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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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Luke Bryan – “Drunk On You”

Songwriters:  Rodney Clawson, Josh Kear, Chris Tompkins

The story of Luke Bryan’s career has often been a case of genuine talent bogged down by inconsistent taste in song material, not to mention an occasional inclination toward radio butt-kissing.  But one thing that can’t be denied is that no matter what style Bryan chooses to tackle – be it an earnest ballad like “Do I,” a redneck hay-rolling ditty like “Rain Is a Good Thing,” or a goofy booty-shaking country dance number a la “Country Girl (Shake It for Me)” – he always throws himself fully into it with spunky enthusiasm and aw-shucks country boy charm.  Granted, that doesn’t necessarily salvage a song if the lyrics themselves are irredeemable, but it can serve to elevate a standard lyric to something more than the sum of its parts.

Once you get past the fact that “Drunk On You” is Bryan’s third consecutive single to place a girl dancing in a pickup truck, you find that this is one of his most enjoyable efforts yet in the backwoods romance vein.  Though the production would have done well to strip away a layer of the obligatory radio polish, “Drunk On You” coasts along with effortless breeziness, anchored by a warm inviting melody and a charming banjo line.  The heart of the song, however, is Bryan himself.  His earnest vocal delivery gets past the requisite blue jean references, and even borderline-hokey likes like “Girl you make my speakers go boom-boom,” without coming across as awkward or forced.  When he sings “That kind of thing makes a man go mmm-hmm,” you can practically see him closing his eyes and savoring every moment.

Radio bait it may be, but “Drunk On You” gives Bryan just enough leeway to show what it is that makes him an interesting singer.  Though his previous chart-topper “I Don’t Want This Night to End” interrupted the vibe with ill-advised rock histrionics, “Drunk On You” hits its mark by allowing Bryan to pull his own weight with his thoughtful vocal interpretation.  If Luke Bryan was just starting to lose you with his somewhat stagnant song choices, “Drunk On You” might be just the thing to restore your faith in the contemporary backwoods country love song.

LUKE’S SCORE:  7
(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)

HEAR IT

 
4 Comments

Posted by on March 11, 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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Luke Bryan – “I Don’t Want This Night to End”

Songwriters:  Luke Bryan, Rhett Akins, Ben Hayslip, Dallas Davidson

Akins and Hayslip and Davidson… oh my!  I’ll be darned if this new Luke Bryan single doesn’t have “Peach Pickers” written all over it.

Following in a similar vein to his recent smash “Country Girl (Shake It for Me),” “I Don’t Want This Night to End” is laced with familiar scenes of rural romance, this time swapping out the “aw-shucks” goofiness, and instead attempting to up the sexy factor.  Here we find Bryan’s attractive female acquaintence with her “hands up… rockin’ in my [Guess the vehicle!] truck… radio on… singin’ every song…”

You get the idea.  There aren’t many lines here that we haven’t already heard a time or ten.  But perhaps the trait that is most outstanding – a distinction I use loosely – is the testosterone-fueled energy with which Bryan attacks the lyric, particularly when declaring that his girl is “lookin’ so damn hot.”

But just when the enthusiastic performance threatens to make the single interesting, here comes an over-the-top full-throttle country-rock arrangement to swing the pendulum in the polar opposite direction.  In some areas, the production sounds like it was culled from the climactic portion of a Hollywood film score – not exactly an ideal sonic backdrop for a backwoods romance – while the wild Guitar Hero riffs advances it from borderline irritating to absolutely grating.  By then we’ve gone from “I Don’t Want This Night to End” to “I Just Want This Song to End.”

To some degree, “I Don’t Want This Night to End” at least manages to reaffirm Bryan’s talent for breathing personality into disposable lyrics.  But if he were singing lyrics with more tangible traces of originality, he wouldn’t have to deal with that hurtle in the first place.

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

HEAR IT

 
24 Comments

Posted by on September 27, 2011 in Single Reviews

 

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