Grammy Awards 2011: Staff Picks & Predictions

February 12, 2011 // 9 Comments

It’s hard to believe, but it’s that time of year again: the 2011 Grammy Awards air this Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern. Country music has its hand in the Grammy pot via major nominations for Lady Antebellum, performances by Miranda Lambert, Lady A and Martina McBride, and appearances by Keith Urban, Zac Brown, Blake Shelton and Kris Kristofferson. We’ve picked and predicted the awards below – chime in with your own thoughts, and stop by on Sunday night for our live blog!

Album of the Year

Should Win

  • Arcade Fire, The Suburbs – Dan
  • Eminem, Recovery – Kevin, Tara
  • Lady Antebellum, Need You Now
  • Lady Gaga, The Fame Monster
  • Katy Perry, Teenage Dream

Will Win

  • Arcade Fire, The Suburbs
  • Eminem, Recovery – Kevin, Dan, Tara
  • Lady Antebellum, Need You Now
  • Lady Gaga, The Fame Monster
  • Katy Perry, Teenage Dream

Review: Jewel, “Stay Here Forever”

January 25, 2010 // 16 Comments

Once applauded for her introspective songs and uniquely intriguing voice, it is disappointing to hear that both strengths are imperceptible in this train wreck of a song. As a result, “Embarrassing” is the only word that aptly describes Jewel’s latest single, “Stay Here Forever.”

Favorite Albums: Christmas

December 24, 2009 // 27 Comments

Last year, I counted down my twenty-five favorite Christmas songs. This year, it’s time to do the same with my favorite country Christmas albums. Feel free to add your own favorites in the comment section.

Merry Christmas!

SHeDaisy, Brand New Year

This is not a typical, conservative country Christmas album. SHeDaisy spices things up by not only including originals, but rearranges the classics to make an unpredictable, unique Christmas album that stands out from the pack.

Dolly Parton, Home for Christmas

This is an incredibly cheesy Christmas album. As only Dolly can do, however, it’s at least delightfully cheesy.

Album Sales Update

May 23, 2009 // 20 Comments


* Rascal Flatts, Unstoppable – 669,000
* Keith Urban, Defying Gravity – 349,000
* Jason Aldean, Wide Open – 241,000
* Dierks Bentley, Feel That Fire – 189,000
* Martina McBride, Shine – 89,000
* John Rich, Son of a Preacher Man – 89,000
* Rodney Atkins, It’s America – 72,000
* Jake Owen, Easy Does It – 70,000
* Eric Church, Carolina – 66,000
* Randy Travis, I Told You So: Ultimate Hits – 59,000
* Randy Rogers Band, Randy Rogers Band – 57,000
* Pat Green, What I’m For – 54,000
* Willie Nelson & Asleep at the Wheel, Willie & The Wheel – 50,000
* Billy Ray Cyrus, Back to Tennessee – 29,000
* Jason Michael Carroll, Growing Up is Getting Old – 26,000
* Dean Brody, Dean Brody – 5,000

Kevin J. Coyne’s Top Singles of 2008

December 28, 2008 // 14 Comments

Gone are the days where this would just be called the Country Universe’s Top Singles of 2008.   The collective tastes of our writers makes for more distinguished lists, but thankfully, there’s still a place for my personal favorites.   Here are the twenty singles of 2008 that I enjoyed the most. #20: Reba McEntire & Kenny Chesney, “Every Other Weekend” A welcome return to domestic themes, which have often provided McEntire with her best work.   This plays out the like the epilogue to “Somebody Should Leave.” #19: Sara Evans, “Low” Triumph in the face of adversity, as the surrounding negative energy is rejected in favor of a positive and determined move toward the future.  Plus, it’s a little bluegrassy, which just sounds cool. #18: Keith Urban, “You Look Good in My Shirt” Even Conway Twitty wasn’t so good at slipping in mature themes so skillfully.    There are children across the country 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

Best Country Singles of 2008, Part 1: #40-#31

December 15, 2008 // 8 Comments

Starting today, the Country Universe staff will be revealing our Top 40 Singles of 2008.   This list has been compiled through a combination of four individual Top 20 lists by Leeann, Blake, Dan and myself, wherein a certain number of “points” was delegated to a single each time it was mentioned on one of the lists. The final list reflects the total number of points that each single received between the four lists. Those lists will be revealed along with other individual writer content next week as part of our continuing coverage of the Best of 2008. #40 Trisha Yearwood, “They Call it Falling For a Reason” This song really sounds like it could fit perfectly with Yearwood’s music of the ‘90s. The production is both modest and interesting at the same time. Furthermore, the lyrics are light without seeming inane. As we will lament about many singles on this Read More

Jewel, Perfectly Clear

November 26, 2008 // 1 Comment

Jewel Perfectly Clear It seemed to be a suave career move. An Alaskan-born woman of the wilderness, wedded to a rodeo cowboy, embraces her down-home roots and heads for Nashville to join the ranks of modern country singers.  Jewel fled pop music for the confines of Music Row with nary a whisper from critics.  Her shift felt natural, instinctive, organic. Though Jewel’s loyal sentiments towards country music have been admirable, they yield little creative inspiration on Perfectly Clear.  During her lengthy pop career, Jewel built up a reservoir of melodic tricks, but too few of them are on display. Perfectly Clear is a mishmash of traditional rhythms that’s easy on the ears, but it’s an erratic and, at times, bland demonstration of her talent. The wide-open expanses presented by producer John Rich are a fitting stage for Jewel’s intricately-woven wordplay, but her gritty storytelling is seen only in flashes.

News: Jewel to Sell <em>Perfectly Clear</em> Cheap to Benefit Hall of Fame

November 18, 2008 // 6 Comments

Via : Jewel will be selling copies of her first country album, Perfectly Clear, for a minimum $1 donation to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. The 24-hour sale will be available at her official Web site on Nov. 28, the day after Thanksgiving. A shipping and handling charge will be added, but all proceeds from the donation will benefit the museum’s All for the Hall fundraising campaign which was launched by Vince Gill in 2005. In explaining her desire to assist the museum, Jewel said,  “I have come full circle with my music.  It was country music that I grew up on, so to be embraced by the country music community this year has been a great feeling.” Museum director Kyle Young noted, “The proceeds that Jewel and her fans are generously donating will help to fund the storage and preservation of the museum’s Read More

News: Reba McEntire signs with Valory Music

November 11, 2008 // 11 Comments

Wow. Country superstar Reba McEntire has ended her 25-year association with MCA Nashville and signed with the Valory Music Co. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The move reunites 2007 Billboard Woman of the Year McEntire with Scott Borchetta, now president & CEO of Big Machine Records and the Valory Music Co. Borchetta was senior VP of promotion at MCA Nashville during most of the ’90s. “I am thrilled to be joining the Valory team,” McEntire says. “Scott and I worked together on some of the biggest singles of my career, and I am excited to renew our partnership.” “It is as if a day hasn’t even passed,” Borchetta adds. “The toughest thing about leaving MCA Nashville again was leaving behind this relationship that I value so much.” The announcement comes roughly a year after the launch of Valory. The label is home to Jewel, Emerson Drive and Jimmy Read More

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