The Academy of Country Music Awards had a lot of strong performances Sunday night. And make no mistake about it - the three-hour show (Unlike the Oscars, it actually does end on time) was about the live performances, not the actual awards
One-half hour into it, there was not sign of an award about to be handed out. By my calculations, a total of nine awards were doled out in three hours. That's not a lot, and several were given off camera, including Video of the Year (Miranda Lambert's The House That Built Me) and Vocal Event of the Year (Zac Brown Band with Alan Jackson on As She's Walking Away).
No one would argue differently (at least no one that I'd take seriously) that this night belonged to Lambert and Taylor Swift. Of course, Lambert had the most nominations going into the evening with seven. Sometimes, you can rack up a lot of nominations and not have very much to show for it at the end of the night.
That was not the case for Lambert, whose career has been on a big roll for two years. A lot of times, these awards ceremonies produce magic for an artist with one song, and that was the case with Lambert and The House That Built Me. The song took Single of the Year and Song of the Year, while Lambert also won the Female Vocalist honor.
I am not sure why, but it strikes me that Swift does not dominate these awards shows (yet?). She did get four nominations, but when all was said and done, she received but one award.
Ah, but that one was the biggest of the evening by far - Entertainer of the Year. Swift was predictably excited/overwhelmed with the news. She showed good class by going up to fellow nominees Lambert and Brad Paisley to hug/congratulate them one presumes, before heading on stage to give her speech after receiving the trophy from Ryan Seacrest (by the way, why the heck did he give out the most important award of the night. Going out with Julianne Hough qualifies him as being part of the country crowd?). Of course, Swift thanked her fans - they all do.
No doubt about it - Swift should have thanked her fans because they are the ones who voted for the award. One suspects that her fans were big time loyal as well. Considering the competition of Jason Aldean, Toby Keith, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban and Lambert, it probably should not have come as a shock. Her fans are way way more, well, fanatical, than the others' fans I would think. I mean she has a lot of teens and pre-teens following her every move, and that demographic definitely is going to stand by their girl.
Lest you think that I am being condescending, nope. I said in a pre-show blog that I thought Swift deserved it based on her "Speak Now" CD, touring and pushing her brand of country music.
I give her a lot of credit for her performance as well on Mean. It's a great song with a tremendous amount of country there. After all, it didn't seem like banjo was a big instrument seen on stage this evening. There was a lot of mandolin and fiddle as well on the song, not to mention upright bass and a very spare drum set. This was in very very sharp contrast to most of the music on this evening.
And I loved the front porch idea with the outfits by the other five band members. They weren't going to win any best dressed awards for this evening and fortunately no one would ask them who they were wearing either.
Swift's singing, of course, has been subject to much criticism over the years. Was it perfect on Mean? No, it wasn't, but close enough, and the fact of the matter is, she had the right spirit and emotion in putting the song across. There is no reason why a live performance need be absolutely perfect - in some respects, that's the beauty of going live.
I liked the lines of the song: "And I can see you years from now in a bar, talking over a football game/
With that same big loud opinion but nobody's listening/
Washed up and ranting about the same old bitter things/
Drunk and grumbling on about how I can't sing."
Swift still has a ways to go. She is not a complete, finished artist, and that's no criticism either. Hopefully, all of these musicians are works in progress and pushing themselves and trying to get better at their craft. It's clear that Swift has grown as a performer and artist. This night was proof of that.
Oh, and if she would keep doing songs in the vein of Mean and swinging back to more traditional country sounds, even better.
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