CMA Awards Review

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 a town of songwriters, but L.A. is a town of scriptwriters, and some intelligent, humorous ones would be welcome at next year’s ceremony.

Nashville’s full of musicians, too: Let’s tip our hats to first-time CMA award winner, Musician of the Year, Mac McAnally.

Something shiny in the goody bag: Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood won their respective vocalist trophies, and with a little more training and better comedic timing, would make suitable hosts for many awards shows to come.  Underwood, of course, sang the living daylights out of “Just a Dream,” and Paisley honorably noted the passing of Jerry Reed with a sweet guitar solo.  He later followed with a wonderful rendition of “Waitin’ on a Woman.”

Stars & stripes: The three-hour show featured God (George Strait’s “I Saw God Today” was named Single of the Year, patriotism (Rodney Atkins’  performance of “It’s America”) and football (Billy Ray Cyrus boasted Tennessee Titans pride, while Kid Rock wore a Titans jersey).  No election talk, though.

Britain really is that great: Led Zeppelin has never won in a competitive Grammy category, but frontman Robert Plant (who was absent last night) now owns a CMA award for his collaboration with Alison Krauss on the rockabilly number “Gone, Gone, Gone.”  Sugarland’s performance provided a dramatic reading of the Bono-esque “Love.”  Now, if only Def Leppard had joined Taylor Swift in a sequel of their Crossroads special.  On that note…

Frozen, not fearless: For all her boundless youthful enthusiasm, Swift seemed stiff and wooden during the renaissance reenactment of her #1 smash, “Love Story.”

Oh, brother, where are thou? Where was Toby Keith? Oh, never mind. Speaking of conspicuous “absences,” the two most popular polarizing figures in the current pop-country market, Swift and Rascal Flatts, were simply guest stars in this show. The Flatts did take the Vocal Group trophy for a record-setting sixth time.

Oh, sister, where art thou?: Like Plant, Alison Krauss was not on hand to accept the Musical Event award.  Expect the pair to make an appearance at the Grammys in February.  No Trisha Yearwood, either, but the CMA’s senseless omission of her in the Female Vocalist category likely doesn’t inspire attendance.

Best appearance by a mother: Brad Paisley, who had been standing backstage, descended the stairs to kiss wife Kimberly and her pregnant tummy when he was announced as Male Vocalist of the Year.

Worst appearance by a father: Every time Billy Ray Cyrus presents an award, he shares his happiness at returning to the great state of Tennessee.  In between filming the upcoming Hannah Montana movie, residing in his Music City home or shouting out lame proclamations at country awards shows, when is he ever not in Nashville?

Who messed with the guest list?: Presenters included Lee Ann Womack, Josh Turner and Vince Gill.  Performers included Kid Rock, Kellie Pickler and the Wailers.  Darius Rucker deserved his place at the party, though.

Winner at a discount game: The outlandish jacket worn by Rascal Flatt Jay Demarcus appeared to be made of a half-price curtain purchased at JcPenney.  Thankfully, his outfit wasn’t procured at Harley Davidson (See: “P” for Pickler).

Love is a battlefield, but no worries: The country version of Pat Benatar, four-time Female Vocalist winner Martina McBride, arrived right on time.  She ensured us that faith will overcome all obstacles, life is a roller coaster ride and we should hold on tight to what we feel inside.  It was hard not getting a little queasy after her cliche-ridden anthem.

Least effective proverb: In introducing legendary rockers Eagles, Brad Paisley trumpeted their importance by saying, “When you drink from a well, try to remember who dug the well.”  Yet, the CMA failed to follow this phrase when approaching the Hall of Fame inductions again this year.  Instead, Vince Gill was sent on stage to give brief, very brief, remarks about these pioneers.  Before he announced the honored class (Emmylou Harris, Tom T. Hall, Ernest “Pop” Stoneman and the Statler Brothers), he made the offhand comment, “I don’t know if any of them are here this evening.”  Not likely, Vince, not likely.

When you drink from a well…: Reese Witherspoon appeared to be very happy to present the Male Vocalist of the Year honor.

Put a girl in it: Reba McEntire joined Brooks & Dunn on their performance of “Cowgirls Don’t Cry,” but her bit part seemed to be a poor use for the redhead’s immense talents.

Groundhog Day: Chesney (Entertainer), Paisley (Male), Underwood (Female), Flatts (Group), Sugarland (Duo) and Strait (Album) all repeated in their respective categories.

Worst rumored surprise: Internet message boards and Nashville gossip mills reported that the Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen, would be making a guest appearance on the show.  Given that Kenny Chesney, Trisha Yearwood and Faith Hill have all recorded his material, I’d bet that he could make a killing as a “real” country songwriter.  More appropriate would’ve been for Jimmy Buffett to climb off the boat and join in the fun. With all the Caribbean themes and musical schemes of late, Nashville’s turning into Margaritaville.  That may explain Reese Witherspoon’s joy and jubilation.

Bruce and Buffett would’ve provided a nice boost in musical expertise, but ‘Lil Wayne was a worthy replacement.

