Hello people of the internet!!! On today’s ‘Monday Memos’ we are going to recap Sunday night’s (Sunday April 6th, 2014) ACM Awards. The award show took place in Las Vegas, and honored some of country music’s brightest stars. The show was once again hosted by the hilarious and unpredictable Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan (both were nominated for various awards). With these two hosting, the show was definitely not short on laughs or surprises (and NO celebrity was safe with these two). There were also some amazing performances that stole the show and left the audience in amazement. We definitely have A LOT to cover so if y’all are ready…let’s go!!!
The show began on a hilarious note due to the comedic pairing of Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton. Luke began the show by making fun of the amount of money that was “wasted” on the “ruined” hairdos by the confetti that ‘The Band Perry’ released during their number (I’ll speak more about this in the ‘Performance’ section). They then went on to announce that the 50th ACM show will be held in Arlington, TX (yay Texas!!!) at the ‘AT&T Stadium” (which is home to the NFL team the Dallas Cowboys). Then Blake commented that “you don’t see many awards shows in Cowboys Stadium”, in which Luke responded “You don’t see any playoff games there either”. The two then poked fun at other celebrities such as Britney Spears, and Miley Cyrus. The two also attempted to replicate Ellen Degeneres’ famous Oscar ‘ selfie’ moment, but discovered that they were the “most famous people there”. These were just a few of the numerous jokes and antics that the two came up with. The two definitely left their audience laughing uncontrollably, and in doing so once again proved why they are the perfect award show hosts. The only disappointment that I felt about Blake and Luke’s hosting was that I have to wait A WHOLE YEAR to see them in action again. Honestly who can wait that long?!?
Vocal Event of the Year: ‘We Were Us’ by Miranda Lambert feat. Keith Urban
Although all of the nominees released amazing tracks that were more than deserving of this award, I can definitely see why this song won. Not only is the song incredibly catchy and fun, but the time of the song is very unique in relation to the theme. The tone of the track is happy, because the song is about how good a relationship used to be when the couple was together. When you combine a unique song with the equally unique vocals of Miranda and Keith, you certainly have ‘The Vocal Event of the Year’.
Video of the Year: ‘Highway Don’t Care’ by Tim McGraw feat. Taylor Swift and Keith Urban
Even though I didn’t pick this video, I can definitely see why it won. The plot of the video deals with the devastating effects that texting and driving can have. The story in the video is definitely one that most of us can relate to, and this makes the video much more powerful. The video leads the audience through an emotional roller coaster and makes you reflect on your own texting and driving habits. Because of the power and emotion that this video is able to convey, I can see why it won.
Vocal Duo of the Year: Florida Georgia Line
This was such a big year for Florida Georgia Line that I don’t see how any other group could have possibly had a shot at beating them out. From their breakout cross-over hit single ‘Cruise’, to their newest track ‘This is how we roll’ which features fellow country star Luke Bryan (the song was #2 on the ITunes Country Charts as of 4/8/2014). This power duo seemed to emerge out of thin air, and have since taken fans hearts’ and the airwaves by storm. Although this past year was HUGE for them, Florida Georgia Lone shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Single of the Year: ‘Mama’s Broken Heart’ by Miranda Lambert
This song was all over the radio this year, so it was no surprise when it won ‘Single of the Year’. With about 1,521,000 copies sold as of November 2013, it seems that fans just can’t get enough of this song. This was a really big night for Miranda, but Kacey Musgraves (who co-wrote Mama’s Broken Heart with a few other writers)was also able to share in this honor.
Song of the Year: ‘I Drive your Truck’ by Lee Brice
Now although I didn’t pick this song, I can see why it won. The emotionally charged lyrics make the track very powerful, and this power resonates and stays with listeners. Also, the fact that this song was written about a real person ( the late Fort Drum soldier Jared C. MontiI who was a recipient of the Medal of Honor in 2009) makes the lyrics hit even harder. I personally love this song, and it was all over the radio this year, so this was definitely a HUGE step forward for Lee Brice in his career.
