Posts Tagged ‘Jamey Johnson’

2010 ACM Nominations

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

You know the drill. For each of the categories, we’ll look at who’s broken in since last year, who’s been excused, and then make a totally judgy statement about what it all means.

Entertainer of the Year

  • Kenny Chesney
  • Toby Keith
  • Brad Paisley
  • George Strait
  • Taylor Swift
  • Carrie Underwood
  • Keith Urban
  • Zac Brown Band

Who’s In: Who isn’t?

Who’s Out: No one.

Snap Judgment: My best guess about the surprise expansion of this category is that ACM thinks the Oscars are onto something. They’re not. But while the Oscars risk having a Best Picture nomination lose some of its prestige, I don’t think the same quite holds true for ACM Entertainer, since an artist can already be nominated multiple times throughout a career anyway (and most are). So this could actually work, I guess. If nothing else, it’ll be interesting.

Top Male Vocalist of the Year

  • Kenny Chesney
  • Brad Paisley
  • Darius Rucker
  • George Strait
  • Keith Urban

Who’s In: Darius Rucker

Who’s Out: Toby Keith

Snap Judgment: No surprises here; it’s the same pool the CMA picked this past fall.

Top Female Vocalist of the Year

  • Miranda Lambert
  • Reba McEntire
  • Taylor Swift
  • Carrie Underwood
  • Lee Ann Womack

Who’s In: Reba McEntire

Who’s Out: Martina McBride

Snap Judgment: Martina shaft! Drama drama!

Top Vocal Group of the Year

  • Lady Antebellum
  • Little Big Town
  • Randy Rogers Band
  • Rascal Flatts
  • Zac Brown Band

Who’s In: Zac Brown Band

Who’s Out: The Lost Trailers

Snap Judgment: I imagine Love And Theft’s and Gloriana’s managers will be spending the morning trying to figure out who the hell Randy Rogers Band is. Seriously, I don’t know how RRB keeps squeezing into this race. Not complaining, though!

Top Vocal Duo of the Year

  • Brooks & Dunn
  • Joey + Rory
  • Montgomery Gentry
  • Steel Magnolia
  • Sugarland

Who’s In: Steel Magnolia

Who’s Out: Big & Rich

Snap Judgment: What’s this? Five duos who actually did something in the last year? Get outta here.

Top New Solo Vocalist of the Year

  • Luke Bryan
  • Jamey Johnson
  • Chris Young

Who’s In: Chris Young, Luke Bryan (both re-entries from previous years)

Who’s Out: Jake Owen (won last year), James Otto

Snap Judgment: I’m just pretending this is the Top New Male category, since ACM’s annual changing around of award names and criteria can be kind of silly. This is going to be an interesting race to watch, especially since all three of these guys are nominated their second time here. It’s the last chance any of them will have to win it.

Top New Vocal Duo of the Year

  • Bomshel
  • Joey + Rory
  • Steel Magnolia

Who’s In: This category was merged with New Vocal Group last year, so none of these duos (being duos) were there.

Snap Judgment: Seriously, doesn’t this whole “actually having semi-active vocal duos” thing kind of weird you out at this point? (P.S. Vote for Joey + Rory!)

Top New Vocal Group of the Year

  • Eli Young Band
  • Gloriana
  • The Lost Trailers

Who’s In: Gloriana

Who’s Out: Zac Brown Band (won last year)

Snap Judgment: Love And Theft HQ must be a grim, grim place today.

Album of the Year

  • Brad Paisley, American Saturday Night
  • Lady Antebellum, Lady Antebellum
  • Miranda Lambert, Revolution
  • Carrie Underwood, Play On
  • Zac Brown Band, The Foundation

Snap Judgment: Not a bad lineup, but the ACM’s lenience in the Album category never ceases to amaze. Lady Antebellum came out two full years ago.

Single Record of the Year

  • Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”
  • Billy Currington, “People Are Crazy”
  • David Nail, “Red Light”
  • Zac Brown Band, “Toes”
  • Miranda Lambert, “White Liar”

Snap Judgment: I’m used to scratching my head in this category. Whatever.

Song of the Year

  • “Cowboy Casanova” – Mike Elizondo, Brett James & Carrie Underwood
  • “Need You Now” – Dave Haywood, Josh Kear, Charles Kelley & Hillary Scott
  • “People Are Crazy” – Bobby Braddock & Troy Jones
  • “White Liar” – Natalie Hemby & Miranda Lambert
  • “You Belong With Me” – Liz Rose & Taylor Swift

Snap Judgment: …It’s like, do people even pay attention to lyrics anymore?

Video of the Year

  • Randy Houser, “Boots On”
  • Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”
  • Brad Paisley, “Welcome to the Future”
  • Miranda Lambert, “White Liar”
  • Taylor Swift, “You Belong With Me”

Snap Judgment: Actually not a bad pool. The Lady A video is pretty boring, though.

Vocal Event of the Year

  • Blake Shelton feat. Trace Adkins, “Hillbilly Bone”
  • Brooks & Dunn feat. Billy Gibbons, “Honky Tonk Stomp”
  • Carrie Underwood feat. Randy Travis, “I Told You So”
  • Kenny Chesney with Dave Matthews, “I’m Alive”
  • Jack Ingram with Patty Griffin, “Seeing Stars”

Snap Judgment: Eh.

- – -

What are y’all’s thoughts?

Grammy 2010 Staff Picks & Predictions

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Even in Grammy’s darkest hours, CU brings its picking powers!

- Superhero television show about our blog from the 50′s.

We won’t be live-blogging this time around, but will be reacting to the show in a full post tomorrow, and welcome your reactions in comments on this post. The awards telecast starts at 8 pm Eastern, and I imagine there will be some red carpet action in the hour prior.

