Top 40 Singles of 2011, Part Two: #30-#21

January 2, 2012 Kevin John Coyne 2

The countdown continues. Scroll down to the bottom to hear samples of each song and to share your comments!

Top 40 Singles of 2011, Part Two: #30-#21

#30
Revelation Road
Shelby Lynne

Individual Rankings: #5 – Jonathan

It’s not for nothing that Tammy Wynette once claimed that Shelby Lynne had the best voice in country music, but, as Lynne has become increasingly subdued in the latter half of her career, she’s rarely explored the full range of her vocal talent. So when she unleashes that voice for the first time in a decade during the coda of “Revelation Road,” it may not be revelatory, but it sure is a most welcome return. – Jonathan Keefe

Single Review: Miranda Lambert, “Over You”

December 12, 2011 Ben Foster 83

First, a disclaimer.

I like Miranda Lambert. I really do like her. She is a talented vocalist, and a smart insightful songwriter. She is one of the most interesting and artistically credible of the artists currently favored by country radio, and I await each of her new releases with a significantly higher level of interest than I show toward many of her contemporaries.

And now the inevitable truth: “Over You” is a really boring song.

2011 CMA Awards: Staff Picks and Predictions

November 7, 2011 Ben Foster 28

It’s that time of year again! The time when we all dutifully tune in to the CMA Awards show, raise our eyebrows at the “What the heck are they doing here?” award presenters, and afterwards complain about how totally un-country the whole show was. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I can’t wait.

We’re pleased to share the Country Universe staff picks for this year’s CMA Awards, as well as our predictions of who the winners will be. This year we have some highly competitive categories in which predicting the winners is quite difficult, leading to some significantly divergent picks among our writing staff. Agree? Disagree? Join in the discussion in the comment thread below, and let us know.

Album Review: Lady Antebellum, Own the Night

September 13, 2011 Ben Foster 39

Lady Antebellum

Own the Night

Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” is a once in a career kind of hit. That drunk-dialer ballad became a such a huge cross-genre smash hit that is was virtually inescapable no matter which radio format you tuned into. The Grammy-winning hit pushed Lady Antebellum to instant add status on country radio, which is where they stayed even as their single releases gradually slid downhill in quality.

The downward slide continues on the trio’s third album Own the Night – an uninspired effort that savors strongly of an act coasting along on their superstar status, while resting on their laurels artistically. One could present the easy-out criticism that the album is not country, and indeed it makes little effort to sonically resemble country, but the real issue is not simply that these are pop songs. The issue is that, pop or country, they’re just flat-out not good songs.

2011 CMA Nominations

September 6, 2011 Dan Milliken 55

It’s always interesting to see how music industry awards reflect (or don’t reflect) larger narratives in the industry itself.

If you’re interested in the narratives behind this year’s CMAs, look no further than the two men who’ve made the biggest strides on the ballot: Blake Shelton and Jason Aldean. Both show up in Entertainer and Male Vocalist, plus Album and Single, plus assorted other stuff. But the marketing approaches that have gotten them there are vastly different.

Single Review: Edens Edge, “Amen”

March 3, 2011 Kevin John Coyne 10

Add another track, and another new act, to my “Thank God for 2011” list.

Confident, completely country instrumentation. A lyrical framework – “Can I get an amen?” – that I can’t believe hasn’t been used before, at least anywhere that I heard it.

2011 Grammy Pre-Telecast Winners

February 13, 2011 Kevin John Coyne 28

Refresh for updates. Major categories will be announced above the fold:

Male Country Vocal Performance: Keith Urban, “‘Til Summer Comes Around”

Country Duo/Group Vocal Performance: Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now”

Country Song: Dave Haywood, Josh Kear, Charles Kelley & Hillary Scott, “Need You Now”

Country Collaboration with Vocals: Zac Brown Band featuring Alan Jackson, “As She’s Walking Away”

Country Instrumental Performance: Marty Stuart, “Hummingbyrd”

Bluegrass Album: Patty Loveless, Mountain Soul II

Americana Album: Mavis Staples, You Are Not Alone

Traditional Folk Album: Carolina Chocolate Drops, Genuine Negro Jig

Contemporary Folk Album: Ray LaMontagne And The Pariah Dogs, God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise

Southern/Country/Gospel Bluegrass Album: Diamond Rio, The Reason

Traditional Gospel Album: Patty Griffin, Downtown Church

Grammy Awards 2011: Staff Picks & Predictions

February 12, 2011 Tara Seetharam 9

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
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