Mac McAnally

The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 4: #140-#121

December 16, 2009 // 27 Comments

The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 4: #140-#121

140 Bon Jovi Nice Day

#140
“Who Says You Can’t Go Home”
Bon Jovi featuring Jennifer Nettles
2005
Peak: #1

Packed as country music has been lately with rocked-up little singalongs, perhaps it was only natural that one of the leading bands in rocked-up little singalongs should cross over for a bit to show everybody how it’s done. It was newcomer Nettles, though, who stole this show, driving Bon Jovi’s ditty home with an infectiously joyful performance. – Dan Milliken

139 Johnny Cash V

#139
“God’s Gonna Cut You Down”
Johnny Cash
2006
Peak: Did not chart

The arrangement is cool enough, but it’s Cash’s stoic, slicing vocal performance that makes his version of this song so memorable. – Tara Seetharam

CMA Awards: Predictions and Personal Picks

November 8, 2009 // 83 Comments

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.

CMA Noms ’09

September 9, 2009 // 78 Comments

cma_award

It’s that time of year again! For each 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:

Sawyer Brown Starter Kit

August 14, 2009 // 13 Comments

Sawyer BrownMy favorite band of the early and mid-nineties was Sawyer Brown. Former Star Search winners, they had a decent run of hits in the eighties, though their early albums are legendarily awful. But they found their artistic voice when lead singer Mark Miller began writing with Mac McAnally. Many of their biggest and best hits were written by one or both of them.

The end result was that Sawyer Brown became one of the only country acts that broke out in the last few years of the eighties to actually become far more commercially successful in the nineties.

Ten Essential Tracks

“The Race is On”
from the 1989 album The Boys Are Back

So much of their eighties work was disposable, but there’s a surprising charm to this revved up take on the George Jones classic. Even the Possum himself was a vocal fan of it.

2009's Remaining Release Schedule Comes into Focus

July 8, 2009 // 41 Comments

Thus far, 2009’s releases have done little to fire up the charts, with most of this year’s strongest-selling albums being holdovers from 2008. While Rascal Flatts, Jason Aldean, and Keith Urban have sold strongly, the chart remains dominated by last year’s releases from Taylor Swift, Sugarland, Zac Brown Band, Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, and Jamey Johnson.

So what’s left for 2009? Here’s what we know so far:

New Releases

  • Carrie Underwood will release her third studio album on November 3, with a lead single going to radio this fall. Her previous set, Carnival Ride, is nearing sales of 3 million, and produced four #1 singles and a #2 single, all five of which were certified gold in their own right.
  • George Strait will release Twang on August 11. It’s the follow-up to his 33rd platinum album Troubadour, a set which produced his 43rd #1 single and earned him the first Grammy of his career, along with a pair of CMA trophies (Single and Album)
  • Miranda Lambert is readying Revolution for September 29. Lead single “Dead Flowers” is struggling at radio, but that’s never slowed her down at retail anyway.
  • Reba McEntire’s Valory debut Keep on Lovin’ You arrives August 18. Lead single “Strange” is approaching the top ten.
  • Willie Nelson releases another standards collection called American Classic on August 25.
  • Brooks & Dunn’s new studio album streets on September 8, preceded by lead single “Indian Summer.” The duo’s previous set, Cowboy Town, was their first to fall short of gold certification.

44th Annual ACM Awards Projections

February 9, 2009 // 38 Comments

On Wednesday, February 11, the Academy of Country Music will unveil the nominees for their 44th annual awards ceremony. Last year, the usual suspects prevailed. Brad and Carrie repeated in the Vocalist categories, Brooks & Dunn claimed their 14th Vocal Duo prize and Kenny Chesney earned his fourth consecutive Entertainer of the Year award. As a prelude to the nominations announcement, here’s my projected slate for this year’s ceremony. (Favorites are in bold.) Entertainer of the Year Kenny Chesney Brad Paisley Sugarland Carrie Underwood Keith Urban Prognosis: The “no girls allowed” edict will likely be lifted.  Underwood is the genre’s most prominent ambassador, and Sugarland’s rise to the high ranks has both commercial and critical support. Note of interest: “The winner shall be determined by a combination of votes from the membership of the ACM and viewer voting.”

