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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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Little Big Town – “Pontoon”

Songwriters:  Barry Dean, Natalie Hemby, Luke Laird

We can try to hide from it all we want, but the cycle is already well-established.  Each year, country stars throw a barrage of brainless summer songs at country radio to see if they stick, and as much as one might wish to deny it, this year’s crop is just now beginning to roll out.  The only questions that remains is to see how insufferable they will be this year.

Despite having released a string of excellent singles over the past two years, Little Big Town still hasn’t seen the Top 10 of the country hit parade since 2010’s “Little White Church.”  For them to return with a summer song that comes across as an obvious nod to radio, it smacks somewhat of desperation, and even feels a little bit like a cop-out – which is disappointing, particularly for an act that is usually much more consistently interesting

“Pontoon” is a lazy little summertime ditty that gets lazy in the wrong ways, particularly with regard to lazy songwriting.  The song has a bland and monotonous melody with no real hook to speak of, and has little to say except to reaffirm that pontoons do, in fact, exist.  The sitar-driven musical arrangement is interesting, and different from most of what we hear on country radio, but it is an ill fit for the relaxed mood that the song attempts to create.

Unfortunately, the song itself is just so shoddily constructed that it’s both unremarkable and instantly forgettable.  All we’re really left with is a cool, off-beat production in need of a song to call home.

LITTLE BIG TOWN’S SCORE:  4
(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)

HEAR IT 

 
7 Comments

Posted by on April 27, 2012 in Reviews, Single Reviews

 

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Little Big Town – “Shut Up Train”

Songwriters:  Hillary Lindsey, Chris Tompkins, Luke Laird

Make up your mind, country radio.  Do you like Little Big Town, or do you not like them?  After enduring a dry spell of a few years, the country quartet staged a mini-comeback last year with their hit “Little White Church” and number-one album The Reason Why, only to miss the Top 40 with the album’s second and third singles.

Despite the waxing and waning of their commercial momentum, the quality of the group’s singles has remained consistent, whether they’re going for the rock-meets-bluegrass-meets-handclaps of “Little White Church,” or working the emotional, big-voiced power chorus of “Kiss Goodbye.”  Their newest single “Shut Up Train” (which is actually not an answer song to “Hey, Soul Sister”) bears little resemblance to either.  But in its own way, it practically upstages both, which is no mean feat.

“Shut Up Train” is a simple, raw, restrained affair, devoid of bombastic production and wild vocal theatrics.  It’s not unheard of for a country song to find it’s brokenhearted narrator unable to sleep at night, but “Shut Up Train” brings a fresh and original hook as it spins the tale of a woman reminded of her deep hurt every time she is awakened from sleep by a passing train.  Though the four band members rotate lead vocal duties, they often excel the greatest when Karen Fairchild steps into the frontwoman’s shoes as she does here.  She eschews power notes in favor of a hushed performance, and thus connects with the tortured emotions on a deep level.  As the song nears its end, she finally takes a deep heavy-hearted breath and concedes “You win.” In those two simple syllables, she injects such a deep emotional fatigue that it bears the mark of a true lyrical interpreter.  “Shut Up Train” is a great song, but Fairchild gives an absolute knock-out of a performance that makes it truly stunning.

As expected, the harmony vocals of Jimi Westbrook, Phillip Sweet, and Kimberly Schlapman underscore Fairchild’s lead vocal, but they remain subdued enough to avoid sounding intrusive.  Even the mid-point electric guitar solo manages to fit in snugly with the mood of the song.  The pieces fit together so perfectly that “Shut Up Train” ends up a new peak for Little Big Town, not to mention one of the finest singles of 2011.

In a career already replete with distinctive and memorable singles, this just might be their best one yet.

LITTLE BIG TOWN’S SCORE:  10
(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)

 
10 Comments

Posted by on September 17, 2011 in Single Reviews

 

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