Best “surprise”: Although rumors had swirled for days regarding the return of Shania Twain, her presence on stage when presenting the Entertainer of the Year award was still a welcome sight.  The crowd even honored her with a standing ovation, a warmer reception than she ever received during her salad days as a country-pop supergoddess.  Here’s to hearing more music from a great beauty, a classy ambassador and a musical powerhouse.


  1. I agree those were the two best performances, I loved seeing Miranda a vulnerable on stage she does have a beautiful voice for ballads. But I do believe Carrie’s performace stole the show. People always say she sing with no emotion and I can see that she’s new, but she seemed nothing but a veteran last night it was moving how much emotion was put into that song, it was like she was singing just to Leslie Ponder and I’m sure she did her proud.

    I thought Carrie was the one we would have to worry about hosting. Now we all know the writing for award shows is terrible but I thought there would have been more of a
    Brad twist on things. He kind of look uncomfortable. Where as Carrie was very poised and classy even with here badly written jokes. All in all I thought they did a good job.

    Oh Taylor what was going on. There are a few things about her last night that weren’t right, given the engineered audio was off but I think hers was too. The performance was a little to Disney channel. But she just plan did not look happy at all presenting, performing, she wasn’t her bubbly self. I must say she looked a little jealous during Carrie’s standing O, also when she won.

    I love the respect Brad show for his peers and elders and gives them the credit they deserve. Whew him and Keith playing guitar together is someting else, very Jimmy Hendrix. The belly kiss for his wife was great.

    I got more but the baby is calling

  2. Great overview, Blake!

    I agree with your observations for the most
    part. I was disappointed in Brad’s hosting job. I can’t believe how bad the writing was for both hosts, really.

    There’s so much more to say about, but I don’t have the heart to do it right now.

  3. You know what I love about country music, its how everyone seems to appreciate eachother and tons of respect. Like I said Brad mentioning all his peers and people he looks up to, then there is this snip of Carrie talking of the other nominee’s:

    As cool and collected as Carrie Underwood appeared throughout the night, she was emotional backstage talking about her win for Female Vocalist of the Year.

    She also bragged on her fellow nominees: “Martina and Miranda tonight… oh my gosh. They were, I almost cried when I was listening to Miranda backstage and I had to go out and talk after she was done. So it’s definitely such stiff competition. Everybody’s beautiful, everybody’s very, very talented. You know they do it all. So I’m very honored.

    See this is why country artist are great at what they do they have respect and appreciation for eachother and it is nice to read positive stuff like that, rathe than all the negative.

  4. Thanks for the comments, vp.

    Although I found plenty to criticize about last night’s show, a certain perspective is needed, too, and I saw a fair share of highlights last night.

    Underwood and Lambert will lead the female pack for the next two decades, both bringing their own brand of talent to the stage and the studio. Hopefully, artists such as Lee Ann, Martina, Shania, Reba and Trisha remain popular in the mainstream, and new artists like Crystal Shawanda, Emily West and Ashton Shepard rise to that level as well.

    Paisley, although not a perfect artist, demonstrates the necessary respect for country’s heritage. Artists such as Dierks Bentley, Josh Turner and Jamey Johnson, though not prominently featured last night, share this appreciation and will continue to keep tradition’s flame burning for the next 10-15 years. Sugarland and Little Big Town are in it for the long haul, too. The CMA has erred greatly in my opinion in advertising what is popular instead of what is poetic, what is immediate instead of what is empowering, and the 2008 cremony will not stand as an ultimately fair representation of how country music is still a rich, rewarding art form. There will always be standard bearers of the format, and they deserve celebration and our support.

    The awards show committee deserves blame, but the set of nominees the association assembled left little to honor. This was a very, very mediocre year, with even stalwarts Jackson and Strait putting out average music. Country music is undergoing a cultural revolution, yes, but the absolute roots in rural life and the simple values it expounds are not lost forever. Change is not inherently bad, and although last night was disappointing in many ways, shifts in the the genre’s content and musical core have a funny way of sneaking up on us.

  5. Blake I agree totally there is alot to critize and we do it cause it is fun. I just like to see the respect country artists have for eachother compared to other genre’s. You know just cause us bloggers are always comparing artists to eachother it doesn’t take away who they are and what the represent, it is just an opinion after all.

  6. Of the two host, Carrie was the best! I’m sorry, Brad maybe the sweetest guy around, but he is a little on the boring side. I was wishing that he would have just let loose when he and Keith were jamming. Keith always has more energy in his performances than Brad. I know most of you won’t agree with me, but Keith is the better entertainer! His singing was flawless last night. Miranda did really good last night. I like that side of her better. I almost left the room when Taylor’s production came on…awful! Carrie’s performance brought tears to my eyes. I liked Martina’s performance too!

  7. Oh, my criticisms are on the live blog for all to see! And yes, it was enjoyable.

    Considering the awards show incidents in recent years within the hard rock and rap communities, it is refreshing to see the respect, I agree. No curse words or health threats or fist fights, thank God. :)

  8. I read the live blog this morning when I woke up maybe you guys should take up comedy, or sports casting, very on the flying play by play. I enjoyed it.

