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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Live blogging the 2009 CMA Awards

That's right, I'll be live blogging the 2009 Country Music Association Awards tonight, starting at 8 pm EST.

I'm always amused by country music award shows. I'm not a huge fan of country music but I appreciate good music no matter where it comes from. And there are always enough moments at these shows to keep rock fans interested. Like Darius Rucker being nominated for Male Vocalist and Dave Matthews showing up to perform on the broadcast.

Tonight, the big question is whether the Academy will reward Taylor Swift with its Entertainer of the Year award. Clearly, she deserves it, but as I've written before, it takes a superhuman effort for a female to take the trophy. My prediction? She loses to someone boring like Kenny Chesney.

The show opens with Taylor Swift performing a song no one knows, "Forever and Always." She was a little pitchy and the performance itself wasn't very interesting. You expect more from a show-opening performance.

Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley are the hosts for tonight. I cannot tell you how much I hate when award shows are hosted by artists who are nominated themselves. It just seems so phony, and a little too coincidental, when they inevitably win.

After a humorless Kanye joke, Underwood announces Taylor Swift will be performing again later in the show. WTF?

Here's the evening's first effort to pander to the rock community - Kid Rock presents the first award. Single of the Year goes to "I Run to You" by Lady Antebellum, a song I've never even heard of. I'm just happy it beat that godawful "People Are Crazy" song by Billy Currington.

HOOTIE! Darius Rucker performs his excellent single "Alright." You have to feel good for this guy, who was written off as a musical footnote just a couple of years ago.

Darius goes into the crowd for part of the song. What a strange crowd! The women in the crowd are all wearing gowns. Like they're at the opera or something.

Song of the Year goes to "In Color" by Jamey Johnson. I have to say, I saw Jamey Johnson perform live last month and he was absolutely dreadful. Just painfully boring. When I do my year-end recap of 2009 concerts, that one's going to rank near the bottom. I don't know what people see in this guy.

Here's a great performer - Miranda Lambert, the official badass of country music. I saw her perform live last month too, and she was fantastic. She performs her hit single "White Liar." Well done.

After a ho-hum Brad Paisley performance, Zac Brown is singing "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." Why he's doing this is unclear.

It's time for George Strait. I resent this guy because he gets nominated for Entertainer of the Year every single year, even though he hasn't deserved it for at least a decade now. He could release an album of himself sneezing and he'd still get nominated for Entertainer of the Year. It's a joke.

George is standing there with his guitar, but he's not playing it. Fantastic. That's an entertainer right there.

Lady Antebellum performs while fake snow flies. Nice! That takes me back to the Counting Crows video "A Long December."

Patricia Heaton is ecstatic about the CMA Awards. "This is rocking!" she says. Now that's high praise - you can't have an endorsement bigger than Patricia Heaton. She presents the award for Vocal Group of the Year to Lady Antebellum. They beat out the Eagles. Hell freezes over again!

During the commercial break, a promo appears for a new ABC show called "Cougar Town." You've got to be kidding...

Carrie Underwood sings with a bunch of ladies in lingerie. Neither edgy nor interesting.

The Judds are back! Wynonna has spent so much time in the tanning booth she looks like a completely different race than her mother. They present the very competitive Best New Artist category to Darius Rucker. "Thank ya'll for accepting me," he says in a speech that was a little too intense. He almost came off as angry instead of happy. I had these visions of the country bumpkins watching on tv being frightened by the angry black man. Tone it down a little, Darius!

Good God, it's Daughtry performing at the CMAs. Can it get any worse than this? At least he's joined by Vince Gill, so the song is only half bad.

I like Keith Urban a lot but his performance is pretty pedestrian. He's followed by the great Tim McGraw, who sings "Southern Voice," which sounds like the country version of "We Didn't Start the Fire," as it runs down a list of influential people including Aretha Franklin, Michael Jordan, Dolly Parton, Rosa Parks, and Billy Graham. Nifty.

It's Sugarland's turn. I was hoping they'd play the song with the chorus that goes "Shhh... it happens!" Instead they opt for a ballad. There have been a few too many ballads tonight. Someone needs to come out and tear the roof off the place with some electric guitars. Only Zac Brown has delivered that so far.

Some kid in the audience gives a thumbs-up on cue and everyone laughs. Yeah, that wasn't rehearsed at all.

