The theme for this week’s Sunday Selections post is, “What year do you think it is?” One of the week’s few new releases has garish cover art that looks like something from the late 90s, while a host of writers made outdated and inexplicable references to “bro country” as a primary talking point in country music in 2015, which is simply wrong on merit. In the week’s more successful throwback efforts, Ashley Monroe, Chris Stapleton, Kacey Musgraves, and Tami Neilson all shared some old school cover tunes, and Netflix doubled-down on nostalgia with a promo video for an upcoming original series. Onward!
Country music is well represented in the major categories – numerically, at least – and the overall nominee list proves once again that NARAS voters have the widest, most diverse, and yes, best taste of all industry award voters.
Here are this year’s nominees in the big four and all country and country-related categories. It’s worth noting that because Miranda Lambert won Best Country Album last year for Platinum, nothing from that set was eligible in any of the Country categories.
“Love is Your Name” Steven Tyler” Written by Lindsey Lee and Eric Paslay When word came out that Tyler was releasing a country album, the first thing that came to mind — at least in my mind — was “cash grab.” After all, rock & roll is more endangered than the rhinoceros, and pop has become the playground for young hip-hop and EDM influenced singers. Where else is the 67-year-old frontman of Aerosmith going to get played on the radio?
“Pray For You” The Swon Brothers Written by Jessi Alexander, Tommy Lee James, and Eric Paslay If you thought the only thing missing from today’s warmed-over, wannabe rock but we’re calling it country was mixing it with the worst of the genre’s previous obsession with suburban tales of faith and inspiration, I present to you…The Swon Brothers. “Pray For You” manages to evoke the worst sonic habits of today’s country music trends while also borrowing liberally from the Hallmark Hallelujah phase the genre went through at the turn of the century.
“Friday Night” is nothing special in terms of lyrical content, and while Paslay is a competent singer, there’s nothing on the track that indicates he’s the next Keith Urban, or even the next Blake Shelton. But he’s learned a few lessons along the way about what not to do. The arrangement is simple, the musicianship clean and crisp, and the banjo drives the hook, rather than loud electric guitars or cumbersome percussion.
The list of nominees for the 46th annual Country Music Association Awards has been released. Eric Church had a big breakthrough this past year, and such is reflected in the nominee list – Church leads the pack with five nominations. Current favorite power couple Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert follow with four each, including a shared Song of the Year nod for their co-write “Over You.”