Tag Archives: Heidi Newfield

ACM Awards: Personal Picks

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, and I think it might give her the freedom to take more artistic risks (if she chooses).

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.

Top Male Vocalist

  • Kenny Chesney
  • Toby Keith
  • Brad Paisley – Leeann
  • George Strait – Dan, Lynn, Kevin
  • Keith Urban

Leeann: This is a tough one.  I have not been impressed with any of these artists in the last year.  So, I’m going to have to choose by voice alone, which gives Paisley the slight edge over the others as far as my taste runs.

Dan: The big-hitters have had a lame year. Strait was the only one who didn’t let me down too bad, although I can’t say I’m a big fan of “River of Love”, either.

Lynn: I noted in a discussion the other day that Strait’s album is no longer on my iPod. But…it at least made it to my iPod. Which is more than I can say for Urban, Paisley, Keith and Chesney’s most recent outings.

Kevin: There’s a cyclical process I go through that includes taking George Strait for granted and then suddenly realizing just how good he is again. I’m in the latter part of the cycle again.

Top Female Vocalist

  • Miranda Lambert – Dan, Lynn, Leeann
  • Heidi Newfield
  • Taylor Swift
  • Carrie Underwood
  • Lee Ann Womack – Kevin

Dan: Miranda Lambert released arguably the two riskiest singles of the past year (“Gunpowder & Lead” and “More Like Her”), and she somehow got radio to play them both. There isn’t a more inspiring mainstream artist out there right now, at least for my money.

Lynn: M I R A N D A   L A M B E R T ! ! (Was that subtle enough? :P )

Kevin: I’d be happy to see Underwood or Lambert win, but since Womack has never won before, she’s my personal pick this year.

Leeann: I hate to be so predictable, but Miranda Lambert is my clear pick.  I choose her with Lynn’s exuberance and Dan’s reasoning.

Top Vocal Group

  • Lady Antebellum
  • Little Big Town – Lynn, Dan
  • Rascal Flatts
  • Randy Rogers Band- Kevin, Leeann
  • The Lost Trailers

Lynn: If those are my only choices, I’m pulling for Little Big Town. It’s too bad we can’t write-in nominations…

Kevin:
I’m with Leeann on this one.

Leeann: My personal vote goes to the Randy Rogers Band.  I love Rogers’ voice and dig their music in general.

Dan: I love me some Randy Rogers Band and am thrilled to see them nominated, but I like Little Big Town’s current album better than theirs, so I’ll side with LBT.

Top Vocal Duo

  • Big & Rich
  • Brooks & Dunn
  • Joey + Rory – Leeann, Lynn
  • Montgomery Gentry
  • Sugarland – Kevin, Dan


Kevin:
I don’t understand why Sugarland isn’t all over this ballot. They’re one of the best acts in country music today.

Leeann: Out of all of the nominations in all of the categories for the ACMs, I’m rooting for Joey + Rory most enthusiastically this year.

Dan: Sugarland is injecting pop-country with some much-needed personality, plus they don’t concern themselves with trivial things like “postmodern Appalachia,” right, Kristian Bush? :) On a side note, it’s great to see Joey + Rory here. They’re a bit too new for me to pick them right now, but I hope they become regular contenders for this award.

Lynn: Joey + Rory are my favorites to win here simply because they stepped into the Nashville limelight with class and character, bringing a certain genuine spirit, candor and down home realness along with good music.

Top New Artist

  • Julianne Hough
  • Jake Owen
  • Zac Brown Band – Leeann, Dan, Lynn, Kevin

Leeann: Zac Brown Band has a cool vibe about them that is hard to ignore.  While I’m not personally sold on them yet, they are clearly the most unique act out of the nominees here.

Dan: I still don’t care for “Chicken Fried,” but Zac Brown Band is one of the freshest acts to break at radio in recent memory. They’ve been playing around forever (it shows), have a number of solid songs on their current album, and seem like genuinely nice guys, too. Mainstream country needs more acts like them.

Lynn: I’m at a loss here. I listened to Zac Brown Band’s album for the first time the other day. It was part hokey and part cool. I truly didn’t know what to make of it, but I am curious to see where they head next, and that has to be worth something.

Kevin: I was going to go with Jake Owen, but then I realized I had him confused with Luke Bryan, who made the “Country Boy” video I like so much. So I’ll go with Zac Brown Band instead.

