepared our personal picks among this year’s nominees. Check out our Predicted Winners as well, and share your own personal picks in the comments. As always, we’ll be live-blogging the festivities this Sunday, starting at 8 EST.

ACM 2009: Country Universe’s Personal Picks

Entertainer of the Year

* Kenny Chesney
* Brad Paisley – Leeann
* George Strait – Lynn
* Carrie Underwood – Kevin, Dan
* Keith Urban

Kevin: I haven’t been as happy with the standard-bearing superstar of country music since the heyday of the Dixie Chicks, so I’m definitely pulling for Carrie Underwood. She strikes the perfect balance of contemporary relevance and reverence for tradition.

Leeann: I’m always pulling for Paisley to win an Entertainer award, but I’d be happy to see a female win it as well, especially since Underwood’s not undeserving at this point.

Dan: None of these artists has impressed me recently from an artistic standpoint, although Strait has been less grating than the rest. But I think I’m going to say Carrie Underwood, simply because it’d be cool to see a woman win.

Lynn: I’m pulling for Strait to win this year. The ACMs put out a promo the other day that was essentially a glamour magazine photo shoot with three cute blonde singers. I’ll be honest…I didn’t want to watch the show after seeing that. Maybe I’m the odd one out, but I’d be more interested in watching the show if the promo had Strait sitting in a chair singing one of his classic tunes. I’m tired of the promotion of style over substance. Paisley, Underwood and Urban aren’t necessarily guilty of this, but I hope Strait wins just to remind everyone to keep it real.

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