Award Show Recap
2017 Country Music Awards
By: Dave Leary
Country Music Consultant
CMA Recap: Celebrating Unity and Tradition
The 51st annual edition of the Country Music Association Awards took place in Nashville Wednesday night. There are plenty of other country award shows but this is billed as “country’s biggest night”. In case you missed it on ABC, here’s a recap of the highs and lows.
All-Star opening: One of 2 tributes to the tragedy that happened in Las Vegas at the Route 91 Harvest music festival. Eric Church sang “Amazing Grace” a cappella. Then, Darius Rucker launched into “Hold My Hand” one of the big hits he had with his band Hootie & the Blowfish. He was joined by Rascal Flatts and eventually just about everyone else who performed that night. It was a good message but I’m sure there would’ve been a classic country song that would’ve worked just as well. (See also Dan + Shay and Lauren Alaina singing the Youngbloods’ “Get Together” later in the show.
Best performances: Miranda Lambert (who later won her 7th Female Vocalist award) had the most traditional song of the night with “To Learn Her”. Carrie Underwood (who again co-hosted with Brad Paisley) had the most emotional performance singing “Softly and Tenderly”. As she sang, the names and faces of those in the country music community who passed away over the past year were shown and at the end, the victims of the Las Vegas shootings. It was evidence that as good as Miranda is, Carrie has been woefully overlooked in the Female Vocalist category over the years. Eric Church also had one of the highlights with the rollicking “Chattanooga Lucy”
Worst performances: Even Luke Bryan must realize what an empty song “Light It Up” is. He sounded off-key and didn’t bring his usual energy. Kelsea Ballerini was outclassed on her current hit “Legends” by the legendary Reba McEntire.
Paging FGL: For the second straight year, Brothers Osborne were named Duo of the Year. It may not be long before we ask “Where Are They Now?” about Florida Georgia Line.
Biggest Single Doesn’t Win: Sam Hunt’s “Body Like A Back Road” dominated sales and streaming for months but Keith Urban won Single of the Year for “Blue Ain’t Your Color” and Song of the Year went to Taylor Swift who wrote “Better Man” for Little Big Town.
Tributes to Legends: Little Big Town showcased their harmonies on “Wichita Lineman” to honor Glen Campbell (with the man who wrote it, Jimmy Webb, on piano). Brothers Osborne followed up their hit “It Ain’t My Fault” with “Tulsa Time” as a tribute to Don Williams. By the way, Vocal Event of the Year went to Campbell and Willie Nelson for “Funny How Time Slips Away”
Another Big Night for Stapleton: For the third straight year, Chris Stapleton won male vocalist. He also took home Album of the Year honors for “From a Room, Vol.1”
Garth Wins and Loses: Garth Brooks once again was named Entertainer of the Year. However, after the show he admitted to lip syncing while performing “Ask Me How I Know”.
Hall of Famer: Alan Jackson, recently inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, sang his classics “Chasin’that Neon Rainbow” and “Don’t Rock the Jukebox”. Note to most of those making “country” music these days, this is what it should sound like.
This is a COUNTRY awards show, right?: Why do the producers of these shows think that they’re going to get people who wouldn’t normally watch by bringing on big name pop stars? I’m a fan of Pink (and she was nominated for Vocal Event with Kenny Chesney) but why have her perform her own song? Also, the duet with Maren Morris and Niall Horan wasn’t bad it was just unnecessary.
So to sum up, it was a pretty enjoyable show with some truly memorable moments. Seeing artists like Stapleton, Brothers Osborne and Jon Pardi (who won New Artist) win is hopefully a good sign for the way mainstream country is going to sound. Now, let’s work on getting more women played on country radio.