Male Vocalist of the Year: Jason Aldean
This was a VERY tough category, because all of the artists who were nominated had huge years in country music. Jason Aldean has had numerous hits this year with songs such as ‘Night Train’ and ‘When She Says Baby’. With his catchy songs and amazing vocals, Jason definitely proved that he deserves this high distinction.
Vocal Group of the Year: The Band Perry
Even though this wasn’t the group that I thought would take home this prize, they have had numerous popular songs this year. With fan favorites such as: ‘DONE.’ ‘Better Dig Two’, ‘Don’t Let Me Be Lonely’, and ‘Chainsaw’, it is easy to see why this group continues to dominate the country music scene. The group has been on a non-stop uphill ride ever since their 2010 hit ‘If I Die Young’, and this momentum makes no indication of stopping any time soon.
Female Vocalist: Miranda Lambert
Even though there were a lot of very deserving artists for this category, this was “the year of Miranda Lambert”, so it only makes sense that she would win the award for best representing female country vocalists. With her huge sales, fiercely loyal fan base, and incredible songs and vocal ability, who else could’ve won this award!?!
Album of the Year: Kacey Musgraves. ‘Same Trailer, Different Park’
Kacey has certainly been a breakout star this year with her super popular tracks ‘Merry Go Round’, ‘Blowin’ Smoke’, and ‘Follow Your Arrow’. Her “classic country” vocal qualities and honest lyrics have carved her a permanent slot in country music that she will be occupying for A LONG time. Kacey also helped write Miranda Lambert’s hit ‘Mama’s Broken Heart’, which further got her name out to country music lovers everywhere, and also gained her more respect as a singer/songwriter.
Crystal Milestone Award: Merle Haggard
This wasn’t an award that was up for grabs, which is why I didn’t include it in my ‘2014 ACM Awards Predictions’ blog (which you can see here: Monday Memos: My 2014 ACM Nomination Predictions on celindareyes’ Blog – Buzznet ). This award was presented to Merle Haggard due to his long and phenomenal career in country music. He has had countless hits with tracks such as: ‘(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers (his 1st top ten hit), ‘I’m a Lonesome Fugitive’ (his 1st number 1 hit), ‘Okie From Muskogee’, ‘Mama Tried’, ‘If We Make it Through December’, ‘Today I Started Loving You Again’, ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Star’, and numerous others. Merle Haggard has won 14 ACM (Academy of Country Music) Awards, 6 CMA (Country Music Association) Awards, and 3 Grammy Awards. He was inducted into ‘Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame’ in 1977, ‘The Country Music Hall of Fame’ in 1994, and was inducted into the ‘Kennedy Center Honor’ ( an award given to individuals who use the performing arts to affect American culture) in 2010. He was also one of the pioneers of the ‘Bakerfields Sound’ ( which is distinguished by the combination of traditional country steel guitar sound, and new vocal harmonies in which words are kept at a minimum). This sound continues to greatly influenced numerous modern artists such as Brad Paisley, the Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and numerous others. So as you can see, Merle Haggard has not only had an extremely enviable career, but has also greatly changed the sound of country music.
Entertainer of the Year: George Strait
Although there were numerous deserving artists that could have won this award, the award had to go ‘King George’. With a chart topping 2013 album ‘Love is Everything’ (which reached #1 on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums, and #2 on the U.S. Billboard 200 charts), George Strait used this final album to perfectly end his career. Even some of the other artists who were nominated for this award cheered when George Strait won, so this showed the vast amount of respect that he has within the country music community.
The Band Perry:
They performed their newest hit track ‘Chainsaw’, and brought a very cool rock element to their performance style. The band dressed in all black, which finished off their very cool country meets rock vibe. The back screen behind the stage displayed the lyrics of the song in big red letters, which brought a very unique element to the number. My favorite part of the performance was the confetti that flew into the audience about mid-way through the track. It brought a very fun vibe to the performance, and served as a great set-up for jokes from the show’s hosts. All in all, this performance was very energetic and cool, and definitely showed that The Band Perry has cultivated their performance style and have found their artistic identities.
