James Otto

Dan Milliken’s Top 20 Singles of 2008

December 23, 2008 // 6 Comments

Let’s do this, y’all. You’ll recognize some of these write-ups from our collective list, but others weren’t posted there or were cut down for that list. This is my “Director’s Cut” version, you might say – or maybe the “UNRATED!!” version, depending on your taste in films. In any case, here are my favorite 20 things designated as country music singles in 2008 (that I picked up on, anyhoo): #20 Elizabeth Cook, “Sunday Morning” Cook mines an abstract Velvet Underground song and halfway convinces you it was always meant to be a quiet country reflection. The production and vocal are a bit too buoyant to fully convey the song’s weariness, but they do flesh out its gentle message of hope, and that’s not too bad, either. #19 Hank Williams III, “Six Pack of Beer” Silly and shallow it may be, but III’s turbo-campy lament of hard times + booze was Read More

Best Country Singles of 2008, Part 4: #10-#1

December 19, 2008 // 37 Comments

Our top ten singles of the year represent the very best of what country music is and what country music can be. With a combination of rising stars and veteran artists, it’s clear that the genre has worthy guardians waiting in the wings, even as the current keepers of the flame show no signs of fading away. #10 Ashton Shepherd, “Takin’ Off This Pain” I cheated a bit by throwing this one into the mix, since it was technically released last fall. But as it wasn’t on the site’s 2007 singles countdown and didn’t even peak until this past May, I’m going to take this opportunity to opine, quite simply, that this single paints the best kind of picture of everything contemporary country in the 2000’s can be. It’s not pure traditionalism, as some have suggested – there’s a lot more modern drive than old-school shuffle at work here – Read More

Discussion: SoundScan Sound Off

December 17, 2008 // 30 Comments

In 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): Taylor Swift, Fearless – 1,519,000 Sugarland, Love on the Inside – 1,179,000 George Strait, Troubadour Read More

Discussion: Billboard’s 2008 Year-End Charts

December 11, 2008 // 32 Comments

Earlier this week, Billboard announced the year-end charts in all musical genres. Billboard’s chart year runs from the first week of December (2007) to the last week of November (2008), and the country albums list provides an interesting commentary on the current state of the genre.  Below is the list of the 25 best-selling country albums of the year. 1. Long Road Out Of Eden, Eagles 2. Taylor Swift, Taylor Swift 3. Carnival Ride, Carrie Underwood 4. The Ultimate Hits, Garth Brooks 5. Still Feels Good, Rascal Flatts 6. Love On The Inside, Sugarland 7. Enjoy The Ride, Sugarland 8. Raising Sand, Robert Plant / Alison Krauss 9. Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates, Kenny Chesney 10. Reba Duets, Reba McEntire 11. Greatest Hits, Keith Urban 12. Troubadour, George Strait 13. Fearless, Taylor Swift 14. Good Time, Alan Jackson 15. American Man: Greatest Hits Volume II, Trace Adkins 16. Read More

Grammy Grace and Gratitude

December 8, 2008 // 8 Comments

Eschewing the “I never wanted it one anyway” posing of one of his most prominent peers, Kenny Chesney is loudly proclaiming his joy in getting a Grammy nomination: “I’m not gonna say that I gave up or didn’t care about it,” Kenny says. “This is an award given by your peers in all genres of music … the people who make it. You get to a point where you realize you can’t force it or get them to listen if they’re not there, because that’s not how this works, and you just have to accept that. But that said, I’m really honored to finally be nominated.” GAC has some other reactions, including my favorite: Randy Travis: “It has been almost 25 years since I released my first album, and this is the first time I have been nominated for Best Country Album. I spent years going through songs with my Read More

Discussion: Country Universe Giveaway/Darius Rucker, Learn to Live

November 18, 2008 // 38 Comments

While a number of artists from different musical genres entered into the country rodeo this past year, no Nashville newcomer was more successful than Hootie & the Blowfish frontman, Darius Rucker. His debut country disc, Learn to Live, topped the country album charts in its first week of release, in large part due to its lead single, the #1 smash, “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It.” Country Universe is offering a free copy of Learn to Live to our loyal readers. To be considered, leave a comment and tell us your favorite #1 country song of 2008. Billboard #1 country songs in 2008: Taylor Swift – “Our Song” Brad Paisley – “Letter To Me” Rodney Atkins – “Cleaning This Gun (Come On In Boy)” Carrie Underwood – “All-American Girl” Alan Jackson – “Small Town Southern Man” Trace Adkins – “You’re Gonna Miss This” George Strait – “I Saw God Read More

2008 CMA Awards Live Blog

November 12, 2008 // 254 Comments

2008 CMA Winners Entertainer: Kenny Chesney Male Vocalist: Brad Paisley Female Vocalist: Carrie Underwood Album: George Strait, Troubadour Vocal Duo: Sugarland New Artist: Lady Antebellum Vocal Group: Rascal Flatts Song: Jennifer Nettles, “Stay” Single: George Strait, “I Saw God Today” Music Video: Brad Paisley feat. Andy Griffith, “Waiting on a Woman” Musical Event: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, “Gone Gone Gone” Musician: Mac McAnally _______ Predict the Winners: Kevin – 8 Leeann – 7 Blake – 7 Dan – 7 ______ Live Blog: 11:03 Thanks again for another great night.  See ya at the Grammys! 11:02ish To Blake and Dan:  A Song For You. 11:02 Blake: Down with our dictator! 11:02 Dan: Kevin sucks. 10:57 If I was a petty man, I’d be gloating about out-predicting all of my co-writers at Country Universe.  Wait a minute.   I am a petty man.   I won! Yes! I won!  This country universe is Read More

Country Universe Staff: 2008 CMA Predictions

November 12, 2008 // 19 Comments

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! Entertainer Kenny Chesney- Kevin, Leeann, Blake Brad Paisley – Dan George Strait Sugarland Keith Urban 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 Read More

Country Universe Staff: 2008 CMA Personal Picks

November 11, 2008 // 20 Comments

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. Entertainer Kenny Chesney- Blake Brad Paisley – Leeann, Lynn George Strait Sugarland – Kevin, Dan Keith Urban 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 Read More

CMA Flashback: Horizon Award (New Artist)

November 9, 2008 // 14 Comments

For a look back at the other major categories, visit our CMA Awards page. 2010 Luke Bryan Easton Corbin Jerrod Neimann Chris Young Zac Brown Band Usually there isn’t this much turnover in this race unless most of last year’s nominees are ineligible.  This year, only one of the four eligible nominees from last year – Zac Brown Band – earns a nomination.  With their massive success and their multiple nominations, they’ve got an excellent shot at winning. Then again, Easton Corbin is elsewhere on the ballot, too. It could be a horse race. 2009 Randy Houser Jamey Johnson Jake Owen Darius Rucker Zac Brown Band Thirteen years after winning the Best New Artist Grammy as part of Hootie & The Blowfish, Darius Rucker won the country music equivalent, adding an exclamation point to the most successful pop-to-country crossover in a generation. 2008 Jason Aldean Rodney Atkins Lady Antebellum James Read More

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