The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio [February 6]

lol

Each week we take a look the Billboard Country Airplay chart and grade the top 30 songs. The grading format I use each week is every song will receive one of the following scores: +5, +4, +3, +2, +1, 0, -1, -2, -3, -4, -5. These will then be tallied up for an overall score, or pulse of the current top thirty country songs, with the highest possible score being a +150 and the lowest possible score being a -150. How do I determine the score for the song? The review grade it received on the site or myself will determine this. If it hasn’t been reviewed yet, then I will make the call. The grade it has received or I would give it determines its Pulse score. The grading key: 10 [+5], 9 [+4], 8 [+3], 7 [+2], 6 [+1], 5 [0], 4 [-1], 3 [-2], 2 [-3], 1 [-4], 0 [-5].

The goal of this exercise is to evaluate the current state of mainstream country music and determine if it’s improving or getting worse. Let’s take a look at this week’s top thirty…

  1. Thomas Rhett – “Star of the Show” -3 (Up 1)
  2. Blake Shelton – “A Guy With A Girl” -1 (Down 1)
  3. Dustin Lynch – “Seein’ Red” -5 
  4. Little Big Town – “Better Man” +2
  5. Chris Young (feat. Vince Gill) – “Sober Saturday Night” +1  
  6. Granger Dibbles Jr. – “If The Boots Fits” -4 
  7. Brad Paisley – “Today” +2 
  8. Michael Ray – “Douchey Pickup Song” -5 
  9. Jon Pardi – “Dirt on My Boots” +1 
  10. Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word” +4
  11. Luke Bryan – “Fast” -1
  12. Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” -1 
  13. Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” -2 
  14. Jason Aldean – “Any Ol’ Barstool” (Up 1)
  15. Brantley Gilbert – “The Weekend” -5 (Down 1)
  16. Kelsea Ballerini – “Yeah Boy” -5 
  17. Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” (Up 3)
  18. Josh Turner – “Hometown Girl”
  19. Kenny Chesney – “Bar at the End of the World” -3
  20. High Valley – “Make You Mine” -2 
  21. Sam Hunt – “Body Like a Back Road” -5 (New to Top 30) [Worst Song]
  22. Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” +4 (Down 1)
  23. Dierks Bentley – “Black” -2 (Down 1)
  24. Trent Harmon – “There’s A Girl” +1 (Down 1)
  25. Darius Rucker – “If I Told You” 
  26. Zac Brown Band – “My Old Man” +4 (New to Top 30) [Best Song]
  27. Craig Campbell – “Outskirts of Heaven” +3 (Down 3)
  28. Miranda Lambert – “We Should Be Friends” +2 (Down 2)
  29. Dan + Shay – “How Not To” +1 (Down 2)
  30. Rascal Flatts – “Yours If You Want It” -2

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio: -25

The pulse drops six spots this week.

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Runaway June – “Lipstick” +3
  • RaeLynn – “Love Triangle” +2

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Sam Hunt – “Body Like a Back Road”
  • Zac Brown Band – “My Old Man”
    • As you can see above I’ve decided to change my grade to a 9/10 for the song because I realized it’s just not quite a 10 and I let my first impressions get the best of me in grading. Still a damn fine song, an early favorite for one of the best mainstream country songs of 2017 and in my mind the best in the top 30 right now.

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Dan + Shay – “How Not To” – Up 5 from #32 to #27
  • Josh Turner – “Hometown Girl” – Up 4 from #22 to #18
  • Kenny Chesney – “Bar at the End of the World” – Up 4 from #23 to #19

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Runaway June – “Lipstick” – Out of the Top 30 (#33)
  • RaeLynn – “Love Triangle” – Out of the Top 30 (#34)

Songs I See Going Recurrent & Leaving The Top 30 Soon:

