CMA nominations 2010: ushering in much needed new blood

Wow. My head is spinning this morning with the release of the nominations for the 44th annual Country Music Association (CMA) awards. It’s spinning because, for the first time in years, new blood has prevailed. I didn’t think it was possible that the folks at the CMA would recognize the shift in the genre but after last November’s love fest to Taylor Swift, the flood gates were pushed wide open.

I was predicting many a nomination for Miranda Lambert but the nine she ended up with was more than I could’ve bet money on. Seeing the double nods in the single, song, and video categories for both “White Liar” and “The House That Built Me” was close to a shock. She was always a lock to secure a nod for those three awards but I never thought it would be twice over. If I had to choose between the two, “White Liar” for single and and “The House That Built Me” for song and video. I just wish Miranda had written that song. Kudos to Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin, but the success would’ve been that much sweeter if she had.

(FYI…the last time an artist had two nominations in the single, song, and video categories was Alan Jackson back in 2002. He ended up with a record night scoring five trophies. The two songs were “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning)” and “Drive (For Daddy Gene)).

While Miranda is the big news, and rightfully so, other acts made out equally as well. Lady Antebellum has always been the second coming in the eyes of critics and media and it was proven once again this morning. Their massive single, “Need You Now” rightfully scored single and song nods as did their album of the same name. They also scored for video, vocal group, and entertainer.

I didn’t like the Need You Now album when I first listened to it, feeling like they came up far short of their potential. The songs felt second rate and lacked the promise set by the title track. But after many listenings, my opinion changed…if only sightly. They could do much better. If I was running their career, I would make “Stars Tonight” their next single.

It was Kevin John Coyne of Country Universe that first brought up the possibility of new blood in the entertainer category. I didn’t think it was possible, but he was right. When I saw Lady A’s nod in there I wasn’t really that surprised. That they haven’t had a headlining tour yet and still got a nomination is remarkable. It’ll make their concert in October all the more special.

The other big surprise was the recognition of Easton Corbin and his single, “A Little More Country Than That.” He was a shoo-in for the New Artist award (and deserves to be there), but the single of the year nomination came out of nowhere. There is no denying how big a record it was for him, but it almost seems like the CMA are too quick to judge his long-term appeal. The follow-up single, “Roll With It” just sauntered into the top ten and doesn’t look to have the legs of his previous song. Sure he’s traditional and can easily be mistaken for George Strait, but that isn’t enough to garner nominations. Plus, “Roll With It,” is a much better song than the one he’s nominated for. Corbin shows promise, but he’s yet to fulfill it.

A better choice would’ve been “Up On The Ridge,” the lead single and title track of Dierks Bentley’s latest release. I fully expected to see the CMA recognize his bluegrass effort and they did with nominations for both album and male vocalist. It did take me some time to warm up to the song, but it was as good if not better than most single charting country this year. The fact that country radio played it at all proved the power of a great song. I’m very happy to see the love for his acoustic and artistic masterpiece.

I’m also thrilled to see Blake Shelton score a male vocalist nomination. That was a long time coming. It is sad that it comes off the heels of “Hillbilly Bone,” the most unintelligent country single of 2010. To see that song also got a single of the year nomination proves a lack of depth by the CMA. A better choice to fill out the category would’ve been “Consider Me Gone,” Reba McEntire’s four week number one from December/January. I’m glad it didn’t get a song of the year nomination. Any song that rhymes New York City and Conway Twitty, does a major disservice not only to country music but Twitty’s legacy. He deserves much better than that.

I’m glad to see the continued love for Zac Brown Band. It’s a shame, that come awards season, they have to play second fiddle to Lady A but it seems like the CMA plan to give them new artist at least. They lost the ACM new artist award (which is fan voted) to Julianne Hough two years ago, so a victory here would be their first major country music award. I’m also thrilled at their Entertainer nomination, they are exceptional live and their release of Pass The Jar in May only solidified this. They very well could take home the big award if they can pry it out of Miranda Lambert and Brad Paisley’s hands first.

The only beef I have with the awards is Female Vocalist of the Year. Based on airplay and chart success all five deserve to be there but the inclusion of Martina McBride for the 13th straight year is puzzling. Her recent music tarnishes her legacy and shows an artist who is quickly loosing herself. I would’ve replaced her with Rosanne Cash (as others have pointed out; this is not my original thought) who came back to form last fall with The List. While the album owes as much to pop as country, it showcases one of the finest singers around in a very elegant light. Its too bad how far into left field she is as she should’ve been a lock.

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