Luke Laird

CMA Awards 2015 – Staff Picks & Predictions

November 1, 2015 // 14 Comments

The 49th Annual Country Music Association Awards will be handed out on Wednesday, November 4. Once again, the ceremony is hosted by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood.

Here are the personal picks and predictions from the Country Universe staff.

Single Review: Jon Pardi, “Head Over Boots”

September 12, 2015 // 7 Comments

Aside from people who don’t mind that country music doesn’t sound like country music anymore, one of the common complaints that we get for our criticism of the current major country music players is that we’re expecting too much and that not every song has to be deep and meaningful.

Single Review: Kacey Musgraves, “Dime Store Cowgirl”

August 10, 2015 // 10 Comments

“Dime Store Cowgirl” Kacey Musgraves Written by Luke Laird, Shane McAnally, and Kacey Musgraves Despite a slew of industry awards and sales figures that dwarf those of male artists who receive ten times the airplay, Kacey Musgraves has yet to connect with country radio. Plenty of thinkpieces have been logged about #SaladGate, Musgraves’ social mores, and the disconnections between critical favor, sales, and radio’s callout research, but there are increasing murmurs that it is Musgraves’ refusal to play politics with the powers-that-be at radio that has kept all but one of her singles (“Merry Go Round,” her debut single and lone top 10 hit) from missing the top 20. This is hardly a new phenomenon, and it is, unfortunately, indicative of contemporary gender politics both within and beyond country music that Musgraves might be penalized for not behaving in the ways that a woman is expected to behave. That context Read More

Single Review: Blake Shelton, “Gonna”

July 31, 2015 // 1 Comment

“Gonna” Blake Shelton Written by Luke Laird and Craig Wiseman “Gonna” is a mix of the old and the more recent Blake Shelton. It has shades of his current music trends, but also calls back to his more relaxed country beginnings. First, it seems that it couldn’t be a Blake Shelton song these days if there wasn’t at least a little EDM influence thrown in. Fortunately, it only starts there and then moves away fairly quickly, which allows the song to become a pleasant pop country ear worm.

Single Review: Miranda Lambert with Little Big Town, “Smokin’ and Drinkin'”

July 21, 2015 // 7 Comments

“Smokin’ and Drinkin’” Miranda Lambert with Little Big Town Written by Natalie Hemby, Luke Laird, and Shane McAnally Despite its title, Miranda Lambert’s “Smokin’ And Drinkin’” is not a rousing drinking party anthem. Instead, it is a quiet, wistful look back at the past. With vocal support from Little Big Town, Lambert sounds like their lead, though modest, singer as they wax nostalgic about how “smokin’ and drinkin’ gets you thinkin’ about the one that got away.”

Single Review: Bret Michaels, “Girls on Bars”

July 7, 2015 // 12 Comments

“Girls on Bars” Bret Michaels Written by Luke Laird and Bret Michaels I’m a few years too young to have taken Poison seriously. Now, I always leaned more toward pop and country anyway, but I listened to the rock and the hip-hop of my day, too.  So if I was five years older, I probably would’ve listened to Poison.

2015 ACM Awards: Country Universe Viewer’s Guide

April 19, 2015 // 14 Comments

The fiftieth annual Academy of Country Music Awards air tonight, and Country Universe has you covered!  Here’s a rundown of all of the major categories, along with some commentary from our writers about who should win, who will, and what the nominations as a whole say about the current state of country music. Share your thoughts about this year’s show in the comments, and check back for a list of winners when it’s all said and done. Update: Join the CU crew on Twitter (@CountryUniverse) during the show to share your thoughts as things unfold! Entertainer of the Year Should Win: Jason Aldean Garth Brooks – Jonathan Luke Bryan – Sam Florida-Georgia Line Miranda Lambert – Ben, Kevin Will Win: Jason Aldean Garth Brooks Luke Bryan Florida Georgia Line Miranda Lambert – Jonathan, Ben, Sam, Kevin BF: I think Lambert is due, but I could get on board with a Read More

Single Review: Tim McGraw with Catherine Dunn, “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools”

March 1, 2015 // 11 Comments

“Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” Tim McGraw with Catherine Dunn Written by Barry Dean, Luke Laird, and Jonathan Singleton Tim McGraw should be applauded for finally meeting the potential that many of us had hoped for after he left the oppressive Curb Records. His most recent album, particularly his last couple singles, have dialed back the loudness, embraced a more traditional and organic sound, reconnected him with the warm vocals with which he had all but lost, and the last two singles have even presented more thoughtful lyrics than he’d been singing in the last few years.

Single Review: Ashley Monroe, “On to Something Good”

February 26, 2015 // 4 Comments

“On to Something Good” Ashley Monroe Written by Barry Dean, Luke Laird and Ashley Monroe Happily, Ashley Monroe has announced a new album that will, once again, be produced by Vince Gill with the help of Justin Niebank. The lead single from the album is “On to Something Good.” Sadly, the single only makes me very cautiously optimistic instead of very optimistic.

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