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2012 CMA Nominations

They’re out!  What are your thoughts on this year’s CMA nominations?  Discuss in the comments section.

Entertainer of the Year 

Jason Aldean
Kenny Chesney
Brad Paisley
Blake Shelton
Taylor Swift

Female Vocalist of the Year

Kelly Clarkson
Miranda Lambert
Martina McBride
Taylor Swift
Carrie Underwood

Male Vocalist of the Year

Jason Aldean
Luke Bryan
Eric Church
Blake Shelton
Keith Urban

Vocal Group of the Year

The Band Perry
Eli Young Band
Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
Zac Brown Band

Vocal Duo of the Year

Big & Rich
Love and Theft
Sugarland
The Civil Wars
Thompson Square

New Artist of the Year

Lee Brice
Brantley Gilbert
Hunter Hayes
Love and Theft
Thompson Square

Album of the Year (Awarded to artist and producer)

Luke Bryan, Tailgates and Tanlines - Produced by Jeff Stevens and Mark Bright

Eric Church, Chief - Produced by Jay Joyce

Miranda Lambert, Four the Record - Produced by Frank Liddell, Chuck Ainlay, and Glenn Worf

Dierks Bentley, Home - Produced by Brett Beavers, Luke Wooten, and Jon Randall Stewart

Lady Antebellum, Own the Night  - Produced by Paul Worley and Lady Antebellum

Song of the Year (Awarded to songwriters)

Eli Young Band, “Even if It Breaks Your Heart” – Will Hoge and Eric Paslay

Blake Shelton, “God Gave Me You” – Dave Barnes

Dierks Bentley, “Home” – Dierks Bentley, Dan Wilson and Brett Beavers

Miranda Lambert, “Over You” – Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton

Eric Church, “Springsteen” – Eric Church, Jeff Hyde and Ryan Tyndell

Single of the Year (Awarded to artist and producer)

Jason Aldean, “Dirt Road Anthem” – Produced by Michael Knox

Blake Shelton, “God Gave Me You” – Produced by Scott Hendricks

Dierks Bentley, “Home” – Produced by Brett Beavers and Luke Wooten

Little Big Town, “Pontoon” – Produced by Jay Joyce

Eric Church, “Springsteen” – Produced by Jay Joyce

Musical Event of the Year

“Dixie Highway,” Alan Jackson and Zac Brown Band

“Feel Like a Rock Star,” Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw

“Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” Willie Nelson featuring Snoop Dogg, Kris Kristofferson and Jamey Johnson

“Safe and Sound,” Taylor Swift featuring the Civil Wars

“Stuck on You,” Lionel Richie and Darius Rucker

Music Video of the Year (Awarded to artist and director)

Eric Church, “Springsteen” – Directed by Peter Zavadil

Kenny Chesney, “Come Over” – Directed by Shaun Silva

Miranda Lambert, “Over You” – Directed by Trey Fanjoy

Little Big Town, “Pontoon” – Directed by Declan Whitebloom

Toby Keith, “Red Solo Cup” – Directed by Michael Salomon

Musician of the Year

Sam Bush
Paul Franklin
Dann Huff
Brent Mason
Mac McAnally

 
4 Comments

Posted by on September 5, 2012 in News and Events

 

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Carrie Underwood – “Good Girl”

After having been the dominant female force in country music for a good while, Carrie Underwood has been relatively quiet on the music front for the past year.  Though her highly successful Play On tour kept her more than busy, her only new music released in the past year was her appearance as a duet partner on Brad Paisley’s “Remind Me.”  The wait is now drawing to a close with the release of “Good Girl,” the first single from Underwood’s as-yet-untitled fourth album, set for a May 1 release.

“Good Girl,” essentially does what “Cowboy Casanova” did a few years prior, but does it a bit better.  Once again, Underwood plays the part of a woman warning a companion against tangling with a no-good man.  This time the lyrics largely steer clear of overtly cliché territory, while offering a few clever lines such as “His lips are dripping honey, but he’ll sting you like a bee.”  But while the song flirts with the idea of having some sort of meaning, it remains clear that the song’s main purpose is to set toes tapping, and to get the crowd singing along, which is not inherently a bad thing.  To that end, “Good Girl” serves its purpose well.

