Tag Archives: Blake Shelton

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
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


Posted by on September 5, 2012 in News and Events


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Miranda Lambert – “Fastest Girl In Town”

Songwriters:  Miranda Lambert, Angaleena Presley

What in the name of Bocephus is going on with Miranda Lambert these days?  She’s already released two weak singles from her current album Four the Record, and now her new release “Fastest Girl In Town” makes a third.  Not only that, but this along with “Over You” are two back-to-back releases that tie as Lambert’s weakest singles to date.

“Fastest Girl In Town” is loud, brash, obnoxious, over-produced, and under-developed.  She’s firmly established her primary marketing persona as country music’s trigger-happy bad girl, but she’s losing the underlying character development and storytelling aspect that made such a character connect with fans in the first place.  What made “Kerosene” and “Gunpowder and Lead” really tick is that they told relatable stories through three-dimensional characters with an underlying vulnerability about them.  “Fastest Girl In Town” offers nothing but a black-and-white template that unsuccessfully attempts to duplicate its colorful predecessors.

The cacophonous production arrangement alone is enough to give you a headache – Didn’t anyone learn anything from the nineties ladies?  But the greater issue is that “Fastest Girl” is little more than a shoddily – constructed lyric awash with throwaway lines that lack any discernible point.  Or narrative.  Or any noteworthy validating factor for their existence.  What can you say about a singer-songwriter of Lambert’s caliber churning out an opening line as weak as “You’ve got the bullets, I got the gun/ I got a hankering for gettin’ into something”?

She’s played up this same old shtick to such extremes that it’s making her seem more and more like a one-trick pony.  Doesn’t anybody remember what happened with Gretchen Wilson?  Worse yet, she’s veering dangerously close to self-parody.

Miranda Lambert used to be a bright spot on country radio.  Is she now to join husband Blake Shelton in the club of radio and award show darlings being rewarded for mediocrity?

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)



Posted by on June 30, 2012 in Single Reviews


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Blake Shelton – “Over”

Songwriters:  Paul Jenkins, David Elliot Johnson

Is Blake Shelton even trying anymore?

Seriously, is he?  Let’s think about this for a minute:  Not since “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking” has he had even one single that was memorable or at all good, and that was almost two years ago.  The result?  The CMA and ACM have both anointed Shelton the male standard-bearer for the country format.

I swear this song makes no effort to impose itself upon the listener at all.  It’s just there – there to fill up its little three-minute time slot at radio before yielding its place to a Diet Coke commercial.  Aside from the lifeless lyrics and pedestrian melody, one of the biggest reasons this single sinks like a stone is the way Shelton steps back during the chorus and lets a washout of thrashing Adult Contemporary rock guitars and strings drown him out in a swamp of noisy sonic nothingness.  It’s not even good pop music or rock music, and it doesn’t scan as any form of country music in even the vaguest sense.  It’s just one giant mess of bleh.

What does it say about our genre format that we expect so little of our top hitmakers?  It’s hard to hold out any measure of hope for the country genre’s future as long as its premiere male vocalist remains content to keep dishing out country radio’s most played elevator music.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)



Posted by on May 7, 2012 in Reviews, Single Reviews



Blake Shelton – “Drink On It”

Songwriters:  Jessi Alexander, Rodney Clawson, Jon Randall

Oh Mr. Lambert Shelton, how you frustrate me.  You have such a strong singing voice, and yet use it on the most mediocre material.  In general, it seems to be working on a commercial level.  After spending the better part of his career as a mid-level star, radio has finally admitted him into the automatic-add club, and he is quickly becoming an awards show darling.  The only thing lagging behind is his album sales.

In terms of quality, his recent output has ranged from schmaltzy (“God Gave Me You”) to safely inoffensive (“Honey Bee”) to totally forgettable (“All About Tonight”), with “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking” being the strongest Shelton single of the past two years.  His new single “Drink On It” falls squarely into the “totally forgettable” category, with a lyric that is wholly surface-level, begging for a little added cleverness and personality.  In that area, the song’s only real attempt at cleverness comes in the title pun, and in its referring to the girl’s ex-lover as a “prick.”  The monotonous melody and production do little to elevate the song, leaving “Drink On It” sounding very pedestrian.

Of course, the fact that it’s a boring song will hardly affect its chances at radio, as it will fit in fine among all the other boring songs on radio playlists.  But no level of chart success can topple the fact that “Drink On It” has about as much staying power as the morning mist, and will hardly leave an impression on the memory once its radio run has ended.

If only Blake Shelton’s outsized personality would shine through in his music instead of being largely confined to his Twitter account.  The wait for the next great Shelton single drags on.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)


Posted by on December 20, 2011 in Single Reviews


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Album Review: Miranda Lambert – Four the Record

There’s a reason why Miranda Lambert is one of the most consistently interesting and critically acclaimed artists in mainstream country music.  She is not afraid to take risks.  Such risks continue on her aptly titled fourth release Four the Record, an effort characterized by creative experimentation, though the results are slightly less consistent than we would normally expect from Lambert.

