Category Archives: Opinion

Summer Is Here: Kenny Chesney LIVE in Wildwood

After a mini hiatus, things are up and running…and SUMMER IS HERE!

To kick off the warm months, Kenny Chesney lit up Wildwood last night with a free show on the beach. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it down there but I did catch the live stream. It looked awesome. It’s no doubt that Kenny puts on a great show. If you missed it, you can catch rebroadcasts of it on YouTube HERE.

Carrie Underwood: No babies…right now

Carrie Underwood was front and center at this year’s ACM Awards…she was not only nominated but she opened the show with her new single “Good Girl.”

On the red carpet, Carrie talked to Extra about the future with her husband Mike Fisher and how they are in no rush to start a family. “I’m good right now. As long as he’s playing [hockey] and I’m doing this, it doesn’t make sense…so no babies,” Carrie said. The couple has been married since 2010 and she’s been super busy, so motherhood isn’t something she’s thinking about right now.

She told Extra, “I have my best friend around me all the time. Everybody’s like ‘the first year is the hardest’ and I’m like, ‘that’s it? That was the hardest? Come on, you can do better than that!’ It’s great; he’s wonderful.”

In other Carrie news, besides the release of her new album on May 1, she’s been rumored to be a new judge on Simon Cowell’s show X Factor. However, Carrie has made it quite clear that she would ever turn her back on the show that made her a superstar…American Idol. In the same red carpet interview with Extra, Carrie said, “I think it’s great that Simon has the X Factor show, and I love seeing all of these shows giving nobodies a big opportunity. But I’m an Idol girl all the way. That’s the one that I love and watch. I can’t see myself being a part of any other show like that.”

I’m totally okay with Carrie waiting to have children…I would just like to see her decide on what she’s doing this summer. Is she going to tour to support this new album? I’ll bet she’ll be at the iHeartRadio concert in Las Vegas in September…but what about an arena tour or something. Maybe she’ll wait until this fall…but make some sort of announcement. I also think it’s about time she return to Idol. A J.Lo/Carrie song would be awesome! What do you think?

My New Favorite Cover: The Cleverly’s

I’m a fan of artists covering other artists’ songs…usually I’ll catch pop artists covering other pop artists or R&B artists covering other R&B artists, but the best mix-ups always happen when genres are crossed.  Reba recently released Beyonce’s hit “If I Was A Boy” to a very warm reception from the country music scene.  Plus, Little Big Town has been successfully covering songs in their web series ‘Scattered, Smothered and Covered.’  The band has not only let the world hear their beautiful harmonies on some of the most popular songs currently on the radio, but they have shown us too by releasing videos too. 

On the road you can find country artists adding a few songs to their set lists that fans aren’t used to.  Carrie Underwood, Sugarland and many others slip in popular rock songs or pop songs or managed to combine one of their own songs along with one of these other songs…confused yet?  Award shows are another place to run across what I’m talking about.  Check out Lady Antebellum’s performance at this year’s CMT Awards below…the trio sings their new hit “Just A Kiss” and ends with Prince’s “Kiss”…very cool.

Sooooo…to get to my real point of this blog…I came across my most-favorite cover that I have seen in a looonnng time.  The bluegrass band called The Cleverly’s recently performed at the CMA offices in Nashville to entertain the staff.  The group sang The Black Eyed Peas “I Gotta Feeling” and sounded amazing.  I wasn’t sure if they could pull it off, but take a listen and be amazed.  And if you like what you hear, check them out on YouTube where there are a bunch of other popular songs that they cover.

CMA Awards Tonight…who will win?

 

Tonight is the night, the CMA Awards are finally here.  Before it’s too late, I’m going to submit my picks for this year’s winners. 

Miranda Lambert is nominated for a record nine times this year.  I think she’ll walk away with a few trophies and just might steal the show.  The performance line up is exciting as well, heck even Gwyneth Paltrow will be singing.  I hope the mixture of great speeches and electrifying performances will make for a great show.  Plus, Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley are hosting again…which I’m sure will be pretty funny.