Florida Georgia Line:
FGL performed their newest hit ‘Stay’, while the music video for the tune played in the background. At one point of the number fire and smoke began to go off in the background, which added an extra cool flair to the number. I really loved Florida Georgia Line’s vocals on this song, because their harmonies were very tight, and they proved that they have the talent and energy to put on a phenomenal live show. Later on, Florida Georgia Line performed their super hit ’This is How we Roll’ with the show’s co-host Luke Bryan. The performance was very interesting and intricate, with a very cool BMX show in the background (it was AMAZING!!!).
Brad Paisley performed his newest song ‘River Bank’. I thought it was really cool that he performed the song on a glass stage over a pool. Throughout the song, Brad kept the energy up, and played a very cool guitar solo midway through the song (which has become a staple in his songs). I really loved this performance, and found it to be a very cool addition to the lineup.
Blake Shelton & Gwen Sebastian:
Next, ACM co-host Blake Shelton, and singer/songwriter Gwen Sebastian (who also competed on the second season of ‘The Voice’, and was coached by Blake while she was on the show) performed the song ‘My Eyes’, off of Blake’s album ‘Based on a True Story’. The staging for the song was very cool, due to the stage’s darkness and the small lanterns that decorated the stage. The performance gave off a very stripped down acoustic vibe, due to the staging, and Blake accompanying the song on an acoustic guitar. After so many high energy performances, this was a very nice change of pace.
New Artist nominee Bret Eldridge performed a very shorten version of his track ‘Beat of the Music’, as the music video for the song played in the background. Despite the performance being very short, he still got the crowd excited, and certainly showed that he is one to watch in the upcoming year.
George Strait performed his new single ‘I got a car’ off of his final album ‘Love is Everything’. Before he began the performance, the person who announced him stated some facts about his career, such as the fact that he is the only artist to have a top 10 hit every year for 30 years. As he performed the song, different images of road signs and other images that have to do with driving appeared behind him on the back screen. I really loved how George Strait proved that even after all these years, he is a true showman, and is able to keep an audience completely captivated just with his voice. Later in the show, George Strait covered Merle Haggard’s song ‘I’m a Lonesome Fugitive’, as sketches of Merle Haggard were displayed on the back screen. It was really cool to see a legendary performer like George Strait honor another legendary performer and showing how important roots are in music.
Lee performed a shortened version of his hit song ‘I Drive Your Truck’ (which won ’Song of the Year’ later in the show). Even though this was a shorten version of the track, it was still very powerful due to Lee’s intense emotional connection to the song’s lyrics. I also really loved how dark and haunting the staging looked, it really added to the vibe of the performance. My favorite part of the performance was that you could really see how much passion he gave to his performance, especially when he began to cry while singing, (then I began to cry and it all got very emotional…but you don’t want to hear that…ok…moving on).
Eric Church was up next with his single ‘Give Me Back My Hometown’. I really loved how simple the performance was (the staging was very simple with only the music video playing in the background). I felt that this staging perfectly matched the “old country” feel of the song, and just gave the whole number a very cool effect.
Justin performed a shortened version of his hit song ‘Lettin’ the Night Roll’ (which helped him win the new Artist of the Year award at the ACMs). Even though the track was shorten, it certainly proved why Justin won the award this year.
Blake Shelton and Shakira:
Blake’s second performance of the night was with another artist associated with the voice, the one and only Shakira (who coaches on the show)! They sang the song ‘Medicine’, which is off of Shakira’s self-titled album. I really liked this performance due to the unique pop meets country feel that this song has (and Shakira even wore boots!). Towards the end of the song, Blake and Shakira walked down the catwalk part of the stage, and added a little bit of rock to the performance. This was definitely a fun performance to watch, and made me excited to see if the two will duet again sometime in the future.
Lady Antebellum performed an absolutely unforgettable number with the legendary rock star Stevie Nicks. They did a mashup of their song ‘Golden’ and Stevie Nicks’ song ‘Rhiannon’. It was so much fun to see the two amazing acts share the stage together. This was certainly one of the highlights of the show, and gave the audience a fun change in musical direction. Ever since Lady Antebellum and Stevie Nicks performed together on ‘CMT Crossroads’ earlier this year, I have loved seeing them together. I was really excited to see them perform at the ACM’s, and this leads me to think maybe they should record an album together…maybe…possibly…please! Ok, I will stop fangirling now.
