It’s certainly not uncommon for music awards shows to focus more on musical performances, which makes sense considering what they’re honoring. But the American Country Awards takes the lack of attention on the awards to a whole new level.
For its second installment on the Fox network last night (12/5), ACA producers retained the previous year’s unfortunate format of announcing a winner’s name, then quickly mentioning any other awards the artist was winning during the audience reaction.
So as best I can tell (and because the press release sez so), Jason Aldean was the evening’s big winner with six honors including Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, and Touring Artist. But I still had to rewind my Tivo several times to figure out which additional awards he’d won as four of them were hurriedly announced after he was named Artist of the Year. Other big winners included Carrie Underwood and Thompson Square with three apiece.
Following the show, there was some discussion/confusion about who won Artist of the Year: Duo or Group. When the press release arrived after 10 PM, Lady Antebellum was revealed as the winner. I scanned my recording again to see if I’d missed it but there was no mention of the award anywhere, presumably because Lady A wasn’t present.
There was similar confusion in last year’s inaugural show when Brad Paisley’s Male Artist of the Year honor was omitted because he wasn’t in the audience. Paisley nabbed the same award again this year, though if you blinked you probably missed the announcement buried in show co-host Trace Adkins’ setup of Paisley’s video intro for Alabama.
Adkins shared hosting duties with pint-size Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth and their banter elicited some groans from the digital sphere, where consumers shared their honest opinions with MusicRow via Twitter. Gags included Adkins carrying Chenoweth on his chest in a baby pouch (“I knew I’d end up carrying you on this show,” quipped Trace), wrestler Big Show choke slamming Adkins through a table, and a Rocky-style boxing spoof in the show’s opening.
“I wasn’t a big fan of Trace or Kristin,” said one MusicRow Twitter follower. “I felt they were trying too hard.”
Chenoweth’s performance of “I Didn’t,” from her country album Some Lessons Learned, got “major thumbs down” from a follower, a sentiment echoed by several others.
But there were also undoubtedly some good moments where the performers were concerned. Alabama’s medley of classic hits brought audience members to their feet, and sent the Twitterverse buzzing. When asked about favorite moments a Tweeter responded, “the unforgettable harmony of Alabama.”
Miranda Lambert’s girl group the Pistol Annies also fared well, turning in a bluesy acoustic version of “Hell On Heels” dressed in flapper dresses and fascinators. The Band Perry proved ever consistent on “All Your Life,” and made a compelling argument for Kimberly Perry’s place as one of the format’s best young vocal stylists.
As a musical showcase for our format’s artists, the American Country Awards has a big platform and that’s fantastic. As an Awards ceremony, it still has some maturing to do. As one follower put it, “The ACA awards feel like the weird cousin jumping around demanding attention.”
Maybe so, but you know what? Sometimes without warning, the weird cousin ends up being the pride and joy of the family.