Record of the Year

Picks

  • Beyonce, “Halo” – Kevin
  • Black Eyed Peas, “I Gotta Feeling”
  • Kings of Leon, “Use Somebody” - Tara
  • Lady GaGa, “Poker Face” - Dan
  • Taylor Swift, “You Belong with Me”

Predictions

  • Beyonce, “Halo”
  • Black Eyed Peas, “I Gotta Feeling”
  • Kings of Leon, “Use Somebody” – Kevin, Dan, Tara
  • Lady GaGa, “Poker Face”
  • Taylor Swift, “You Belong with Me”

Kevin: Am I wrong for preferring Eric Cartman’s rendition of “Poker Face” over the original? This is a pretty lightweight slate of contenders. I really like “Halo”, but I suspect Kings of Leon will win, simply because it’s the only rock song in a lineup of pop hits.

Dan: “Poker Face” just feels very representative of popular music in 2009. I wouldn’t whine if it got passed over so that “Bad Romance” could take this award next year, though.

Tara: I would’ve pulled for “Single Ladies” in a heartbeat had it been submitted, but “Use Somebody” is just as deserving of this award. It’s a fantastic song even outside the context of its moment in pop culture, and it’s the kind of larger-than-life song that the voters have picked to win in the past.

Album of the Year

Picks

  • Beyonce, I Am…Sasha Fierce
  • Black Eyed Peas, The E.N.D.
  • Lady GaGa, The Fame Kevin, Tara
  • Dave Matthews Band, Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King
  • Taylor Swift, Fearless - Dan

Predictions

  • Beyonce, I Am…Sasha Fierce
  • Black Eyed Peas, The E.N.D.
  • Lady GaGa, The Fame
  • Dave Matthews Band, Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King - Kevin
  • Taylor Swift, Fearless - Dan, Tara

Kevin: I’d like to see dance music get some respect in the big category, even if there are a half-dozen Madonna albums at this point that would’ve been worthier winners than The Fame. Again, I think the Top 40 votes are going to be split, leaving Dave Matthews Band the winners.

Dan: In little over a year, Fearless has grown from success story to cultural artifact. It’s that rare pop album that seems to have a personality all its own, like Jagged Little Pill in a yellow sundress (and sung about as well). I could see anyone but the Peas taking this, but I think Swift’s support in both Nashville and the Top 40 crowd will take her to the top.

Tara: I have to say I was fairly shocked to see Swift’s truckload of Grammy nominations, so I’m having a little trouble wrapping my mind around the Academy’s thought process – but, I suppose a Swift win in this category is inevitable. However, I fully back Lady GaGa, who is the perfect storm of creativity, vision, swagger and raw vocal talent (remember that, pop world?). (more…)

My Grammy Wish List: 2010 Edition

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Since this was a solo blog, doing a Grammy Wish List has been an annual tradition.  I’m not too excited about this year’s Grammys, to be honest. 2009 was a weak year in my opinion, and the shortened 11-month eligibility period didn’t help matters.  But a tradition is a tradition, so here are my picks in the eleven categories that I care about this year:

* denotes my personal wish:

Record of the Year

  • Beyoncé, “Halo”  *
  • The Black Eyed Peas, “I Gotta Feeling”
  • Kings of Leon, “Use Somebody”
  • Lady Gaga, “Poker Face”
  • Taylor Swift, “You Belong With Me”

It’s always nice to see a country radio hit in there, but I honestly can’t stand “You Belong With Me.”  I dig the Kings of Leon song, but the record that I enjoy the most here is “Halo.”  Some pundits have suggested that Beyoncé threw her chances at this trophy by submitting “Halo” instead of “Single Ladies”, but I like that song even less than “You Belong With Me.” Love “Halo”, though.

Song of the Year

  • Lady Gaga & RedOne, “Poker Face”
  • Hod David & Musze, “Pretty Wings”
  • Thaddis Harrell, Beyoncé Knowles, Terius Nash & Christopher Stewart, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)”
  • Caleb Followill, Jared Followill, Matthew Followill & Nathan Followill, “Use Somebody”  *
  • Liz Rose & Taylor Swift, “You Belong With Me”

Great to see Liz Rose in there, too, but I still can’t stand the song.  I think “Use Somebody” is a great composition that could easily be a hit in other formats if the right artist covered it. Are you listening, Sugarland?

Best New Artist

  • Zac Brown Band *
  • Keri Hilson
  • MGMT
  • Silversun Pickups
  • The Ting Tings

Zac Brown Band don’t quite live up to the hype, but they come a lot closer than last year’s nominee, Lady Antebellum.

Best Country Album

  • Zac Brown Band, The Foundation
  • George Strait, Twang *
  • Taylor Swift, Fearless
  • Keith Urban, Defying Gravity
  • Lee Ann Womack, Call Me Crazy

There isn’t an album here that is built for more than cherry-picking. Strait’s set has the most cherries.

Best Female Country Vocal Performance

  • Miranda Lambert, “Dead Flowers”
  • Martina McBride, “I Just Call You Mine”
  • Taylor Swift, “White Horse”
  • Carrie Underwood, “Just a Dream” *
  • Lee Ann Womack, “Solitary Thinkin’”

The only women who brought their A-game to this category are Swift and Underwood.  “White Horse” might be the better song, but Underwood’s is the better vocal performance by a country mile.

Best Male Country Vocal Performance

  • Trace Adkins, “All I Ask For Anymore”
  • Billy Currington, “People Are Crazy”
  • Jamey Johnson, “High Cost of Living”
  • George Strait, “Living For the Night” *
  • Keith Urban, “Sweet Thing”

I love the Strait song, so it’s my pick, but this is one of the only strong categories this year and I wouldn’t mind seeing any of these five win.

Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals

  • Brooks & Dunn, “Cowgirls Don’t Cry”
  • Zac Brown Band, “Chicken Fried”
  • Lady Antebellum, “I Run to You”
  • Rascal Flatts, “Here Comes Goodbye”
  • Sugarland, “It Happens” *

No A-game here, but Sugarland’s B-game is better than the rest.

Best Country Vocal Collaboration

  • Dierks Bentley & Patty Griffin, “Beautiful World”
  • Kenny Chesney & Mac McAnally, “Down the Road”
  • Brad Paisley & Keith Urban, “Start a Band”
  • Carrie Underwood & Randy Travis, “I Told You So” *
  • Lee Ann Womack & George Strait, “Everything But Quits”

Some amazing pairings here, but Underwood and Travis are the only ones with the material to match the talent.

Best Female Pop Vocal Performance

  • Adele, “Hometown Glory”
  • Beyoncé, “Halo”
  • Katy Perry, “Hot N Cold”
  • Pink, “Sober” *
  • Taylor Swift, “You Belong With Me”

Pink is an awesome songwriter, and easily the most substantial female pop star to come along in the last decade.  “Sober” is one of her best.

Best Pop Vocal Album

  • The Black Eyed Peas, The End
  • Colbie Caillat, The Breakthrough
  • Kelly Clarkson, All I Ever Wanted
  • The Fray, The Fray
  • Pink, Funhouse *

It’s not quite as good as I’m Not Dead, but it comes close.

Best Dance Recording

  • The Black Eyed Peas, “Boom Boom Pow”
  • David Guetta and Kelly Rowland, “When Love Takes Over”
  • Lady Gaga, “Poker Face”
  • Madonna, “Celebration” *
  • Britney Spears, “Womanizer”

Even her throwaway singles are built to last.

Best Country Singles of 2009, Part 2: #20-#1

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

We proceed.

#20

Taylor Swift, “You Belong with Me”

Teen-pop perfection, bursting with personality and unshakable hooks. – Dan Milliken

#19

Keith Urban, “‘Til Summer Comes Around”

There’s nothing quite as lonely as a carnival that has shut down, except for being alone at a carnival, surrounded by everyone but the love who has left you behind. – Kevin Coyne

#18

Lady Antebellum, “I Run to You”

Sheer passion and pulsing energy from start to finish. – Tara Seetharam (more…)

Top-Selling Country Albums of 2009

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Here are the top selling country albums of the calendar year 2009.  The number in parentheses is the album’s rank on the overall list encompassing all genres. The totals are rounded to the nearest thousand:

  1. Taylor Swift, Fearless (1) – 3,157,000
  2. Zac Brown Band, Foundation (15) – 1,243,000
  3. Carrie Underwood, Play On (19) – 1,150,000
  4. Rascal Flatts, Unstoppable (21) – 1,123,000
  5. Lady Antebellum, Lady Antebellum (24) – 948,000
  6. Jason Aldean, Wide Open (27) – 940,000
  7. Darius Rucker, Learn to Live (31) – 849,000
  8. Taylor Swift, Taylor Swift (36) – 766,000
  9. Keith Urban, Defying Gravity (38) – 715,000
  10. Sugarland, Love On the Inside (41) – 678,000
  11. Kenny Chesney, Greatest Hits II (54) – 547,000
  12. Tim McGraw, Southern Voice (55) – 547,000
  13. George Strait, Twang (62) – 499,000
  14. Brad Paisley, American Saturday Night (69) – 462,000
  15. Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Song (71) – 460,000
  16. Carrie Underwood, Carnival Ride (74) – 457,000
  17. Taylor Swift, The Holiday Collection (79) – 425,000
  18. Reba McEntire, Keep On Loving You (93) – 389,000
  19. Rascal Flatts, Greatest Hits Volume 1 (104) – 359,000
  20. Miranda Lambert, Revolution (112) – 334,000
  21. Alan Jackson, Good Time (124) – 311,000
  22. Billy Currington, Little Bit of Everything (125) – 310,000
  23. Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Raising Sand (126) – 305,000
  24. Dierks Bentley, Feel That Fire (129) – 298,000
  25. Toby Keith, American Ride (137) – 288,000
  26. Sugarland, Gold and Green (149) – 255,000
  27. Carrie Underwood, Some Hearts (158) – 248,000
  28. Sugarland, Live on the Inside (168) – 232,000
  29. Sugarland, Enjoy the Ride (180) – 225,000
  30. Kellie Pickler, Kellie Pickler (190) – 218,000
  31. Various Artists, Now Country Vol. 2 (192) – 214,000
  32. Kenny Chesney, Lucky Old Sun (193) – 219,000

The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 2: #180-#161

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 2: #180-#161

180 Flatts Melt

#180
“These Days”
Rascal Flatts
2002
Peak: #1

It’s the pairing of aching nostalgia and all the power that comes with a Flatts country-pop ballad that makes this song so potent. – Tara Seetharam

179 Ashton

#179
“Takin’ Off This Pain”
Ashton Shepherd
2007
Peak: #20

Like a wide-eyed hybrid of Loretta Lynn and Jennifer Nettles, Shepherd burst onto the scene snapping her newly ring-free fingers at the clueless sap not treating her right. Next Decade, please take note: you’ve got a star in waiting. – Dan Milliken (more…)

