Category: CMAs

CMA Awards: High heels, pyro and a Miranda Lambert misstep

Miranda lambert
If there are high heels and pyro, it must be time for Miranda Lambert at an award show.

Now becoming little-more than Nashville's token bad girl, Lambert has an old-school fierceness and a younger-than-it-sounds voice that will grab the listener by the throat when she ramps it up to a howl. Yet her performance here tonight, as well as much of her recent album "Four the Record," illustrate how Lambert is quickly becoming one of the most frustrating artists in mainstream Nashville. 

Increasingly, Lambert seems to be in the middle of an identity crisis. The recession-timed side-project of hers, Pistol Annies, was brisk, understated and packed with true-to-life details. Yet too often writers and producers want Lambert to play the part of the scorned, the crazy or the downright mad.

"Behind every woman scorned is a man who made her that way," she sang in "Baggage Claim" at the CMA Awards, but it's hard not to imagine the Lambert of "Gunpowder and Lead" cringing at such a weak sentiment.

PHOTOS: Country Music Awards red carpet arrivals

A better showcase for her at the CMAs would have been her "Dear Diamond," a sort of "Tell-Tale Heart" for the adulterous. It's also a song in which Lambert has the sole writing credit. No doubt she can be an artist to be reckoned with, but everyone else should just get out of her way. 

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CMA Awards: Hank Williams Jr. and 'Footloose' (?) open telecast

Blake Shelton, left, and Kenny Loggins perform "Footloose"
Wait long enough and -- voilà -- a mid-tempo rocker is suddenly a country song. The latest edition of the Country Music Awards opened with Blake Shelton tackling his remake of Kenny Loggins' "Footloose." Yet this wasn't purely promotional, as one would hope that Nashville in 2011 would have more to offer to the pop world than some Hollywood-driven marketing. This was a chance for a duet, and the song's originator, Loggins, appeared toward song's end.

Though ghettoized to the song's final moments, Loggins' lighter-voiced scratchiness suited the cut better than Shelton's perfectly chiseled vocals. Yet puzzling award-show openings don't belong solely to the CMA Awards, and one thing these Nashville-based high-fives have going for them over other award telecasts is a sense of humor. 

Credit CMA hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood. It was Paisley who mocked "Footlose" as a "country classic," and Paisley and Underwood then had fun at the expense of Hank Williams Jr., whom ESPN had earlier dumped from Monday Night Football.

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Taylor Swift, Brad Paisley are among top CMA Award nominees

Brad Paisley will host the CMA Awards
Brad Paisley, Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton and Jason Aldean top the roster of nominees for the 45th Country Music Assn. Awards with five apiece. Right behind them with four nominations each are Kimberly Perry of the Band Perry and Zac Brown Band members Brown and Coy Bowles.

The CMA’s top award -- for entertainer of the year -- will have Swift, Shelton, Paisley and Aldean vying with Keith Urban. Album of the year nominees are Swift’s “Speak Now,” Shelton’s  “All About Tonight,” Paisley’s “This Is Country Music,” Zac Brown Band’s “You Get What You Give” and Aldean’s “My Kinda Party.”

The awards will be handed out Nov. 9 in a ceremony that ABC-TV will broadcast from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. The show will be hosted for the fourth time by Paisley and Carrie Underwood.


CMA Awards 2010: Brad Paisley & Miranda Lambert win big

Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas

Review: Taylor Swift at Staples Center

-- Randy Lewis

Photo: Brad Paisley, who will co-host the 45th Country Music Assn. Awards in Nashville in October and is up for five awards, is shown during a 2010 concert at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times.

CMA Awards 2010: Brad Paisley & Miranda Lambert win big

The Times' Randy Lewis recapped the Country Music Assn. Awards for the new Envelope blog Awards Tracker. An excerpt is below.

BRAD_PAISLEY_CMAS_AP_4 Texas country music firebrand Miranda Lambert won big at the 44th Country Music Assn. Awards ceremony on Wednesday in Nashville, taking home trophies for best album, top female vocalist and video in connection with her album “Revolution.” Brad Paisley took the night’s top award as entertainer of the year, and Lady Antebellum’s chart-topping hit “Need You Now” was named the year’s best single.

The entertainer award to Paisley recognizes a combination of live performance, recorded music and ambassadorship for country music. “My hero is Little Jimmy Dickens,” Paisley said, mimicking the broken voice of the Grand Ole Opry veteran, “and he has a saying: ‘If you see a turtle on a fencepost, it had help getting up there.' I feel like a turtle on a fencepost at this point.”

