The Academy of Country Music Awards air Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET on CBS, so get yourself over to CBS.com and vote for Entertainer of the Year. I was gonna keep this post neutral (really I was), because I’ve witnessed four-time winner Kenny Chesney sweat through his shirt on the first song of a concert. I know that nobody combines talent, heart, and humor like Brad Paisley. I can’t believe George Strait‘s only won the title once before — 20 years ago — when he’s being named ACM’s Artist of the Decade. And I’d love to see Carrie Underwood, who delivered some of 2008′s most memorable TV performances (from Idol Gives Back to the CMAs), become only the seventh woman to go home with the night’s top prize. But then, Keith Urban had to go and play New York City’s Webster Hall last night — one of a handful of club dates in support of his new album, Defying Gravity — and I remembered that I find nothing more entertaining than watching that man play a guitar. Judging from the number of videos on YouTube of his "Stupid Boy" solo, I am not alone. Check out one from ’08 below, which does not include his new haircut, the best of his career, in my opinion. (And, this one, too, because the girl shooting it had a great angle.) Then, let us know your ACM EOTY pick in our poll.
Tag: Country Y'all! (81-90 of 176)
Singer Dan Seals passed away March 25, at the age of 61. I’ll be honest (and mildly ashamed): At first, I didn’t think I remembered any of his No. 1 hits. But then, I played the video for "Bop" (below), Single of the Year at 1986′s Country Music Association Awards, and I was suddenly 11-years-old, singing along to the car radio.
If you’re not already a Shooter Jennings fan, you will be after you read this interview. Even if you’re a Jonas Brother. (Maybe not if you’re Bret Michaels, a member of Rascal Flatts, or someone involved in choosing the performers for last month’s Grammys…). Today, Jennings celebrates the premiere of his CMT Crossroads concert with close friend Jamey Johnson. "It’s not a real raucous show. I play piano for most it," he says. "I tried to take it as psychedelic as we could possibly go." (Look for their "wild" cover of his father Waylon Jennings’ "Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Got Out of Hand.") Tomorrow, his compilation Bad Magick: The Best of Shooter Jennings & the .357′s hits stores. Expect that to tie a ribbon on his time straddling the country and rock aisles. "The reason I chose to name the package Bad Magick is because the music I’m making now [with a new band bound for this summer's Warped Tour] is kind of an extension of that song we did," he says. "[My next album] will be a new sound, probably the most anti-radio but most progressive thing I could possibly do."
After taking our EW Pop Culture Personality Test, there’s no doubt he’s a little bit country, but a lot more rock ‘n roll…
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You called precisely on time. Is that typical for you, or did we just catch you on a good day?
SHOOTER JENNINGS: I’m usually pretty punctual. I’m not one to like to be late. When I was younger, I was the guy who’d leave the house early if I had to get somewhere and drive around for a while until it got to be time to show up.
[We like him already.] Let’s jump right in. What is the best concert you’ve ever seen?
That’s a tough one. I’ve seen some good concerts. In terms of being so excited that I couldn’t hold myself together, and production value and everything, when I saw the Nine Inch Nails’ Downward Spiral tour. It was with Jim Rose Circus and Marilyn Manson. I remember seeing it at Vanderbilt Auditorium in Nashville. Most of the time I get bored at concerts by the end, and that was one where from top to bottom, I just couldn’t believe what was goin’ on. I felt dirty, I felt all kinds of stuff watchin’ all that s— go down, you know. I saw My Morning Jacket and the Raconteurs last year at the Greek [Theatre] in Los Angeles within two days, and those were both great concerts. I saw the new Guns N’ Roses, the first show they did on New Year’s 2001 at the House of Blues in Vegas, that was pretty wild. But in terms of the kind of glory that goes on in a teenager’s mind, that Nails show still stands out to me as one of the best.
The act you still need to see?
I would have loved to have seen Zeppelin if they were really gonna reunite, which I guess now they’ve called the whole thing off since Plant isn’t gonna be involved. Back to Nails again, I really want to see this tour with Jane’s Addiction. I never saw Jane’s Addiction play, and to see the entire group would be really exciting.
The song you wish you’d written?
"Please Come to Boston" [by Dave Loggins], as cheesy as that sounds. Or "Loving Her Was Easier" by Kris Kristofferson. Pretty much anything Kris Kristofferson ever wrote I wish I’d written. "Isis" is another good one, that Bob Dylan song.
Your guilty pleasure dance song? Have you been able to resist Beyoncé’s "Single Ladies"?
Okay, "Single Ladies" didn’t resonate with me quite like it did with other people, but there are things on pop radio now adays that I can get down with. Like, I didn’t hate the Justin Timberlake record. "What Goes Around… Comes Around," I definitely didn’t change the channel when that was on.
