It's almost September (it already is on the Hot 100, which is dated over a week ahead of time), and the labels are starting to roll out the medium-sized guns: Muse! The Script! Trey Songz! Slaughterhouse? The best stuff is older, though: The Chief Keef track is from a mixtape released in March, and the Eric Church and Luke Bryan tracks are both over a year old and milking best-selling albums. None of this week's entries is great, and three of them are awful (guess), but the fall season has officially started. Don't forget to duck.
2011 was a year of looking back relentlessly, whether you were awash in Remember The '90s nostalgia or getting down at a New Kids On The Block show or watching Lady Gaga try to bring back the variety-hour era with her whacked-out Thanksgiving special. So it's not too surprising that there was a bounty of coverswhether as part of all-tribute-set live shows or attempts to goose sites' online traffic or just for, you know, funfor the Sound of the City braintrust to choose from when putting together this list. Pop on pop, country on Gaga, and reggae on Seattle below.
Last night, country music's biggest stars (not to mention welcome outsiders like Lionel Richie and Kenny Loggins, who joined Male Vocalist of the Year Blake Shelton for a performance of "Footloose") convened in Nashville for the CMA's annual awards show. By the time hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood ended the ceremonies, joking that they'd see us at the Oscars, The Band Perry's three awards had put them above the rest of the pack, their "If I Die Young" winning both single and album of the year, and the group themselves taking home New Artist of the Year over Luke Bryan and Eric Church (who somehow qualified for the category despite releasing, between the two of them, four top-ten albums before 2010). And despite losing Album of the Year to Jason Aldean's My Kinda Party, Taylor Swift came out as entertainer of the year, thanking everyone who has a made a guest appearance on her ongoing Speak Now tour, a list that includes, among others, Tim McGraw, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Kenny Chesney, and T.I.
As far as performances go, the night's best both involved Paisley, though the firsta duet with Underwood, performing "Remind Me," the lead single off Album of the Year nominee This is Country Musicwas dominated by his co-host's flawless vocals and the second a run through three Glen Campbell songs with Keith Urban and Vince Gillby the ailing man sitting in front of the stage. Meanwhile, before the show Sound of the City favorite Luke Bryan held his own reporting on the red carpet for Ellen. List of all winners below the fold.
Luke Bryan w/ Josh Thompson, Lee Brice, and Matt Mason
Friday, September 16
Better than: Having to go out to PNC Bank Arts Center, where these all-star country shows usually take place.
In a town where the "but country" that finishes the trusty declaration of openmindedness "I listen to everything" is almost implied, a New York Times feature is usually enough to shift, if not create entirely, the discourse around any Nashville artist. Which is probably why Luke Bryanthe center of a Labor Day weekend piece about country singers ditching the 10-gallon hat, and the hyper-masculine attitude that comes with ithas become, among the few people I know who knew his name, "the hat guy."