Single Review: Kenny Chesney with Mac McAnally, “Down the Road”

November 15, 2008 // 7 Comments

It stands to reason that a single that combines the talents of the reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year and Musician of the Year would be entertaining to listen to and musically interesting. But country music doesn’t always bend its will to reason, and this collaboration showcases the weaknesses of both talents, with Chesney’s disinterested vocal matching McAnally’s similarly lifeless accompaniment.   The result is as dull a record as you’re likely to hear on country radio today, which is a remarkable feat in itself. Written by Mac McAnally Grade: C Listen: Down the Road Buy: Down the Road

CMA Awards Review

November 13, 2008 // 58 Comments

Last night, the CMA stamped its approval on the leading contemporary country stars of today.  Congratulations to Kevin for commandeering the most popular live blog in Country Universe history.  Here is a series of highlights (according to me) from an otherwise staid ceremony: Best performance: “More Like Her,” Miranda Lambert; “Just a Dream,” Carrie Underwood.  With understated brilliance, Lambert shifted gears by offering her Texas twang on the stripped-down ballad, while Underwood hit all the glory notes on her dramatic tearjerker with style and grace. Often pitted as rivals and polar opposites, the two proved that country music holds plenty of room for these two prodigious talents. Although Underwood ended Lambert’s faint hopes of claiming the Female Vocalist prize, bet on Lambert winning her fair share of CMAs in the near future. Sound off: Repeatedly an issue, the Sommet Center’s sound system had problems again this year.  Also, Nashville is Read More

2008 CMA Awards Live Blog

November 12, 2008 // 254 Comments

2008 CMA Winners Entertainer: Kenny Chesney Male Vocalist: Brad Paisley Female Vocalist: Carrie Underwood Album: George Strait, Troubadour Vocal Duo: Sugarland New Artist: Lady Antebellum Vocal Group: Rascal Flatts Song: Jennifer Nettles, “Stay” Single: George Strait, “I Saw God Today” Music Video: Brad Paisley feat. Andy Griffith, “Waiting on a Woman” Musical Event: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, “Gone Gone Gone” Musician: Mac McAnally _______ Predict the Winners: Kevin – 8 Leeann – 7 Blake – 7 Dan – 7 ______ Live Blog: 11:03 Thanks again for another great night.  See ya at the Grammys! 11:02ish To Blake and Dan:  A Song For You. 11:02 Blake: Down with our dictator! 11:02 Dan: Kevin sucks. 10:57 If I was a petty man, I’d be gloating about out-predicting all of my co-writers at Country Universe.  Wait a minute.   I am a petty man.   I won! Yes! I won!  This country universe is Read More

Country Universe Staff: 2008 CMA Predictions

November 12, 2008 // 19 Comments

This afternoon, the Country Universe staff is following up last night’s personal picks with our actual predictions about who will win tonight. Check back tonight at show time to join the live blog and mock us for our defective divinations. Less than four hours until showtime! Entertainer Kenny Chesney- Kevin, Leeann, Blake Brad Paisley – Dan George Strait Sugarland Keith Urban Kevin: BMG has to throw their weight behind either Chesney or Paisley. My hunch is they’ll back Chesney for Entertainer and Paisley for Male Vocalist. _ Leeann: It’s been Chesney all this time and not much has changed to make me think it won’t be Kenny again this year. _ Blake: Chesney remained steady on the concert trail and earned three #1 singles in the past year. This would be his fourth win, tying Garth Brooks for the most ever in the Entertainer lineup. _ Dan: It seems somewhat Read More

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