[Laughs] Look, the production was quite progressive on that record. I dig that. I’m kind of a stickler for progressive music to some degree. Not like Dream Theater, but if something seems different and new to me, I can kinda get down with it. Oh, you know what song I don’t mind? "Lovebug," that Jonas Brothers song. It feels like the Beatles to me in a way. And then at the end, when it rocks out, I’m into that. I’m not afraid to say that. You’re probably just gonna print this part, and then I’m gonna f—in’ read this thing, and be like, Jesus. So you gotta state that there were expletives all around this statement. [Laughs]
Oh, it will be noted.
Oh yeah: "Jonas Brothers’ ‘Lovebug,’ that’s his favorite song!"
But you get the Jonas Brothers.
I get it for what it is. I don’t own the record. It feels very muchlike teenybopper music, but I’m not gonna hate on them before I’m gonnahate on Rascal Flatts or somebody, because their stuff feels a lot morehonest. Even though those guys are part of a machine, they still seemlike they’re doin’ their thing, so I can respect that. I can respectMiley Cyrus. I’m not gonna walk away and say that s— is completelyinvaluable, because I don’t believe it is.
Keith Urban’s new album, Defying Gravity, hits stores March 31, but in the meantime, he’s debuting one full track a day on his iLike page for free. You even get a video from him introducing that day’s release (watch him talk about "Kiss A Girl," a song that will make you want to buy said new album if his single, "Sweet Thing," already hasn’t, after the jump).
I’ve cheered Keith Urban on PopWatch before for his ability to "do it right" live. (Multiple times.) And now I’ve gotta hand it to him for his marketing. When money is tight, people are less likely to gamble on an entire album. Give them a free, easy listen to full tracks and you remove the risk. Defying Gravity sounds like it will be money well spent.
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is up and running in the ol’ hometown, and I made my traditional pre-SXSW visit to Reliant Stadium on St. Patrick’s Day, joining 60,000 green-clad Texans and my gratuitous-turquoise-jewelry-laden mother to pet cows, watch chicks hatch, eat foods God never intended (today: baked potato smothered in brisket), cheer on some steer wrestlers, and cap it all off with a performance from country music superstar Keith Urban.
First time seeing the Aussie in person, though I’ve long enjoyed his hyper style — I like how he’s always at a banjo-pickin’ clip, it’s real jaunty — and I heartily endorse his thetan-free marriage to Nicole Kidman, who we discovered was in the building tonight when he opened “Making Memories of Us” with a dedication to her. Cue gasps and heads turning left and right, as though Nicole Kidman would be just hanging out behind the bull chutes in a bedazzled vest and pink Ropers for all to see. She wasn’t. But follow me after the jump anyway, as Keith Urban did something tonight that I’ve never seen another rodeo performer try — and yes, that does include Garth Brooks, George Strait, and late-80′s-era Huey Lewis. Suspense!
George Strait has been named the Academy of Country Music’s Artist of the Decade, and CBS will tape a tribute concert in Las Vegas on April 6 (the night after the ACM Awards) to air later this year. So far, Faith Hill, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, Sugarland, Taylor Swift, and Keith Urban have been confirmed as performers. Which of Strait’s songs should they sing? My picks:
Faith Hill: "Today My World Slipped Away"
Toby Keith: "Round About Way"
Tim McGraw: "She’ll Leave You With a Smile"
Sugarland: "I Just Want to Dance With You"
Taylor Swift: "You Look So Good in Love" (she changes the "him"s to "her"s)
Keith Urban: "Blue Clear Sky"
Faith Hill and Tim McGraw duet: "Carrying Your Love With Me"
More country music news:
Brad Paisley leads ACM noms, Carrie Underwood up for Entertainer of the Year
Sugarland 2009 tour dates announced!
Taylor Swift’s Fearless tops the charts… again
Jake Owen: The EW Pop Culture Personality Test
Dierks Bentley: The EW Pop Culture Personality Test
Blake Shelton: The EW Pop Culture Personality Test
Billy Currington: The EW Pop Culture Personality Test
In April, Jake Owen will be vying for the titles of Top New Male Artist and Vocal Event of the Year (for his "Life in a Northern Town" collaboration with Sugarland and Little Big Town) at the Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas. Earlier this week, however, after he rocked Good Morning America in support of his second album, Easy Does It — and before he flew home to Tennessee for a party celebrating his cover of Nashville Lifestyles magazine, which dubbed him country music’s most eligible bachelor — he grabbed a beer with EW in New York City and took the prize for our most revealing Pop Culture Personality Test yet. And not just because he talked about buying condoms…
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Billy Currington told us he hasn’t had a TV since, like, 2001. Say you own a TV, even if you’re lying.
JAKE OWEN: I do have a TV, but I never watch it. I can’t stand to just sit there. If I’m gonna sit down, I usually play guitar or I play with my dog [a bulldog named Vern, after country great Vern Gosdin]. I’ve been dating a girl [2006 Miss Tennessee USA Lauren Grissom] for a while, and she was mad because I don’t have a TV anywhere in my house other than in the downstairs area. I was like, Why? If you’re gonna be in the bedroom, there ain’t no need for a TV. You know what I mean? [Laughs] If you’re that bored, then we don’t need to be dating.
