Picking the CMA Nominees: Music Video of the Year

Ah, Music Video of the Year. The awkward stepchild of the CMA Awards. Aside from provoking fewer blog wars than the bigger races, it’s also the category that apparently takes the least effort for voters to fill up, since predicting the nominees is o

ften as easy as asking yourself, “well, which songs are probably going to be nominated for Song and Single?”

Nevertheless, music videos remain an important aspect of an artist’s public image, and sometimes even rise to the level of legitimate art. Keeping in mind the eligibility period (July 1st, 2008 – June 30th, 2009), below are the five videos I would most like to see recognized as such by CMA voters. Interestingly, four of them were breakthrough videos for their artists:

Randy Houser, “Anything Goes”

A little melodramatic, but a lot captivating. I can’t get over the way he plays the chorus of the song to his ex, like he can’t even have a moment of self-pity to himself.

Joey + Rory, “Cheater Cheater”

The CU J+R lovefest continues! Come on, how can you resist their spousey charms atop this hot bluegrass beat? Truth be told, I’m an equally big fan of the sharp “Play The Song” treatment, but since this is the one that actually stands a chance, I’ll give it the nod.

Jamey Johnson, “In Color”

I found it really tacky when they tried to recreate this clip in his ACM performance, but the thing itself is an understated beaut, carefully capturing the song’s mood and imagery without ever getting in the way.

Taylor Swift, “You Belong With Me”

Haters to the left. This video is a four-minute distillation of everything likable about its maker, and it manages to pull through its various cliches thanks to its sheer pluck. Since “Love Story” swept the CMT’s, I expect this one to remain relegated to VMA territory, but this is the stronger work.

Zac Brown Band, “Chicken Fried”

I still don’t care for the song, but the video more than makes up for it. The visuals are gorgeous, the vibe is warm and personal, and it even provides a context to the seemingly random military shout-out in the song’s bridge.

Which five videos would you like to see nab a nomination this year?


  1. This was one of the CMA’s coolest categories for awhile. There was a stretch when the award was won by Martina McBride (“Independence Day”), The Tractors (“Baby Likes to Rock It”), Junior Brown (“My Wife Thinks You’re Dead”) and Kathy Mattea (“455 Rocket”), all songs that weren’t big radio hits but had stellar videos.

    With the exception of “Hurt” in 2003, which deserved to win but benefited from a posthumous wave of affection for Cash, every winner since has been from a major artist with a big hit.

    The lining up with the Single category began in 1997. I remember the glaring example that year being Pam Tillis getting nominated for “All the Good Ones Are Gone.” Great song, but hardly a compelling video.

    When the CMA nominated George Strait for “Carrying Your Love With Me” the next year, a video that just had him sitting their singing and walking down a highway, journalist Ed Morris opined that Strait could release a video that was just a three minute close-up of his driver’s license and get nominated!

  2. I like every video on this with the exception of Chicken Fried, but I think that I would add George Strait’s Troubadour, when he takes the time to make a video, they are quite good.

  3. Chicken Fried and Cheater Cheater…

    Re Kevin’s mention of Junior Brown and Kathy Mattea…”My Wife Thinks You’re Dead”…maybe the best song title ever? Junior Brown is awesome, a quirky and creative anachronism. Great video too.

    And Kathy’s “455 Rocket” is just plain fun! :)

  4. Here’s my full list of decent-to-great videos released in the eligibility period, by the way. I wanted to work this into the post somehow to help people jog their memory, but then I got tired.

    Luke Bryan, “Country Man”
    Kenny Chesney, “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven”
    Eli Young Band, “When It Rains”
    Randy Houser, “Anything Goes”
    Alan Jackson, “Sissy’s Song”
    Joey + Rory, “Cheater Cheater”
    Joey + Rory, “Play The Song”
    Jamey Johnson, “In Color”
    Toby Keith, “God Love Her”
    Lady Antebellum, “I Run To You”
    Lady Antebellum, “Lookin’ For A Good Time”
    Miranda Lambert, “More Like Her”
    Patty Loveless, “Crazy Arms”
    Montgomery Gentry, “Roll With Me”
    Brad Paisley & Keith Urban, “Start A Band”
    Dolly Parton, “Backwoods Barbie”
    Kellie Pickler, “Best Days Of Your Life”
    John Rich, “Shuttin’ Detroit Down”
    Blake Shelton, “She Wouldn’t Be Gone”
    Ashton Shepherd, “Sounds So Good”
    Sugarland, “Already Gone”
    Sugarland, “Love”
    George Strait, “Troubadour”
    Taylor Swift, “Love Story”
    Taylor Swift, “You Belong With Me”
    Carrie Underwood, “Just A Dream”
    Holly Williams, “Three Days In Bed”
    Lee Ann Womack, “Last Call”
    Zac Brown Band, “Chicken Fried”

  5. I would have to Lee Ann Womack to my list of people I would love to get nominated because “Last Call” is a great video that portrays the song well……but I am sure that Carrie will get a nomination (darn it all….) because everyone thinks that her videos are so amazing.