The 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade, Part 6: #50-#41

Saturday, December 5th, 2009

The 100 Greatest Albums of the Decade, Part 6

    50 Mattea

    #50
    Kathy Mattea, Right Out of Nowhere

    Kathy Mattea has rarely sounded more open and warm than on this set of innovative folk-tinged songs. Topics of peace, love, resignation and heartache are sensitively explored in songs both written by Mattea and other well-known names, including captivating interpretations of The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Me Shelter” and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Down on the Corner.” It’s a rich album with a decisively vibrant feel. – Leeann Ward

    Recommended Tracks: “Gimme Shelter”, “Down on the Corner”, “Give It Away”

    49 Cash

    #49
    Johnny Cash, American IV: The Man Comes Around

    American IV: The Man Comes Around was the last Cash album released in his lifetime; the bulk of its tracks are covers performed by the then ailing singer. Amazingly enough, the album seems almost biographical despite the limited material written by Cash. Still, American IV is not limited to “Hurt” (written by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails), as other well-interpreted covers and Cash’s own “The Man Comes Around” help cement the depth of the album. – William Ward

    Recommended Tracks: “The Man Comes Around”, “Hurt”, “Sam Hall”

    48 Johnson

    #48
    Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Song

    The media hype machine had a field day with Johnson’s breakthrough sophomore album, showering it with the kind of superlatives usually reserved for miracle cures and immaculate conceptions (see also: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend). Most of the attention went to the album’s counterculturism within the increasingly safe and watered-down Music Row, with numerous nods to its Outlaw aesthetic and “cocaine and a whore” business. But That Lonesome Song‘s greatness was always more than contextual, and certainly more than attitudinal; this is an album with a genuine story to tell, filled with a slow-burning sorrow that pervades every track and doesn’t rest until the wife finally walks away and the husband resigns himself to playing seedy bars and trying to convince you he’s worthy of comparison to the greats. – Dan Milliken

    Recommended Tracks: “High Cost Of Living”, “Angel”, “Dreaming My Dreams With You”

    *Credit for linked parody cover: Farce the Music.

    47 Hill

    #47
    Faith Hill, Fireflies

    For all of the attention given to her power ballads and catchy pop numbers, Faith Hill has always included more offbeat material from lesser known songwriters. This album had some great power ballads and catchy pop numbers, but its heart and soul comes from the trio of Lori McKenna songs that make up its core. “Stealing Kisses” just might be Hill’s finest moment to date, and the other two McKenna songs – “If You Ask” and the title track – are nearly as good.  – Kevin Coyne

    Recommended Tracks: “Dearly Beloved”, “Stealing Kisses”, “Wish For You”

    46 Gill

    #46
    Vince Gill, Next Big Thing

    Gill dips into a wider range of styles and subjects on his first self-produced album, but it all seems to thoughtfully tie back to his classically sweet sound – a tricky thing to do in country music. Next Big Thing is mature, clever and vocally spot-on, and features some killer guest vocals from Emmylou Harris, Lee Ann Womack and others. – TS

    Recommended Tracks: “Without You”, “Two Hearts”, “These Broken Hearts”

    45 Underwood

    #45
    Carrie Underwood, Play On

    Easily one of the most versatile artists in country music, Underwood is capable of tackling almost any musical style, and she makes a solid case for this on her third album. The kicker, though, is that rather than signaling a lack of identity, each style feels like a natural extension of herself as an artist. She’s mournful on a haunting country standard in one breath, and commanding on a rock-charged up-tempo in the next – all without compromising her authenticity. Most significantly, Underwood finally digs a little deeper on Play On, marrying her extraordinary vocal proficiency with a higher level of tangible, sincere conviction than ever before. – TS

    Recommended Tracks: “Someday When I Stop Loving You”, “Songs Like This”, “What Can I Say”

    44 Crowell

    #44
    Rodney Crowell, The Outsider

    Crowell’s take on mid-decade politics avoids heavy-handedness, perhaps because what he’s appealing to is not so much partisanship as patriotism in its purest form: “Democracy won’t work if we’re asleep. That kind of freedom is a vigil you must keep.”  Bonus points for not one, but two guest turns from Emmylou Harris, the highlight being their stunning duet of Bob Dylan’s “Shelter From the Storm.” – KC

    Recommended Tracks: “Dancin’ Circles ‘Round the Sun (Epictetus Speaks)”, “Don’t Get Me Started”, “Shelter From the Storm”

    43 Little

    #43
    The Little Willies, The Little Willies

    Norah Jones pet country side project with four of her New York City friends, including former boyfriend bassist Lee Alexander, results inn an inextricably fun album named after Willie Nelson who is covered twice on the project (“Gotta Get Drunk” and “Night Life”). The productions, including jaunty piano and prominent bass, along with Jones’ atypically loose vocals, make this disc a thrilling listening experience. While The Little Willie’s self titled album is not tight in technical terms, the album is all the better for it. – LW

    Recommended Tracks: “Roll On”, “Gotta Get Drunk”, “Tennessee Stud”

    42 Yearwood

    #42
    Trisha Yearwood, Real Live Woman

    Upon its release, the artist declared that she’d finally made her dream album. It’s easy to understand why, as Real Live Woman is Trisha Yearwood’s most cohesive album to date. It has a warmth and depth that makes it more than just reminiscent of Linda Ronstadt’s classic L.A. country albums from the mid-seventies. It’s actually on par with them. – KC

    Recommended Tracks: “Where Are You Now”, “Try Me Again”, “When a Love Song Sings the Blues”