Album of the Year goes to Taylor Swift! The ironic thing is, as much as I love Taylor, I don't think her album is particularly strong. Her debut was actually better. The new album is a couple of good songs and a bunch of filler. She thanks a producer "who's believed in me since I was 14." Way back in 2004!

They've been hyping this performance all night. It's the "final" performance ever at the CMAs for Brooks & Dunn, who are parting ways. They're joined by Billy from ZZ Top.

There's no way in hell this is the last CMA performance for Brooks & Dunn. In five years, maybe ten, you know they're going to reunite and play the CMAs again. I'll give everyone reading this $100 if they don't. There isn't a single band in music that stays broken up for good.

Jamey Johnson is singing with Kid Rock. How many times has Kid Rock played the CMAs now? At least three, by my count. They sing about drunks and record executives, with a heavy dose of slide guitar to back them up. Not bad.

Sugarland wins Vocal Duo of the Year. There's absolutely no reason for this category to exist. Duos and groups should be combined into one category, like they do at every other award show in the world. Sugarland wins for the third year in a row.

Taylor Swift is back. She sings an acoustic version of "Fifteen" while her fans sing along. I give the CMAs credit - they know who the big draw is, and they're putting her on the screen as often as possible.

LeAnn Rimes presents Male Vocalist of the Year to Brad Paisley. I won't argue with this one.

It's the "Hall of Fame" segment. They're inducting Barbara Mandrell. When I was very little, my mom used to be a fan of the Mandrell sisters. So I will watch with mild reverence and refrain from any snarky comments.

Actually, I won't. You just know Taylor Swift's young fans are watching Mandrell's speech thinking, "Who the hell is this old lady?"

It's Reba McEntire. She's just trying to go by her first name these days. Sorry, lady, you're still Reba McEntire. McEntire. McEntire!

I love Reba but this song is shit. In fact, I can't name one worthwhile song she's recorded since the '90s. Even her duet with Brooks & Dunn was less than earth-shattering.

Here's Billy Currington, performing "People are Crazy," my most-hated song of 2009. When your chorus begins with the line "God is great," it's obvious you're just pandering to the bible-thumping country audience. I might respect this guy more if he didn't need to stoop to such cheap tricks to earn a hit single.

Female Vocalist of the Year is Taylor Swift. Her competition wasn't very stiff, but it's still quite an achievement to win this award at age 19.

It's time for the Kenny Chesney/Dave Matthews duet "I'm Alive." This is a good song. Dave didn't co-write it, but it sounds like he could have, given its "live for the moment" attitude. I enjoy the dark, moody melody, which is something new for Chesney.

Time for Entertainer of the Year, presented by the first couple of country music, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. History is made as Taylor Swift wins! A satisfying ending indeed. Maybe the old boys network in Nashville has finally met its match.


BeckEye said...

I am seriously so sick of Taylor Swift. I may just check the highlights of the show to catch the hotness that is Dierks Bentley.

Anonymous said...

Umm yeah please don't dis George Strait. Living for the Night, Troubadour, I Saw God Today, and How Bout Them Cowgirls were his hits over the past two years. No other artists has that many songs even close to the caliber of these 4.

Roberto Cofresi said...

Man, very thorough! I'm also not a huge country fan, but I can appreciate it when it's quality. Where to begin... I guess with Taylor...

I actually didn't think she deserved entertainer of the year. She's impressive in some respects and has certainly enjoyed a fair amount of mainstream crossover success, but I'm pretty sure she can't pack football stadiums across the country. Though I'm not a Chesney fan, seems to me he better fits that title.

As for Jamey Johnson, I agree the show at Small's was dismal. One of the few shows this year I walked out on. That said, his latest record is solid, and although I have my doubts about how authentic his current image may be and how involved he actually is in the writing process, I do think "In Color" deserved song of the year.

I didn't catch the whole show, but of the performances I saw Kenny Chesney/Dave Matthews was by far the best. Great song choice for that duet.

Finally, that final goodbye by Paisley after he lost entertainer of the year, then commented on how he can't imagine what that must feel like for Swift? Awkward.

BeckEye said...

NO DIERKS??? I'm glad I didn't watch.

Your first bit about Taylor is exactly why I don't understand why you (or anyone, really) like her so much. She's ALWAYS pitchy. She's not a very good singer at all. It's maddening.

Scott said...

I think she's at least an average singer if not better. She writes great songs and plays her instrument, which puts her above 98% of country music vocalists right there.