Country Music Awards: Who Isn’t Winning That Should?
Every time the nominees list for a country award show is announced, there’s always a little bit of controversy. Each fan gets angry if their favorite hasn’t been included, for example the snubbing of Carrie Underwood at this year’s ACM Awards for Entertainer of the Year, or when an artist gets nominated that people feel haven’t earned their place, for example Kacey Musgraves for Female Vocalist of the Year at the very same awards. Everyone has their own idea about who deserves that
coveted award, because it’s a simple matter of aesthetics. However, for me, there are a few that pop up again and again as snubbed, and they are as follows. This is just a small selection of a few artists I would like to see winning or being nominated for major awards, and you are welcome to suggest more in the comment section below!
Too Many Men?
The problem with mainstream country is that the scene is crowded with male solo artists. In comparison, the female and group categories are not picking from such a huge list of artists, and thus we get a very similar selection for each awards show. The duo categories are usually so lacking that Sugarland, who haven’t released an album since 2010, continue to be nominated in each award show on a near-constant basis. They’ve been on hiatus for a good year or more, yet is there any other major label duo who is a clear choice for that nominee spot? True, the award shows should be about good music period, but the fact is they’re part of the corporate machine, and there is simply no other duo that springs to mind to fill that position.
However, the male categories are always crowded, and well-known yet still smaller acts like Lee Brice get somewhat forgotten among the rabble. Then there’s a personal favorite of mine, Eric Church, who is now beginning to be recognized, but still encounters the problem of often being nominated and rarely winning. Acts such as Darius Rucker who are hitting #1 on Country Radio get ignored entirely (to my knowledge Darius didn’t even go to this year’s ACMs).
Not the Right “Sound”?
As for women, Miranda Lambert seems to be on a roll of late winning awards, and clearing up at last year’s CMA Awards. But the Pistol Annies, the band she’s a member of, remain firmly in her shadow, and as far as I know they haven’t been nominated for a single major country award yet (correct me if I’m wrong!). In fact, I feel if it weren’t for Miranda, they wouldn’t be invited to every show, and they certainly wouldn’t have performed with Blake Shelton at the ACMs in April. Ashley Monroe too, also a member of the Pistol Annies, perhaps explained by her more traditional-orientated output, is hugely critically acclaimed and not awarded. But if we’re looking for less traditional sounds that are more likely to be nominated, where is Holly Williams on the list? The daughter of Hank Jr., her music incorporates folk and rock influences, yet the mainstream scene in general has never really accepted her.
Is It Ageism?
In addition, there are plenty of artists in their 40s who no longer have the awards clout they once did, but that can be put down to the ageism of the industry. Artists like Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw, Vince Gill, Faith Hill, Martina McBride and Sara Evans are among these.
But is it ageism? Scotty McCreery is putting out music that’s a cut down the middle between traditional and contemporary, and he is just 19 years old with boyish good looks to boot. Yet aside from a couple of New Artist awards around the release of his debut album, Scotty has been largely overlooked in the mainstream awards.
Record label issues can have an impact on whether an artist is welcomed by an awards show. In 1999 the CMA Awards committee was monopolized by people from major labels and Mike Curb resigned after they refused to let LeAnn Rimes perform. And this may be the reason for more genuine country releases like ‘Family’ (2007) and ‘Lady & Gentlemen’ (2011) being snubbed at all mainstream country award shows since the early few years of her career (although when considering her level of fame she has won comparatively little awards in any format at any time of her career).
Acts like Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan and Kenny Chesney have monopolized the award shows for years and likely will continue to do so for some time to come; that is until someone of equal appeal and measure takes over to win the same awards year after year.
Can We Hear Something Different?
I am all for artists not to my personal taste winning awards because I can appreciate hard work and talent when I see it. Still, while I will not make a comment on the potential industry ‘fixing’ that may or may not go on behind the scenes, it would be nice to see something a little different, a little pleasant surprise, for once.