  9. I agree that a great thing about country music is the respect and friendships that the artists seem to have for and with each other. Poor Toby isn’t feeling or spreading the love around CMA time though…

  10. I just went and watched the Underwood performance on youtube.

    I think everyone has lost their mind. That performance was weak sauce. I mean, it wasn’t like bad as in “that person can’t sing” but it was a good cruise ship performance at best .

    the pantomime was ridiculous, she went out of tune more a couple times, the phrasing was painfully un-sutble.

    the song itself is way over the top, but she succeeded in not only pushing it way further over the top in her frantic attempt to “sell it”, but she also showed that as a singer she doesn’t have a lot of poise or taste.

    For singing a song that basically works like a hyper-dramatic number from 80’s and 90’s Broadway musicals (think Miss Saigon, Les Mis,) Carrie’s performance wouldn’t have been strong enough to get her cast in a reputable touring theater group.

    Just because Kellie Pickler and Taylor Swift aren’t real singers, doesn’t mean that undue praised should be heaped on Underwood as some sort of amazingly talented vocalist, the great singer of our time, or even as a standard to be aspired to.

    but I think I’m firmly in the minority on this one….

  11. Ben: Not as firmly as you might think. I agree that Carrie is never bad as in “she can’t sing” (she definitely can!) but the rest is definitely left to personal taste.

    Still, it is hard to argue against Carrie winning last night. I think she deserved it given her competition. If she had more substantial competition, however, say Trisha, Kathy and Leann, of course I would be singing a different tune.

    But I digress…what a truly horrible show. You all did not prepare me adequately. I felt depressed by the end. Thankfully, I know that good country music is still being made and is available out there. Blake, your uplifting comment was also helpful. Although, in this day and age I would have a hard time handing anyone a solid 10-15 year career. It’s all about flavor of the month, isn’t it? Wasn’t Gretchen Wilson around to stay a few years back?

    Regardless, whatever the CMAs do for next year, please dear God, fix your sound system!

  12. Ben, I’m with you. I was impressed by her last night, but I think my expectations had been significantly lowered by the rest of the show at that point. I’ve never quite managed real affection for the song itself, however real and significant its sentiment surely is, and watching it back now I do think she presented the lyric melodramatically and sang pretty weakly. She sounds like she might have been sick or something.

    None of this is to diminish the fact that she can sing and has the potential (which is still potential, in my opinion) to become a transcendent artist. But if you tried to sell that performance as a live track – audio only – no one but the hardcore Carrie fans would buy it.

    Don’t slaughter me. I’m just saying.

  13. “I agree that Carrie is never bad as in “she can’t sing” (she definitely can!)”

    that’s what bothers me about Carrie. It’s not that she can’t sing well, it’s that she doesn’t bother to, choosing instead to tilt towards melodrama, re-hash boring, pop R&B licks, and go the diva route with self-indulgent bombast.

  14. I was very impressed by Miranda Lambert’s performance, and I think there’s a chance that I could start to like that song now.

    Lady Antebellum did a good job too, and I’m proud that they won the Best New Artist award, even if I had my hopes elsewhere.

    I was disappointed by Carrie Underwood’s performance. I guess I just don’t like her live singing voice. It’s not that it’s bad, I just don’t think I like it. Normally that song can bring me to a halt.

    I was very disappointed that Mr. Strait shut out Carrie and Miranda in the Single of the Year category.

    I’ll reserve judgment for Jason Aldean’s newest single for when I hear it on the radio. I welcome the rock feel that I loved from Hicktown and Johnny Cash, but I think this song has too much of that depressing rock song feel to it.

    Sugarland brought a very memorable performance, with a beautiful stage setup and stage presence, pretty comets in the background, and more amazing vocals.

    Although I once again think that Taylor Swift brought a nice performance in terms of the dancers and theme, I wasn’t able to turn a blind ear to the vocals this time.

  15. I attended the final dress rehearsal and was surprised how weak the show was even at that point.
    Except for the Paisely/Urban duet, the first hour was pretty forgettable. I noticed by showtime they had redone the Kellie Pickler song, as in it originally had male dancers ala Marilyn Monroe.
    There were huge gaps where usually the last dress rehearsal is very smooth.
    I was surprised at how uncomfortable Paisley seemed figuring he would be the more natural of the hosts. Carrie was pretty good tho and I could see them having her back.
    But MAN was the writing BAD!!

    While it may not have translated on tv, live the best performances were Sugarland, Carrie Underwood, Kid Rock (FINALLY putting some energy into the show!), and Kenny with the Wailers.

    Martina’s song was SO vanilla! She’s in that category now where I guess they HAVE to have her on every year? What I wouldn’t have given to see Leeann Womack get that spot performing “Last Call”!
    The Eagles? Meh. It was unique last year.
    Where was Toby? Josh? LBT?
    What about some of the newer acts like Zac Brown Band or Jimmy Wayne?
    I have to admit I didn’t miss Rascal Flatts in the least.
    Miranda? Sorry… still not a big fan. I suppose she’s an acquired taste?

    ABC is stuck in a rut when they come to town to cover the CMA’s and Fan Fair. The productions are always the same and incredibly stale.
    Last night was the tipping point.