  • Granger Smith – “If The Boot Fits” (Mercifully this one is done finally. A thank you ad was in Country Aircheck this week from Wheelhouse Records. Should be a big thank you considering radio is the only place Granger is relevant…)
  • Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill a Word” (Radio just doesn’t want to go forward anymore with this and the long jam at the top hurt this song’s progression too)
  • Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” (This one looks to finally be done I think, as it lost its bullet)
  • Brantley Gilbert – “The Weekend” (Now that his terrible album is out, this song should be on its last legs at minimum. Unfortunately I see “Bro Code” being the next single, as it’s selling well)
  • High Valley – “Make You Mine” (This just won’t go away. I refuse to remove it from this space!)
  • Craig Campbell – “Outskirts of Heaven” (Somehow still here after 43 weeks)
  • Dan + Shay – “How Not To” (For some reason Warner has decided to pull this single and instead opting to push the duo’s new single in some new movie. It’s a shame, especially after that fantastic music video that was put out for this song)

On The Hot Seat:

  • Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” (The only reason I hesitate to say it’s going recurrent is Warner seems hell-bent on keeping this alive)

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Lady Antebellum – “You Look Good”
  • Luke Combs – “Hurricane”
  • Florida Georgia Line (feat. Backstreet Boys) – “God, Your Mama and Me”
  • Cole Swindell – “Flatliner”

 

Thoughts: There’s good news and bad new for fans of “Lipstick” and “Love Triangle.” Good news is there are lots of songs due to go recurrent. Bad news is these are the type of songs radio will gladly leave in the dust. If I had to guess, I would say “Love Triangle” has the best shot of sticking around despite losing it’s bullet as it has 10 less weeks on the chart than “Lipstick.” Not to mention RaeLynn’s album release is relatively soon and the label could conceivably keep it alive. But they could just as easily put out another single and push it in enough time for the album. Some additional bad news also is two radio favorites Justin Moore and Brett Young are just as little as a couple of weeks away from passing them. Hope for the best, but expect the worst.

 

As always be sure to weigh-in with your thoughts in the comments below. 

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio [January 30]

Creepy Blake
Three weeks in a row of creepy eyes! Aren’t you going to miss this staring back at you next week?

Each week we take a look the Billboard Country Airplay chart and grade the top 30 songs. The grading format I use each week is every song will receive one of the following scores: +5, +4, +3, +2, +1, 0, -1, -2, -3, -4, -5. These will then be tallied up for an overall score, or pulse of the current top thirty country songs, with the highest possible score being a +150 and the lowest possible score being a -150. How do I determine the score for the song? The review grade it received on the site or myself will determine this. If it hasn’t been reviewed yet, then I will make the call. The grade it has received or I would give it determines its Pulse score. The grading key: 10 [+5], 9 [+4], 8 [+3], 7 [+2], 6 [+1], 5 [0], 4 [-1], 3 [-2], 2 [-3], 1 [-4], 0 [-5].

The goal of this exercise is to evaluate the current state of mainstream country music and determine if it’s improving or getting worse. Let’s take a look at this week’s top thirty…