And if you miss it, I’ll share with you all some highlights tomorrow!  The 44th Annual CMA Awards will air live at 8 p.m on ABC…TONIGHT!

Entertainer of the Year:

There’s been lots of controversy this year regarding this trophy.  Critics, country artists and nominees themselves are commenting about how certain more deserving artists were left out and how some nominations are a little premature. 

I’m thinking it’s Miranda Lambert’s year, but I’m not sure if she’ll pull off a win in this category.  2010 is the first year that she’s headlined a tour and a win right now would be great, but I don’t think it will happen.  Same goes for Zac Brown Band and Lady Antebellum.  While both groups are tremendous songwriters and performers, I don’t think it’s their time just yet.

The trophy will go to either Brad Paisley or Keith Urban.  I saw Keith this year and his show is always amazing.  You’re guaranteed a great time and he truly rocks out.  On the other hand, Brad overcame the odds of getting his tour together just days after the floods hit Nashville in May.  Always an amazing visual show, he managed to make it work.

If I had to choose, I would go with Brad this year.

Female Vocalist of the Year:

This is an easy category.  The trophy is going to Miranda.  Her album Revolution shows off her songwriting skills and just might be her best work to date.  I’m also looking forward to her performance.  From what I read online, she’ll be paying homage to Loretta Lynn with a special tribute alongside Sheryl Crow.  I’m excited to hear that, but I’m also excited because she’ll be singing a song off Revolution.  Either song…I’m sure they’ll both be great.

Other nominees in the category include: Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.  Plus, just a side note…if Carrie ends up winning, she will tie Reba and Martina’s record of four CMA wins.

Male Vocalist of the Year:

This category is a tough one.  There are newcomers nominated right along with an industry legend. 

This is a huge nomination for Blake Shelton.  He’s having a great year, especially with the success of “Hillbilly Bone” and both his “SIX PAK” albums doing well on the charts.  Also, I love the turn Dierks Bentley went with his latest album Up On The Ridge.  The bluegrass twist has left country fans going crazy for his music.  He took a big risk and it paid off.  Then you have George Strait.  He puts out great music consistantly.  It’s hard to not love a George Strait song. 

Now we’re left with Brad and Keith again.  I think one of them will walk away a winner, and if I had to choose, it’d be Brad.

New Artist of the Year:

This is always one of my favorite categories.  I love all the nominees and I forsee success for each one.  We have Luke Bryan, Easton Corbin, Jarrod Niemann, Chris Young and Zac Brown Band.

Luke is on a roll lately and a win for him would leave viewers with an incredible acceptance speech.  I can see his excitement taking over and resembling a repeat of Darius Rucker’s moment last year. 

However, Zac Brown Band is unstoppable.  Song after song is a radio hit and I think they’ll take the trophy.

Vocal Group of the Year:

I love the nominees this year for this category.  Rascal Flatts have dominated for a while until red-hot Lady Antebellum hit the scene.  Little Big Town hasn’t been able to compete with these two heavy-hitters.  To add to the competitiveness, Zac Brown Band has entered the game.  Plus we have long-shot The Band Perry.

I think it will be a tough and close fight between Lady A and ZBB…with Lady A taking it home.

Vocal Duo of the Year:

Brooks & Dunn will grace the CMA’s for the last time.  I would love to see them win, they did take home the ACM.  On the other hand, I thought they would have won the CMT Award this year, but that didn’t happen…Sugarland graciously won.  I think that B&D will be victorious.

Other nominees include: Joey + Rory, Montgomery Gentry and Steel Magnolia. 