Album of the Year

  • Back When I Knew It All – Montgomery Gentry
  • Carnival Ride – Carrie Underwood
  • Fearless – Taylor Swift
  • That Lonesome Song – Jamey Johnson  – Dan, Lynn, Leeann
  • Troubadour – George Strait – Kevin
Dan: As it happens, I really like both Johnson’s and Swift’s. Despite their vast differences, both albums are fully-realized artistic expressions that convey a believable sense of who their creators are and how they view the world, even if we as listeners can’t always relate to the particular subject matter (hard drugs, divorce, Joe Jonas, etc.). That said, I think Music Row needs more Johnson than Swift right now. So I’m pulling for That Lonesome Song.
.
Lynn: Ditto Dan (although I’m not quite as enamored with Swift’s album).
.
Kevin: Underwood’s album has grown on me with time, but the only album of these five that I really enjoy from start to finish is George Strait’s Troubadour.
.
Leeann: Jamey Johnson clearly has the most interesting album here, though I’ll give Swift some credit too.  It’s odd that any of us would put Johnson and Swift in the same category, but one thing I can say about their efforts as opposed to the others is that it’s obvious that their albums were labors of love for them while the other albums seemed more thrown together.

Single Record of the Year

  • “Gunpowder & Lead” – Miranda Lambert – Lynn, Kevin, Leeann, Dan
  • “In Color” – Jamey Johnson
  • “Johnny And June” – Heidi Newfield
  • “Waitin’ On A Woman” – Brad Paisley
  • “You’re Gonna Miss This” – Trace Adkins

Lynn: I was impressed with “In Color,” but this is an easy call: “Gunpowder & Lead” kicked arse!

Kevin: I’m splitting my vote between Single and Song, with the edge going to Miranda Lambert here.

Leeann: I just enjoy “Gunpowder And Lead” the most out of these choices.  I like “In Color”, but the appeal really hasn’t stuck with me over time. I still crank “Gunpowder And Lead” when given the chance, however.

Dan: Catch me on another day and I might say “In Color,” but I think “Gunpowder & Lead” is destined to become a classic, even if it’s more southern rock than country.

Song of the Year

  • I Saw God Today
    George Strait
    Composers:  Rodney Clawson, Monty Criswell, Wade Kirby
  • In Color – Leeann, Dan, Lynn
    Jamey Johnson
    Composers:  Jamey Johnson, Lee Thomas Miller, James Otto
  • Johnny And June
    Heidi Newfield
    Composers:  Deanna Bryant, Heidi Newfield, Stephony Smith
  • Waitin’ On A Woman – Kevin
    Brad Paisley
    Composers:  Don Sampson, Wynn Varble
  • You’re Gonna Miss This
    Trace Adkins
    Composers:  Ashley Gorley and Lee Thomas Miller

Kevin: The final verse of “Waitin’ on a Woman” gets me every time. It’s easily my favorite Paisley song since “Whiskey Lullaby.”

Leeann:
“In Color” is the best and most intricately written song out of the bunch.

Dan: “In Color” is the only one of the bunch that really engrossed me the first time I heard it, which is kind of my litmus test for song quality.

Lynn: “In Color” is the most interesting song of the group (with “Johnny and June” actually being one of my least favorite big singles in recent years).

6 Comments

Filed under ACM Awards

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

header_acm-awards1

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.

Continue reading

10 Comments

Filed under ACM Awards

44th Annual ACM Awards Nominations Announcement

header_acm-awards1

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

Continue reading

18 Comments

Filed under News

Discussion: SoundScan Sound Off

salesIn this era of rampant piracy and economic recession, things aren’t looking good for the music industry.   We don’t post too often about the business side of the music business here, as we tend to keep the focus on the music.   But the reality is that these numbers matter.  If Little Big Town’s second Equity album had performed as well as the first, the label might still be in business.

It’s not all doom and gloom, as many artists go on to make their best music once they leave major labels.   But this Christmas, you can guarantee that some artists and record executives will be bracing for the New Year, while others are embracing it.

Here’s a look at some totals for albums released in 2008, ranked by total sales (rounded to the nearest thousand):

  1. Taylor Swift, Fearless – 1,519,000
  2. Sugarland, Love on the Inside – 1,179,000
  3. George Strait, Troubadour – 693,000
  4. Alan Jackson, Good Time – 628,000
  5. Toby Keith, 35 Biggest Hits – 530,000
  6. Kenny Chesney, Lucky Old Sun – 479,000
  7. Faith Hill, Joy to the World – 341,000
  8. Lady Antebellum, Lady Antebellum – 337,000
  9. James Otto, Sunset Man – 332,000
  10. Rascal Flatts, Greatest Hits Volume 1 – 330,000
  11. Darius Rucker, Learn to Live – 284,000
  12. Julianne Hough, Julianne Hough – 260,000
  13. Toby Keith, That Don’t Make Me a Bad Guy – 224,000
  14. Jewel, Perfectly Clear – 203,000
  15. Dierks Bentley, Greatest Hits: Every Mile a Memory –  195,000
  16. Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Song – 183,000
  17. Heidi Newfield, What Am I Waiting For – 162,000
  18. Jessica Simpson, Do You Know – 153,000
  19. Brad Paisley, Play – 137,000
  20. Kellie Pickler, Kellie Pickler – 129,000
  21. Montgomery Gentry, Back When I Knew it All – 127,000
  22. Tim McGraw, Greatest Hits Vol. 3 – 127,000
  23. Emmylou Harris, All I Intended to Be – 119,000
  24. Zac Brown Band, Foundation – 118,000
  25. Randy Travis, Around the Bend – 89,000
  26. Ashton Shepherd, Sounds So Good – 84,000
  27. Jimmy Wayne, Do You Believe Me Now – 81,000
  28. Trace Adkins, X – 72,000
  29. Billy Currington, Little Bit of Everything – 65,000
  30. Blake Shelton, Startin’ Fires – 60,000
  31. Hank III, Damn Right Rebel Proud – 47,000
  32. Lee Ann Womack, Call Me Crazy – 45,000
  33. Joey + Rory, Life of a Song – 44,000
  34. Patty Loveless, Sleepless Nights – 38,000
  35. Craig Morgan, Greatest Hits – 34,000
  36. Craig Morgan, That’s Why – 31,000
  37. Randy Owen, One on One – 22,000
  38. Randy Houser, Anything Goes – 17,000