Lambert, whose awards came on the day she turned 27, said, “‘Revolution’ has truly caused a revolution in my life this year.... It’s my baby; it’s what I live for. Thank you so much for loving it too.” “The House That Built Me,” a Tom Douglas-Allen Shamblin composition that Lambert sang on the album, was named song and video of the year.

Blake Shelton, Lambert’s fiancé, took two awards, including male vocalist in what may have been the evening’s biggest surprise, trumping George Strait, Keith Urban, Brad Paisley and Dierks Bentley. Sugarland took the vocal duo trophy.

Atlanta’s party-minded jam group the Zac Brown Band was named new artist of the year, and the Georgia-based trio Lady Antebellum also collected vocal group honors on a show that sought to pump up its celebrity quotient, and ratings, by showcasing actress Gwyneth Paltrow in her public debut as a country singer.

Paltrow, awkwardly strumming an acoustic guitar and joined by Vince Gill, sang the title song from her forthcoming film, “Country Strong,” for which Nashville pros helped guide her through a crash course in country music to prepare for her role, and to do her own singing, in the tale of a fallen country star who tries to overcome a personal tragedy and an alcohol abuse problem to regain her career.

Read more on Awards Tracker.

-- Randy Lewis

Photo: Brad Paisley / Associated Press


CMA Awards 2010 live: All the performances as they happen


What follows will be instant grades of every performance at tonight's Country Music Assn. Awards. This post is written off-site from the CMAs at the LAT HQ, and strives to be as fast and accurate as possible. This will be updated constantly throughout the night.

There may be typos. 

Carrie Underwood, "Songs Like This." The host of the show gets things going with her Nashville-via-Shania Twain rocker, and a  a song that works on country radio simply because it uses a banjo as if it's a lead guitar. Sporting red heels and a glittery silver dress that looks like it was ripped from a made-for-TV-version of "Tron," Underwood howled and wailed and started the show with a high energy pop tune. It was Keith Urban who gave Underwood an assist on the banjo, and co-host Brad Paisley who wielded the guitar. A minute or two later the hosts gave a shout-out to Gwyneth Paltrow, who was sitting in the audience and will perform tonight, but were careful to say this show is broadcast from Nashville rather than Los Angeles. Underwood's performance, however, was all Hollywood. Grade: B-. Bonus grade: Paisley doing country versions of Lady Gaga songs in the opening monologue: A

Rascal Flatts, "Why Wait" The stage is going for a Las Vegas look, but this is all Branson, Mo., shtick. Proving that a country sparkle is not just for the genre's leading ladies, singer Gary LeVox paces the stage in a shiny purple shirt, doing his best to justify rushing into marriage. Why not? The angry drunk divorce songs can come on Album No. 10. Like too much of mainstream country, this is Nashville comfort food, and it's easy to knock the plain-and-simple quality of the band. But Rascal Flatts look like they're fancy accountants playing Western dress-up for the night, and I find the look too charming to hate. Grade: C

Blake Shelton, "All About Tonight." When Blake's girl Miranda Lambert was onstage accepting an award for “The House That Built Me,” writers Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin noted that the song could have easily gone to Blake. Shelton’s "All About Tonight" could just have easily gone to Rascal Flatts, as there's little to distinguish this tossed-off party tune. Though it's odd to hear Shelton sing the line "we're rocking all kinds of concoctions in our hands" (you know things are getting RECKLESS when there's "CONCOCTIONS"), the tune comes and goes, and without an impact. Grade: D

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Lady Antebellum, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert lead ACM nominations

Lady Antebellum 2

Lady Antebellum continues its ascent in country music circles, nabbing a field-leading seven nominations for the 45th Academy of Country Music Awards, among them album, single, song and top vocal group.

The Georgia trio is the hottest act in all of pop music at the moment, having sold more than 1 million copies of its sophomore album “Need You Now” in the four weeks since it was released in January. Lady Antebellum just edged out Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert, who scored six nominations each, and Taylor Swift with five nods. It creates a roster of top award contenders heavy on new blood.

Swift, who upset a slate of country veterans at last fall’s Country Music Assn. Awards in being named that organization’s youngest entertainer of the year winner ever, is in the running for the same trophy at this year’s ACMs. The organization expanded the entertainer category to include eight names this year, up from the usual five: the other nominees are Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Brad Paisley, George Strait, Keith Urban and the Zac Brown Band.

Voting for entertainer of the year will be open once again to fans, and audience input also will be factored into the award for best new artist. Awards will be handed out April 18 at a ceremony from the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, to be telecast on CBS.

--Randy Lewis

Photo of Lady Antebellum (left to right): Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood. Credit: Miranda Penn Turin

Taylor Swift: Young, fearless and in control

The country-pop star wins Entertainer of the Year and three other prizes in a night dominated by up-and-comers.