    41 Kristofferson

    #41
    Kris Kristofferson, Broken Freedom Song: Live From San Francisco

    For each unequivocal success like At Folsom Prison and Nirvana Unplugged, there are a dozen uninspired live albums that simply exist to capitalize on old material. Kris Kristofferson’s Broken Freedom Songs, with his extended introductions and banter, is an unequivocal success. Along with its friendly and almost conversational tone, Broken Freedom Songs focuses on unexpected compositions and makes a nice addition to other historically strong live albums. – WW

    Recommended Tracks: “The Circle”, “Here Comes that Rainbow Again”, “Moment of Forever”

    - – -

    CMA Awards: Predictions and Personal Picks

    Sunday, November 8th, 2009

    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.

    brad-paisleyMale Vocalist of the Year

    Should Win:
    • Kenny Chesney
    • Brad Paisley – Leeann, Tara
    • Darius Rucker
    • George Strait – Dan
    • Keith Urban – Kevin
    Will Win:
    • Kenny Chesney
    • Brad Paisley – Kevin, Leeann, Dan, Tara
    • Darius Rucker
    • George Strait
    • Keith Urban

    Leeann: I have no doubt that Paisley will win again, as he  has had a strong year and the CMAs tend to prefer him for this award.  While I think Urban is technically a very worthy opponent, the combination of Paisley’s warm voice and stronger album makes me continue to root for him.  I’d also be just as happy if Strait won, however, and feel that his and Paisley’s albums were the strongest of the year.

    Dan: Looks like an easy Paisley win, but I’ll give Strait the nod for all-around strength this past year.

    Tara: I don’t anticipate that Paisley’s winning streak will be broken. I’m pulling for him on the strength of his material, but wouldn’t mind one bit if Urban took the award. Just please, CMAs, don’t give it to Rucker!

    Kevin: Paisley’s poised to pick up his third trophy, with his only real competition being five-time winner George Strait. I’d give a fourth trophy to previous winner Keith Urban over the rest of the field. He really sang rings around the rest of ‘em when comparing their latest albums.

    Carrie Underwood 09Female Vocalist of the Year

    Should Win:
    • Miranda Lambert - Leeann
    • Martina McBride
    • Reba McEntire
    • Taylor Swift
    • Carrie Underwood – Kevin, Dan, Tara
    Will Win:
    • Miranda Lambert
    • Martina McBride
    • Reba McEntire
    • Taylor Swift
    • Carrie Underwood – Kevin, Leeann, Dan, Tara

    Dan: I tend to find Underwood boring, but I do think she released some of her better singles this past year. Swift just isn’t a strong enough vocalist to merit this prize, and I’d rather see Lambert win in a year where she has more momentum going, which could well be next year.

    Tara: It will no doubt spark controversy when Underwood takes her fourth trophy and joins the ranks of Reba McEntire and Martina McBride, and that’s another discussion all together – but looking at the nominees for this year, it’s clear she deserves to win. In terms of sheer vocal talent, few artists in the genre come close to her. I’d love to see Lambert take this award (and Underwood would too!), but like Dan, I don’t think it’s her time just yet.

    Kevin: I won’t believe a different winner in this race until I see it. I was underwhelmed by the latest albums from Lambert, McBride, McEntire, and Swift, and quite frankly, Underwood is the only lady of the five to put out more than one single this year that I actually really liked (“Just a Dream”, “I Told You So.”) I remain in her corner.

    Leeann: Carrie will deserve to win this award when she wins it this year.  I, however, still prefer Lambert’s voice and feel that her output (album) is the most interesting of the nominees.

    Sugarland JoeyVocal Duo of the Year

    Should Win:

    • Big & Rich
    • Brooks & Dunn
    • Joey + Rory
    • Montgomery Gentry
    • Sugarland – Kevin, Leeann, Dan, Tara
    Will Win:
    • Big & Rich
    • Brooks & Dunn
    • Joey + Rory
    • Montgomery Gentry
    • Sugarland – Kevin, Leeann, Dan, Tara

    Tara: Sugarland continues to excite me, and I think they deserve this award again.

    Kevin: I love Joey + Rory, but Sugarland have really been blowing me away lately.  I’d pick them for Entertainer if they’d been nominated.

    Leeann: I’d technically love for Joey + Rory to win, but I know full well that Sugarland is the duo that truly deserves to win based upon their impact this year.

    Dan: Sugarland. But I want to talk to whoever is picking their singles.

    lady-antebellum-and-a-chairVocal Group of the Year

    Should Win:

    • Eagles
    • Lady Antebellum – Tara
    • Little Big Town
    • Rascal Flatts
    • Zac Brown Band – Kevin, Leeann, Dan

    Will Win:

    • Eagles
    • Lady Antebellum – Kevin, Leeann, Dan, Tara
    • Little Big Town
    • Rascal Flatts
    • Zac Brown Band

    Kevin: I find Zac Brown Band more interesting, and I think they have a real shot at winning this. I suspect Lady Antebellum has a bit more industry support, though, so I’ll give them the edge.

    Leeann: Lady A will win because they’ve got more industry support and popularity with radio, but the Zac Brown Band has certainly put out more interesting music and have a refreshingly unique sound that deserves to be rewarded.

    Dan: Pretty much what Kevin and Leeann said. “Chicken Fried” notwithstanding.

    Tara: It’s definitely a race between Zac Brown Band and Lady Antebellum, and I can understand why my co-bloggers are rooting for the former. But even if Lady Antebellum’s talent needs a little cultivating, their music strikes a very personal chord with me, and I’ll be thrilled when they take this award. Can you believe Rascal Flatts might actually walk away from an awards show empty-handed?

    zac-bbNew Artist of the Year

    Should Win:
    • Randy Houser
    • Jamey Johnson – Dan
    • Jake Owen
    • Darius Rucker
    • Zac Brown Band – Kevin, Leeann, Tara

    Will Win:

    • Randy Houser
    • Jamey Johnson – Kevin
    • Jake Owen
    • Darius Rucker – Dan, Leeann, Tara
    • Zac Brown Band

    Kevin: A weak lineup that speaks volumes about why country music is where it is today. I think Zac Brown Band should win. They’ve really been the real breakthrough act of the five. But I suspect in this battle of “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” co-writers, Jamey Johnson will emerge victorious.

