Tag Archives: Jeff Stevens

CMA Awards 2014: Staff Predictions and Picks

Despite the Grammys and even the ACM’s demonstrating more consistent taste over the past few years, the CMA’s remain the most significant industry awards that honor country music.  This year’s slate of nominees gives the organization an opportunity to build on the credibility of last year’s George Strait victory.  His win for Entertainer saved a dismal show in its closing minutes.

Here’s our take on this year’s contenders:

George Strait ACMEntertainer of the Year

Should Win:

  • Luke Bryan
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Blake Shelton
  • George Strait – Kevin, Jonathan, Tara, Ben
  • Keith Urban

Will Win:

  • Luke Bryan
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Blake Shelton
  • George Strait – Jonathan, Kevin, Tara, Ben
  • Keith Urban

Kevin:  I’d settle for a Miranda Lambert victory, as she had an amazing year.  But my first choice is George Strait, who deserves a fourth trophy for that record-breaking final concert.   The rest of these nominees have either won before or still seem to have their best days ahead of them.  There will never be another George Strait again.

Jonathan: The appalling sense of entitlement Jason Aldean has shown in his seemingly endless campaign of adult temper-tantrums disguised as interviews since these nominees were announced makes it all the more satisfying that the voters didn’t exclusively consider commercial and touring stats when voting for this award. I think that will likely continue with the final ballots, giving Strait the win here as a final send-off– a win that, as Kevin said, Strait’s last concert fully justifies based on even Aldean’s logic.

Tara: I have a feeling I’ll be pulling for Lambert next year, but 20 months after seeing it, I’m still high on Strait’s phenomenal farewell show. He deserves this.

Ben: Why not? Miranda will have plenty more shots at it, but this could be our last chance to see George Strait accept a CMA Entertainer of the Year trophy. Let the cowboy ride away in style.

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2014 CMA Nominations

This year’s CMA nominees are the best in years, with multiple nominations for Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, and Brandy Clark.  Country radio may still be shunning women, but their embrace by CMA voters suggests that the industry knows who is really leading the way in the genre these days.

George Strait ACMEntertainer of the Year

  • Luke Bryan
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Blake Shelton
  • George Strait
  • Keith Urban

Who’s In:  Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban

Who’s Out: Jason Aldean, Taylor Swift

George Strait, a surprise winner last year, is nominated again in a year that includes his record-shattering final concert.   Miranda Lambert’s domination of this year’s nominations extends to the big category, where she competes for the first time since 2010.

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Single Review: Luke Bryan, "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye"

The makings of a solid Order levitra online country song are scattered about on this new Luke Bryan single, but the song has been nearly polished to death.

“All we do right is make love/ We both know now that ain’t enough” is one of the best opening lines I’ve heard in a mainstream country single this year. (It’s right up there with “Ain’t no rain as cold as the look she just gave him” from Kellie Pickler’s “100 Proof”)  Likewise, the line “Love me like you loved me when you loved me and you didn’t have to try” is both substantive and catchy, while set over an engaging minor-key melody.

A song like this could have been a huge winner if given the right treatment, but alas, enter a storm of mainstream Nashville overproduction – the work of producer and co-writer Jeff Stevens – to drown out the soul.  Bryan sings over a cacophonous mess of thrashing guitars and crashing drums laid on so thick that it makes the song hard to listen to.  It all culminates in a bridge that features some perfectly atrocious guitar-shredding that sounds like it was lifted right out of “I Don’t Want This Night to End.”

Bryan’s previous hit “Drunk On You” featured an arrangement that was thoroughly mainstream, but that still stayed out of the way enough to let the intimacy of the song shine through.  Not here – a few strains of steel and mandolin put some much-needed cracks in the polish, but they aren’t enough to offset all the clutter in the overall mix.  This song could have been good, but this endlessly distracting wall of noise doesn’t let it come anywhere close to its potential.  Maybe someday we’ll be treated to an acoustic version…

Written by Luke Bryan, Jeff Stevens, and Shane McAnally

Grade:  C+

Listen:  Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye

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