Wednesday, April 9, 2014

CMAs reach record viewership on good ol(d) material

by Ava Jaulin

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Eight viewers tuned in for the 49th Academy of Country Music Awards, this past Sunday, on CBS.  What’s that?  Apologies.  A whopping 8.19 million viewers tuned in to a big ratings win for CBS, this past Sunday. The returning hosts included self-professed routine drinker Blake Shelton, and his rump-shaking sidekick Luke Bryan. And just so you know, I’m no country music hater. I knew the music, styles, and quirks of each nominee before tuning in. 

The CMAs radiate a celebratory atmosphere. The viewer senses that this is a party, and that these people love a good party.  In comparison, the Grammys seem more like a memorial service. But better than the Grammys is a low bar, and the production team could use some pointers. 

Awards' shows keep routines - fine.  But when the first award is presented an hour in, the audience grows restless.  The musical performances rocked, but came in chunks as opposed to a smooth and even spread. As for the comedy bits—including digs at Britney Spears for lip-synching, and spousal inside jokes—there’s a saying: “don’t quit your day job.”  

It felt like they warmed-up last year’s leftovers, sprinkled some Parmesan on it (everything tastes better with Parmesan), and served it on a shinier tray. The winners list confirmed what magazines have printed for years: there is an in-crowd, and the rest of us are welcome to watch from afar.  #sorrynotsorry

The night peaked with George Strait’s win for Entertainer of the Year (his second in a row). Then, Strait announced his eminent retirement. Pause. Is this why he beat out crowd favorite Luke Bryan? Or Shelton, and his 11 straight #1 hits?  Or even people everyone knows, Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift?  Even if he remains, as Shelton put it, “our hero,” Strait’s win left the younger viewers tweeting #smh. 

Fortunately, the top nominated artists—at seven awards each—included the 2014-relevant Tim McGraw and Lambert. The noticeably slimmer (too far?), Lambert walked away with three awards including, Female Vocalist of the Year, and Vocal Event of the Year for her collaboration with Keith Urban. The win that satisfied fans most was Kacey Musgraves’ Album of the Year for “Same Trailer Different Park.”  Her song, “Merry Go ‘Round” plays five billion times per minute, according to extensive Look to the Cookie research.  McGraw won Video of the Year for "Highway Don't Care," featuring Swift and Urban. 

Surprising duets dominated the year.  Shelton and, country newbie, Shakira performed their addictive single, "Medicine."  Faith Hill and McGraw reminded us—ad nauseum—that they’re still happily married with "Meanwhile Back at Mama's.” Dierks Bentley and Sheryl Crow took to
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images
the stage to perform the foot tapping, "I Hold on,” followed by Florida Georgia Line and Bryan’s “This is How We Roll.”

Most importantly, who wore what?  The best dressed award went to Lambert for both a crystal-adorned, plunging Randi Rahm gown, and an on-point jean shirt, sequined pencil-skirt combo. Faith Hill finally realized that age appropriate doesn’t mean boring.  She wore a powder blue full-length vintage gown. Kellie Pickler took bronze with her lavender Romona Keveza gown, with a sequined belt.  Honorable mentions go to red chiffon wearer Cassadee Pope and—mandatory mention—Taylor Swift.  Swift continued her high fashion streak in a skin-bearing J. Mendel combo accentuated by her new short ‘do.

And here are the “Fashion Razzies.” The first award goes to Caroline Bryan for mixing sheer pleats with coral floral - in one dress (gasp). The second award goes to Shakira for finding the only appalling Zuhair Murad dress (a near blasphemous statement) in existence. The final award goes to Hillary Scott for forgetting that she’s going to an award show, and not a club opening. Honorable mentions go to Jamie Lynn Spears (yes, she's back-ish) and her Magic Eye-inspired mini, Karen Fairchild for the strapless sheath (whose idea was that?), and Frankie Ballard for the cobalt suit by Manuel. 

Here’s to another year of jamming to country’s best, and looking forward to next year’s CMAs.

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