    Leeann: While I’m tempted to root for Jamey Johnson, I think Zac Brown Band has a chance of keeping me intrigued over the next few years (even if they fall out of the mainstream), though I don’t think they’ve reached their potential  just yet.  I predict that Darius Rucker will actually win, however, as he’s been the most successful in the last year.

    Dan: Time will tell whether Johnson is able to remain a strong artistic force, but I’d say he has as good a chance as any of these five if he can keep from getting self-important. Rucker is the biggest star on the ballot, though, and I suspect he’ll squeak the win over Johnson and Zac Brown Band.

    Tara: Johnson and Zac Brown Band are both deserving recipients of this award, but I personally prefer the band’s music. With the commercial success Rucker’s seen in the past year, though, I think it’s his award to lose. Not too sure how I feel about that.  

    thatlonesomesongAlbum of the Year

    Should Win:

    • Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Song – Leeann, Dan
    • Brad Paisley, American Saturday NightTara
    • Sugarland, Love on the InsideKevin
    • Taylor Swift, Fearless
    • Keith Urban, Defying Gravity
    Will Win:
    • Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Song – Kevin, Dan, Tara
    • Brad Paisley, American Saturday Night
    • Sugarland, Love on the Inside
    • Taylor Swift, Fearless – Leeann
    • Keith Urban, Defying Gravity

    Leeann: While Johnson’s album hasn’t really stuck with me over the past year or so, I still think it’s the best album out of the bunch.  I think Swift will win, however, due to the volume of sales and hit singles.

    Dan: All of these albums have strengths, but That Lonesome Song is the only one that makes me optimistic about country music’s future. I expect it to triumph, though Swift’s has a great shot, too.

    Tara: Paisley’s album, to me, strikes that sweet balance of traditional and contemporary. I think it’s a strong, interesting and relevant album that epitomizes why Paisley is so deservingly successful. But Johnson will deserve this award when he takes it, and I recognize and appreciate his positive influence on mainstream country music.

    Kevin: I expected more nods overall for Jamey Johnson. I think that the eligibility period hurt him, with the project less fresh in voters’ minds. But the CMA values traditional country more than any other awards organization, so I expect him to win this. I enjoy the Sugarland album far more than any of the other four, so I’m rooting for that one.

    Jamey smile 2Single of the Year

    Should Win:

    • “Chicken Fried” – Zac Brown Band
    • “I Run to You” – Lady Antebellum
    • “In Color” – Jamey Johnson – Kevin, Leeann, Dan, Tara
    • “People Are Crazy” – Billy Currington
    • “Then” – Brad Paisley
    Will Win:
    • “Chicken Fried” – Zac Brown Band
    • “I Run to You” – Lady Antebellum
    • “In Color” – Jamey Johnson – Kevin, Leeann, Tara
    • “People Are Crazy” – Billy Currington – Dan
    • “Then” – Brad Paisley

    Dan: I’ve just got a bad feeling about that Currington single. “I Run To You” does have some smokin’ production, but “In Color” is the only one of the five I can still stand.

    Tara: Ouch. I’m pleased that “I Run to You” is nominated as it’s a personal favorite, but I don’t think any song other than “In Color” is deserving of this award. Again…ouch.

    Kevin: This is the weakest lineup in the history of this category.

    Leeann: Johnson’s song feels old to me now, but it’s the best song in this underwhelming category, though I’m sure David Letterman disagrees.  While I like the production on “People Are Crazy” the best in this line-up, the hook (not to mention the frustratingly weak story development) is just lame.

    randy-travisSong of the Year

    Should Win:
    • “Chicken Fried” – Zac Brown & Wyatt Durette
    • “I Told You So” – Randy Travis – Kevin, Leeann, Tara
    • “In Color” – Jamey Johnson – Dan
    • “People Are Crazy” – Bobby Braddock & Troy Jones
    • “Then” – Chris Dubois, Ashley Gorley & Brad Paisley
    Will Win:
    • “Chicken Fried” – Zac Brown & Wyatt Durette
    • “I Told You So” – Randy Travis – Leeann
    • “In Color” – Jamey Johnson – Kevin, Dan, Tara
    • “People Are Crazy” – Bobby Braddock & Troy Jones
    • “Then” – Chris Dubois, Ashley Gorley & Brad Paisley

    Tara: I would absolutely love to see Travis take this award; Underwood’s success with the song proves that the best-written country songs are timeless. I think “In Color” has more pull, though.

    Kevin: I think Johnson will win, but kudos to Carrie Underwood for recognizing the value of the Randy Travis-penned gem and making it a hit all over again.

    Leeann: This is not one of my favorite Randy Travis songs, but for nostalgia’s sake, I’m rooting for him to win this one. I even think it has a chance of winning, since it was a hit song for one of today’s country music’s most popular artists. I think the Paisley composition is, by far, the weakest though.