  16. The performance showed nice vocal range, and though Carrie isn’t in the league of Trisha, Martina and company, she delivered fairly well last night. I’ve seen stronger live performances from her, though, and she had the good fortune of being a bright spot among mediocrity. Very few people succeed live, mind you. Carrie can sing, and years and miles will eventually give her the interpretive skill we’ve been waiting to see. As for last night, I felt she did what the song (which I can’t call “great” due to that first verse) asked of her.

    But long story short, it won’t go in the pantheon of great live performances (or awards shows, for that matter).

  17. “Carrie can sing, and years and miles will eventually give her the interpretive skill we’ve been waiting to see.”

    I guess I’m saying I would prefer this happened before she won one of the industry’s highest awards three years in a row, beating out a heck of a lot of singers who already have the skill down. It’s not just Carrie, mind you – Martina committed similar offenses and also had an awards streak – but I do see her as the newest incarnation of the problem. How many CMAs are we going to give her while we wait for her to release an actual country album, or even just an artistically unique one? Is that not even a reasonable expectation anymore?

  18. I barely heard the great Ms. Reba (except @ the end), seriously Kix and Ronnie: if you’re gonna include the great McEntire, try to have her sing more. >.>

    Swift was really off, not that shes usually great, but yesterday she seemed really bad. x.x

    It was good to see Shania, i cant wait for her new music.

    And I thought Carrie’s performance was good. I missed Lambert and Sugarland.

    I <3ed Brads reaction… made me smile :)

    I agree with most of the winners, but i dont agree with album, single (but it wasnt so bad), Entertainer, and musical event (but I wouldve liked Reba to win, but all the rest were great- BIG congrats to Alison and Robert!)

    WHERE THE HECK WAS YEARWOOD’S NOMINATIONS?! Let’s hope the Grammys have a bit more dignity.

    Next Year it should be Underwood, Dolly (or Reba), and Wynonna (or Shania or Yearwood) as the hosts! That would ROCK! [all girls hosting!]

    I think i see Taylor’s green side, but I’m not one to judge.

    Really, the CMAs didnt excite me this year x.x

    I agree with Blake, Country music 2008 was very “flat” to me, nothing really fresh.. maybe its just because I’m in a bad mood from the blandness of the CMA awards…

    Could someone explain to me what Blake is talking about in terms of his comments towards Martina McBride? (I dont get it… -.-‘)

  19. oh yeah, I thought the sound really sucked.. come on, if its country’s biggest night then there should at least be great sound quality! x.x

  20. Miranda totally shoulve won Female vocalist or single, but im fine with the real winners. I’m just thankful the CMAs had at least one ounce of dignity not to name Swift FVOTY. Carrie and Miranda are the “true” new country generation. And I really like Swift, but she really lowered my view of her last night.. x.x

  21. Very few people succeed live, mind you.

    Succeeding live should be a pre-requisite for a professional singer. No singer should be forgiven an inability to succeed live on a consistent basis.

    years and miles will eventually give her the interpretive skill we’ve been waiting to see

    I’ll second Dan’s point about her getting awards now.

    Also, it’s not necessarily true that she will automatically improve. She very well may take a “if it ain’t broke” approach. Methinks that lack of substantive criticism of her vocal performances will make this more likely.

  22. Dan, I think you NAILED it in post 19…, and Hollerin’ Ben, I agree with most of what you stated as well, especially your post 23.

    Bring back Trisha, Kathy, Sara, Pam…and the best of the best, the Traditionalist and Interpreter extrodinaire: Miss Patty Loveless!

    I think Sleepless Nights, (had it been eligible,) and the contents therein, are far better than than most anything on the charts today, or most anything that was nominated or won on this most recent celebration of “country-lite”.

  23. I’d just like to add that I think Carrie is an excellent singer with amazing potential, but it’s just a shame that her acclaim is outrunning her artistry…. by leaps and bounds,IMO. There’s something a little amiss here, and it points to a broken system.

  24. I guess I was watching a different show. Carrie’s performance was the highlight for me, and I think she did a great job after a long, emotional introduction, one which almost set her up to fail. I think Ms. Underwood succeeded in feeling what she was singing, something she has been accused of lacking in the past. I liked Miranda, can’t remember one note or word Martina sang, and thought Swift and Pickler were hid-e-ous. I also wish we could have heard from Wommack, Turner, Yearwood, Johnson, Shawanda, etc. But all I have to comment on is the show they gave us, and I actually think Carrie’s “Just a Dream” will be remembered for years to come. Guess we’ll see. Thanks for the space.

  25. I think Taylor would have rather presented the award to Kellie Pickler instead of Lady Antebellum. They are like sisters.

    Don’t pick on Pickler! :P Hahahaha. Although I was NOT expecting what I saw when she came out, she was strong, although the mixing was bad.

    I loved the beginning intro for “Just a Dream”.

    Taylor Swift should have done something different for her show. Her two dress quick change caused her two be stiff and not swift hahahaha.

    I think her vocals weren’t as strong and her performance wasn’t as great as her ACMs, but it was meant well. It seemed like the camera man was focusing on the dancers more than her. She just needed to move more.