Remaining categories:

Single of the Year (goes to artist and producer)
“A Little More Country Than That” – Easton Corbin
“Hillbilly Bone” – Blake Shelton feat. Trace Adkins
“Need You Now” – Lady Antebellum
“The House That Built Me” – Miranda Lambert
“White Liar” – Miranda Lambert

Album of the Year (goes to artist and producer)
Need You Now – Lady Antebellum
Play On – Carrie Underwood
Revolution – Miranda Lambert
Twang – George Strait
Up On The Ride – Dierks Bentley

Song of the Year (goes to songwriter)
“A Little More Country  Than That” – Rory Lee Feek, Don Poythress, Wynn Varble
“Need You Now” – Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott, Josh Kear
“The House That Built Me” – Tom Dougles, Allen Shamblin
“Toes” – Zac Brown, Wyatt Durrette, John Driskell Hopkins, Shawn Mullins
“White Liar” – Natalie Hemby, Miranda Lambert

Musical Event of the Year (goes to each artist)
“Bad Angel” – Dierks Bentley feat. Miranda Lambert, Jamey Johnson
“Can’t You See” – Zac Brown Band feat. Kid Rock
“Hillbilly Bone” – Blake Shelton feat. Trace Adkins
“I’m Alive” – Kenny Chesney with Dave Matthews
“Till The End” – Alan Jackson with Lee Ann Womack

Music Video of the Year (goes to artist and director)
“Hillbilly Bone” – Blake Shelton feat. Trace Adkins (Roman White)
“Need You Now” – Lady Antebellum (David McClister)
“The House That Built Me” – Miranda Lambert (Trey Fanjoy)
“Water” – Brad Paisley (Jim Shea)
“White Liar” – Miranda Lambert (Chris Hicky)

Could “Mama’s Song” be Carrie’s first radio failure?

Some are saying that Carrie Underwood’s latest single “Mama’s Song” could be her first radio failure in five years. 

She has had twelve top two hits in a row, ten of which went to number one.  “Mama’s Song” has stalled at number sixteen on the charts, but has been creeping up the charts, the song was number eighteen just last week.

A lot of people are not upset that she hasn’t hit the top spot on the charts.  Maybe it was a poor choice in song choice to release as a single or maybe her flame just isn’t as hot as it used to be.  This sentiment shows in this year’s CMA Award nominations in that she was left out as a nominee for Entertainer of the Year.  Who knows.

Anyway, “Mama’s Song” is sweet and beautifully sung.  Perhaps she, and her label, figured it fit in well with her recent marriage.  Either way, I predict it will just be a hiccup.  She has several other great songs on Play On that can follow “Mama’s Song” and make up for any lost ground.

Check out the video below for “Mama’s Song”

Remember The Kinleys?

Keith Urban’s current single off the album Defying Gravity may sound familiar, that is if you know or have heard of the duo The Kinleys.  Keith’s current single “I’m In” was released in 2000 by the Philadelphia-born twins Heather and Jennifer, or better known as The Kinleys.  Keith’s version is obviously doing a lot better this time around; afterall, The Kinleys haven’t released any new music since their 2004 album All In The Family.  Check them out on YouTube to jog your memory.  The single “Please” from 1997 was their highest charted song.

Another recognizable song is “Somebody’s Out There Watching.”  The song, from 1998, was featured on the Touched By An Angel album. 

Anyways, back to Keith.  So, he is taking The Kinleys song for a ride, but which version is better?  This isn’t the first time Keith has taken other singer’s songs and enjoyed some success with them.  Remember his song “Stupid Boy”???  Well, that was a Sarah Buxton penned song.  If you listen to the song again, it makes better sense to have a female sing it, but Keith took it and made it his own.  Sarah still performs the song when she is out on tour, but people know it as a Keith Urban song. 

Check out Keith’s version of “I’m In” from when he performed it at this year’s ACM Awards.

Below is The Kinleys music video for “I’m In.”  Which version is better?

CMT Awards: Preview & Predictions

THE PREVIEW

The award show train has finally pulled back in at Nashville for the 2010 CMT Awards.  The show is the official kick-start to the CMA Music Fest so all your favorite stars are in town and ready to rock.  Speaking of ‘rock’, the host for this evening’s show is Kid Rock.  Scheduled to perform are Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Lady Antebellum, Zac Brown Band, Toby Keith, Jamey Johnson, LeAnn Rimes, Keith Urban and John Mayer, among others.  Also, Laura Bell Bundy, Faith Hill, Gloriana, Blake Shelton, Martina McBride, Kellie Pickler, and yes, even Taylor Swift herself will be a presenter this year.  Other presenters include Kara DioGuardi, Paula Deen, Dancing With the Stars partners Erin Andrews and Maks Chmerkovskiy, Sheryl Crow, actress Jada Pinkett-Smith, comedian David Spade and Snooki and The Situation from MTV’s Jersey Shore.

