“I Got the Boy” Jana Kramer Written by Connie Harrington, Tim Nichols, and Jamie Lynn Spears The sentiment is quite poignant. “I got the boy. She got the man.” A high school sweetheart reminisces as she sees her boyfriend from back then has gotten married. The writers establish some wonderful specifics in the verses that help to bring the characters to life. But the chorus is bland both lyrically and melodically, so the payoff from the buildup isn’t there.
“Better Than You Left Me” Mickey Guyton Written by Mickey Guyton, Jennifer Hanson, and Jenn Schott This is pretty much how a country ballad is supposed to sound, as far as I’m concerned. Nothing says heartache like a steel guitar, and if you’re going to sing with vulnerability, it’ll do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. All you need to do is show up with a decent lyric, not let the production get in the way, sing the song well, and you’re done.
“Going Out Like That” Reba McEntire Written by Rhett Akins, Ben Haslip, and Jason Sellers Reba McEntire is one of the genre’s all-time greatest storytellers. Her best material captures both the strength and vulnerability of the everyday woman, and “Going Out Like That” fits in well with her legacy of songs that are empowering without sacrificing believability. McEntire is also one of the genre’s all-time greatest stylists, and that’s where her new single falls short. The song is delivered in mostly a monotone, with few of her signature curlicues. She just never gets out of the starting gate for some reason. The song doesn’t require it to be effective, but a little more variety would’ve been nice.
Since its inception, the top honor an artist could be given at the Country Music Association awards is this one: Entertainer of the Year. Originally a revolving door of winners, the winner in early years was often not even nominated the following year. In 1981, Barbara Mandrell became the first artist to win the award twice. Alabama succeeded her with a three year run from 1982-1984. Fourteen years later, Garth Brooks became the first artist two win four times, a feat later matched by Kenny Chesney in 2008.
Here’s a look back at the award from the very beginning, along with some facts and feats about the category and its nominees.
- Bill Anderson
- Eddy Arnold
- Merle Haggard
- Sonny James
- Buck Owens
One year after being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, Eddy Arnold was named the very first Entertainer of the Year at the inaugural CMA awards in 1967. Don’t assume it was a sympathy vote. Arnold had three #1 hits in the twelve months leading up to the ceremony, as he was in the middle of his impressive mid-sixties comeback, a period best defined by the 1965 classic, “Make the World Go Away.” He remains the only member of the Hall of Fame to win this award after being inducted.
Our Brandy Clark coverage continues with a round table review of her hotly anticipated debut album, which is out this today.
She teased us earlier this year with “Stripes,” which I proudly awarded a solid A in my review of the song, calling it “a clever and original, not to mention humorous, twist on a tried-and-true country music theme.” It was more than enough to whet our appetites for the album to follow, which ended up going so far as to supersede expectations.
As a general rule, you can scan the credits of any new country album and assume that if Brandy Clark is a writer on one of the songs, it’s the best song on the album. As Clark readies the release of 12 Stories, her debut album as an artist, it’s a great time for fans of that remarkable set to get caught up on Clark’s work to date.
Believe the hype. Clark really is as good as everyone is saying she is. Possibly even better, as these twenty tracks suggest. Scroll down to the bottom, and you can listen to snippets from all of them as you read along.
Pam Tillis & Lorrie Morgan
If you have a soft spot for the great country artists of the nineties – particularly the generation of mature, articulate women who ruled the genre for much of the decade – the announcement of a duets album between Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan was likely a tremendous cause for excitement. With both ladies being second-generation country stars, Opry members, touring partners, and great friends, a studio collaboration would seem a natural progression, and the lofty potential is obvious.
Independent country artist Amber Hayes released her first EP C’mon in the summer of 2010, and has since been covering all media ground, building up a solid fan following without the support of a major label. She had already added “theater performer” to her resume back in 2008, when she was cast as Kathy in the Conway Twitty musical. The year 2012 brought about the release of her second EP Any Day Is a Good Day, as well as her screen debut in the film Cowgirls ‘n Angels. Amber Hayes recently spoke with Country Universe to discuss her accomplishments over the past year.