Zac Brown Band

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.

2015 CMA Nominations

September 9, 2015 // 21 Comments

Throughout 2015, there have been rumblings of a backlash against the prevailing trends at country radio, and that backlash is certainly reflected in the year’s crop of CMA nominees.

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

Daily Top Five: Albums You’re Most Looking Forward to Purchasing

April 15, 2015 // 26 Comments

I’ve listened to this phenomenal Chris Stapleton performance from last night’s Late Night with David Letterman at least 8 times so far today. As I watched it last night, I was extremely proud to be a country music fan. If Stapleton represented what mainstream country music predominantly sounded like these days, I could proudly declare that I was a country music fan without all of the clarifications that I currently have to make. Stapleton’s new album, Traveler, will finally be released on May 5, which can’t come fast enough. So, as a Part 2 to last night’s Daily Top Five discussion of our five most recent music purchases, tonight we’ll ask you what you hope or expect your next five music purchases will be. Since I’ve already preordered the Stapleton album, these are the top five albums that I’m looking forward to purchasing (in release date order). 1. Alabama Shakes, Read More

Single Review: Zac Brown Band, “Homegrown”

February 23, 2015 // 5 Comments

“Homegrown” Zac Brown Band Written by Zac Brown, Wyatt Durrette, and Niko Moon Zac Brown Band has been doing so many variations on the same handful of themes – relaxing, drinking, digging your hometown – that each new release has to mix thing up a bit to justify its existence.

Starter Kit: Jason Isbell

February 17, 2015 // 9 Comments

In early February, Zac Brown Band kicked off a brief cycle of Twitter Outrage when they performed a cover of Jason Isbell’s “Dress Blues,” which they are rumored to have cut for their upcoming album, during a high-profile ESPN gig. Some of Isbell’s devoted fans were livid that a mainstream country performer had covered Isbell’s song, insisting that it should be Isbell with the multi-platinum stats and sold-out arena tours. There’s something to that line of thinking, of course: Were commercial music a strict meritocracy, then Isbell would be an international superstar on the strengths of his one-of-a-kind songwriting and intuitive, soulful singing. Isbell, to his credit, responded to the uproar with a level-headed and fundamentally correct statement about how people who clamor for more substance in mainstream country shouldn’t be attacking artists who are interested in cutting songs like “Dress Blues.”

2015 ACM Awards: Nominations & Analysis

January 31, 2015 // 14 Comments

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 Best Singles of 2014, Part 1: #40-#21

December 29, 2014 // 11 Comments

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

CMA Awards 2014: Staff Predictions and Picks

November 2, 2014 // 32 Comments

Despite the Grammys and even the ACM’s demonstrating more consistent taste over the past few years, the CMA’s remain the most significant industry awards that honor country music.  This year’s slate of nominees gives the organization an opportunity to build on the credibility of last year’s George Strait victory.  His win for Entertainer saved a dismal show in its closing minutes. Here’s our take on this year’s contenders: Entertainer of the Year Should Win: Luke Bryan Miranda Lambert Blake Shelton George Strait – Kevin, Jonathan, Tara, Ben Keith Urban Will Win: Luke Bryan Miranda Lambert Blake Shelton George Strait – Jonathan, Kevin, Tara, Ben Keith Urban Kevin:  I’d settle for a Miranda Lambert victory, as she had an amazing year.  But my first choice is George Strait, who deserves a fourth trophy for that record-breaking final concert.   The rest of these nominees have either won before or still seem to Read More

2014 CMA Nominations

September 6, 2014 // 50 Comments

This year’s CMA nominees are the best in years, with multiple nominations for Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, and Brandy Clark.  Country radio may still be shunning women, but their embrace by CMA voters suggests that the industry knows who is really leading the way in the genre these days. Entertainer of the Year Luke Bryan Miranda Lambert Blake Shelton George Strait Keith Urban Who’s In:  Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban Who’s Out: Jason Aldean, Taylor Swift George Strait, a surprise winner last year, is nominated again in a year that includes his record-shattering final concert.   Miranda Lambert’s domination of this year’s nominations extends to the big category, where she competes for the first time since 2010.

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