THE PREDICTIONS
(Video of the Year, Male Video of the Year, Female Video of the Year, Group Video of the Year and Duo Video of the Year)

Video of the Year:

Nominees- Toby Keith “American Ride,” Lady Antebellum “Need You Now,” Keith Urban “‘Til Summer Comes Around,” Jason Aldean “The Truth,” Miranda Lambert “White Liar,” Carrie Underwood “Cowboy Casanova,” Kenny Chesney “Out Last Night,” Zac Brown Band “Toes,” Brad Paisley “Welcome To The Future,” and Taylor Swift “You Belong With Me.”

Who I think should win – It’s the year of the blonde bombshells: Carrie, Miranda and Taylor.  There’s no doubt that it will be one of these ladies.  Carrie is at the top of her game, performing at sold out arenas and planning her wedding as the reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year.  Right behind her is Miranda.  She took home the other big awards at the ACM’s…Female Vocalist and Album of the Year.  Those are some big trophies and she is also out on tour this summer and a wedding is in the works for her.  I put Taylor in with these ladies only because its Taylor Swift and there’s no doubt her trillions of fans will be working overtime voting for this award.  It wouldn’ t surprise me if she won, but like I’ve said in previous posts…I really think it’s Miranda’s year with her new record sounding spectacular and spawning her first number one single for “White Liar.”

Who I think won’t win – Toby Keith has been MIA for a while and I honestly think that the video and song “God Love Her” deserves a nomination more than “American Ride.”  The song is good and the video is only nominated because it probably cost a lot of money with all the graphic designings and animations.  Also Brad Paisley’s “Welcome To The Future” won’t win even though it’s his only nomination, he isn’t even up for Male Video.  I think it’s great that Jason Aldean got a nomination, that’s a big deal but let’s be honest, it’s the year of the ladies and the only male nominee that would have a chance is Keith Urban’s “‘Til Summer Comes Around.”  It’s a great song and I could listen to it over and over.  Plus I think Kenny is just enjoying being nominated this year and is planning to sit back and relax this year since he’s not touring.

Who I think deserves to win – It’s been one heck of a year for Lady Antebellum.  “Need You Now” gives the group major credibility with Single and Song of the Year awards at this year’s ACM’s.  Also, the song has been certified triple platinum.  That’s some major accomplishments, plus they are the reigning ACM Group of the Year.  Technically speaking, the award is theirs…but can they muster the fan votes?  Another fan favorite song is “Toes.”  Zac Brown Band has multiple hits off their debut album, but none bigger than “Toes.”  Lady A and ZBB give Rascal Flatts a run for their money and obviously a serious takeover as they aren’t even nominated in this category.

Male Video of the Year:

Nominees – Toby Keith “American Ride,” Tim McGraw “Southern Voice,” Jason Aldean “The Truth,” Billy Currington “People Are Crazy” and Keith Urban “‘Til Summer Comes Around.”

Who I think should win – Billy Currington has been producing some really great music lately, yet he hasn’t received any recognition.  He reminds me of an early Brad Paisley.  Trudging through a brutal touring schedule and on the other hand distributing tremendous work…that’s what it takes.  This nomination is a big deal.  The same goes for Jason Aldean.  These newer artists are putting in the work and finally getting some acknowledgements.  Jason has three nominations, this one for Male Video is his best shot.

Who I want to win – I’m not a fan of Toby Keith and I don’t think he will get the votes to win this award.  Tim McGraw is back and it’s glad to see someone from the McGraw household making music again…when’s Faith releasing new music??  Anyways, I don’t know if Tim can beat Keith.  “‘Til Summer Comes Around” is great and perfect for the summer months, but I’m really hoping that Billy Currington can scrounge up enough votes to pull an upset.  I think fans connect more with Keith but Billy’s “People Are Crazy” is a great song.  It was nominated for Song of the Year at this year’s ACM’s and was nominated for Best Country Song at the Grammy’s.  The song’s signature lyrics “God is great, beer is good and people are crazy” create a ending with a twist, all which is portrayed flawlessly in the video.  I think this a great beginning to taking Billy’s status to the next level…if he pulls off a win.

