Country Music Association spreads the love
You could be forgiven if you thought that the writer's strike in Hollywood and New York had somehow infected the live broadcast of last night's 41st annual CMA Awards in Nashville, as the three-hour telecast felt much like a rerun.
Kenny Chesney accepting the award for Entertainer of the Year? Check. Carrie Underwood copping two trophies, including her second Female Vocalist of the Year honor? Mmm-hmm. Miranda Lambert singing an angry I'm-going-to-murder-my-evil-ex-boyfriend song? Darn-tootin'. ABC stars James Denton of "Desperate Housewives" and Kimberly Williams-Paisley of "According to Jim" were again on hand to provide corporate synergy for the host network. And the parade of familiar faces extended to the performances as well, with nearly half returning from last year.
The only thing that distinguished this year's round of thanking God, the fans, and country radio was the lack of a Faith Hill-style controversy when Underwoood took the stage for her second award. (Reba McEntire refrained from expressing dismay, in jest or otherwise, when bested by the "American Idol" alum.)
Too bad, because the show, which was jam-packed with 21 performances, could've used a little more buzz. Instead, "country music's biggest night" was the perfect advertisement for the product it was selling, consistently pleasant with occasional detours into impressive and downright dull. Hell, even Kid Rock managed to mind his p's and q's.
There were a few laughs to be had in in Music City, however. Song of the Year co-winner Jamey Johnson, co-writer of George Strait's divorce song "Give it Away," got a roar out of the crowd by putting a pause in just the right spot of his acceptance speech. "I want to thank my ex-wife, Amy . . . for being such a good mother to my kids, she surely deserves half of this song and half of this award, too." Seventeen-year-old Taylor Swift was adorable in accepting the Horizon Award, gushing, "This is definitely the highlight of my senior year."
Swift's win was notable not only because of her age, but also for her win in a male-dominated category in a year when grumbling was heard about the preponderance of male nominees. Underwood managed the same trick, as did Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland, who won the award for Vocal Duo of the Year with partner Kristian Bush.
Standouts among the performances included Nettles' emotional vocals on an acoustic "Stay," The Eagles' soaring harmonies on "How Long," a rousing version of "Boondocks" from Little Big Town, and for sheer head-scratching fun the show-closing duet by Rascal Flatts-Jamie Foxx.
The Country Music Association spread the love in its 12 categories, with no one artist departing the