Keith Urban performed his track ‘Even The Stars Fall 4 U’, off of his ‘Fuse’ album. Per usual Keith Urban fashion, the performance was full of energy and very entertaining. There was also a very cool mid song guitar solo (another Keith Urban staple). My favorite part of the performance was towards the end, when two of Keith’s band members went up to his mic and started singing with him, it gave the performance a very old school rock n’ roll feel.
Kip (another nominee for best new artist) performed a shortened version of his hit song ‘Something Bout a Truck’. Although this was a short performance, the crowd completely loved it, and Kip showed exactly why he was nominated.
Co-host Luke Bryan performed his newest single ‘Play it Again’, off of his hit ‘Crash my Party’ album. This performance definitely had my favorite staging of the night, due to the fact that the stage was made of giant records, and the back screen also had giant records on it as well (because the song is called play it again…get it…good!). The items on the back screen rotated between displaying the giant records, and showing a live feed of the audience dancing to the song. This was a really fun performance to watch, and definitely proved why Luke Bryan is one of the top male artists in country music.
Jason Aldean performed his newest hit single ‘When she calls me baby’. As always, Jason’s impressive vocals were front and center (which makes sense since he did win Male Vocalist of the Year). The staging was very simple, with blue lights shining all over the stage, and Jason dressed in all black (even his guitar was black!).
Miranda performed her newest single ‘Automatic’ off of her newest, yet to be released, album ‘Platinum’. I really love that this performance had Miranda old family pictures displayed on the back screen throughout the number. The song has a very ‘vintage country’ sound to it, so the performance really matched the theme of the track. I also loved that Miranda wore a very casual outfit ( a sparkly white tank top, sparkly white boots, and ripped jeans), because this really matched her carefree and down to earth attitude ( which is one of the many things that makes her awesome…I mean c’mon, you have to admit that she seems really cool and we all want her to be our BFF…yeah that what I thought). Later in the show Miranda covered Merle Haggard’s song ‘Tonight the Bottle let me Down’. As she sang, sketches of Merle Haggard rotated on the back screen. Miranda did a very good job performing covering this classic song, and proved that although her music has many modern country elements in it, she is still influenced by the pioneers that shaped country music.
Next up, Tim McGraw performed ‘Meanwhile Back at Mama’s’, where his wife Faith Hill made a special appearance. She was dressed in a beautiful strapless white dress, and he wore a tux with a black cowboy (very cowboy chic). My favorite part of the staging was the old 50s style golden mic that Tim McGraw used in the performance, I thought it was an interesting touch that made the performance unique.
Toby Keith performed his newest single ‘Shut Up and Hold On’ off of his ‘Drinks After Work’ album. The staging was really cool due to the multicolored stage lights and steel guitar influence in the sound.
Next, Hunter Hayes performed his latest tear jerking ballad ‘Invisible’. The performance began with Hunter singing behind a large screen as images of shadows appeared across the screen. Once the first chorus of the song began, the screen rose but the shadows continued to move across the screen. I really enjoyed this performance because how passionate and connected Hunter was to the song. The fans really seemed to love this number, proving that this was certainly one of the most special moments of the evening.
Darius Ruckner then performed his version of the song ‘Wagon Wheel’ with super group Lady Antebellum. The crowd seemed to really get into it, and the whole performance felt like an amazing sing-along. I really loved how much fun the performance was, and even though they have performed this song before they were able to bring a fresh feel to the track.
Next up was the AMAZING Rascal Flatts who performed their newest hit track ‘Rewind’, which is off of their latest album ‘Rewind’. Even though the lead singer Gary LeVox did not perform the song live (because he was sick and did not want to damage his vocal chords), I still felt that the group put on an excellent show. I was really impressed that they did not cancel their appearance last minute, and found a way to make an appearance for their fans despite the problems that they were faced with.
Sheryl Crow and Dierks Bentley:
Lastly, Sheryl Crow and Dierks Bentley performed Dierks song ‘I hold on’. I really loved how the two had such great stage chemistry, which made their performance a very sweet ending to an AMAZING show.