  26. Carrie Underwood definetly stole the show with that Just a Dream performance. I watched it several times today and I keep crying every time. It was incredible from a vocal and emotional standpoint.

    She even surpassed Martina last night- and that is very very hard to do. MArtina was still great- but Carrie was off the charts good. She raised the bar, definetly.

    Taylor Swift was her usual horrid pitchy self, with no power or range to her voice– and acting like a spoiled pouty brat when she didn’t win. She looked like she wanted to chew nails when Carrie got a Standing ovation too. lol

    someone needs to tell Taylor that she is not all that. Seriously. And soon.

  27. PS– I loved Brad and Carrie as hosts. They really did a wonderful job.

    sure not all the jokes were that funny— but most were.. and they were cute and loveable either way. :)

  28. PS PS– sorry! forgot to give props for Miranda. She was also excellent and I grew much respect for her last night by her heartfelt, simple performance.

    Carrie and Miranda are a good omen for the future of country music. Both are great. Taylor, not so much.

    Miranda also conducted herself with class when Carrie won, and genuinely looked happy for Carrie.

  29. Taylor’s vocals were not good at the ACMs either. They have never been good live to date– at any award show or live show, ever.

    So I get a little frustrated at the excuses her fans give every time. No offense to her fans– I know you just try to defend her.. but let’s look at all the excuses so far for Taylor’s bad vocals:

    1. Nerves. Sorry– won’t fly. She has been around 2 years now and toured all over the country with Rascal Flats, performed at numerous shows and tv events. She is anything but shy– seems a bit cocky actually. So I don’t buy nerves.

    2. Blame the mike or sound system: sorry- but the mike and sound systems can’t possibly be broken at every single concert or award show. lol

    3. She was sick. Sorry- but she can’t be sick every single live show either.. or every concert tour. lol Not buying it.

    4. Her dress weighed her down. lol Taylor being stiff is irrelevant. You can be stiff and still sing well. She can’t. End of story.

    5. Her earpiece didn’t work. Sorry- don’t buy it. Every time she performs, her ear piece can’t possibly be broken.

    6. She was tired from touring. lol Sorry- Carrie performed at almost 150 shows this year, and is on the road right now headlining as we speak.. but she still rocked her song.

    7. She is young- her voice will improve with age. NOT! Leanne Rimes and Carrie Underwood already surpassed Taylor by a mile at the tender age of 14. both Leanne Rimes and Carrie got record deals at age 14… though CArrie’s fell through due to a change in management. In any event- both of them are on video singing at age 14, and both destroy Taylor at age 19. (in a few weeks she turns 19). Your voice only improves a tiny bit with age.. It doesn’s make a crummy singer suddenly Celine Dion. Taylor will not get much better. She is simply not meant to be a vocalist.

    Did I miss any? lol

  30. Carrie has as broad a range and power as martina, Trisha and everyone you mentioned to trash her.

    I love Trisha and Martina– but get a grip here. Carrie did amazing and always does.

    She surpassed Martina last night and that is a fact.

    She has amazing interpretive skills and cried at the end of her song. How is that not feeling and interpreting the song?

    please. The haters just have to make up stuff to trash Carrie with. It will never end.

  31. Hollerin Ben– you must be drinking some pretty wild kool Aid. Your interpretation of Carrie’s performance was laughable at best.

    I disagree with everything you said– and can feel your hatred of her through the computer screen.

    Carrie was incredible- was NOT off key, and for you to call her a cruise ship singer is pathetic and just wrong on so many levels.

    Carrie is amazing and deserves all the accolades and awards she has received.. so please stop trashing her.

    She received a standing ovation from the entire arena, and if that doesn’t say something to you, nothing will.

    Carrie is this generation’s Martina and Trisha. She is already surpassing Martina.

  32. So, who thinks Martina walked away thinking “eh, im slipping”? I see her making her way out to the pasture with the likes of Reba and others. Not that any of them deserve to be there, but lets be real…

  33. First off, Brad and Carrie I think did a solid job as hosts. I agree, Brad was a bit stiff while Carrie was able to relax and be more comfortable. But all in all…they did a great job!

    The two best performances of the night were Miranda and Carrie. I loved the stripped down version of “More Like Her” (although I would’ve loved the entire thing to be acoustic) and Carrie’s “Just A Dream” was probably the emotional highlight of the night. She did a phenominal job and, despite what everyone’s saying, she did deserve to win her third Female Vocalist trophy.

    CONGRATS to the 2008 CMA New Artist of the Year, Lady Antebellum!!! I had picked Rodney to win but I’m super excited Lady A took it home!!! They deserve it and I’m sure they’ll only get bigger from here!!

    Taylor and James Otto looked like they were scared when they were performing. I was looking for Taylor to get into her performance but it didn’t happen…and her voice was just…ya. James on the other hand, he screwed up and he let it show on his face. After he messed up he looked terrified!!

    Also, I LOVED Sugarland’s performance of “Love.” That’s one of my favorite songs from their recent album and I was surprised to hear them do it live!

