If you’re the type of person who likes to create the ultimate playlist each summer to capture the energy and fun times that summer is…then you need to add Eric Church’s “Springsteen” to your list. I’m very partial to anything off Eric’s album Chief, but this song has the power to really strike a chord with people this summer. Take a look at the video then go download or buy the song!
If you like country music then you probably caught the Academy of Country Music Awards last night…if not, I’ll sum up my favorite part of the show…THE PERFORMANCES. Many artists debuted new music, whether new singles or music from new albums. I think the music this year was very fresh and wasn’t repetitive from many of the last award shows.
Carrie Underwood opened the show with a performance of her new song, “Good Girl,” from her upcoming album Blown Away. Carrie’s fourth album hits shelves on May 1. There hasn’t been a tour announced for this summer yet, but the iHeartRadio Music Festival organizers told the media today that there would be another event this September and hopefully Carrie will be reprising her performance again. Check out Carrie’s performance below…I wasn’t too impressed by this one, she still blows away a lot of the other vocalists even for a “bad” performance, but she seemed winded at times. She makes up for it by her stunning looks and awesome stage presence…decide for yourself and leave a comment below.
Another great performance of a new song is Eric Church’s “Springsteen” off his amazing record Chief. If you’re not a fan of Eric’s yet, you need to start listening to him NOW. I think this song will be a summer hit, people just need to give him a listen and they’ll be hooked. Eric took part in the annual pre-ACM tradition of playing to hundreds of fans at the Fremont Street fan concert this year. The video below is from that show, but he also sang the song during the award show telecast. Take a listen and see how much he interacts with his audience…once you see how fun his show are, download or buy his album, you won’t regret it.
One of my favorite performances of the evening was with Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney. By now everyone knows they are touring together this summer, but it was news to me (until last night) that they recorded a song together. “Feel Like A Rockstar” is off Kenny’s upcoming album Welcome To The Fishbowl. It’s definitely a departure from Kenny’s laid-back, beach approach to music…which he’s successfully taken advantage of in the last decade, but certainly didn’t upset any fans who most likely enjoyed the performance last night. It’s clear Tim and Kenny will be having one helluva good time this summer and for those of you who have a ticket to any of those shows you are in for a good time. Watch the video below and let me know what your think.
The last of the performances that I’m highlighting is Rascal Flatts. Their new single, “Bango,” hit the radio a few weeks ago and the group sang a great rendition of the tune with banjo-afficionado, comedian Steve Martin. The band’s new album called Changed features the new hit, but minus any Steve Martin banjo playing. It’s a good tune but nothing spectacular. The group has been over-shadowed the last few years by Lady Antebellum and this song isn’t going to make a run good enough to pass them. I think people will like it because it’s catchy but if you want to win back any old Flatts fans that have become Lady A fans…they’re going to need to try a little harder. Judge for yourself and leave a comment below.
Other notable performances:
-Chris Young was on par with his performance of “Save Water, Drink Beer.” It’s a departure from his last few singles…”Voices,” “Tomorrow,” or “You”…but definitely still connects with fans.
-Zac Brown Band hit the stage to sing “Whiskey’s Gone” and was joined by Brad Paisley in a great guitar matchup that made for a great unexpected collaboration.
-Miranda Lambert pulled on the heartstrings with the Blake Shelton-penned tune “Over You.”
-I loved, loved, loved the new song from The Band Perry…”Postcard From Paris”…if you haven’t gotten their album, go get it!
-Jason Aldean (who was robbed of the Best Album) performed “Fly Over States.”
-A Bono-endorsement for Dierks Bentley was well-deserved for his tune “Home.” Another great album, if you don’t already have it.
-I don’t need an excuse to watch Luke Bryan…ever. Even though “I Don’t Want This Night To End” has been out for a while now, I still thoroughly enjoyed the performance. I think he sounded great, maybe even the best sounding artist of the night.
-Lady Antebellum also sang my favorite song of theirs…”Dancing Away With My Heart.” This trio is the best around and whether they are singing the alphabet or one of their hit songs, I will still be listening.
There were other great performances but I think I summed up the best-of-the-best. I was a little bummed we didn’t hear Taylor Swift or Sugarland or even co-host Reba McEntire…but the on-stage wedding with Martina McBride and Train’s Pat Monahan or the country take-over of Lionel Richie or the odd appearance of rock legends KISS…there was certainly something for everyone.
There must have been something in the Nashville water because there was a lot of great music released this year. Whether you like to real-deal or the pop-infused country music, there was something for everyone. I also found myself buying more albums and downloading more songs than ever this year, so I decided to recap what I consider the BEST ALBUMS OF 2011.
–Sunny Sweeney Concrete
If you’ve never heard of Sunny, consider this your wake up call…go out and buy some of her music. She comes off as a pretty looking girl’s girl that might remind you of Faith Hill or Deana Carter but once you hear that voice, she ranks with the likes of JoDee Messina or Miranda Lambert. Her tough as nails personality comes out in her songs and she is finally shining in her latest album. She caught my attention with her previous album Heartbreaker’s Hall of Fame. I saw her live and met her in Nashville…and her vibe is country cool and she manages to make old school sound new. Check out “Next Big Nothing” or “Here Lately.” After listening to Concrete I definitely noticed some changes, in vocals and production quality. Sunny sounds better than ever and her producers did a tremendous job on this album. The album spawned her first three charted songs, “From A Table Away,” “Staying’s Worse Than Leaving,” and “Drink Myself Single.” Sunny even married her long time boyfriend in 2011…appropriately on 11-11-11.