Of course, some of the typical Underwood criticisms still apply here.  Yes, the sonic treatment is bombastic as usual.  Fortunately, the production stays out of the way for the first half, leaning on a catchy guitar hook and hand clap section, before finally succumbing to the temptation to indulge in some electric guitar shredding.  More irritating are the unnecessary layers of background vocals, which give the track a murky, watered-down sound, whereas a crisp and clean edge could have made it a little better.

At the end of the day, “Good Girl” succeeds in spite of itself because it plays to Underwood’s strengths as a vocalist – simply by allowing her to rock out and show some attitude.  Indeed, the main thing that makes “Good Girl” enjoyable is the way Underwood tears into the song and owns it.  Thus, we’re left with a good single that falls a degree short of greatness, but that nonetheless succeeds in whetting appetites for new music from the ever-so-talented Carrie Underwood.

CARRIE’S SCORE:  8
(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)

HEAR IT 

 
4 Comments

Posted by on February 24, 2012 in Single Reviews

 

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2011 In Review: Singles I Would Rather Forget

It would be extrememly redundant if I were to mourn over what a weak year 2011 has been for country music, but really, let’s face it.  Country music just doesn’t get “good years” anymore these days, at least not from a mainstream perspective.  Periodically we are treated to a something genuinely great that offers a glimmer of hope for the genre’s future – Last year it was “The House That Built Me”; this year it was “Cost of Livin’.”  But even then, we still have an enormous amount of duds foisted upon us at the same time.

The following is a candid list of 2011 single releases that, as far as I’m concerned, unequivocally missed the mark.  I will indulge in one last breath of biting sarcasm, and afterwards I shall never speak of these songs again.  I don’t care at all if the songs were big hits or not – They’re being judged solely on the basis of how badly they make my skin crawl.

Trace Adkins, “Brown Chicken Brown Cow”

A heaping helping of distasteful over-the-top sexual imagery built around a corny pun that grows more intolerable with each chorus.  When I first heard this, I thought surely this would be the worst country single of 2011.  At any rate, not playing this song was one of the few things that country radio got right in 2011.

Aaron Lewis, “Country Boy”

A rocker-gone-country du jour sets out to prove his country cred by coughing up every rehashed country cliché in the book.

Eric Church, “Homeboy”

An annoying title pun and a few slight tinges of rascism fail to disguise this dud as anything other than just another throwaway tune about how country life trumps city life.

Sugarland, “Tonight”

There were two good songs on Sugarland’s largely atrocious album The Incredible MachineOnly two good songs.  After they were both sent to radio, it figures that the inevitable third single would sum up everything that’s gone wrong with Sugarland’s music lately.  The lyrics make no sense.  The production is bloated and tasteless.   Worst of all, the typically stellar Jennifer Nettles turns in one of her weakest performances to date.

Jake Owen, “Barefoot Blue Jean Night”

With inspid lyrics set against an arrangement that sounds like bad eighties pop music, “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” plays like a big heap of almost everything I hate about stale mainstream country music all wrapped up in one package.

Luke Bryan, “Country Girl (Shake It for Me)”

Lyrics?  Dumber than dumber than dumb.  Bryan’s playful vocal almost saves this from being a complete dud.  Almost.  But not quite.

Brantley Gilbert, “Country Must Be Country Wide”

“In every state, there’s a station…” playing crappy country pride anthems that shamelessly namedrop legends in a vain attempt to compensate for their own utter lack of artistic merits.

Jason Aldean, “Dirt Road Anthem”

This gets a nomination for Song of the Year?  I don’t get it.  What unique and amazing qualities does this song possess that deem it worthy to compete against the work of Matraca Berg and Deana Carter?  Because it’s the first song in forever to crow about dirt roads and cold beer?  Because it’s so revolutionary to namedrop George Jones?  Way to knock your credibility, CMA.

