Category Archives: Country News

2012 CMA Awards Nominations: Out with the Old, In with the New

For the better part of the past 12 years the list of CMA Awards nominees has changed very little from year to year. You have the usual suspects like Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts, and Martina McBride who seem to land nominations every year in their respective vocalist fields. It’s very rare for any of them to be left out of a category in favor of younger, “hipper” artists who are starting to fill their shoes. The 2012 list of CMA nominees shockingly finds three of those four left out in favor of new superstars who are ready to be the new faces of awards season.

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ACM Awards Wrap-Up

Well the 47th Annual Academy of Country Music awards are in the books. Last night the awards show was definitely dressed to fit Las Vegas with plenty of glitz, glamor, and upsets. Here’s ATC’s final wrap up of the night’s big winners as well as how I did with my predictions. Just a heads up, I didn’t do too well.

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ACM Awards: Official Predictions

The 47th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards is finally here! The annual awards show will take place live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas this Sunday night on CBS. The show will once again be hosted by Reba and Blake Shelton and will feature over-the-top performance from some of the genre’s biggest superstars. However, the entire night will revolve around the multiple trophy presentations that will take place. As with every other awards show, I will offer my predictions for the night’s big winners!

See My Predictions Here!

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Jake Owen Facebook Contest

ATC is excited to launch its newest contest courtesy of Sony Nashville which features one of country’s hottest male vocalists, Jake Owen! The Grand Prize winner will receive an autographed guitar and a one year Jake Owen Fan Club membership. All you have to do to enter is simply “Like” us on our Facebook page and then look for the Sony Nashville Sweeps app and enter there! You better hurry and do it quick though because you only have til March 14 to get your entry in! Good luck!

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ACM Nominations: Kenny Chesney Back on Top with 9 Nominations

The nominations for the Academy of Country Music’s 47th annual awards show were announced Thursday morning and Kenny Chesney leads the pack with an astounding nine nominations. Jason Aldean and Lady Antebellum were also among the most nominated artists with six and five nominations respectively, while a horde of other artists received multiple nods as well. If y’all were wondering if I’d voice my opinion about each category, then you’d be correct! Read on to see the snubs and surprises among this year’s list of nominees. Continue reading


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Aldean, Paisley, Shelton and Swift Top CMA Nominations

It’s official! The nominations for the 45th Annual CMA Awards have been revealed and I’m proud to say we weren’t crazy wrong in most of the categories we predicted. Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, and Taylor Swift are all tied as the leading nominees with five nominations a piece, including Entertainer of the Year. This year’s awards will be handed out during the 45th Annual CMA Awards Show on November 9 which will be hosted for a fourth year in a row by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood.

Entertainer of the Year

  • Jason Aldean
  • Brad Paisley
  • Blake Shelton
  • Taylor Swift
  • Keith Urban

We correctly predicted three of the five artists by choosing Aldean, Paisley, and Swift to be nominees but were incorrect with our predictions of Kenny Chesney and Zac Brown Band as they were overlooked for first time nominee Blake Shelton and previous winner Keith Urban. I’m surprised that after all the single and album success as well as a major tour four time winner Kenny Chesney didn’t make the cut again this year. Also it’s a bit surprising to see Blake Shelton in this category but his stint as a judge on The Voice probably helped him secure his first nomination.

Front Runner: Jason Aldean

Female Vocalist of the Year

  • Sara Evans
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Martina McBride
  • Taylor Swift
  • Carrie Underwood

In this category we predicted four of the nominated women, but were incorrect with our prediction of Reba McEntire taking the fifth spot. It’s a little surprising to see Martina McBride in this category once again seeing as she didn’t have a new album released and only charted one single with “Teenage Daughters.”

Front Runner: Taylor Swift

Male Vocalist of the Year

  • Jason Aldean
  • Kenny Chesney
  • Brad Paisley
  • Blake Shelton
  • Keith Urban

This was one of two categories that we predicted all five nominated artists correctly! It’s no surprise to see these five men all land nominations considering they’ve all had huge years in the past year.

Front Runner: Jason Aldean

New Artist of the Year

  • The Band Perry
  • Luke Bryan
  • Eric Church
  • Thompson Square
  • Chris Young

This was the second category we correctly predicted all five of the nominees! When it comes to this year’s new artists, these five all led the pack and experienced breakthrough years, which the CMA has chosen to recognize.

Front Runner: The Band Perry

Vocal Group of the Year

  • The Band Perry
  • Lady Antebellum
  • Little Big Town
  • Rascal Flatts
  • Zac Brown Band

This same five groups who were nominated last year return as nominees this year. It’s nice to finally see five groups who have actually experienced some success in the past year.