    Lastly, what will it take for Brad or Keith to end Kenny’s Entertainer run??? It’s gettin extremely old now!!!

  34. “Lastly, what will it take for Brad or Keith to end Kenny’s Entertainer run??? It’s gettin extremely old now!!!”

    On my radio station this morning, a caller asked that very same question. Said she had been to so many concerts, but she had seen Urban’s this summer and said it was the best concert she had ever been too! The DJ agreed and told her it was mostly political and that there is definitely “Block Voting” and that Capitol(Keith’s label) is not one of the big conglomerates.

  35. I loved Carrie’s peformance (asw host–which she did better than Brad– and singer) and that she wont female vocalist again.

    The low point of the performance was definitely the shoddy treatment of the hall of fame inductees, while the high point was Carrie singing “just a dream”.

    Somebody please Beat Kenny next year for Entertainer! It’s Definitely Brad’s turn. And just out of curiosity, how many times has a person won Entertainer as their only award of the night? He’s done it twice now, right?

  36. @Hollerin’ Ben:

    I didn’t finish my earlier thought, which is my fault. I meant to say that very few people succeed live in one-time awards show performances or appearances, for a variety of reasons (sound quality was one of those reasons on Wednesday night). Not being able to succeed live as a whole is a far more serious problem, I agree.

    I believe that Carrie has improved as a performer and a vocalist within the short span of her career, and I feel she’s willing to learn. Hopefully, that includes toning down the histrionics just a tad.

  37. Can someone ban tsharky from posting here? I’m sure you can figure out who it is with her posting one right after another using different names. She’s a disgrace to all Carrie fans…

  38. “On my radio station this morning, a caller asked that very same question. Said she had been to so many concerts, but she had seen Urban’s this summer and said it was the best concert she had ever been too! The DJ agreed and told her it was mostly political and that there is definitely “Block Voting” and that Capitol(Keith’s label) is not one of the big conglomerates.”

    Ugh that just sucks! I saw most of the nominees for Entertainer in concert this year, all but George, and frankly all of them did better than Kenny, imo. Even when Keith “opened” for Kenny, Keith was a far more better performer and his short set had more energy than Kenny’s. I guess I’m just tired of Kenny winning. But whatever it’s done and hopefully someone else can win next year.

    Oh and I think it’s funny how he’s always one of the most nominated every year, yet he only wins one. Personally, I would hate that. I think the hardest thing would be to not win any…like Brad in 2005 I think it was. He had a bunch of nominations and didn’t take anything home.

    By the way, with Kenny saying how he’s not going to give up that award very easily and that other nominees should ‘come get him’…doesn’t that sound a little conceited?? Is he to the point now where he thinks he’ll win that award every year??

  39. I am also tired of Kenny winning. Sure he is great and I enjoyed his concert.

    But Keith Urban deserved to win this year. His show was incredible.

    I am personally tired of George Strait phoning in the major awards every year. Sure, he is also great and the king… but I think that this year, they should have given Album to Carrie, as she had 4 number 1 hits, and it was a much improved album from Some Hearts.

    Lady Antebellum was incredible, I thought. They really deserved to win.

  40. “I am personally tired of George Strait phoning in the major awards every year. Sure, he is also great and the king… but I think that this year, they should have given Album to Carrie….”

    My thoughts EXACTLY! It’s as if they nominate/award George Strait every year just to get him to come back to Nashville.
    I thought for sure Carrie had this award this year.

  41. I’m glad George Strait won. Troubadour is an excellent album, and Mr. Strait is real Country.. one of the last, I fear, of a dying breed….Besides, this album features some wonderful duet vocals by another great Traditionalist, and also one of only a handful of female artists to ever win CMA’s album of the year, Patty Loveless. Patty and George sing a great and dramatic tribute to Johnny and June Carter Cash called “House of Cash”…and that song alone is worth the price of this outstanding album.

    Long live King George, and the true Queen of Country music, Patty Loveless!

  42. Just like to add, that of those nominated for Female vocalist, I wish Miranda Lambert had won…I think she is the brightest light of the young female artists out there today.

    I’m delighted Brad won again for Male vocalist, but I really thought they should have given him Entertainer as well.

    Mr. Paisley is the consummate entertainer..His expressive WV Mountain vocals, his blistering guitar virtuosity, His willingness to take artistic risks (as in “Play”), His rustic sense of humor, His master songwriting craftsmanship…and his unique and amusing stagecraft, all make Brad Paisley supremely deserving of Entertainer of the Year honors. He is way overdue.

  43. Dan, Steve, and Hollerin’ Ben:

    I think your dislike for Underwood’s performance (or rather, less like) stems from your general disapproval of country-pop as a whole. In the country-pop area, Carrie is the best artist. Yes, she’s not traditional, but she never claimed to be. She stated she’s country, and that’s exactly what her songs have been. You guys prefer traditional, so you are more critical of her in the same way I find Patty Loveless to be mind-numbingly boring. It comes down to your personal taste.

