Analysis: What we can learn from today's CMA Award nominations
The Country Music Assn. announced the nominees for the 45th Annual CMA Awards today and there’s a lot to be gleaned from the nods.
*As opposed to years when Garth Brooks was head and shoulders and torso above everyone else in country music, there’s a much healthier level playing field these days. Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton and Brad Paisley each received five nominations, while Zac Brown Band and The Band Perry garnered four apiece.
*The sharing the wealth also points to how strong the touring market is for country artists. Kenny Chesney, who got neglected here despite releasing the fine “Hemingway’s Whiskey” during the July 1, 2010-June 30, 2011 eligibility period, and Taylor Swift can both fill stadiums, Keith Urban, Zac Brown Band, Brad Paisley and Jason Aldean can fill arenas. And that’s not even dipping into the stalwarts like Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, and George Strait who sell out larges venues years after year or artists like Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton, whose live audiences are growing every day. Country probably has the deepest bench of any genre.
*There remains a gaping hole when it comes to country duos, so much so that the vocal group and vocal duo of the year should be combined. Just as Brooks & Dunn dominated for a decade plus, and the Judds before them, Sugarland is the only true superstar duo in a field that also includes developing acts Steel Magnolia and Thompson Square, long-in-the-tooth pair Montgomery Gentry and the fantastic Civil Wars, who despite living in Nashville, have probably never gotten played on country radio other than as a novelty.
*The CMA needs to define “new artist” more narrowly. Luke Bryan, who is nominated here, first hit the charts four years ago. To whom is he new? He’s had six Top 10 hits. If he’s new to you, you haven’t been paying attention. Eric Church’s first album came out on Capitol in 2006. Why not nominate Swift? Her first album came out the same year as Church’s.
*Blake Shelton’s continued ascension shows that an artist can have an incredible second act. It was the perfect confluence of events: 10 years after releasing his first album, he earns his first entertainer of the year nod. It’s a build that began a little more than two years ago. He’s been rambling along, doing perfectly well, but the combination of stronger music and dating Miranda Lambert, as her star was also rising, led to the jump from steady mid-level artist to superstar.
*Unlike in the past, when country shunned artists like Faith Hill who courted pop success, the format is confident enough to embrace artists who prove popular in other formats, primarily Taylor Swift. Plus, Swift has handled her crossover beautifully without ever abandoning country for a minute.
*There are acts who the CMA voters largely ignored this year, all of whom released albums during the eligibility period: Toby Keith (why should this year be any different?), Darius Rucker, the aforementioned Chesney and Rascal Flatts, who received only one nod this year for Vocal Group. Why does it remain such a clique?
The 45th Annual CMA Awards will air Nov. 9 at 8 p.m. on ABC. Paisley and Carrie Underwood will co-host for the fourth time.
What did you think of the nominations?
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
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