    Dan: I like probable-winner “In Color” marginally more than “I Told You So.” Any of the other three winning would hurt me way down deep.

    randy-travis-and-carrie-underwoodMusical Event of the Year

    Should Win:

    • “Cowgirls Don’t Cry” – Brooks & Dunn featuring Reba McEntire
    • “Down the Road” – Kenny Chesney with Mac McAnally
    • “Everything But Quits” – Lee Ann Womack with George Strait
    • “I Told You So” – Carrie Underwood featuring Randy Travis – Kevin, Tara
    • “Old Enough” – The Raconteurs with Ricky Skaggs and Ashley Monroe – Leeann, Dan
    • “Start a Band” – Brad Paisley and Keith Urban
    Will Win:
    • “Cowgirls Don’t Cry” – Brooks & Dunn featuring Reba McEntire
    • “Down the Road” – Kenny Chesney with Mac McAnally
    • “Everything But Quits” – Lee Ann Womack with George Strait
    • “I Told You So” – Carrie Underwood featuring Randy Travis – Kevin, Dan, Tara
    • “Old Enough” – The Raconteurs with Ricky Skaggs and Ashley Monroe
    • “Start a Band” – Brad Paisley and Keith Urban – Leeann

    Kevin: Will the CMA really pass up the chance to give a trophy to Randy Travis for the first time in 21 years? I hope not.

    Leeann: Paisley’s and Urban’s collaboration was originally accidentally left off the ballot, but the superstar pairing is the most likely to win.  Conversely, I suspect that the inclusion of the collaboration with Ricky Skaggs and Ashley Monroe was likely an accident, but I’d still love to see this dark horse nomination win. It’s certainly the most interesting song of the category.  I might have gone for the Underwood/Travis pairing if Travis’ inclusion didn’t seem so random.  I liked Underwood’s original version better, as Vince Gill’s harmony seemed more natural.

    Dan: It’s totally between “I Told You So” and “Start A Band”, but I’m pulling for the underdog Raconteurs record, too. I like my collaborations a little spontaneous like that, and it’s always great to see outsiders included in the CMA fold.

    Tara: While I have a particular soft spot for “Down the Road,” which I thought was one of the best singles of 2008, it should come as no surprise that I’m pulling for the beautiful, rough-and-pure “I Told You So.” I think it will easily win.

    george_straitMusic Video of the Year

    Should Win:
    • “Boots On” – Randy Houser
    • “Love Story” – Taylor Swift
    • “People Are Crazy” – Billy Currington
    • “Start a Band” – Brad Paisley and Keith Urban
    • “Troubadour” – George Strait – Kevin, Dan, Tara
    Will Win:
    • “Boots On” – Randy Houser
    • “Love Story” – Taylor Swift – Kevin, Dan, Tara
    • “People Are Crazy” – Billy Currington
    • “Start a Band” – Brad Paisley and Keith Urban
    • “Troubadour” – George Strait

    Dan: I enjoy the Strait video most, but Swift’s is the flashiest, and that tends to win out.

    Tara: Strait’s video is poignant and tastefully done. I never understood the appeal of Swift’s Shakespearean video, but apparently a whole generation of country music fans does. My money’s on Swift.

    Kevin: I think the Swift fairytale will get the most votes, but the Strait clip hypnotizes me every time it’s on. Who knew a simple slide show could be so powerful and such a perfect fit for a song?

    paul-franklinMusician of the Year
    Should Win:
    • Eddie Bayers (drums)
    • Paul Franklin (steel guitar) – Kevin, Leeann, Dan, Tara
    • Dan Huff (guitar)
    • Brent Mason (guitar)
    • Mac McAnally (guitar)

    Will Win:

    • Eddie Bayers (drums)
    • Paul Franklin (steel guitar)
    • Dan Huff (guitar)
    • Brent Mason (guitar)
    • Mac McAnally (guitar) – Kevin, Leeann, Dan, Tara

    Dan: I should really start paying more attention to this kind of thing. But I know Paul Franklin’s been doing steel for everyone from Lyle Lovett to Rascal Flatts in the past year. Respek!

    Tara:
    Franklin’s the one I’m most familiar with, and I agree with Kevin and Dan that he deserves it. I’ll admit I’m not entirely sure how to gauge who’ll win this year, but I suppose I’d go with McAnally again.

    Kevin: I guess that McAnally will repeat his victory from last year. The other previous winners won quite a bit of time ago – Dann Huff in 2001 and 2004, Brent Mason in 1997 and 1998.  My sympathy goes to Eddie Bayers, who is nominated for the tenth time and has yet to win. I have no choice but to pull for Paul Frankin, though, who has lost this award sixteen times.  Here’s hoping that seventeen’s a charm!

    Leeann: Please don’t let it be Dann Huff! That’s all I ask.  Of course, I’m partial to the steel guitar, not to mention that it’s a shame that a steel guitar player has to work so hard to win a country music award.

    The Worst Singles of the Decade, Part 3: #30-#21

    Friday, October 30th, 2009

    It Stinks!After  Part 1 and Part 2 , we’re wading further into the sea of mediocrity.

    The Worst Singles of the Decade, Part 3: #30-#21

    #30
    Terri Clark, “Dirty Girl”

    Double entendres are a lot more enjoyable when the naughty meaning is the real one.

    #29
    Jamey Johnson, “The Dollar”

    Real kids don’t talk like this.

    #28
    Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, “Love Will Always Win”

    This treacly ballad is the nadir of Trisha’s career and one “It’s Midnight Cinderella” away from being Garth’s as well.

    #27
    Darryl Worley, “Have You Forgotten?”

    Featuring more straw men than a Wizard of Oz audition.

    #26
    Clint Black, “I Raq and Roll”

    “Have You Forgotten?” without all the nuance and subtlety.

    #25
    Shania Twain and Billy Currington, “Party For Two”

    Proof positive that spoken dialogue can ruin a song before it even begins.

    #24
    Martina McBride, “God’s Will”
    He was dressed as a bag of leaves? That’s his costume? Hey, at least she didn’t kill him off in the last verse.