–Luke Bryan Tailgates & Tanlines
Luke is finally hitting his stride with this latest album. It only took him three albums, but Luke is finally starting to get recognized. He started out in the business as a songwriter, having written hit songs like Billy Currington’s “Directions,” but he hit it big with another song co-written with members of Lady Antebellum. The song “Do I,” written with Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley of Lady A, peaked at number two and came from his sophomore album Doin’ My Thing. Luke continued with the radio friendly “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)” off Tailgates & Tanlines. He performed the up-tempo tune on the CMT Awards and received nominations at the same show, the Teen Choice Awards and the American Country Awards. Other great songs off the album is the current single “I Don’t Want This Night To End”…plus “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” and one of my favorites “Drunk On You.” He sings a great fast song and knows how to slow it down, plus the tight jeans help!
–Miranda Lambert Four The Record
Miranda has hit the big time and in a big way…there was so much anticipation and importance put on this record and boy did she deliver. After all the success and accolades she received for Revolution, creating a follow-up record had to be tough. This album might not be quite as huge as her previous record but if being consistent is a sign of success than she reached it. All four of Miranda’s albums have debuted at number one and this album hasn’t produced any number one songs yet, but it’s still early. “Baggage Claim” hit the radio in mid-2011 and reached number three and “Over You” is set to be released in 2012. Miranda is also the reigning ACM and CMA Female Vocalist of the Year and she married fellow country star Blake Shelton in May. She’ll be back on the road in 2012, so don’t miss her!
–Lady Antebellum Own The Night
I am completely partial to anything that Lady A sings, but this is definitely a must-have album. Need You Now is one of my all-time favorite albums, but the group definitely provided a solid third album this year. If you’re still skeptical, listen to “Dancin’ Away With My Heart,” “Cold As Stone,” or “Heart Of The World.” The band certainly knows how to nail a ballad and croon to an up-tempo song, so if you’re already hooked to Lady A then this album is a no-brainer. What’s even better, is if you get the chance to see them live, don’t miss it. Lady A’s live concerts have gotten so good with their current “Own The Night Tour.” Plus, if that doesn’t convince you, they are consistently all over the awards shows, whether they’re collecting a group of the year statue or awards for songs. They’re even up for a Grammy this year. It always seems that whenever Lady A comes out with an album I am anxiously awaiting their next one!
–Sara Evans Stronger
I’ve been awaiting some of my favorite 90’s female artists to come back with some great music and Sara Evans is one that I’m glad is putting new music out. Her last album, Real Fine Place, came out in 2005 which makes this her newest full album in nearly six years. In between we’ve seen a greatest hits album and random releases, but nothing this complete. She was also on Dancing With The Stars a few seasons ago and got divorced and married again…so she’s still been busy. Stronger took me back to some of my favorite Sara Evans songs, like ones from her hit album Born To Fly. That was her break out album, back in 2000, and with tunes co-written by Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott on songs like “A Little Bit Stronger” and other tunes like “My Heart Can’t Tell You No” or “Desperately”…there’s a song on this new album for everyone. She’s also out on tour in 2012 with Rascal Flatts, so make sure you check that out.
–Pistol Annies Hell On Heels
The country super group made up of Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley was formed by Miranda and for a while was just an awesome rumor going around. Nobody had heard their music or seen them perform until the ACM Girls Night Out: Superstar Women of Country special aired in April. The record was then released a few months later to fans who were waiting to hear what this new group was all about. If you love Miranda, you’ll love their music. The first single “Hell On Heels” is an edgy tune about sugardaddies and deals with the devil…but don’t get held up on just this song, the trio nails it with “Beige,” “Boys From The South,” and “Trailer For Rent.” If you’re looking for some down-home country, this is it. Personally, I’m glad to hear Ashley Monroe again…this is a perfect outlet for her, she is country music. You can catch the Pistol Annies on the road occasionally with Miranda.
–Eric Church Chief
It boggles my mind that people still consider Eric “new.” He’s made three albums but is nominated in categories like Best New Artist or the Horizon Award. Anyways, Eric’s latest album Chief is by far the best album of the year in my books. “Drink In My Hand” is out on the radio now and is one of my favorites…plus “Creepin’,” “Over When It’s Over,” or “Jack Daniels” are must hears as well. Plus, the first single “Homeboy” helped the album peak at number one on the charts. Hopefully we’ll be seeing more of Eric in the future, I predict some more award show nominations in 2012. Plus, Eric will be headlining his “Blood, Sweat and Beers Tour” with Brantley Gilbert, Blackberry Smoke, Sonia Leigh, Jon Pardi, the Cadillac Black, and Drake White being featured on various dates throughout the tour. Check him out!
Eric Church is riding high with the success of his latest album Chief…in fact, the album was just certified gold for shipments exceeding 500,000 units.
Capitol labelmate Keith Urban surprised Eric with a plaque marking the occasion during a recent stop in Milwaukee on Keith’s 2011 Get Closer World Tour. They also performed one of Chief’s stand-out tracks, “Springsteen,” for the sold-out crowd.
This is such great news for a great artist. I picked up his album in the first weeks after its debut and love it. He’s one of my favorite artists right now…(the other being Miranda Lambert)…and if you’re not listening to him yet, you better go get this album today.