Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The ACM Awards Show/WSM

Not related directly to the Grand Ole Opry, but I just wanted to make a couple of comments regarding the Academy of Country Music Awards show and WSM radio.

First, the ACM awards. The Academy of Country Music has always been "westcoast" based, and has always tended to favor the California sound of country music while the Country Music Association is a Nashville based organization that has always tended to favor "Nashville" based country music. The ACM awards, which are always held in the spring, tended to be a bit more progressive in their view of country music, and always has featured more fan interaction on the shows, and more actors and actresses giving out awards. The CMA show, always held in the fall and from the Grand Ole Opry House, tended to create more of a formal image in how it presented itself, and its winners, with a few notable exceptions, were usually more in line with mainstream country music. But, over the years as the sound of country music has changed, the difference between the two award associations has lessened. And that has especially been more noticeable when the CMA moved their awards show to what is now called the Bridgestone Arena.

The award shows almost seem like mini-concerts, with a rock feel to them, glitzy productions and lots of fan participation. And, with a few awards thrown in. Where at one time the awards were the focus, now it seems like the music is more important.

That brings me to the ACM show from Sunday night. Granted, I did not watch all of the show. But, I caught enough of it to tell you that it just did not feel like a "country music" awards show. Country music today has moved so far away from the country music of my generation that it is almost not recognizable any longer. They still call it country music, but with the production numbers on Sunday, I might as well been watching the MTV music awards than the ACM. Don't get me wrong: these young singers have talent. And to them, what they are singing is country music. It just isn't to the rest of us.

Pretty much all of the artists that won awards are cross-over artists and now the focus for these artists is to become a star in all areas of music, not just country. They are trying to have it both ways. Which is fine, but, please don't call it country music. A true country entertainer who does not have cross over appeal basically has no chance to make it in the business any longer.

I know that in my generation, we had some great country artists who became cross over stars, people such as Johnny Cash, Ray Price and Glen Campbell. But, they recorded country records that happened to cross over. When they recorded it was to have a top country hit, not a cross over hit and it was country.

As we all know, country radio today is only interested in the young and the new. It can be country, but not too country. There are a couple of exceptions like George Strait. But now, it is one or two albums and you are done. And, many sound alike.

I just wish country radio programmers would program based on the quality of the song and how well it is presented. Not the name of the artist or the age of the artist. At least we have satellite radio that gives us another outlit to listen to.

Oh by the way, the ratings for this years ACM show were down from a year ago.

Sorry for the rant, it is just how I feel and if you disagree, that is ok.

One more note on WSM radio. I was reading something that a friend sent me and he thought that there was cause for some concern with WSM. Currently the station is without a General Manager, as the previous one resigned from his position. And, in the words of the person who wrote to me, WSM is "broke", as in financially. Advertising rates are down and the ratings have stayed flat. We know that WSM almost became a sports station a number of years back, and there is no talk of that now, but, in the world of AM radio, WSM is a dinosaur. Let's hope that someone takes control that not only will preserve the traditional country music on WSM, but make positive decisions that will help the bottom line of the station.


  1. The rant was excellent. I saw a preview and thought, I don't need to see this.

    There's a great old story about the CMA's in this regard. One year, Lionel Richie performed with Kenny Rogers. Johnny Russell called Irving Waugh, who ran the show, and said, what, wasn't Michael Jackson available?

  2. I agree with everything completely. I recorded the show so that I could fast-forward through the commercials. I found myself fast-forwarding through a lot of the show too and still haven't made it through the whole tape. Taylor Swift sounded terrible and I was surprised that she didnt' walk away with a bunch of awards as I thought she was the current cross-over queen.

    Looking forward to seeing your lineup for the Friday, April 30th show to which I have front row seats at the Grand Ole Opry house for the first time.

  3. I am sure you will have a great time in Nashville and hopefully the line-up will be a good one.