    #23
    Brooks & Dunn, “Play Something Country”

    There are so many poorly written female characters in Brooks & Dunn songs, it’s hard to pick just one to represent them all. But I’ll give the nod to this one, simply because it has her howling the title to a melodic hook that’s a blatant rip-off of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “Shut Up and Kiss Me.”

    #22
    Jason Aldean, “Johnny Cash”

    The “country star as song name” trend hasn’t yielded anything worthwhile, but at least “Tim McGraw” and “Kristofferson” have some tenuous connection to their titular song. “Johnny Cash” is just shameless name-dropping.

    #21
    Gretchen Wilson, “Red Bird Fever”

    In retrospect, this should’ve been a huge red flag that Wilson wasn’t built to last.  My personal favorite moment of this St. Louis Cardinals shout-out comes in the chorus, when she sings “Let me get a big ‘Go Cards!’ from the Red Bird fans like me. Go Cards!” and the backup singers answer back, “Hell yeah!”  because they couldn’t be bothered to change the “Redneck Woman” backing track.

    CMA Noms ’09

    Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

    cma_awardIt’s that time of year again! For each major 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:

    Entertainer

    • Kenny Chesney
    • Brad Paisley
    • George Strait
    • Taylor Swift
    • Keith Urban

    Who’s In: Taylor Swift

    Who’s Out: Sugarland

    Snap Judgment: With Carrie Underwood and Sugarland a little out of the spotlight recently, it’s no shock to see the regular foursome of Chesney, Paisley, Strait and Urban prevail. Swift was a logical inclusion given her across-the-board dominance, but I gotta say that I’m surprised to see her acknowledged for it by the historically traditional-leaning CMA.

    Male Vocalist

    • Kenny Chesney
    • Brad Paisley
    • Darius Rucker
    • George Strait
    • Keith Urban

    Who’s In: Darius Rucker

    Who’s Out: Alan Jackson

    Snap Judgment: Pretty predicable. Rucker has shown he can get serious spins at radio, which is probably what won him this slot over Jamey Johnson.

    Female Vocalist

    • Miranda Lambert
    • Martina McBride
    • Reba McEntire
    • Taylor Swift
    • Carrie Underwood

    Who’s In: Reba McEntire

    Who’s Out: Alison Krauss

    Snap Judgment: Again, no big surprises. Martina always hangs in there somehow, doesn’t she?

    Vocal Duo

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

    Who’s In: Joey + Rory

    Who’s Out: The Wreckers (finally!), oddly not Big & Rich

    Snap Judgment: I guess there has to be at least one defunct act in this category every year, huh?

    Vocal Group

    • Eagles
    • Lady Antebellum
    • Little Big Town
    • Rascal Flatts
    • Zac Brown Band

    Who’s In: Zac Brown Band

    Who’s Out: Emerson Drive

    Snap Judgment: I’m baffled to see the Eagles still here. I expect there will be a lot more shake-up in this category next year, with Love and Theft, Eli Young Band and The Lost Trailers all experiencing a rise in profile recently.

    New Artist

    • Randy Houser
    • Jamey Johnson
    • Jake Owen
    • Darius Rucker
    • Zac Brown Band

    Who’s In: Completely new line-up!

    Snap Judgment: A strong group. Johnson, Rucker and Zac Brown Band are selling better than many of the veteran acts, so they’re the serious contenders this year, but all five nominees show great artistic potential.

    Album

    • Brad Paisley, American Saturday Night
    • Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Song
    • Sugarland, Love On The Inside
    • Taylor Swift, Fearless
    • Keith Urban, Defying Gravity

    Snap Judgment: Probably as good a line-up as you could’ve hoped for. Never thought I’d live to see a CMA category where I thought Keith Urban had the weakest offering!

    Single

    • “Chicken Fried” – Zac Brown Band
    • “I Run To You” – Lady Antebellum
    • “In Color” – Jamey Johnson
    • “People Are Crazy” – Billy Currington
    • “Then” – Brad Paisley

    Snap Judgment: Sigh.

    Song

    • “Chicken Fried” – Zac Brown & Wyatt Durette
    • “I Told You So” – Randy Travis
    • “In Color” – Jamey Johnson, Lee Thomas Miller & James Otto
    • “People Are Crazy” – Bobby Braddock & Troy Jones
    • “Then” – Brad Paisley, Chris DuBois and Ashley Gorley

    Snap Judgment: I mean, it’s not like Randy Travis ever had his own hit with “I Told You So” or anything.

    Musical Event

    • “Cowgirls Don’t Cry” – Brooks & Dunn featuring Reba McEntire
    • “Down The Road” – Kenny Chesney with Mac McAnally
    • “Everything But Quits” – Lee Ann Womack with George Strait
    • “I Told You So” – Carrie Underwood featuring Randy Travis
    • “Old Enough” – The Raconteurs featuring Ricky Skaggs and Ashley Monroe
    • “Start A Band” – Brad Paisley with Keith Urban

    Snap Judgment: How in the world did that Raconteurs record sneak in there? Props, CMA!

    Music Video

    • “Boots On” – Randy Houser
    • “Love Story” – Taylor Swift
    • “People Are Crazy” – Billy Currington
    • “Start A Band” – Brad Paisley with Keith Urban
    • “Troubadour” – George Strait

    Snap Judgment: Not bad. Houser’s doesn’t have much, but the only one I outright dislike is Currington’s. It’s just another excuse for him to sit around looking scruffy on a beach.

    Musician

    • Eddie Bayers
    • Paul Franklin
    • Dann Huff
    • Brent Mason
    • Mac McAnally

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