  44. Stephen, you are partially correct, in that part of my lack of enthusiastic appreciation for Carrie is that she is more pop-country, as opposed to traditional. But it’s not just Carrie, Keith Urban for example, does not even find it necessary to include fiddle or steel in his band. Can anyone explain to me exactly how Mr. Urban can be considered Country, without stretching the definition to the breaking point?

    But the other point we were trying to make is that some of us feel that Carrie’s acclaim is outrunning her artistic maturity. OK so she wins one more CMA FVOTY, and she is tied with Reba and Martina? And then TWO more, and are we supposed to consider her the greatest female country star living today? Not a bad feat for someone who has only been around, what three or four years!

    But don’t get me wrong, Carrie and Keith both do what they do extremely well..It just ain’t what I call Country. I think they would rule the Pop world should they decide to crossover completely.

    You were diplomatic in your criticism of Miss Loveless…Cannot argue with someone stating their point of view as to what appeals or does not appeal to them.

    But I would ask you, just how many of Patty Loveless’ roughly 20 albums have you heard? How many of her top ten hits? Have you heard her masterpieces Mountain Soul and Sleepless Nights? Both those albums, and her career repetiore in general, have earned her stacks and stacks of extremely positive reviews from knowlegable critics, and the unqualified respect of her peers. I just hope you give her a chance, because she may be the most underated artist in this current climate of pop-diluted “country” music.

    Believe me, it took me a second look to really appreciate how great she is. I had to dig deeper than some of her top 20 hits, such as Lonely Too Long, and I Try to Think About Elvis to really find the National Treasure that is Patty Loveless. Have you even heard her latest singles Why Baby Why or Crazy Arms? Boring would be the last word I would use to describe these two gems.

    Patty can sing Bluegrass, Mountain, and Traditional Country as few on the scene today can. She maybe not the ostentatious vocal gymnast like some of the Country-Pop divas on the scene today, but few can convey the soul and essence of a song, and can communicate and interpret deep and sublime emotion as well as Patty Loveless can.

  45. Ok,lol.Stephen..after all that, I just realized that in your singling out Patty Loveless, you were by implication citing her as the representative of Traditional Country music, the Queen of Traditon, if you will. And that YOUR dislike for Patty’s music, may stem from your dislike of Tratitional Country in general…sorta the converse of what you were saying about us! If that is the case, then in that sense we can take that as a compliment for Patty! Fair enough, lol!

  46. Stephen,

    First things first, thanks for phrasing your comment in a polite, thoughtful way. That always merits props in my book.

    I’ll give you this: I do think “country-pop” too often has a disproportionate ratio of country to pop, and I frown upon the fact that that musical model has been embraced by the mainstream and marketed under the same name once applied to artists like Loretta Lynn. [For example, I have no beef with Taylor Swift as an artist (singing aside), but nothing off of her new album should ever be mentioned in the same breath as ‘country music.’]

    But my problem with country-pop pretty much ends there. My musical tastes are pretty wide, and there’s a lot of country-pop that I genuinely love – otherwise it wouldn’t make a lot of sense for me to write at or frequent sites like this one. Keith Urban is maybe my favorite artist of this decade even though his music has all but completely lost any trace of country influence. I think Sugarland, Tim McGraw, Little Big Town, even Shania Twain have made some excellent contemporary country-pop. I love John Denver. And I’m a big sucker for the old school ‘Nashville Sound’ country-pop of artists like Glen Campbell and Patsy Cline.

    So it’s not a matter of me being a staunch traditionalist. But I do expect country-pop to be creative and fresh, and ultimately most of Carrie’s music doesn’t strike me that way. I’m certainly willing to give credit whenever it does; I think “Before He Cheats” was brilliant, and have also been impressed by “Flat on the Floor” and “You Won’t Find This.” I can’t say the same about “So Small” or “Last Name,” personally.

    And I do think Carrie’s talent (which is considerable, though perhaps a bit too hyped) would be better served on music that is at least a bit more traditional. With the exception of “Just a Dream,” most of her most revered performances have been of songs that do have a clear country element to them: “Before He Cheats,” “Stand By Your Man” (on the Opry), “San Antonio Rose” (at the Grammys). I think that’s telling.

  47. Dan, the last point you raised there was actually something that Patty Loveless cited as her hope for Carrie. (as indicated in Blake’s interview with Ms. Loveless) She was very impressed at how well Carrie could sing Traditional Country. I would also add to the songs you cited Carrie’s Opry performance of How Great Thou Art, which was just breathtaking. I really hope Carrie goes the traditonal route someday, sooner rather than later.

  48. Kellie Pickler’s performance was pretty bad. She tried way too hard to be entertaining and sadly, she wasn’t.

    Miranda’s performance was great. She has such a unique style that’s all her own.

    I realized awhile ago that Carrie is dominating country music because everything she releases to radio is catchy and has a singable melody. But she seriously needs to find her own sound. Props to Miranda for her musical artistry, an area that Carrie doesn’t have.

    I really enjoyed the widow’s introduction to Carrie’s performancel. How sad that her daughters will never know their dad.

    Kid Rock had really fantastic stage presence. Kellie Pickler should pick up a few pointers from him.

    Alan Jackson and George Strait were the usual: stand there and sing. Nothing else to say about that.