You were on the road to becoming a professional golfer. [After a waterskiing accident in college, he had reconstructive shoulder surgery that put his left arm in a sling for months. That's when he picked up the guitar.] Who’s the best celebrity golfer you’ve encountered?
That’s what kind of bothers me: When I see Golf Digest and they rate the top celebrity golfers, my name’s not ever on there. Not to be cocky, but I’ll take on anybody.
Will you take on Justin Timberlake, who was ranked No. 15 among musicians in 2008?
There’s not a lot of things that I could tell you I’d take Justin Timberlake at, but I would smoke him in a game of golf. Tell JT to bring it. I’ve already tried to set that up.
It’s starting to feel like deja vu every time I write these words: Taylor Swift’s Fearless is the No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart this week. This is her 10th non-consecutive week in the top spot, the most any album has racked up since Santana’s music-revolution-sparking Supernatural lasted 12 weeks 10 years ago. (Remember that?) Part of the explanation for Swift’s success has to do with ever-declining CD sales trends. She only had to move a relatively tepid 62,000 copies this week to get to No. 1. But there’s no denying that Ms. Swift is as close to a major young pop star as you get in 2009. What’s more, she’s done it without the benefit of the Disney or American Idol machines — she’s a textbook-definition indie rocker, like it or not, and people buy her CDs because she writes tight, catchy tunes that they can relate to. (I’m not ashamed to admit that "Love Story" is a jam, despite the comically off-base literary references and the sorta-creepy final verse about teenagers getting married.) Not bad at all for a 19-year-old.
There were a few other notable entries on this week’s albums chart. Coming in at No. 2 with 58,000 sold was Charlie Wilson — not the guy with the war, the Gap Band singer who’s pals with Snoop Dogg. Lady GaGa jumped up to No. 10, her highest showing yet, with 32,000. And Morrissey’s Years of Refusal landed at No. 11.
So let’s hear it. What do you think about Taylor Swift’s apparently unstoppable chart reign, or any of those other sales results?
More on Taylor Swift:
She was one of EW’s best-dressed Grammy attendees this year
EW profiled her last year…
…and chatted with her back in ’07
How much do you love her "Love Story" video?
Apparently, we need to start taking Julianne Hough’s country singing career semi-seriously. The Dancing With the Stars pro and ACM Top New Female Vocalist nominee — who’s already toured with Brad Paisley and will hit the road with George freakin’ Strait this summer — will perform the National Anthem at Sunday’s Daytona 500. Pre-race festivities begin at 2 p.m. on Fox.
Another reason to tune in (besides the always entertaining commentary of my favorite NASCAR analyst Darrell Waltrip): Keith Urban is set to perform a pre-race concert. Urban also wrote, performed, and produced the theme song for a series of vignettes Fox will debut Sunday. The Adventures of Digger and Friends capitalizes on the popularity of the animated alter-ego to Fox’s Gopher Cam, which is embedded in the track to give fans a tire-level view. The five two-minute shorts follow Digger, a clever teenage NASCAR fan/gopher who will always outsmart the Wile E. Coyote-like schemes the "under-track security guard" Lumpy Wheels employs to catch him. Also making appearances: Digger’s girlfriend Annie, who is said to be "preoccupied by her many interests, which don’t include racing" (mildy offensive!); his good friend Marbles, an aspiring NASCAR mechanic; and his grandfather Gramps, a former racer who reportedly has a cantankerous side.
Sunday also brings the premiere of a commercial starring Kevin Costner, who’s been named the spokesman for 2009′s charity-driven NASCAR Day (May 15). His band Kevin Costner & Modern West’s single "Backyard" is the theme song for this year’s NASCAR Day, so get used to hearing it during broadcasts. Costner also recently narrated the CMT NASCAR documentary The Ride of their Lives, which hit DVD Tuesday.
Anyone else planning on tuning in to the Daytona 500? (Go Mark Martin!)
Brad Paisley led the field this morning with six nominations for the 44th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards, which will air April 5 on CBS and once again be hosted by Reba McEntire. Paisley is pitted against Kenny Chesney, George Strait, Keith Urban, and Carrie Underwood for the top prize, Entertainer of the Year. Though I’m backing Urban in the fan-voted category (voteACM.com), it’s worth noting that Underwood would be only the 7th woman to take the title — and the first since the Dixie Chicks in 2000. This year, fans will also weigh in on the three newcomer categories (female, male, vocal duo or group) by voting on GACTV.com. The winners will then move on to a new category, Top New Artist. George Strait, who received three nominations, was also named Artist of the Decade, and will be honored in a CBS special airing later this year.
See the full list of nominees after the jump. (Note: Album of the Year contenders will be announced in March.)
- Oklahoma fund-raiser on NBC May 29
- Fox reality boss Mike Darnell steps down
- Stone Temple Pilots suit vs. Scott Weiland
- Tom Cruise exits 'Man from U.N.C.L.E.'
- 'Arrested Development': Ask the 'kids'
- 'American Idol' mulling alums as judges?
- Mariah Carey swears, dress slips on 'GMA'
- Benedict Cumberbatch in 'Trek' shower?!