Sunday nights, I usually like to watch The Amazing Race after 60 Minutes. I don't usually watch much reality television at all, but something about the combination of total incompetence, vicious backstabbing and exotic locales as several, two-person teams race around the globe is completely intoxicating. Unfortunately, last night the show was pre-empted for the 47th annual Academy of Country Music Awards.
I have been a country music fan all my life, but I have to confess I have kind of tuned it out since country-pop fluff like Rascal Flatts, Little Big Town and Sugarland began dominating the market. (Turns out those groups are still around, but not quite the commercial force they once were, which makes me happy.) Before Sunday, I'm not sure I could tell the difference I can tell the difference between Eric Church, Luke Bryan or Chris Young, either by sight or on the radio.
After Sunday, I'm not sure I really want to or need to. But once co-host Reba McEntire (or just "Reba") said The Band Perry's song "New In Town" has been downloaded more than 4 million times, I kept watching the awards anyway. I figured it might be a good chance to get caught up on what was going on in country music these days, and see what else I could learn. It was an educational three hours.
15. Chris Young has a unique take on ending the drought. Except for everyone in Texas, who adopted "Save Water, Drink Beer" as a motto a long time ago.
14. Holy crap, there is a line-dancing game for the Xbox Kinect. Featuring Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, Sugarland and more.
13. Lionel Richie is the most influential man in Nashville. The part of the country that only knows him as Nicole Richie's dad might be shocked to learn that. Also, Lionel has one of the best teams in the music business right now. They already managed to secure him his own special on CBS a week from this Friday, so hopefully they can get him an Austin City Limits taping too.
12. The Entertainer of the Year nominees would make the great cast of a CBS sitcom. That's Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney, Blake Shelton and Taylor Swift, featuring Dolly Parton in the Betty White role. I would totally watch that show.
11. Texas boys know how to make an acceptance speech. The Eli Young Band thanked God, the military, their fans in Texas, and the entire management/publicity/label team that helped "Crazy Girl" win Song of the Year.
10. Blake Shelton is the new Ronnie Milsap. Which is not a bad thing at all, because the old one is a pretty cool customer too.
9. Among the Best New Artist Nominees, Brantley Gilbert looks like he could mop the floor with Hunter Hayes and Scotty McCreery. Although limiting all three nominees to approximately 20-second performances was probably a good idea.
8. What the fuck is Kiss doing here? I wish what happened in Vegas really did stay in Vegas.
7. Judging by the way his voice sounds, Eric Church should write a song called "Willie Nelson" instead of "Springsteen." Speaking of Willie, I was hoping CBS would run that Chipolte commercial with his version of Coldplay's "The Scientist" like at the Grammys, but they didn't.
6. Radio is still really important to country music. Why else would the ACMs have a category called "Single Record of the Year"?
5. It's good to see drinking is not a taboo subject in country music anymore, but Toby Keith's "Red Solo Cup" is proof that every shred of scientific evidence that alcohol destroys brain cells is 100 percent true. As further proof, Carrot Top showed up to help him sing it Sunday.
4. Ashton Kutcher is a George Strait fan. And judging by the chorus of "I Cross My Heart" he sang before presenting an award... well, it's enough that he likes George Strait.
3. After Miranda Lambert sang "Over You," they could have pretty much just skipped the previous two hours. Then Zac Brown Band ("Whiskey's Gone") and Dierks Bentley ("Home") made it three great songs in a row, something I totally did not expect.
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2. You really can get married anywhere, anytime in Vegas. Including onstage on live televison while Martina McBride and Train's Pat Monahan are singing.
1. Skrillex has not yet figured out a way to insinuate himself into country music. Just give him another year. Tops.