Front Runner: The Band Perry

Vocal Duo of the Year

  • The Civil Wars
  • Montgomery Gentry
  • Steel Magnolia
  • Sugarland
  • Thompson Square

Three of last year’s nominated duos return this year as the retired Brooks & Dunn and Joey + Rory were replaced with the little known duo The Civil Wars and top contender Thompson Square. This should be an interesting category since Sugarland hasn’t experienced any success at radio since last year’s “Stuck Like Glue” while Thompson Square’s “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not?” is one of this year’s most played songs.

Front Runner: Thompson Square

Single of the Year

  • “A Little Bit Stronger” – Sara Evans
  • “Colder Weather” – Zac Brown Band
  • “Don’t You Wanna Stay” – Jason Aldean featuring Kelly Clarkson
  • “Honey Bee” – Blake Shelton
  • “If I Die Young” – The Band Perry

We correctly predicted three of the five nominated songs to compete for this year’s Single of the Year honors. The Zac Brown Band and Blake Shelton songs managed to sneak into the category over our predicted “As She’s Walking Away” and Chris Young’s “Tomorrow.”

Front Runner: “If I Die Young” – The Band Perry

Song of the Year

  • “Colder Weather” – Zac Brown Band (written by Zac Brown, Wyatt Durrette, Levi Lowrey, and Coy Bowles)
  • “Dirt Road Anthem” – Jason Aldean (written by Colt Ford and Brantley Gilbert)
  • “If I Die Young” – The Band Perry (written by Kimberly Perry)
  • “Mean” – Taylor Swift (written by Taylor Swift)
  • “You and Tequila” – Kenny Chesney featuring Grace Potter (written by Matraca Berg and Deana Carter)

So we only correctly predicted one song in this category and that was The Band Perry’s smash hit, although we knew songs by Zac Brown Band and Taylor Swift would make an appearance. I’m ecstatic that the CMA nominated “You and Tequila” in this category seeing as its one of Chesney’s finest singles of his career. I’m a little shocked that “Dirt Road Anthem” snagged a nomination over the far more superior “Don’t You Wanna Stay.”

Front Runner: “If I Die Young” – The Band Perry (written by Kimberly Perry)

Album of the Year

  • All About Tonight – Blake Shelton
  • My Kinda Party – Jason Aldean
  • Speak Now – Taylor Swift
  • This Is Country Music – Brad Paisley
  • You Get What You Give – Zac Brown Band

I was pretty confident that this would be one of the categories where we correctly guessed all five nominees, but we were incorrect. Somehow the Blake Shelton “six pack” edged out platinum selling Hemingway’s Whiskey from Kenny Chesney. Apparently the CMAs have taken a liking to Blake Shelton after crowning him last year’s Male Vocalist of the Year.

Front Runner: My Kinda Party – Jason Aldean or Speak Now – Taylor Swift

Musical Event of the Year

  • “As She’s Walking Away” – Zac Brown Band featuring Alan Jackson
  • “Coal Miner’s Daughter” – Lorretta Lynn, Sheryl Crow, and Miranda Lambert
  • “Don’t You Wanna Stay” – Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson
  • “Old Alabama” – Brad Paisley featuring Alabama
  • “You and Tequila” – Kenny Chesney featuring Grace Potter

A fantastic lineup of the year’s best collaborations which includes three number songs that topped the charts, a remake of a legendary country classic, and one of the best songs of the year. I happen to be a fan of all five of these songs, but if I was a voting member of the CMA, my vote would go to the fantastic “You and Tequila” to win.

Front Runner: “Don’t You Wanna Stay” – Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson

Music Video of the Year

  • “Honey Bee” – Blake Shelton
  • “If I Die Young” – The Band Perry
  • “Mean” – Taylor Swift
  • “Old Alabama” – Brad Paisley featuring Alabama
  • “You and Tequila” – Kenny Chesney featuring Grace Potter

This category is going to be hard to predict as all five videos are fantastic in their own right. My personal favorite would be the “You and Tequila” video, but it is going to be difficult to beat out video king Brad Paisley.

Front Runner: “Old Alabama” – Brad Paisley featuring Alabama

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Scotty vs. Lauren: American Idol’s Country Showdown

Tuesday night, American Idol will begin its 10th season finale with a performance show that will pit two of its youngest contestants against one another as 17 year old country crooner Scotty McCreery will go head-to-head with 16 year old Southern belle, Lauren Alaina. It’ll be a country showdown for the Idol title and to get ready for the big night, ATC will analyze the showdown and offer our prediction of what the outcome will be.

Throughout this season, both Scotty and Lauren have delivered strong performances and have become fan favorites. Considering both have been two of the strongest contestants this season, it’s easy to believe that this could be the closest finale race in Idol’s 10 year history. Each contestant has many advantages and some disadvantages going for them. We’re going to pick a part each contestant to see who has the ultimate edge in the end.