Female Video of the Year:

Nominees – Reba McEntire “Consider Me Gone,” Miranda Lambert “White Liar,” Carrie Underwood “Cowboy Casanova” and Taylor Swift “You Belong With Me.”

Who I think should win – Reba is old enough to be a mother to any of the other three ladies in this category.  They have her beat in terms of attracting young fans and relying on them to get online and vote for them.  However, with her witty attitude and likeability she has enjoyed her growing fanbase in the last decade.  If they had CMT Awards in the 80’s and 90’s it’s no doubt that she would have cleaned house.  I would love to see her win her first CMT Award…go Reba!

Who I want to win – Like I mentioned before, it’s the year of the blonde bombshells.  This category is the hardest to determine.  Carrie, Miranda and Taylor are all equally deserving of winning this.  How can you not want the reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year (Taylor) to win or the reigning ACM Entertainer of the Year (Carrie) to win.  That’s a battle.  But Miranda is scrappy and in her groove right now.  I think people are still on the Miranda wave and will vote her to win tonight.  If Taylor pulls off the win, I wouldn’t be shocked.  She caters to her fans and she is in a trophy-winning drought.

Group Video of the Year:

Nominees – Rascal Flatts “Here Comes Goodbye,” Lady Antebellum “Need You Now,” Gloriana “How Far Do You Wanna Go?” and Zac Brown Band “Toes.”

Who I think deserves to win – There’s no doubt Zac Brown Band is coming into tonight expecting a win.  Their debut album The Foundation gave us three number one hits and the band won a CMT Award last year for USA Weekend Breakthrough Video of the Year with “Chicken Fried.”  Also the band is a Grammy winner for Best New Artist.  Creatively the band is top-notch and is on the way to tremendous success.  I think their time is coming.

Who I want to win – Lady Antebellum…they are on fire.  Rascal Flatts is getting old and releasing the same sounding music over and over again.  I love Charles Kelly and I love Lady A.  They are taking over in terms of country groups.  I do miss Little Big Town and I hope they start putting out some awesome music again so Lady A gets some real competition, besides ZBB.  Gloriana is still fairly young and new to walk away with this award tonight, but it is still quite the accomplishment to get the nod.

Duo Video of the Year:

Nominees – Brooks & Dunn “Indian Summer,” Sugarland “Keep You,” Steel Magnolia “Keep On Lovin’ You” and Sugarland “Nightswimming/Joey.”

Who I think deserves to win – I don’t know which Sugarland song and video I like better.  The song “Keep You” is raw and puts Jennifer Nettles voice on display, but the video production of “Nightswimming/Joey” is unbelievable.  I definitely think the duo will win for one of these songs, but I’m not one hundred percent sure which I would choose.  If you ask Jennifer and Kristian who they think deserves to win, they would definitely hand the award to Brooks & Dunn.  After 20 years together, they certainly deserve it as well.  For Steel Magnolia, to be nominated with the greatest duo of all time, Brooks & Dunn, and truly their replacement, Sugarland…is quite a feat.

Who I want to win – This is Brooks & Dunn’s last CMT Awards, so I think everyone will be voting for them.  It’s as simple as that.  This is who I want to win and who will win.

Phillies connection to Nashville

I was browsing YouTube videos and came across an oldie but goodie from back in 1993 by the group Sawyer Brown.  The song “Thank God For You” was always a favorite and I didn’t know until I saw the video that lead singer Mark Miller is wearing a Phillies tank top. 

It made me wonder if he was a fan or not.  So I googled it and found that the group has a connection to the Fightin’ Phils.  In the 90’s, John Kruk appeared in the video for “Round Here.”  It turns out that Mark Miller and John Kruk are good friends.

The group was formed in Florida and later relocated to Nashville.  It seems that Kruk just became a fan just like everyone else did in the early and mid 90’s when Sawyer Brown was at its peak.  Either way, it’s pretty neat to see Phillies red popping up where you’d least expect it. 