  1. Blake Shelton – “A Guy With A Girl” -1 
  2. Thomas Rhett – “Star of the Show” -3 
  3. Dustin Lynch – “Seein’ Red” -5 (Up 1) 
  4. Little Big Town – “Better Man” +2 (Up 2)
  5. Chris Young (feat. Vince Gill) – “Sober Saturday Night” +1 (Up 2) 
  6. Granger Dibbles Jr. – “If The Boots Fits” -4 (Up 2)
  7. Brad Paisley – “Today” +2 (Up 2)
  8. Michael Ray – “Douchey Pickup Song” -5 (Up 2) [Worst Song]
  9. Jon Pardi – “Dirt on My Boots” +1 (Up 3)
  10. Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word” +4 (Up 1) [Best Song] 
  11. Luke Bryan – “Fast” -1 (Up 2)
  12. Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” -1 (Up 2)
  13. Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” -2 (Up 2)
  14. Brantley Gilbert – “The Weekend” -5 (Up 2)
  15. Jason Aldean – “Any Ol’ Barstool” (Up 3)
  16. Kelsea Ballerini – “Yeah Boy” -5 (Up 3)
  17. Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” (Up 3)
  18. Josh Turner – “Hometown Girl” (Up 4)
  19. Kenny Chesney – “Bar at the End of the World” -3 (Up 4)
  20. High Valley – “Make You Mine” -2 (Up 1)
  21. Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” +4 (Up 3)
  22. Dierks Bentley – “Black” -2 (Up 4)
  23. Trent Harmon – “There’s A Girl” +1 (Up 2)
  24. Craig Campbell – “Outskirts of Heaven” +3 (Up 4)
  25. Darius Rucker – “If I Told You” (Up 4)
  26. Miranda Lambert – “We Should Be Friends” +2 (Up 4)
  27. Dan + Shay – “How Not To” +1 (New to Top 30)
  28. Runaway June – “Lipstick” +3 (New to Top 30)
  29. RaeLynn – “Love Triangle” +2 (New to Top 30)
  30. Rascal Flatts – “Yours If You Want It” -2 (New to Top 30)

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio: -19

The pulse improves nine spots this week!

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Carrie Underwood – “Dirty Laundry” 0
  • Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” -4 (Glad to see this one gone, but the next one isn’t much better)
  • Chris Stapleton – “Parachute” +3
  • Lady Antebellum – “You Look Good” -4

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Dan + Shay – “How Not To”
  • Runaway June – “Lipstick”
    • Yes! So glad this one finally made the top 30. I don’t think it does any better than top 20, but still I’m pretty happy to see this just crack top 30.
  • RaeLynn – “Love Triangle”
    • Another one I’m glad to see make it. RaeLynn should be rewarded for her most mature single to date.
  • Rascal Flatts – “Yours If You Want It”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Dan + Shay – “How Not To” – Up 5 from #32 to #27
  • Josh Turner – “Hometown Girl” – Up 4 from #22 to #18
  • Kenny Chesney – “Bar at the End of the World” – Up 4 from #23 to #19

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Carrie Underwood – “Dirty Laundry” – Out of the Top 30 & Done
  • Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” – Out of the Top 30 & Done
  • Chris Stapleton – “Parachute” – Out of the Top 30 & Done

Songs I See Going Recurrent & Leaving The Top 30 Soon:

  • High Valley – “Make You Mine” (The song that just won’t go away. It’s been here forever and it’s well past due to go recurrent)
  • Craig Campbell – “Outskirts of Heaven” (Loss of over 200k in audience and lost bullet. At 42 weeks it’s lucky to still be here)

On The Hot Seat:

  • Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word” (Not in a great position and its close to hitting it’s wall. I still think it has enough left in it to maybe squeak out a top five, as Bryan will obviously pass him next week. But after that there’s three songs radio isn’t excited about and gives this song a cushion to stay afloat)

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Lady Antebellum – “You Look Good”
  • Luke Combs – “Hurricane”
  • Zac Brown Band – “My Old Man” (Available Friday and impacting immediately, so expect hourly spins on iHeart)
  • Florida Georgia Line (feat. Backstreet Boys) – “God, Your Mama and Me”

 

Thoughts: Well we finally got a nice purge on the chart and yet it still wasn’t big enough. There’s still multiple songs that should have went recurrent by now. Looking at you Garth, High Valley and Dibbles. There are some others that are real iffy too. But at least we’re finally starting to see some new songs injected into the charts. Also just as I predicted, country radio is starting to really get behind Turner. That’s nice news for him, even if I don’t like the song. He’s an old reliable and while I don’t think this reaches the top, it should at least reach top ten. Finally Jon Pardi continues to demonstrate he has a real hit on his hands, as he moves into the top ten just under 20 weeks on the chart.

 

As always be sure to weigh-in with your thoughts in the comments below. 