Four the Record experiments with a diversity of sounds, styles, and influences.  How appropriate, then, that the album opens with “All Kinds of Kinds” – a song that celebrates diversity.  The lyrics paint colorful visual images of a wedding beneath a circus tent between an acrobat and a human cannonball, of a marriage between a pharmacist and a cross-dressing congressman, while the third verse taps into the narrators desire to explore her own unique identity.  Lambert goes in an unexpected direction with the standout track “Fine Tune,” which builds on a metaphor of an “engine of a heart that would not start ’til you showed up with a master-key.”  The track finds Lambert singing over a heavy beat backed with bluesy electric guitars, which ends up sounding pretty cool, though it could do with out the excessive vocal processing.  It only loosely qualifies as “country music,” and its sound will likely prove polarizing, but the off-beat styling makes it one of the album’s most unusual and interesting tracks. (Plus the coolest thing since hearing Faith Hill sing “centrifugal motion” has got to be Miranda singing “defibrillator”)

Lambert shares writing credits on half of the album’s tracks, but there are times when she falls shy of her usual songwriting standards.  Lead single “Baggage Claim,” co-written with Luke Laird and Natalie Hembry, draws on a previously unused metaphor, only to stretch the metaphor until it nearly breaks.  To her credit, however, Lambert draws on some strong sources of outside material, with perhaps the best case being her version of David Rawlings and Gillian Welch’s “Look at Miss Ohio.”  Brandi Carlile’s “Same Old You,” is a smart, self-realizing composition that shows traces of Loretta Lynn influence, and that wouldn’t sound out-of-place on Lambert fantastic Pistol Annies album.  On the other hand, her co-write with fellow Annie Angaleena Presley is surprisingly one-dimensional, and almost sounds like a song that just wasn’t quite good enough to make it onto the Pistol Annies album.

Perhaps the album’s most disappointing track is “Better In the Long Run” – the obligatory duet with hubby Blake Shelton, which suffers from an over-the-top performance on Shelton’s part, as well as an extremely boring central hook.  It sounds like something that songwriter Ashley Monroe must have written on an off-day.  The results are quite disheartening, considering the inherently lofty potential of a duet between vocalists of Shelton and Lambert’s caliber (which their past collaborations often came much closer to fulfilling).

Production choices are generally beneficial, with a few exceptions.  Lead single “Baggage Claim” boats infectious acoustic strumming and hand claps, which serve to elevate its rather clunky lyrics.  The bitter “Mama’s Broken Heart” is a stronger lyric, but the chorus rocks out so hard that you’ll be diving for the knob to lower the volume, though the lightly percussive intro works well.  Fortunately, there are plenty of moments in which strong lyrics meet good protection, thus making for some notable album highlights.  On Miranda’s self-written “Dear Diamond,” a light contemporary arrangement underscores her deeply emotional performance, which is bolstered by vocal harmonies of the ever-excellent Patty Loveless, while a light acoustic arrangement perfectly frames the bouncy melody of “Same Old You.”

Though the album has its share of missteps, its best and most interesting tracks are enough to reaffirm the fact that Lambert is not content to settle into a creative rut of half-hearted repetition.  It’s clear that her work continues to be characterized by restless creativity, and though Four the Record is not Miranda’s all-time best album, it’s more than interesting enough to have us waiting with bated breath to see what she’ll do with record number five.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)



Posted by on November 15, 2011 in Album Reviews


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Neal McCoy – “A-Ok”

Neal McCoySongwriters:  Barry Dean, Luke Laird, Brett Eldredge

For the first time ever, superstar country couple Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert are collaborating on an album – except not as the performing artists, but rather as co-producers.  Indeed, the potty-mouthed party boy and the pistol-toting bad girl are helming a new project by cowboy-hatted nineties star Neal McCoy, who is best known for the number one hits “Wink” and “No Doubt About It.”  The album is titled XII, and set for a January 2012 release.

Lead single “A-Ok” kicks off with a bit of catchy Andy Griffith-esque whistling, and then settles into an enjoyable nineties-style groove.  To some extent, the pleasant arrangement distracts from the fact that the lyrics say nothing of any real significance, leaning on vapid optimism and shallow feel-good platitudes.  Unfortunately, where the single also goes wrong is in leaning on a title hook that carries a strong inherent cheesiness factor, with each chorus culminating in a declaration that everything is “A-O….A-o…A – OKAY!”  It might sound somewhat cute on the first listen, but it quickly wears thin.  A few more listens in, it’s nearly cringe-inducing

“A-Ok” doesn’t hold up after a certain number of replays, which makes it a weak entry with which to launch a brand-new project, especially since it sounds more like album filler than anything else.  I’ll still give the album a chance.  The lead single, however, is a swing and a miss.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)

1 Comment

Posted by on October 24, 2011 in Single Reviews


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