Well, my father always said that the only thing dumber than buying a lottery ticket was buying two, and he also said betting and gambling are for people who hate having money. So it’s a good thing I didn’t put any money down on any of my picks for the Country Music Association award winners Wednesday night.
I went 4-8, and the CMA played it safe in a night that was already riddled with controversy. What else happened? Read on to find out.Miranda Lambert got snubbed
Miranda Lambert was nominated for five CMAs: Album of the Year, Single of the Year, Song of the Year, Female Vocalist of the Year and Music Video of the Year. She won one: Female Vocalist of the Year, which she has now won eight of the 12 times she’s been nominated. She also served up the night's most traditionally country moment with her performance of “To Learn Her,” from her nominated “The Weight of These Wings” album.
I’m not sure if this snubbing was deliberate, but Lambert has been one of the most outspoken advocates for more country airplay for women, going so far as to call the lack of ladies on the radio “B.S., straight up.” She deserved to win for “Weight,” but instead that award went to Chris Stapleton. His “From A Room, Vol. 1” is great, but, as the title says, it is only Volume 1. I think it’s fair to say that this album can only be judged once Vol. 2 is released in December. Meanwhile, Lambert’s “Weight,” a double album, is an ambitious piece of artistry that only comes along every once in a while.
However, Lambert touched on the feeling of unity that everyone else talked about on the red carpet and in their acceptance speeches when she received her award: “I feel like there’s a family in this room right now.”Speaking While Not Speaking remained the gold standard
Hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood cracked some jokes in their opener about the blatant press restrictions placed upon the journalists covering the awards. But aside from that, keeping mum about any issue stayed the industry standard Wednesday night, as artists and performers let anything else —their performances, their fashion choices, their Maya Angelou acceptance speech quotes — do the talking for them on issues ranging from “unity” and “harmony” to presidential politics, sexual assault prevention and gun issues.
None of this is surprising, but Nashville’s stigmatization of anyone who dares to voice an opinion that hasn’t been workshopped has got to stop. Safe choices extended to even the awards, as the CMA went back to familiar winners (Little Big Town, Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks) that wouldn’t offend anybody.
Brad Paisley wore a shirt that said “Unity” during a performance, Little Big Town quoted Maya Angelou, Dan + Shay and Lauren Alaina performed The Youngbloods’ “Get Together,” every award winner mentioned the word “family” more than the last four “Fast and Furious” films combined, and the closest thing anybody said that approaced a comment was Little Big Town’s “Kindness is an attractive quality. We can change everything because of harmony.” All of that might really be the mindset of many of these artists. But to the casual fan watching last night’s awards, you wouldn’t know that there was anything happening in the industry regarding sexual assault allegations, or lack of diversity on the radio, or a lack of avenue given to anyone who is not mainstream.
Some would argue that an awards show is a perfect opportunity to get away from all of those topics. And, after all, most awards shows these days have become a little too politically charged. But at a moment where many fans are wondering when country music stars are going to speak up about ugly issues that have recently affected many in the industry, tampering down expression is not the answer.
Carrie Underwood did, however, deliver a soaring, haunting performance of “Softly and Tenderly” to honor the victims of the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting, as well as pay tribute to all of the country music artists we’ve lost this year. Her performance was one of the highlights of the night, even if the swooping camera seemed to not want to focus on the In Memoriam photos.The people who weren’t in the building still made headlines
As I mentioned earlier, Taylor Swift won a CMA this year, her 12th so far. How, you, ask? She wrote Little Big Town’s “Better Man.” The fact that she won is more an indication of the CMA’s need to connect with the youths than anything. Swift wasn’t there to accept her award, but her win was a hot topic of conversation online. (She alsp has a new album coming out this weekend — maybe you’ve heard of it?)
The other big talker was Sturgill Simpson, who quietly deleted his social media accounts a while back and hasn’t let on what he’s going to do next. We found out a part of that plan when he showed up outside the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, busking on a street corner with a sign that said “I don’t take requests but I take questions about anything you want to talk about because facism sucks.” all of the money he received will go to the ACLU. Check out the performance below, from his now-restored Facebook page (Warning: Some NSFW language):