Review – Dan + Shay’s “How Not To”

dan-shay-how-not-to

Dan + Shay is a duo I haven’t exactly clamored for in my reviews and comments regarding their music. Upon their arrival they just didn’t look or sound like a country duo. Their carefully curated looks combined with their slick, pop leaning music didn’t really fit the country mold. But upon the release of their sophomore album Obsessed, I’ve sort of turned a corner on these two. Maybe it’s because they don’t sound exactly like Rascal Flatts anymore, making some slight tweaks that have went a ways in improving their music. I think their newest single and third off Obsessed, “How Not To,” demonstrates this. Adding hints of steel guitar throughout the song, most notably in the intro is a nice little touch. While the production and instrumentation still leans more pop, this is pop country I can at the very least not dislike. In fact it’s kind of decent. The song itself is about a man who is coming off a breakup and can’t shake the memory of his ex off his mind. He just doesn’t know how to go on without her and struggles with this desperate wanting. The duo keeps it simple and it works really good. Not to mention the hook of the song is catchy and will stick with you. And hey this actually has some tempo! This immediately makes this song stand out amongst the rest of the snooze fest that is country radio right now. Dan + Shay’s vocals are still too slick for my liking, but that’s just something that isn’t going to change and part of their sound. While I still wouldn’t exactly say I’m a fan of this duo, for pop country these guys are alright. I’ll take songs like “How Not To” over the majority of singles sent to country radio. Dan + Shay won’t be winning over the traditional crowd anytime soon, but they’re carving out a nice spot amongst pop country fans.

Grade: 6/10

 

Recommend? – Yes, for pop country fans. No, for traditionalists.

Note: The music video is a compelling look at overcoming addiction. It’s fantastic and recommended to all. Great work by all of those involved in it and definitely could prove to be a worthy candidate of best country music video of the year at the award shows.

 

Written by Adam Hambrick, Paul DiGiovanni and Kevin Bard

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [Sept. 6]

Jake Owen Generic Country Love Song
Okay you got your #1, now release “LAX” as a single

Each week we take a look the Billboard Country Airplay chart and grade the top 30 songs. The grading format I use each week is every song will receive one of the following scores: +5, +4, +3, +2, +1, 0, -1, -2, -3, -4, -5. These will then be tallied up for an overall score, or pulse of the current top thirty country songs, with the highest possible score being a +150 and the lowest possible score being a -150. How do I determine the score for the song? The review grade it received on the site or myself will determine this. If it hasn’t been reviewed yet, then I will make the call. The grade it has received or I would give it determines its Pulse score. The grading key: 10 [+5], 9 [+4], 8 [+3], 7 [+2], 6 [+1], 5 [0], 4 [-1], 3 [-2], 2 [-3], 1 [-4], 0 [-5].

The goal of this exercise is to evaluate the current state of mainstream country music and determine if it’s improving or getting worse. Let’s take a look at this week’s top thirty…