SWIFT_GETTY_LIVE In 1958, Johnny Cash released the song "Ballad of a Teenage Queen," the story of a pretty small-town girl who won Hollywood fame but gave it all up for the boy next door. In 2009 -- on Wednesday night, actually, in Nashville, at the annual Country Music Assn. Awards ceremony -- Taylor Swift updated and obliterated that story line.

The 19-year-old songwriter and universe-shifting star won in four categories, beating out mainstays such as Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban to claim country music for youth, femininity and pop. She also performed two numbers and was the subject of much running humor throughout the program, which found its spark whenever one of country's current batch of New Non-Traditionalists took the stage.

Swift started things out with a version of "Forever and Always" that was glitzy and high-concept -- and off-tune, a consistent characteristic of Swift's live outings that gave the lie to her one undeserved triumph, for best female vocalist. The prize should have gone to Carrie Underwood, country's most powerful young singer and the evening's co-host with Brad Paisley.

Struggling for her notes but not showing any concern about it, Swift made a flurry of arena-rock moves, shaking her long, gold tresses as if she were Robert Plant and sliding down a shiny pole in what seemed like a defiant nod toward her friend Miley Cyrus, who took guff for similar gyrations on this year's Teen Choice Awards. By the end of this production number, she owned the night. And she kept on owning it, right down to her tearful acceptance of the Entertainer of the Year prize, which she shared with her touring band and her fans, "and the shirts you made yourselves."

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'I feel like I'm in a dream' -- Taylor Swift, CMA 2009 entertainer of the year

SWIFT_GETTY_AWARDS_3 Taylor Swift was understandably flummoxed when I got her on the phone a few minutes after she became the youngest person ever, and the first female in nearly a decade, to be named entertainer of the year by the Country Music Assn.

"I am absolutely at a loss for words," she said, the sounds of celebration clattering in the background. "I feel like I’m in a dream. It honestly was one of those moments where my second-grade music teacher, my crew who puts that stage together and takes it down every night, all the fans in the meet-and-greet lines, all these faces came flashing through my mind.

"All I could think about was the fact that all my life, the entertainer of the year award was always such an unattainable thing, an unattainable dream. Then there I was walking up to the stage and it was happening. It took a while for it to sink in."

Because she won all four categories in which she had been nominated, I asked whether her win as female vocalist surprised her as much as it had the many who expected Carrie Underwood to repeat, or such widely lauded singers as Reba McEntire or Martina McBride to take the award.

"Absolutely," she said. "I was blown away by that. I cannot believe I have four CMA awards that I didn’t have before tonight. I was lucky to win the Horizon award two years ago, but this ... it's so overwhelming to me. Reba and Faith Hill were there, and after they announced the entertainer award we were all just hugging and crying; it was such a wonderful moment. I can’t even believe that this is happening. I’m stuttering."

I also was curious about what the reigning entertainer of the year, Kenny Chesney, told her as she went up to collect the entertainer award that had gone to him for four of the previous five years.

"He gives the most amazing amount of love out, and that's why everyone in country music loves him so much. He and I were texting earlier, and saying, 'I love you no matter what happens' to each other. It’s such a wonderful thing to be part of an industry where everyone genuinely roots for each other. Getting a hug from Kenny just before I went on stage was just so amazing."

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CMA Awards 2009: All the performances, as they happen [UPDATED]


Pop & Hiss brings you instant reviews, typos and all, of all the performances at the Country Music Assn. Awards. It was a big night for Taylor Swift, who won entertainer of the year. She ended a three-year run from Kenny Chesney,

Related: CMA Awards 2009 Scorecard: Complete nominees and winners

Taylor Swift, "Forever & Always." Nashville is going straight to its A-list star, opening the show with pop music's most popular living singer at the moment. She'll have two songs tonight, and first up is "Forever & Always." To sum it up: The 2009 CMA Awards are off and running with a train wreck. The energy and excitement of Swift's MTV Video Music Awards performance, in which she was running through a subway, is completely lost. Beginning with a fake interview with Nancy O'Dell was cute, especially when Swift noted that "If guys don't want me to write bad songs about them, they shouldn't do bad things." But turning her "Forever & Always" into a chair-throwing angsty performance, complete with a stripper --  or fireman’s pole  (depending on your level of innocence) -- was ill-advised. She looked strained in trying to capture the anger of the song, awkwardly rolling on the floor and yanking at her hair. This is a D. But she has another performance in which to redeem herself.

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CMA Awards 2009 Scorecard: Complete nominees and winners

Winners will be in bold italics.



Kenny Chesney
Brad Paisley
George Strait
Taylor Swift
Keith Urban

Miranda Lambert
Martina McBride
Reba McEntire
Taylor Swift
Carrie Underwood

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