Go Phillies! Go Flyers!

Miley/Taylor: What is country?

Teen sensation Miley Cyrus is connected to Nashville…genetically.  That’s about it, besides her mild country accent, if you ask me.  However, she was born there and therefore is in all the country music news.  It also helps that her dad is country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, mostly known for his one-hit wonder “Achy Breaky Heart”…oh and being Miley’s dad.  She’s as much Nashville as Kesha, who was born and raised in Nashville.  But for whatever reason, Miley gets more attention from Nashville and country music media.

Her performance last night on Dancing With The Stars is getting the most recent media attention.  Her rise to fame came from her hit children’s show Hannah Montana on the Disney Channel.  A lot of the people that tuned in for her performance were probably young girls, fans of her show, and I’m guessing a lot of parents turned the channel pretty quickly.  Miley is 17, but she is growing up faster than the little girls that know her as Hannah Montana, and it is a little drastic. 

She definitely isn’t immune to controversy, stemming from her racy Vanity Fair photo shoot when she was 16 to her getting a tattoo at 17.  Now her new music video for “Can’t Be Tamed” is getting buzz because of her sexy dance moves and barely there outfits.  Plus, the video that is floating around the internet of her giving a lap dance and dancing provocatively at a wrap party for her recent movie further fuels the flame.  Her recent performance on Dancing, where she sang the same song, echoed the same behaviors and is stirring even more attention.  Take a look at her performance on Dancing below.

All the backlash that she’s receiving makes me, and lots of other country music fans, wonder if she really is even considered a country music artist.  She did co-host the CMT Awards with her father once and that was around the same time that his song with Miley, “Get Ready, Get Set, Don’t Go”, was released.  The song is definitely country and Miley’s song “The Climb” sounds country too, but that’s about it.  Also, her recent movie The Last Song takes place in Georgia, so if you want to make a stretch, you can say the single released from that movie “When I Look At You” could probably do pretty well on country radio. 

Then there are her comments in an interview where she called country music “contrived.”  The interview, which was in Parade, covered a lot of topics and according to Miley she is steering clear of country music.   She said, “It scares me, that’s why. It feels contrived on so many levels. Unless you’re wearing a cowboy hat and cowboy boots and singing and whining about your girlfriend or boyfriend leaving you it’s not going to sell.”  Since this statement and the release of a lot of her more pop sounding music, CMT and country radio hasn’t been playing much of her or talking about her for that matter. 

While were questioning what the boundaries of country music are, lots of critics mention Taylor Swift.  She obviously is at the height of her career, possibly peaking at 20 years old.  Personally, I’m a fan of Taylor and I think there is a difference between her and Miley.  There’s no doubt that they are both artists, whether they can sing or not.  Statistically Taylor cleans house.  She’s winning awards and topping charts that legends like Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn never saw or never will see.  Taylor’s down-to-earth personality and charm connects to fans and resonates with the characteristics of a bonafide southerner.  This connection that she has with fans of country music and other genres is what makes her so successful.  She accepts and understands who her fans are and that could be the difference between her and other young artists.  It also helps that her transformation from teenager to young adult has been less intense than Miley who is trying to change too soon and not waiting for her fans to be able to follow her.  She probably doesn’t know who her fan base is.  With competition from artists like Lady Gaga or Christina Aguilera, who are constantly pushing the envelope, it’s no wonder the direction that Miley is heading.  It seems everyone is just waiting for her to screw up and end up in a crazy spell like Britney Spears.

I could go on and on with picking apart country music artists and contemplating what is country music and what isn’t.  But I’m no music executive and definitely no expert.  I listen to what I like and I’m liking what is currently playing on country radio.  It also doesn’t hurt that I’m open to all different types of music, so hearing Miley Cyrus on a country radio station wouldn’t upset me because I like her music too.  A lot of traditionalists would disagree, but contemporary country music is in the forefront and has been since the 90’s.  I think the only reason people are taking aim at this issue is because the age of new artists is getting younger and younger.  For some it is just hard to accept change.