  6. This is a tough category to pick 5 videos for. I think Carrie Underwood will get a nomination since she was nominated for the ACM. I also think Brad Paisley and Keith Urban will score a nomination for “Start a Band.” I think the CMA has to throw Taylor in there so I think “You Belong with Me” will be among the final 5. I think Jamey Johnson will score one of his many nominations in this category for “In Color.” The fifth spot might go to George Strait for “Troubador.”

    My List:
    Jamey Johnson “In Color”
    Brad Paisley and Keith Urban “Start a Band”
    George Strait “Troubador”
    Taylor Swift “You Belong with Me”
    Carrie Underwood “Just a Dream”

  7. You list did jog my memory Dan, how could I have forgotten about Patty’s Crazy Arms?! Maybe the “long shot” aspect, but nonetheless Patty’s video deserves to be amoung the nominees, and by my reckoning, deserves to win.

    Jamey Johnson too, deserves a nominiation, so I guess my list is up to four now:

    Patty Loveless, Crazy Arms
    Jamey Johnson, In Color
    Joey + Rory, Cheater Cheater
    Zac Brown Band, Chicken Fried

  8. Off the list provided, I guess I’d go with..

    * Luke Bryan, “Country Man”

    I actually stop and watch this video every time it’s on. For reals.

    * Randy Houser, “Anything Goes”

    I might not have included this one if I hadn’t read Dan’s take on it. It gives a new layer of depth to an already effective clip.

    * Joey + Rory, “Cheater Cheater”
    We’re close to becoming their unofficial fan page, aren’t we?

    * Dolly Parton, “Backwoods Barbie”

    It’s her autobiography in four minutes, right down to the matchstick eyeliner. Plus I love the walk in Hollywood, showing the artists as color in a black and white world. Even if the artist is a mime or a contortionist.

    * Lee Ann Womack, “Last Call”
    I’ve rarely seen NYC shot so well. My city looks like freshly polished silver grit in this clip.

  9. Dolly Parton’s “Backwoods Barbie” – Someone once told Dolly she was an icon … she shot back “You mean an eye-sore!” Check out the Backwoods Barbie video on youtube and decide for yourself.

  10. I’m not that into videos although I’ve seen most of the listed videos

    My picks:
    John Rich, “Shuttin’ Detroit Down”
    Jamey Johnson, “In Color”
    Lee Ann Womack, “Last Call”
    Taylor Swift, “Love Story”
    Patty Loveless, “Crazy Arms”

  11. Just saw the Taylor Swift “You Belong With Me” video for the first time. I have to say it reminded me of Avril Lavigne’s “Girlfriend” quite a bit:


    Taking the two videos together, am I to understand that the teenage girl Good to Evil Spectrum looks like this:

    Blond Hair > Black Hair > Red Hair

    Debbie Gibson and Tiffany never made things so confusing back in the day.

  12. I had forgotten about the “Girlfriend” video! Good call on the similarity. I always kind of loved that song.

    I do think the Taylor video borrows from a lot of teen-oriented media over the years, which makes sense, since the song itself depicts a very archetypal high school crush. If that were done completely earnestly, like the “Teardrops On My Guitar” video was, I probably wouldn’t care for it much, but this one is kind of campy and self-deprecating, so I find it much easier to enjoy with a clear conscience.

    More than anything, though, I just think the directing is superb – it’s a very no-filler video on a shot-by-shot basis. I tend not to like videos where half of it is just the singer standing around singing or random B-roll of stuff in the background.

  13. You’re totally right about that. I thought the Swift video was well done, too. The similarities between the wigs just made me laugh.

    Then again, we can just say they were both ripping off of Madonna and were just too scared to do the fencing:


    But then I think that Madonna was ripping off the Shadow Link battle in Ocarina of Time, and it makes my head want to explode!

  14. I mean, we know that all the world’s creativity basically originates in Shigeru Miyamoto’s brain. Deriving from Nintendo is the way of humankind; not even Madge can defy it. Even the video’s axe-fight was obviously inspired by the Iron Knuckles in the Spirit Temple.

  15. I shudder to think of the connection between Miyamoto and “Justify My Love.”

    But I’ve got ten bucks that says “Hung Up” was the direct inspiration of Wii Fit.


    If the female Miis had legs, you’d clearly see that they’re wearing leotards.

  16. Nintendo and (Country) Music. Thanks guys, I never thought these two things I love so much could come together, despite Nintendo games having some of the best soundtracks.

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