I’ll pick different artists this time around:
- Patty Loveless, “Here I am”
- John Anderson, “Straight Tequila Night”
- Carlene Carter, “Come on Back”
- Lee Roy Parnell, “I’m Holdin’ My Own”
- Emerson Drive, “Moments”
I’ll pick different artists this time around:
The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 9: #40-#21
“This Is Me You’re Talking To”
Flawless. Proof positive that the nineties formula at its best is better than anything on naughties radio. Perhaps they can’t play it too much for that reason. It’s not good for business to park a new Lexus in a used car lot of Ford Pintos. – Kevin Coyne
“Famous in a Small Town”
This is one of those slice-of-life songs that anyone from a small town can easily relate to. What sets it above the pack of songs of that ilk is the witty nugget of truth that “everybody dies famous in a small town.” The Springsteen-esque vibe of the production is pretty cool, too. – Leeann Ward Continue reading
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
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.”
In 2006, Emerson Drive hit the jackpot with “Moments,” a once-in-a-lifetime story song that stretched the boundaries of country radio in all the right directions. The band now resides with Valory Music Co., and their first single with the new label is “Belongs to You,” an excessively sentimental ballad that targets the “18-49 female” demographic that country radio courts with growing regularity.
The impact of lead singer Brad Mates rises and falls with the material he’s presented, and he’s unable to save this romantic song. It’s packed with standard-issue statements, with the narrator vowing that “every smile that lights (his) face” and “every single hidden place” is owned by his lady love. “Belongs to You” would blend in with the rest of radio’s saccharine love songs, but in releasing it as a single, the band settles for less than their best.
Written by Dave Berg, Rivers Rutherford & Tom Shapiro
Listen: Belongs to You
This afternoon, the Country Universe staff is following up last night’s personal picks with our actual predictions about who will win tonight. Check back tonight at show time to join the live blog and mock us for our defective divinations. Less
than four hours until showtime!
Kevin: BMG has to throw their weight behind either Chesney or Paisley. My hunch is they’ll back Chesney for Entertainer and Paisley for Male Vocalist.
Leeann: It’s been Chesney all this time and not much has changed to make me think it won’t be Kenny again this year.
Blake: Chesney remained steady on the concert trail and earned three #1 singles in the past year. This would be his fourth win, tying Garth Brooks for the most ever in the Entertainer lineup.
Dan: It seems somewhat foolish to bet against a Chesney repeat, but I just have a nagging feeling that the favor will be thrown in Paisley’s direction this year by voters looking to honor someone new.
As we gear up for tomorrow night’s CMA Awards Show, the staff of Country Universe share our personal picks in all categories. Check back tomorrow for our predictions in each category. Our third annual Live Blog will commence at the beginning of the show.
Kevin: The only act in the running this year who has shown artistic, commercial and live performance growth is Sugarland, and they’ve grown by leaps and bounds. In a race with four other acts who have long since settled into their styles, they’re the only ones who are still charting new territory.
Leeann: While Paisley may not use explosions or other fancy tricks to entertain his crowds, much like Vince Gill, he keeps them mesmerized with his comedy, graphic creations, incredible guitar prowess and a catalog of engaging songs – in other words, natural talent.
Blake: Kenny Chesney is the most significant touring act in country music and a genre-crossing ambassador for both fans and fly-by-night followers.
Dan: They can’t claim Chesney’s utter domination of the road, but Sugarland have been consistent sellers in a time where the very idea of selling well feels antiquated. They’re probably the best mainstream ambassadors for the genre right now, too, with musical output that challenges commercial conventions (see “Stay”), at least sort of acknowledges country music’s traditions (again, see “Stay”), and draws creatively from other genres (see the Beyoncé duet, the high-profile covers of Dream Academy and Matt Nathanson, the mish-mashy new album).
Country superstar Reba McEntire has ended her 25-year association with MCA Nashville and signed with the Valory Music Co. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The move reunites 2007 Billboard Woman of the Year McEntire with Scott Borchetta, now president & CEO of Big Machine Records and the Valory Music Co. Borchetta was senior VP of promotion at MCA Nashville during most of the ’90s.
“I am thrilled to be joining the Valory team,” McEntire says. “Scott and I worked together on some of the biggest singles of my career, and I am excited to renew our partnership.”
“It is as if a day hasn’t even passed,” Borchetta adds. “The toughest thing about leaving MCA Nashville again was leaving behind this relationship that I value so much.”
The announcement comes roughly a year after the launch of Valory. The label is home to Jewel, Emerson Drive and Jimmy Wayne, among others. Sister label Big Machine is home to Taylor Swift, Trisha Yearwood and Jack Ingram, among others. Both labels are distributed by Universal Music Distribution.
McEntire’s debut single on Valory will ship to country radio in early spring 2009, with her new studio album to follow later that summer. The artist crowned her MCA tenure with a three-disc boxed set, “50 Greatest Hits,” released late last month.
Perhaps what’s most surprising about this is that Reba’s coming off of her most successful album in years, the all-genre #1 Reba Duets. This isn’t quite on the scale of Madonna’s Live Nation deal, which also encompassed touring revenues, or Garth Brooks’ ‘take the masters with you’ approach, or even the start-your-own-label path of Toby Keith. But it’s certainly huge news that one of the biggest country stars of all-time is choosing to leave her label home of 25 years, all while still at the top of her game.
And what to say of MCA, the label that was once king of kings on Music Row? Trisha Yearwood already left, and now Reba McEntire has followed her out the door. Will George Strait and Vince Gill be far behind? Can Universal’s majors get by on Sugarland alone? What if Shania Twain crunches the numbers and realizes the label group needs her far more than she needs them, especially given their spotty record at getting her on the radio?
Perhaps the entire Music Row structure truly is the Titanic, and Sony BMG has all the first-class seats.
Seems appropriate for Election Day. Vote for your favorites and share your thoughts in the comments. Be sure to click “more” so you can see all of the categories.
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Emerson Drive, “You Still Own Me”
So about six months ago, “Moments” was sent to radio, and after hearing it, I pretty much had to take back everything mean that I’d ever said about this band. The song blew me away, and it ended up pleasing radio as well, becoming their first #1 hit. Listening to their new single was the first time I ever spun a record by this band with anything that closely resembled expectations.
I won’t go as far as to say I’m disappointed, but there’s nothing too special going on here, either. It’s a standard mid-tempo radio-friendly country song, with a decent lyric and a satisfactory performance. In other words, acceptably pleasant filter. Given the fact that the biggest band on radio releases horrifyingly bad records in between their “moments” of brilliance, I won’t complain.
Listen: You Still Own Me
Buy: You Still Own Me