    I can’t wait for Shania’s new music. She looked very tanned. I am still bummed that she’s getting divorced. How wonderful that the audience, including a traditionalist like George Strait, looked genuinely respectful and was glad to see her there.

    Taylor Swift looked very nervous during her performance. She’s another one who has catchy songs but at least she has her own style. Poor girl can’t sing for her life though. She has extremely poor singing technique. Someone please tell her to take vocal lessons! She needs them badly.

    I was hoping that someone else (Miranda) would win Female Vocalist but wasn’t surprised when Carrie did. When will the Carrie Underwood train stop??

    Loved Brad Paisley’s guitar solo honoring…forgot his name at the moment. Usually we can never hear the singer’s guitar during a performance so it was finally nice to see exactly what at least one star can really do on a guitar. Loved seeing him hug Keith Urban and kiss his wife’s pregnant belly. Awww!

    Brad was so stiff as host. He looked like he was just reading cue cards instead of meaning what he was saying. I cringed every time he was hosting. Funny how different he became when he was speaking genuinely during his acceptance speech. Now those were words that he actually meant. Carrie was more relaxed and natural. She has a good speaking voice. I can see her doing more hosting gigs in the future. She’s attractive, can speak well, can deliver a script naturally, and with some more experience, can definitely develop into a good host. But why in the world does a female host change dresses so many times during a show?? Ir’a so show-offy.

  49. Linda, I found your comments interesting and enjoyable.

    Jerry Reed was the artist that Brad honored. In a way, he was Brad’s predecessor, being a guitar virtuoso himself, and he also a lot of humor to his music. (Amos Moses may be the best example here) He was a frequent guest on the old Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour…and was always very entertaining. He was certainly a great inspiration for Brad Paisley.

    And Brad decending the stage to hug Keith, and and the hug and kiss his wife and unborn child…very touching and memorable moment, but what was up with Brad hugging his pal Keith Urban first, before his wife and child? lol…Saving best for last I guess..

  50. I endorse Dan’s latest comment! That’s pretty much how I feel in a nutshell too, though you can strike Glen Campbell from my list.:)

    I was disappointed and even surprised at Brad’s hosting performance. He always sounded just like he was reading, even when he was delivering jokes. I thought he would have seemed more relaxed. I had hoped he would do better because I thought he had Vince’s commedic hosting potential if anyone in the business did. Too bad.

    Oh yeah, Patty Loveless is awesome!!

  51. I am also in the camp that hopes the talented Ms. Underwood will commit to recording some traditional country music soon. We’ve seen glimpses here and there that prove she can sing pure country very well. Seems to me she has clearly demonstrated she can do the pop-country thing and make a lot of money, win a lot of awards, etc. Now she needs to go about finding her own sound, her own voice. Maybe her songwriting, which is still in its infancy, will help with that. As for her hosting, she was pretty much a natural. She had little trouble delivering her lines, was flexible, had nice voice inflection and overall presence. This is country’s big night, and my wife, a casual fan at best, like many of the viewers, enjoyed her wardrobe changes and said that’s what you expect on a big show like the CMAs.

  52. I was so annoyed that Reba’s mic wasn’t on for the beginning of “Cowgirls Don’t Cry” with Brooks and Dunn! Seriously – they’re gonna have this surprise guest in a performance and the sound person doesn’t have her mic turned on?!?!?


  53. Dan, I realize you’re not a staunch traditionalist, I thought you were. My sincerest apologies.

    Steve, I’ve heard all of Patty’s CDs, and while I find that she has a great connection with her songs, the style of the song itself bores me. Personal taste, really.

    Linda, your comment about Underwood not having found her “style” is 100% accurate. That’s what I’ve been trying to say, but I couldn’t phrase it properly. To me, she can sing many different things, but I’d rather she take the “Before He Cheats” and “Flat on the Floor” route, where she sings country-blues and country-rock. Personally, I think it fits her personality best.

  54. You’re a fair minded man there, Steve…Sounds as though you have given Patty’s work a good listen. Can’t argue with personal taste…still, your take on the Queen of Mountain Soul’s music is incomprehensible to me, lol. But fair enough..

    You mentioned Carrie’s version of “Flat on the Floor” Have you heard Katrina Elam’s version of that song? I saw Kat in concert and her performance just blew me away. I see MANY of the same qualities in Katrina Elam that I see in Carrie, both are vocal powerhouses, and both are beautiful good country girls from OK. I can’t help but wonder if things would have turned out better for Katrina if she came up via American Idol as well. Or if she is struggling in the shadow of Carrie’s success, since they are both so similar in so many ways.

    One difference, however is that Katrina’s style is even more consistently Country Rock, whereas Country Pop seems to dominate Carrie’s style. But I agree, Carrie does Country Rock very well also.

  55. Steve, I totally agree. Elam is very talented and I wish she could finally score a hit. I agree with her being more centralized on country-rock, and I really wish Underwood would do the same.

    There is one Loveless song that blows me away to no end. Pretty well-known, but:

    “You Don’t Even Know Who I Am”

    Brilliant song, strong vocals and a true connection. Just GREAT.

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