  1. Jake Owen – “American Generic Country Love Song” -2 (Up 1)
  2. Kelsea Ballerini – “Peter Pan” -1 (Up 1)
  3. Sam Hunt – “Make You Miss Me” -4 (Down 2)
  4. Dierks Bentley & Elle King – “Different For Girls” -3 
  5. Justin Moore – “You Look Like I Need A Drink” +2 (Up 1)
  6. Kenny Chesney & Pink – “Setting The World On Fire” -2 (Up 2)
  7. William Michael Morgan – “I Met A Girl” +3 (Up 3)
  8. Tucker Beathard – “Rock On” -3 (Up 1)
  9. Blake Shelton – “She’s Got A Way With Words” -3 (Down 2)
  10. Billy Currington – “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To” +2 (Up 1)
  11. LoCash – “I Know Somebody” -5 (Up 1) 
  12. Luke Bryan – “Move” -4 (Up 1)
  13. Cole Swindell – “Middle of a Memory” -2 (Up 1)
  14. Zac Brown Band – “Castaway” +1 (Up 1)
  15. Brett Young – “Sleep Without You” -2 (Up 1)
  16. Jason Aldean – “A Little More Summertime” (Up 1)
  17. Miranda Lambert – “Vice” +3 (Up 1) [Best Song]
  18. Big & Rich (feat. Tim McGraw) – “Lovin’ Lately” +2 (Up 1)
  19. Tim McGraw – “How I’ll Always Be” +3 (Up 1)
  20. Drake White – “Livin’ The Dream” +1 (Up 1)
  21. Old Dominion – “Song For Another Time” -3 (Up 1)
  22. Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” -1 (Up 1)
  23. Granger Dibbles Jr. – “If The Boots Fits” -4 (Up 1)
  24. Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – “May We All” (Up 1)
  25. Brett Eldredge – “Wanna Be That Song” (Up 1)
  26. Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” -4 (Up 3)
  27. Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer” +2
  28. Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” -3 
  29. Chris Stapleton – “Parachute” +3 (Up 1)
  30. Thomas Rhett – “Vacation” -5 (New to Top 30) [Worst Song]

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -33

The pulse drops three spots this week. 

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Dan + Shay – “From The Ground Up” +1

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week….Ahhh Shit (NSFW Language Ahead):

  • Thomas Rhett – “Vacation”
    • Last week it appeared I didn’t have to talk about this song in the Current Pulse, but I was wrong and now you people will get the rant you were wanting. So let’s talk about this abomination of a song. You know what this isn’t even a song. This is fucking torture. It makes me long for the dulcet sounds of Rebecca Black, William Hung and Milli Vanilli harmonizing together. I would rather listen to the theme song for Barney on a loop over this song because a purple dinosaur at least has something to say in his song. Here Rhett literally sings about nothing. He just wants to party on vacation! How fucking original is this? The thing is country radio has been flooded with terrible beach music for years, but at least all of the other terrible beach songs had a catchy hook and it didn’t make me want to tear my hair out. The lyrics can’t get any worse. Speaking of songwriting, this song has 16 songwriters. 16 fucking songwriters. I won’t attack the poor bastards from the rock group War, who are innocent bystanders in this train wreck. I wouldn’t want to be credited for being a part of this song in any way, shape or form. In fact I would sue to have my name taken off of it. To the others who helped conceive it, may you step on a thousand Legos. This obviously isn’t country, as anyone with properly working ears and a brain could tell you. I would like to think Johnny Paycheck is haunting Rhett for the rest of his life for unleashing this upon the world. And don’t call it pop because they don’t deserve this crap either. This is horrendous, money-grabbing noise that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I wish it was instead buried deep into the ocean where no soul would ever hear nor see it again. 0/10

Song I Predict Will Be #1 Next Week:

  • Kelsea Ballerini – “Peter Pan”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • William Michael Morgan – “I Met A Girl” – Up 3 from #10 to #7 (Some good news!)
  • Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” – Up 3 from #29 to #26
  • Kenny Chesney & Pink – “Setting The World On Fire” – Up 2 from #8 to #6

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Dan + Shay – “From The Ground Up” – Out of the Top 30 (& Done)
  • Sam Hunt – “Make You Miss Me” – Down 2 from #1 to #3
  • Blake Shelton – “She’s Got a Way With Words” – Down 2 from #7 to #9

Songs I See Going Recurrent & Leaving The Top 30 Soon:

  • Blake Shelton – “She’s Got a Way With Words” (It’s dying a slow death, as research numbers show people hate it with a passion. I don’t expect it to reach top five. I guess karma finally caught up with this song.)
  • Big & Rich (feat. Tim McGraw) – “Lovin’ Lately” (With two other McGraw songs in the top 30, this song is being phased out due to fear of McGraw saturation)

On The Hot Seat:

  • Zac Brown Band – “Castaway”

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Jerrod Niemann & Lee Brice – “A Little More Love”
  • Carrie Underwood – “Dirty Laundry”
  • Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word”
  • LANco – “Long Live Tonight” (Yep, that’s how their act name is spelled out)

 

As always be sure to weigh in on this week’s Pulse in the comments below. 