Gloriana, “Wanna Take You Home”

This song is like air to me.  I get nothing out of it whatsoever.  It starts by rhyming “girl” with “rock my world”… and then it’s all downhill from there.  What more is there to say?

Kristin Chenoweth, “I Want Somebody (Bitch About)”

Hey!  Yeah you!  Y’all better listen up!  Uh-huh!  O-kay!  She’s a Broadway star - It’s not like she’s never sung before.  So how on earth does she turn in a performance so awful?  Never mind that the song itself was pretty much a turd to begin with.  Every now and then, I might get the lurge to listen to this song just to chuckle at how amazingly bad it is, but even then, I rarely stay with it past the first chorus.  When I first heard this, I though surely this must be the worst country single of 2011.

The JaneDear Girls, “Merry Go Round”

Oh, my ears.  Oh, my ears!  I’m so sorry, but these girls are total vocal hacks, and smothering them in auto-tune only makes it worse.  It just blows my mind that a major Nashville label is throwing their support behind such godawful music.  Sorry, Adkins and Chenoweth, we have a winner.  This is undoubtedly the worst country single of 2011.

Martina McBride, “I’m Gonna Love You Through It”

Just in case you didn’t hear her, she said “I’M GONNA LOVE YOU THROUGH IIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTT!!!!!”

Justin Moore, “Bait a Hook”

This whole “country-good-city-bad” shtick wore out its calling card a long, long, LONG time ago.  Why, oh why, do country music’s frat boys insist on selling us the same unintelligent one-dimensional character over and over again?  Or perhaps the better questions is why are people still buying it?  I hate to wax philosophical here, but isn’t it just so sad that this is what country music has come to?  Drivel like this undermines the overall credibility of the country genre, disrespects its rich history and heritage, and gives genre outsiders one more reason to be instantly dismissive of country music in general.  If I didn’t already love country music, songs like this would probably make me hate it.

Brad Paisley, “Camouflage”

Yet another sign that Paisley’s creative batteries are begging for a recharge.

Lady Antebellum, “We Owned the Night”

Glorified elevator music.  But, to keep it in perspective, the rest of the album was even worse.

Well, there you have it.  I’ve had my say, so now it’s your turn.  What were your least favorite singles of 2011?

 
14 Comments

Posted by on December 19, 2011 in Year In Review

 

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Randy Travis – “Everything and All”

Songwriter:  Troy Jones

I am feeling extremely divided about Randy Travis’s current single from his Anniversary Celebration album (which includes two version, one solo, and one a duet with Brad Paisley).  It’s catchy, to be sure, but it certainly doesn’t hold up well in comparison with his classic work from the eighties and nineties.  But it is catchy.

On one hand, it’s good to hear an established artist step outside his comfort zone, and if this isn’t outside the familiar Randy Travis zone, then I don’t know what is.  Though his voice has noticeably deteriorated over the past few years, he still turns in a solid performance here, and manages to keep up with the song’s fast-paced melody, which by the way is pretty catchy.

But at the same time, there’s really no way around the fact that this is the most uninspired set of lyrics he’s tackled in years.  The lyric consists primarily of a heap of feel-good clichés that sound like a mid-life crisis with a splash of Chicken Soup for the Soul.  He’s going to kick back and be “a man without a mission,” he’s going to take his time and “dance and dance and dance…”  You know… all that good happy stuff.  It also taps into a religious vein with a brief sampling of “How Great Thou Art” – a feature that feels a bit superfluous and underdeveloped.  But, yeah… it is kinda catchy.

The song works if you’re in the mood for a toe-tapping rhythm, and not up for too much brain function.  But if you were hoping for a song that’s anywhere near as meaty as Travis’s best work in his Hall of Fame-worthy career, “Everything and All” will likely leave you unsatisfied.

But… it’s catchy.

RANDY’S SCORE:  6
(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)

WATCH THE MUSIC VIDEO 

 
3 Comments

Posted by on October 15, 2011 in Single Reviews

 

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