ACM Nominations – the watering down of country music continues

Another day, another country music award show where all the great music from the eligibility period is ignored in favor of pandering to mainstream tastes. Now, I wasn’t expecting the likes of The Dreaming Fields or even Lady & Gentleman to score any nominations but the academy made two glaring omissions.

Maybe Miranda Lambert doesn’t have as much clout as we thought. Sure her excellent Four The Record got it’s share of the love but nothing for The Pistol Annies?! It was arguably the better album all around. Plus, it sold. Without radio support. And a physical release in stores (until later). If O, Brother Where Art Thou could sneak in, why couldn’t the Pistol Annies?

Also, to ignore Vince Gill and Guitar Slinger is abominable. Sure, he got a song of the year nomination. But that’s more a slap in the face than anything else. He deserves better. Even if they don’t plan on giving him a win, they could at least make him a star player at the party.

Here are the nominees:

Entertainer of the Year
Jason Aldean
Kenny Chesney
Brad Paisley
Blake Shelton
Taylor Swift

First off, let the Carrie Underwood backlash begin. And end. I agree with the fans who love her, but she didn’t make enough of a splash in 2011 to be considered here. At least you need to release a solo single.

I agree with this list as it features most of the big players in country music right now. I would’ve included Zac Brown Band here as musicianship should win out over star power. But I can’t say any of these artists don’t deserve it from a numbers perspective.

Will Win: Taylor Swift – it’s still a fan voted award and she has the largest fan base for these kinds of contests.

Should Win: Blake Shelton – not because of his radio hits but because he’s the only one here to ascend to the next level in 2011. He makes country music look cool on The Voice, too. He may not have a strong catalog of singles but we could do far worse in Hollywood’s ideal of country music.

Male Vocalist of the Year
Jason Aldean
Kenny Chesney
Brad Paisley
Blake Shelton
Chris Young

Wait a minute, no Keith Urban? I just noticed he’s out of the Entertainer race, too. Wow. Well, I can’t say it’s surprising seeing that he’s been coasting for a while now by singing the same song with every single. But it’s still worth noting.

Good for the ACM to acknowledge Chris Young. While he most likely won’t win, he’s still one of the strongest male vocalists in all of country music right now. And he’s Country. I’m glad someone has elevated him to this level.

Will Win: Blake Shelton – he has two Male Vocalist trophies from the CMA but he’s yet to win here despite five straight #1 singles. It’s his year.

Should Win: Chris Young – a part from Kenny Chesney, he has the best catalog song for song than any of the other acts combined. And he has that voice to go along with it.

Female Vocalist of the Year
Sara Evans
Miranda Lambert
Martina McBride
Taylor Swift
Carrie Underwood

A retread of the CMA list from last November. And it’s a boring list at that. Sara Evans has already won here so I’m not as crazy about seeing her win a second trophy although it would be nice. “I’m Gonna Love You Through It” has put Martina McBride ahead of Lee Ann Womack this year and while the radio airplay justifies her nomination, the song doesn’t.

Will Win: Miranda Lambert – it’s her category to loose

Should Win: Miranda Lambert – on the strength of Pistol Annies alone. BUT Taylor Swift has yet to win here. She’s the worst vocalist of this group by a wide margin, BUT she has one Female Vocalist trophy from the CMA. That could give her an edge.

Vocal Duo of the Year
Love and Theft
Montgomery Gentry
Steel Magnolia
Sugarland
Thompson Square

A joke. Love and Theft haven’t had a hit in years and “Runaway” wasn’t even a huge hit when peaked a few years ago. Steel Magnolia just broke up and left their label, so they’re out. Sugarland may have the touring stats but their last album was terrible and “Tonight” tanked. The only legitimate contender here is Thompson Square.

Will Win: Sugarland – by default. They’re the only superstars in this category

Should Win: Thompson Square – They have the hits to justify a win and after they sang “Christmas In Dixie” on the GAC special last month, they have the goods, too.

Vocal Group of the Year
The Band Perry
Eli Young Band
Lady Antebellum
Rascal Flatts
Zac Brown Band

Five legitimate superstars. Each had huge hits within the last year. This is a tough race for who should win. But it’s safe to say Rascal Flatts are out. They haven’t won in years and “Easy” should do very little to change that.

But of course, this isn’t even the race it should be. Lady Antebellum will win. I’d bet my life savings on it. End of story.

Will Win: Lady Antebellum – like they’d give it to anyone else, anyway?

Should Win: Zac Brown Band – They’ve gone 0 for 12 at award shows despite churning out #1 hit after #1 hit. It’s time to wake up and let them have their day.

Album of the Year
Eric Church, ‘Chief’
Miranda Lambert, ‘Four the Record’
Kenny Chesney, ‘Hemmingway’s Whiskey’
Jason Aldean, ‘My Kinda Party’
Lady Antebellum, ‘Own the Night’

This list should be much more interesting. Lady Antebellum shouldn’t even be here for sake of quality. I’d put Guitar Slinger in that slot. In place of Jason Aldean, I’d put Hell on Heels. That would at least make this category exciting.