The Hodgepodge: Reactions to the 50th CMA Awards’ Nominations

CMA Awards 50

Yesterday morning on Good Morning America the nominations for the 50th annual CMA Awards were announced to the entire world. As always these nominations were greatly anticipated, but more than usual after the scathing Facebook post published by Sturgill Simpson earlier in the week that followed him being one of the finalists for multiple awards at the show. So now we know who was nominated and who got snubbed. Needless to say there’s plenty to dissect, so let’s get to it:

Entertainer of the Year

  • Garth Brooks
  • Luke Bryan
  • Chris Stapleton
  • Carrie Underwood
  • Keith Urban

Well well well. Right away I’m a little taken aback by the nominations I see. Garth and Luke were a slam dunk to be nominated, as Garth is still a major force touring and Bryan is still the top star of the Nashville pop. Then we get to Stapleton, who earns his very first nod for the top spot and has an excellent shot. Carrie Underwood surprisingly earns her first nomination too, as she has been one of the top touring artists in the genre in 2016. Rounding it out is Keith Urban, who has experienced a lot of success with Ripcord (ugh) and sells well also. I would say he’s the long-shot here though. Ultimately I think it will be between Stapleton and Bryan, as disheartening as this will sound for Carrie fans.

Two big snubs that immediately stands out here are Blake Shelton and Eric Church. Now before you pull out the pitchforks Church fans, you shouldn’t feel too bad because Church is well represented in every other award. Blake on the other hand, well more on Blake in a second…

Album of the Year

Far and away Eric Church is the most deserving of winning this award. Stapleton’s big night at last year’s CMA Awards unfortunately also overshadowed Church’s best album of his career. This year’s CMA Awards should make it up for that and I expect him to walk away with a lot of hardware. Keep in mind country music needs Church as much as it needs Stapleton if you want to see improvement in the mainstream scene. Carrie’s album is easily #2, despite it’s pop leanings at times. The rest of the nominations are kind of a joke. Morris made a good pop album, Urban made a bad pop album and I don’t know what the hell Dierks was thinking with Black. Despite my disdain for Bentley’s album though, it’s probably the closest competition for Church’s album because Bentley’s team is hellbent on making him an A-list artist.

Single of the Year

  • Thomas Rhett – “Die A Happy Man”
  • Tim McGraw – “Humble and Kind”
  • Maren Morris – “My Church”
  • Chris Stapleton – “Nobody To Blame”
  • Eric Church – “Record Year”

Anyone but Thomas Rhett winning here and I’m happy. Unfortunately I think he has a good chance because so many industry insiders touted this as his most mature and deep song, despite it just being a ripoff of Ed Sheeran. Keep in mind this is for single of the year, so that benefits Rhett more here. If I was asked who I would choose to win here I would choose “Record Year” because it went #1 at radio. I also believe this song will go down as a career song for Church and it’ll be hailed as a classic years from now. McGraw’s “Humble and Kind” also went #1 and was a big hit this year. Stapleton would be my close third choice because he was weirdly not chosen for Song of the Year and I would like to see both songs from Church and Stapleton recognized.

Song of the Year

  • Cam – “Burning House”
  • Thomas Rhett – “Die A Happy Man”
  • Tim McGraw – “Humble and Kind”
  • Maren Morris – “My Church”
  • Eric Church – “Record Year”

Same candidates as above, only Cam replaces Stapleton. It would have made more sense to put “Burning House” up for Single of the Year, but I guess it doesn’t matter to the CMA. If Church doesn’t win Single of the Year, I would pick him to win this one. If he does win Single of the Year, I would pick “Humble and Kind” because I would love to see Lori McKenna get recognized for this great song. I wouldn’t be surprised though if “My Church” ends up walking way with either Single or Song of the Year.