30 Comments

Filed under Discussion

Heidi Newfield, “Cry Cry (‘Til the Sun Shines)”

Sad day: Heidi Newfield wastes her great voice on a super uncreative self-help song that recycles contemporary country’s favorite standby characters – women whose men mistreat them, and men who drink away their troubles – and offers zero consolation for either beyond “it’s gonna be alright.”

I’ll give the seasoned songwriting team some credit: the tune is pretty dang catchy, and I can see how this all might have sounded somewhat fresh had the song been released at some point in the 60’s. But by now, it’s just been phrased like this way too many times.

Written by Marv Green, Hillary Lindsey, Chris Lindsey & Aimee Mayo

Grade: C

Listen: Cry Cry (‘Til the Sun Shines)

Buy: Cry Cry (‘Til the Sun Shines)


5 Comments

Filed under Single Reviews

Heidi Newfield, <em>What Am I Waiting For</em>

Heidi Newfield
What Am I Waiting For

There isn't a lot of mainstream country music made these days that seems to speak for, and to, actual adults. Heidi Newfield's first solo album attempts to fill that void, and she has crafted an album that could only have been made by a woman who has a lot of living behind her, but still quite a bit to go.

So while love goes wrong throughout the course of What Am I Waiting For, there are no innocent illusions shattered, and when it occasionally goes right, there's little more than cautious optimism. It's interesting to compare Newfield's “All I Wanna Do” to the Sugarland smash of the same name, as both songs express the same sentiment: blocking out the rest of the world and getting lost in the arms of their mortal man. But there's a sadness to the slow ballad that Newfield is crooning, suggesting the troubles that she needs to block out are of a more harrowing nature.

Of course, that's the love gone right song, but most of the album is about processing the aftermath of poor choices that have been made, and charting a course for the future that leaves them behind. The winning title track doubles as a th

eme for the album, with Newfield “five years in to a two-year plan” and knowing that there's nothing left for her where she is, but still not quite able to make the move. Another strong track, “Wreck You”, has her taking account of the fact that no matter what she does, she only seems to damage the man that she loves.

There's a desperation to “Johnny and June”, which has her longing for a love affair like the one that's been portrayed on the movie screen in Walk the Line, but it's really just her longing for a fantasy, a romanticized version of real life that only exists on celluloid. A similar intensity surfaces in “When Tears Fall Down”, a powerful song that is probably the best-written track on the album, but is overwhelmed by the layers of production. Thematic guitar chords and gospel choruses are difficult to be heard over when it's just one of them in the mix, let alone two.

The too-busy production distracts from the many strengths of the album, and while Newfield is an effective vocalist, she doesn't sound in complete control of her surroundings. While she has a pretty good set of material to work with, songs like “Can't Let Go” and “Nothin' But a Memory” never live up to their early potential, falling short in both melody and turns of phrase.

The album closes on a high note though, with “Knocked Up”, which more than lives up to its title. It is Newfield's most self-assured moment on the album, as she deflects the finger-pointers in her midst and celebrates her life as an unwed mother. It may be an unconventional choice for the next single, but I imagine there are quite a few women (and men) out there who would embrace it as their own.

zp8497586rq

8 Comments

Filed under Album Reviews

Heidi Newfield, “Johnny And June”

Heidi Newfield, the former lead singer of Trick Pony, tries her hand at a solo career with a song that drops the names of one of country music’s most beloved couples, Johnny and June Cash. When we hear a song that dares to use the names of revered artists, especially when used as the song title, we expect a satisfying pay off.

With “Johnny And June”, Newfield delivers on the name dropping standard. The song is sung from the point of view of wanting a “love like Johnny and June.” It utilizes fun wordplay on their songs and stories about their lives that we either know or assume to be true. We aren’t forced to dig for the Johnny and June connections; they’re right there for us to enjoy.

The production is nothing special and the la la las are annoying, but it seems that Newfield is well on the way to finding her own voice apart from Trick Pony here.

Grade: B+

Listen: Johnny and June

Buy: Johnny and June

35 Comments

Filed under Single Reviews