Nashville is on a Grammy winning streak. Last night’s wins by Lady Antebellum marked the third year in a row that a Nashville act has been the show’s top winner. Last year Taylor Swift scored big, and in 2009, the most trophies went to Alison Krauss and Robert Plant.
It is a testament to the versatile sounds coming out of Music City, and to the far-reaching visibility of Country music in particular. It gives a boost to the genre that will hopefully translate into album sales.
While Lady A stole the show, the band was shut out for Album of the Year in a night of several key upsets. Instead, the coveted Album prize went to Arcade Fire. It was equally surprising that Esperanza Spalding was named Best New Artist, and that leading nominee Eminem went into the show with ten nods, but left with just two trophies.
Many morning-after critics point to these eye-opening wins as evidence of shifting industry dynamics between old and new schools of thought. And a few of them are picking on Lady A’s name.
The LA Times called the show “a generational takeover and an airing of the widening gap between the traditional corporate music industry and the dynamic, diverse culture that’s redefining the very nature of popular music right now.
The contrast the night’s most notable winners embodied is stark. On the one hand, Lady Antebellum, whose easy-listening country pop typifies the kind of commercial crossover sound that’s moved units and won industry awards for at least half a century.
The Nashville trio’s success seemed like a victory for the commercial old guard identified with carefully crafted, highly accessible golden hits, an impression reinforced by the group’s Nashville affiliation and its weirdly conservative-seeming name, which seems to celebrate the pre-Civil War South.”
The Washington Post pointed out the show’s performance collaborations pairing young and revered faces: “And as the beleaguered recording biz continues to unravel, Grammy organizers tried to hold things together the only way they know how: with a big trans-generational group hug.” The paper also called Lady A “the adorable country-pop trio with the slavery-era name.”
On a lighter note, Dierks Bentley helped jump-start Grammy festivities with a show at Troubador in West Hollywood. It was a who’s-who of Nashville nominees including Miranda Lambert, Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, Blake Shelton, Zac Brown, Del McCoury, Sam Bush, Lady A, Hayley Williams and more. Read about it here.