Scotty McCreery
A year ago, Scotty was a 16 year old high school baseball player in Garner, NC who worked in a local grocery store. Now he’s a 17 year old American Idol finalist who, no matter Wednesday’s outcome, will go on to become one of country’s brightest new stars.

Scotty has consistently been a judges favorite each and every week by delivering solid performances. His shining moment came last week when he turned on the charm and personality while performing Thompson Square’s “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not?”. However, like most contestants, he had a few stumbles thrown in including his version of “For Once in My Life.” Scotty’s key to success on Tuesday will be to continue to stick to his country roots and deliver each performance with as much heart, emotion, and southern drawl as he can to impress the judges.

When it comes to fan votes, I believe Scotty has the advantage because he has two primary support groups behind him: the “tween” girls and the conservative demographic. Throughout the season, Scotty has been a fan favorite for the young girls who seem to pull off upsets for their favorites (Lee DeWyze over Crystal Bowersox; Kris Allen over Adam Lambert) so he’ll continue to reap the rewards from that huge demographic. He’ll also have the backing of the conservative voters who love how he’s consistently presented himself as a down home, all American boy who is simply living his dream.

There has been one disadvantage that has plagued Scotty throughout the season and that’s the fact that he’s often seen as a “one trick pony.” Early on in the season, Scotty only performed hits by country crooner Josh Turner during his audition rounds (we can all remember how many times he belted out the line “baby lock them doors and turn the lights down low”) and when it came to the live shows, he continued to pick similar artists like George Strait and Garth Brooks. Though he showed his artistic preference, it was easy to predict that he’d have trouble with other genres and even with the new mainstream country sound that he’ll encounter after the show’s end. However, he’s done a good job at showing his versatility by performing songs like Montgomery Gentry’s “Gone” and Thompson Square’s “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not?.” He’ll need to continue to take risks come Tuesday night. My suggestion would be tackling a song that shows off his strong vocal range yet sticks to his traditional roots much like Chris Young’s latest smash, “Tomorrow.”

Scotty’s bread and butter is in his ability to cater straight to his audience so if he does it three more times on Tuesday night, he’ll have done enough to claim the Idol title and become the show’s youngest winner.

Lauren Alaina
Lauren Alaina is a beneficiary of the new age range which allowed 15 year olds to audition this season. So when Idol held auditions in Nashville, a then 15 year old Lauren auditioned by singing Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss A Thing” with judge Steven Tyler. After her audition, Tyler famously predicted that they had found “the one.” Now she has the chance to make that prediction come true.

Lauren’s key to success this season has been her ability to belt it out with the best contestants on the show. From showing her country roots on songs like “Any Man of Mine” or Reba’s “Turn on the Radio,” to singing non-country classics like “Unchained Melody” and Elvis’ “Trouble.” Unlike Scotty, Lauren has always made an effort to show off her versatility. She’s delivered power ballads like Martina McBride’s “Anyway” as well as the rock classic from Melissa Etheridge, “Am I the Only One” and also rocking country songs like Carrie Underwood’s “Flat on the Floor.” She’s taken the advice of the judges and has always tried to push herself. Her shining moment came during this past week’s performance when she effortlessly delivered Lee Ann Womack’s smash, “I Hope You Dance.” It’s those moments that Lauren will need to recreate in order to take down the boy wonder that is Scotty McCreery.

Another advantage Lauren has going for her is the fact that her style of country caters to a larger audience than Scotty’s. Lauren has proven herself to be a perfect fit for the current mainstream/pop style of country. She’s performed songs by some of today’s biggest superstars in Carrie Underwood and Reba as well as some of country’s newest “it” artists like The Band Perry. She’ll need to stick to that style of country if she wants to have a chance against the traditional leaning Scotty. My suggestion would be to continue performing newer songs by artists like Underwood or even Miranda Lambert (she nailed “Gunpowder and Lead” during the top four results show).

Lauren’s biggest disadvantage could come in how she handles the big stage and big audience. In the past she’s seemed to buckle under the pressure of the moment and has often second guessed herself during her performances. During her “Unchained Melody” performance, mentor Jimmy Iovine tore her a part for not going for the song’s money note during the live performance. Even this past week, she got caught up in the moment during her performance of “If I Die Young” that she simply missed her modulation, but she recovered nicely. If Lauren can overcome her nerves and trust that she has the vocal ability to out sing her opponent, then she will have the ability to pull off the upset.

In the end, I have to say that country music will prove to be the true winner of American Idol. No matter who wins, both Scotty and Lauren have the potential to become future superstars of the genre. However, if I had to pick a winner, my money is on Scotty McCreery to take home the title. He’s been one of the best contestants this season and has one of the largest fan bases I’ve seen from a finalist. But, look for both of them to hit country radio soon, and who knows, maybe they’ll be competing once again in 2012, except it’ll be for a Best New Artist award from either the CMAs or ACMs.

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