In terms of how the academy is going to vote, I’m not quite sure who is going to win. Lambert has won for her last two projects and has a real shot. Aldean won the CMA and is riding that momentum here. But of course, Lady Antebellum are still the second coming. I would love to see Eric Church take it home but I don’t know if he’ll pull in enough votes to take it home. He’s in the spot Lambert was in a few years ago when she was just exploding. But it could happen.

Will Win: My Kind of Party – the force of “Dirt Road Anthem” is likely to be stopped

Should Win: Chief – Lambert won for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend when no one thought she had a prayer. There’s a strong likelihood they’ve give it to the underdog

Vocal Event of the Year
Aaron Lewis feat. George Jones and Charlie Daniels, ‘Country Boy’
Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson, ‘Don’t You Wanna Stay’
Brad Paisley feat. Alabama, ‘Old Alabama’
Brad Paisley feat. Carrie Underwood, ‘Remind Me’
Kenny Chesney feat. Grace Potter, ‘You and Tequila’

Take out Aaron Lewis and you have four real contenders. In terms of quality, Chesney and Potter have the best song. It isn’t a traditional “duet” but it is an exquisite pairing. Paisley and Underwood are great together but this song lacks excitement. Plus, I have a strong feeling Paisley will cancel himself out. I’m rooting for Jason and Kelly all the way.

Will Win: “Don’t You Wanna Stay”

Should Win: “You and Tequila”

Video of the Year
Jason Aldean, ‘Tattoos on This Town’
Eric Church, ‘Homeboy’
Toby Keith, ‘Red Solo Cup’
Lady Antebellum, ‘Just a Kiss’
Taylor Swfit, ‘Mean’

The only great clip here is “Mean.” The CMA Video win, “You and Tequila” wasn’t even nominated. I liked the romantic aspects of “Just A Kiss” enough to root for it, but all and all this is an awful list. I have a feeling Toby’s atrocious “Red Solo Cup” will win out, though, as it has the most attention of any of these videos.

Will Win: “Red Solo Cup” – but that doesn’t mean I want it to

Should Win: “Mean” – the best of this god awful bunch

Single Record of the Year
Eli Young Band, ‘Crazy Girl’
Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson, ‘Don’t You Wanna Stay’
Toby Keith, ‘Red Solo Cup’
Chris Young, ‘Tomorrow’
Kenny Chesney feat. Grace Potter, ‘You and Tequila’

You have the party anthem against the song derogatory to women. Thank goodness for Chesney and Potter who show what a good drinking song is made of. It’s the best of this bunch along with Young’s “Tomorrow.”

But really, how can a category featuring “Red Solo Cup” even be taken seriously?

Will Win: “Red Solo Cup” – if it wins, I don’t think I could handle it, but really, does any other song have even a remote shot?

Should Win: “Tomorrow” – It’s his best single to date and a phenomenal vocal performance

Song of the Year
Eli Young Band, ‘Crazy Girl’
Dierks Bentley, ‘Home’
Lady Antebellum, ‘Just a Kiss’
Vince Gill, ‘Threaten Me With Heaven’
Kenny Chesney feat. Grace Potter, ‘You and Tequila’

Finally, an excellent category. Well, only if you take out Eil Young Band and Lady Antebellum. It’s nice to finally see Bentley score something and I hope he becomes the next big thing this year.

Will Win: “Just A Kiss” – It’s Lady Antebellum. Why would you vote against them? They win everything.

Should Win: “Home” – Sure I love Gill’s “Threaten Me With Heaven.” But it doesn’t excite me like other songs on Guitar Slinger enough to warrant this award. I wouldn’t be upset in the least if it wins. But I’d be ecstatic if Bentley takes it home.

Songwriter of the Year
Rhett Akins
Dallas Davidson
Ben Hayslip
Luke Laird
David Lee Murphy

Dallas Davidson is going to win. He has the monopoly on country music right now. End of story.

Isn’t it too bad Matraca Berg couldn’t be included here? If only “You and Tequila” wasn’t written more than ten years ago.

Will Win: Dallas Davidson – try and name one major hit within the last year he didn’t write. There are a handful but only a handful

Should Win: Luke Laird – he gets what county music is all about. Proof is in the pudding if you listen to “You,” his co-write with Chris Young.

So there you have it. The dismal ACM nominations for 2012. Without the likes of Pistol Annies and Vince Gill, this is hardly worth getting excited about. That’s what happens when the worst music of the year is being rewarded.

But if there’s any silver lining, it’s this – no mention of either “Honey Bee” or “Dirt Road Anthem.” Of course, “Red Solo Cup” is big enough for the both of them.

My extreme dislike of what’s popular in country music continues

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One Response to “ACM Nominations – the watering down of country music continues”

  1. bob Says:

    For some categories, I just don’t care much for any of the nominees. I agree with your pick of ZBB for vocal group, Thompson Square for duo and Chris Young for male vocalist. Re single and song I would have voted for Ronnie Dunn’s “Cost of Livin'” which I think is the song of the year. Can’t believe it didn’t get nominated. That being said, I would have picked Phillip Coleman as songwriter of the year for co-writing “Cost of Livin'” with Dunn. Coleman also wrote “All Kinds of Kinds”, the opening song on Miranda’s “Four the Record” album, with Don Henry. Back in ’01, he co-wrote Jo Dee Messina’s “Downtime” with Carolyn dawn Johnson.

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