The Problem With Award Shows: The Artists Who Should Win And Don’t

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.

Vickye is a guest contributor! Find her on her own site or Twitter, @FTcountryRecord!

About Vickye

Vickye was born and continues to live in England, and discovered country music at the age of 13 through the internet. She loves Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton among others, but Taylor Swift is a secret guilty pleasure because she used to be a proper fangirl! She's in her final year of doing 'Popular Music Studies' at college, loves reading country music academia and has her own blog on country music, For The Country Record. She hopes one day to finally visit Nashville.

8 Replies to “The Problem With Award Shows: The Artists Who Should Win And Don’t”

  1. Pingback: New article (the problem with award shows?) « For The Country Record

  2. Honestly, I’ve come to accept how political these award shows are. It’s like that outside of the country music genre as well. Whose publicist has the most pull and conducts a great campaign throughout the industry to shine light on their clients. A lot of times, the artists that can afford publicists to put that much work into it already stand front and center in the limelight. As much as I just realize it’s the way of the life in the industry, I really do wish it would change. There are amazing, lesser known artists and bands on the verge of something special who don’t even get recognized. For instance, I’ve been a huge fan of Gloriana basically since their small beginnings, and their fame has definitely grown in recent years. It kills to see bands like Love & Theft and Thompson Square (who happens to have ties to a huge Country Music company) being nominated and winning when Gloriana can’t even get a mention. But… yes, long story short, I agree with everything here.

  3. Thank you Vickye! Great article and right on target. I totally appreciate the recognition of Scotty McCreery. He is awesome in many, many ways…..yet he seems to have been put on the back burner. His faith, talent, charisma, youth, energy, ability and his huge fan base will push him to the top eventually!

  4. Yes I agree Vickye. Thanks for your mention of Scotty McCreery. Scotty is absolutely amazing and his concerts are top notch! He has earned any recognition that he has gotten and then some! I'm very disappointed with radio for instance. don't understand that at all. It seems to be the same songs over and over are played and I don't know what they want Scotty to do but I know he will get their attention because HE IS THE BEST ALL AROUND ARTIST EVER and has a fan base like no other. He wins nearly every poll. He is selling out concerts and his fans will be with him FOREVER! So glad that others see what his fans see in him. Thank you!

  5. Thank you for mentioning the exclusion of Scotty McCreery. He is so good and can't seem to make a dent a radio. The same songs over and over – they should welcome someone like Scotty.

  6. I thank you for saying that about Scotty because I agree , he has put out some great songs , doing his own tour and selling out , such a sweet guy with a great voice but the industry just won't give him the time of day.

  7. I totally agree! It is sad that politics, money, and ageism are so problematic in Country music…It seems radio as well as the the awards are no longer about talent, or what music the public wants to hear…it's about who has the $$$ to make it happen and/or who has an in with the "upper crust" of the music industry.
    I think you gave some great examples of those being ignored, much to the chagrin of fans…Tim McGraw & Brad Paisley have continued to put out great albums & performing sold out concerts…yet have been pushed aside as far as the awards go.
    Scotty McCreery has an amazing voice, a fantastic stage presence, headlining sold out concerts, his first album went platinum, his Christmas album went gold, he's come out with some great new songs for his upcoming album & is even writing/co-writing some of the music…but still not getting radio time he deserves & has not even been included in performers for award shows since is first year, when he won fan voted New Artist awards….But I believe that Scotty McCreery will make his way to the top no matter how hard they make it..he has the talent, the work ethic, personality, fan base, and faith to make it!

  8. Amen to the article. Awards shows have changed so much and it seems now they don't carry the same prestige when winning one because some artists just have them handed to them like when Blake won EOTY and he hadn't even toured I think the fan voted ones mean more now because if your fans actually take the time to do the voting and put the work in to it for their artist to win that says more than some record label negotiating a win for an artist.