Saturday, September 18, 2010

Country Music's CMA Awards 2010

The country music I loved died a while back and has been replaced by the pop light music now being passed off as country music. A few artists still make music I like such as Miranda Lambert. I was pleased to see Lambert received 9 nominations for this year’s Country Music Association Awards (CMA).

Lambert received two nominations each for Single and Song of the Year. Usually this means she won’t win the either category because the two songs split the vote, but that is not always the case. In 2002 Alan Jackson’s “Where Were You (When the World Stop Turning)” won Single and Song of the Year even though Jackson’s “Drive (For Daddy Gene)” was also nominated for Single and Song of Year. That said “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” had such momentum that no song that year was even close to it in creed and popularity.

I expect Lambert to win Female Vocalist of the Year and Album of the Year. Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now” will likely win Single and Song of the Year.

Much of the discussion about the CMA nominations centers on Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood being excluded from the Entertainer of the Year nominations. I was surprised too, but there is some precedent to this.

In 1998 the CMA bestowed the Entertainer of the Year on Shania Twain and then failed to nominate her the next year. The same thing has now happened to Taylor Swift who won last year and was not nominated this year. The reason is simple, the CMA voting membership dislikes Swift’s blatant attempt to make pop music and call it country just as they disliked Twain’s similar attempt. Of course the hypocrites who point their fingers at Swift are the same people who are systematically destroying traditional country music by producing the watered down pop music that is today called country music.

Carrie Underwood’s case is more complex, but none less hypocritical. Underwood is artist of great vocal talent who seems to represent all the good traits a country artist is suppose to represent. Underwood has also embraced country music’s past while trying to keep her pop audience gained when she won American Idol.

Underwood was a blessing to country music when she arrived. She was a ready made star who looked fabulous and sang even better. The country music world could not wait to build Underwood up as a mega-star. However, our society loves building people up only to systematically tear them back down. Call it the backlash against being to successful.

Underwood sang too good, looked too beautiful, sold too many albums, got too many #1 singles, and won too many awards. It happened to the Judds and Randy Travis. They were highly successful only to be denied the CMA Entertainer of the Year Award because they were jealously viewed as “too successful”. It also happened to Garth Brooks who after a string of amazing successes was sent into exile by the CMA. Today Brooks is seen as a greedy egoist; no matter that his drive to sell more albums, play to more fans, and be the center of attention was always part of who he was and help him make himself and country music more successful.

George Strait, Alan Jackson, and Brooks & Dunn are about the only people to survive this backlash against success, but even they were not completely immune. Now Brooks & Dunn have retired. Jackson is aging and not the commercial force he once was. Strait is not young either who could retire a moment’s notice.

Underwood may be able to reverse this backlash. She may make that album or record that song that is so good no one can deny her. Until then it is Miranda Lambert’s world, or it is until backlash against her success begins.