Male Vocalist of the Year

  • Dierks Bentley
  • Eric Church
  • Tim McGraw
  • Chris Stapleton
  • Keith Urban

Stapleton won this last year and I think he’s the favorite to win again if he’s not taking home Entertainer of the Year. So if he is winning EOTY, I expect Eric Church to win this one and Dierks Bentley being the other favorite. It’s kind of ironic after years of Bentley being the best choice in most categories that he’s now one of the worst choice. That’s what happens when you go chasing for fame and not focusing on making quality music I guess.

But let’s talk about Blake Shelton, who you can see did not make the above list. In fact he’s not nominated for a single award. Neither is Jason Aldean and Sam Hunt. All three have been shut out! Isn’t it wonderful? Hunt really hasn’t done anything in the past year except release “Make You Miss Me” as a single, so I wasn’t too surprised to see him missing. But Aldean and Shelton have been fixtures at these awards shows. Shelton used to dominate this award. Of course they could easily re-emerge next year. But for now let’s appreciate this moment.

Female Vocalist of the Year

  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Maren Morris
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Carrie Underwood

Miranda Lambert will once again because reasons. If there’s one thing I’ve learned since starting this blog is that you don’t bet against Lambert for this award. She wins it every year, even though she didn’t do hardly anything to win it last year and that’s the case once again this year. “Vice” was released after the eligibility window for this award, so she can’t win for that song and that’s the only new music outside of “Sweet By and By” on the Southern Family album that she’s released in 2016. Hands down this should be going to Carrie Underwood or even Maren Morris. Kacey Musgraves is somewhere sarcastically chuckling at her token nomination. Kelsea Ballerini continues to be one of the most fake stars in not just country music, but in all of music with her fabricated #1 songs. Her just being a nomination is an absolute joke and one of the best examples of the bullshit that is spun out on Music Row.

New Artist of the Year

  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • Brothers Osborne
  • Maren Morris
  • Old Dominion
  • Cole Swindell

Why is Ballerini up for this award too? And Swindell? Meanwhile Jon Pardi, Sturgill Simpson and Brandy Clark didn’t make the cut. Fuck you, CMAs! If this was Douches of the Year, I would give it to Old Dominion. Morris should walk away the winner here. If there’s one category you should be angry at, it’s this one.

Vocal Duo of the Year

  • Brothers Osborne
  • Dan + Shay
  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Joey + Rory
  • Maddie & Tae

Florida Georgia Line will win again and will continue to win since their new soft AC direction seems to have won the mainstream crowd over. Dan + Shay are probably just happy that this country career is working out so they don’t have to go back to being back up singers for a pop band. The remaining three choices would be the favorites if I were making the choice. Seeing Joey + Rory being recognized would be an awesome, feel good moment. They should be the winners. Brothers Osborne will probably be the main contenders to the Florida Georgie Line dynasty for years to come, but will continue to fall short in the immediate future. I hope Maddie & Tae are plotting their escape to the independent scene.

Vocal Group of the Year

  • Lady Antebellum
  • Little Big Town
  • Old Dominion
  • Rascal Flatts
  • Zac Brown Band

Wait a minute! Why in the hell are Lady A nominated? They’ve been broken up all year! Meanwhile the CMA snubbed Randy Rogers Band (they were a finalist), who produced a fine album in Nothing Shines Like Neon. Yes, I know they wouldn’t have won. But what’s the harm in a nomination, especially over a group that’s not currently active? This is just all-around stupidity. I wouldn’t give any of these groups the recognition of Vocal Group of the Year. I would write in Turnpike Troubadours, who run circles around all five of them.

