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
Telecast Winners: Best Country Album: Miranda Lambert, Platinum Album of the Year: Beck, Morning Phase Best New Artist: Sam Smith Record of the Year: Sam Smith, “Stay With Me (Darkside Version)” Song of the Year: “Stay With Me” – James Napier, William Phillips & Sam Smith Pre-Telecast Winners: Best Country Solo Performance: Carrie Underwood, “Something in the Water” Best Country Duo/Group Performance: The Band Perry, “Gentle on My Mind” Best Country Song: “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” – Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond Best American Roots Performance: Rosanne Cash, “A Feather’s Not a Bird” Best American Roots Song: “A Feather’s Not a Bird” – Rosanne Cash and John Leventhal Best Americana Album: Rosanne Cash, The River & the Thread Best Folk Album: Old Crow Medicine Show, Remedy Best Bluegrass Album: The Earls of Leicester, The Earls of of Leicester Best Contemporary Instrumental Album: Chris Thile & Edgar Meyer, Bass & Mandolin Read More
This year’s Grammy Awards air on Sunday, February 8, and country music will be represented with performances Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, and the tantalizing pairing of Brandy Clark and Dwight Yoakam. Most of the awards will be handed out before the show, and we will post the relevant winners here, as part of a Grammy Open Thread where CU readers and writers can share their thoughts on this year’s awards. Four CU writers, including myself, have shared our predictions and personal picks for the general and country-related categories below. Of course, one of the coolest things about the Grammys is that it celebrates a wide range of music from the past year, and as you’ll see by our varying levels of participation, our tastes here at CU run the gamut. This year, I’m as excited about the performances by Madonna, Kanye West (twice!), and that Hozier and Annie Lennox duet Read More
The third most prestigious country music industry award nominations – but the most important ones handed out in the spring – have been announced. Here’s a rundown of all the major categories, along with some back-of-the-envelope analysis: Entertainer Jason Aldean Garth Brooks Luke Bryan Florida Georgia Line Miranda Lambert Who’s In: Jason Aldean, Garth Brooks, Florida Georgia Line Who’s Out: Blake Shelton, George Strait, Taylor Swift Last year’s winner, George Strait, didn’t get a return invitation, but Garth Brooks, who has won this award six times before, returns to the competition. Much like Strait’s farewell tour was a reminder of his extensive popularity, Garth’s ability to sell out several dates per city overshadows the lukewarm reception to his new material at radio and retail. Taylor Swift’s exit is directly tied to her cutting ties with the genre. Jason Aldean’s return makes logical sense, but it’s quite the mystery to see Read More
The results are in: Nashville Scene’s 15th Annual Country Music Critics Poll Miranda Lambert and Sturgill Simpson dominated this year’s results, with Maddie & Tae topping the Singles list for their progressive and timely hit, “Girl in a Country Song.” Be sure to check out the Critic’s Comments, which feature some choice quotes from our very own Sam Gazdziak!
“Little Red Wagon” Miranda Lambert Written by Audra Mae and Joe Ginsburg The bizarre handling of the singles from Miranda Lambert’s Platinum continues unabated with the arrival of “Little Red Wagon.” After leading off with far-and-away the two worst tracks on the album—the aesthetically and politically regressive “Automatic” and the empty bombast of “Somethin’ Bad”—then tagging “Smokin’ and Drinkin’,” an understated collaboration with Little Big Town, as the set’s next single before abruptly pulling the plug without explanation, Lambert’s team have declared “Little Red Wagon” as Lambert’s official third single. It’s been a long, strange ride thus far— one that smacks of the kind of nonsense typically reserved for veteran artists signed to Curb Records or to Sara Evans, rather than to an artist who is actively being pushed as one of the format’s superstars.
2014 was a banner year for country music albums. In addition to the predictably solid entries from the Americana, folk, and bluegrass scenes, some excellent albums also surfaced from the unlikeliest of sources: mainstream, radio-friendly contemporary country artists! Here are our twenty favorite albums from 2014. Fingers crossed that 2015 is as good or better than this year has been. #20 Jennifer Nettles That Girl KJC #8 | LW #16 A confident, intelligent solo project that washes away all of the bitter taste left by Sugarland’s preceding studio album, The Incredible Machine. Nettles manages to remind us what was so appealing about the trio-turned-duo in the first place, while also staking out her own musical territory that has room for independence anthems alongside wry, humorous commentary on society and, of course, palpably vulnerable heartbreak numbers. – Kevin John Coyne Recommended Tracks: “Me Without You”, “Know You Wanna Know”, “Jealousy”
Does failure to reach a consensus indicate a year that lacked quality, or a year that had enough interesting singles that subjective taste is enough to prevent a consensus? This was the dilemma faced by the Country Universe staff as we compiled our Best Singles of 2014 feature. We followed our usual routine. Each writer submitted their list of the twenty best singles of the year, and our numbers guru Jonathan Keefe used his time-test algorithm to produce a collective ranking. But this year, there was only one single that appeared on four out of five lists. The rest: three or less. Rather than shorten the list to showcase only those songs chosen by multiple writers, we decided to stick to the usual forty slots, and let quite a few songs embraced only by one writer to have their place in the sun. The result is probably the most diverse Read More
I discovered Country Universe in the spring of 2010 and quickly became a regular reader. At the time, Dan’s review of Miranda Lambert’s much-lauded release “The House That Built Me” was a recent post. Besides making me wish that my own ‘shameless rants’ could come out sounding half as smart and classy as Dan’s, the article raises a series of points that remain valid nearly half a decade later. “The House That Built Me” is a great record, but should it really have stood out so dramatically as such? Dan discussed the single in a way that turned the mirror back on us. Have we developed a tendency to praise or over-praise music, not on its own merits, but in comparison to the weaker material surrounding it? Perhaps it was my recent participation in Country Universe’s Best of 1994 feature which moved me to revisit this article and topic. I think about the great Read More
Updated: Best Country Duo/Group Performance The Band Perry, “Gentle on My Mind” Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood, “Somethin’ Bad” Little Big Town, “Day Drinking” Tim McGraw featuring Faith Hill, “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s” Keith Urban featuring Eric Church, “Raise ‘Em Up” Best American Roots Performance Greg Allman & Taj Mahal, “Statesboro Blues” Rosanne Cash, “A Feather’s not a Bird” Billy Childs featuring Alison Krauss and Jerry Douglas, “And When I Die” Keb’ Mo’ featuring the California Feet Warmers, “The Old Me Better” Nickel Creek, “Destination” Best Country Solo Performance Eric Church, “Give Me Back My Hometown” Hunter Hayes, “Invisible” Miranda Lambert, “Automatic” Carrie Underwood, “Something in the Water” Keith Urban, “Cop Car” Best New Artist includes last year’s actual best new artist! Iggy Azalea Bastille Brandy Clark (!!!!) HAIM Sam Smith Best Americana Album Rosanne Cash, The River & The Thread John Haitt, Terms of My Surrender Keb’ Mo’, Read More