Music Video of the Year

  • Cam – “Burning House”
  • Chris Stapleton – “Fire Away”
  • Tim McGraw – “Humble and Kind”
  • Eric Church – “Record Year”
  • Dierks Bentley – “Somewhere on a Beach”

I would be fine with anyone but Dierks Bentley winning here. To be honest though it should absolutely, 100% go to “Fire Away.” That music video is something special and one of the best I’ve seen in years. If you haven’t seen it, go watch it (and have some tissues on hand).

Musical Event of the Year

  • Dierks Bentley & Elle King – “Different For Girls”
  • Luke Bryan & Karen Fairchild – “Home Alone Tonight”
  • Keith Urban & Carrie Underwood – “The Fighter”
  • Chris Young & Cassadee Pope – “Think of You”
  • Morgane Stapleton & Chris Stapleton – “You Are My Sunshine”

Again hands down this should go to the Stapletons. There’s no question in my mind they deserve it with their excellent take on a classic song. Also Don Henley and Merle Haggard’s “Cost of Living” (a finalist) should have been one of the above five nominations. Once again the country industry snubs Haggard.

Musician of the Year

  • Jerry Douglas
  • Paul Franklin
  • Dann Huff
  • Brent Mason
  • Derek Wells

All are excellent and deserving, but I would have to go with the dobro master Jerry Douglas. He should win it alone for his reaction to the Stapleton performance.

Overall there’s a lot to like and dislike about these nominations. As I predicted, Stapleton and Church racked up the most nominations. Morris also tied them for most nominations, which I knew she would get a lot of attention but not this much. It’s certainly something to keep an eye on, as she appears poised to breakout. There’s a lot of love for Urban, Underwood and Bentley, which I also expected. For the most part I think the CMA got it right outside of groups and new artist. These are categories where they could have went out on a limb and went with different artists. Sturgill fans should rightly be angry, but he’ll at least get his due at the Americana Awards and the Grammys. Jon Pardi and Brandy Clark fans have more to be angry about, as they should have been shoe-ins for New Artist. Clark is probably the worst snub of all, as she had legitimate claims not just for New Artist, but Female Vocalist and Album of the Year.

As always I’m curious to hear your thoughts on all of this in the comments below.

Upcoming/Recent Country & Americana Releases

  • First I just wanted to point out that Eric Church sent a radio edit version of “Kill A Word” to country radio that features Rhiannon Giddens singing one line solo. This was deliberately done so it could be listed as featuring Giddens, which is a cool move by Church and his team to help her get recognition.
  • Next week Whiskey Myers will be releasing their new album MUD. I’ll definitely have a review on it soon.
  • Also next week St. Paul & The Broken Bones release their new album Sea of Noise.
  • Karen Jonas will be releasing her sophomore album Country Songs on October 14. This could definitely emerge as an album of the year contender, much like her debut album Oklahoma Lottery in 2014.
  • Jon Pardi’s next single will be “Dirt on My Boots” and will impact country radio on September 19.

Throwback Thursday Song

Kelleigh Bannen – “Cheap Sunglasses” – I just wanted to take a moment to shout out Kelleigh Bannen, who had the guts to leave EMI Nashville to go out and make the music she wants. Her new EP released earlier this year was pretty solid and I would review it, but I don’t like to review EPs because I will get bombarded with EP pitches (despite clearly stating in the about section we don’t take EP pitches). The entire EP is worth a listen, but I particularly enjoyed this song. I’ve always saw potential in Bannen and now we’re finally getting to hear it.

Non-Country Suggestion of the Week

Temperance Movement – White Bear – One of my favorite rock groups today and their new album White Bear proves once again they’re a rock band you should know.

Tweet of the Week

1000%

iTunes Reviews of the New Florida Georgia Line Album

FGL Dig Your Crap

I haven’t actually completely ruled out reviewing the new Florida Georgia Line album. But these reviews give you a taste of what I would say. I guess not everyone loves their new AC direction.

One more thing…

Site News: Derek is taking an indefinite hiatus from writing on the blog, as he settles his personal schedule. Once that’s settled, he’ll be back. For the time being I will be doing the Hodgepodge.