Million Reasons Why
November 7, 2014
Jimmy Carter in his homebase Nashville
Sixteen million-plus watched the 48th CMA Awards according to the overnight ratings. That number could go higher when the slower version of the ratings are figured in. Impressive figure and a very ambitious effort.
Try this exercise ... what moment of the show would be called out as a highlight 20 years from now? Easily the Loretta Lynn/Kasey Musgraves duet! Right? It was like a lightning bolt striking the audience with a loud shriek inside the arena. Plenty of fun segments that were well staged: Kenny Chesney for sure ... Little Big Town with the electric clothes and drumline ... maybe even Dierks Bentley and the aviation theme.
Everyone talks about the sound ... It was better than in past efforts but hardly perfect. That is a tough room to get right. The show's staging and lighting don't get enough praise. It is a good looking program. On par with any other award show. Freeze frame any performance and you get perfect.
Now to the winners: Was a repeat of 2013 for the most part ... Little Big Town, Miranda, Blake, Fla Ga Line ... the CMA Voters like to just repeat the year before, if you look at the record book. Luke's win was the end of the spectacular year for him. He played to the most people and the stars just lined up as they can do. Luke should have won and he did.
The New Artist award is often controversial. All the nominees were good and Cole looked like he was peaking at the right time. This is where the voters started to feel their oats. The musical event winner was not predicted either. The Song of the Year was a surprise to many.
It was an interesting mix of winners and same for the choices of material and artists chosen to perform. Did it feel a little bit of a turn away from the hell raising "bro" stuff?
The new voices and stars of tomorrow were not front and center. Beginning with Kenny and ending with the Doobies and George ... a nod to Glen Campbell and of course Loretta. Dierks is a solid artist and he shined. Even the choice of Brett Eldredge seemed a step away from the "Bro Gang." TV audiences are never as hip has mainstream radio. The audiences skew older and safer. You feel like that audience was overall happy with what they saw ... 16 million is a good number. The 18-49 was steady too. TV ratings are crazy these days. The CMA hitting smooth waters in the ratings are a compliment to the hosts and the producers' choices of what they showed off.
See the lineup for LSU Stadium over Memorial Day 2015? Those promoters must have hit the lottery! Taylor one night ... Kenny the next and Blake with Miranda the third night. Wow ... and a great supporting cast. Easily the top lineup for any weekend next year.
The Late Night Wars and Country music. That is a work in progress. The dust has not settled. Jimmy Kimmel with a Disney synergy moment and a post-CMA Show was huge. ABC knows how to tie all their shows together. NBC NY is not the home of Country music but will have them. The hipper ones are safe but determining who is hip is a moving target. The morning shows are equally hard to predict. The Today show had a flurry of big Country guests at the start of this ratings book. GMA has it's pure country moments a lot on remote before the CMA as expected. The Tonight Show move from L.A. to NYC has disturbed the FORCE ! The booking wars have never been greater. Leno will be missed a lot before all is said and done.
Two observations from the CMA red carpet: Some very interesting baby acts in the pipeline. The Brothers Osborne, Jon Pardi to name two. Keep an eye on them in 2015. All the talent show contestants in town with label deals have learned it will not be as easy a path as Ms. Underwood. Carrie came and stormed the beach and still charging. All the others have had a more difficult time and it's not because of a lack of talent. Maybe the songs haven't been there not sure. But these kids should have gone to the radio level and for the most part have not.
Maybe that changes in 2015. Maybe those acts look for a way around radio? Not naming names but those singers and a few others are working the streaming services angle to some success. Radio better become a little less risk-averse. Trying to compete with streaming services instead of trying to entertain will be a fatal mistake. I can still not find a #1 automated radio station around. Not then, not now. Look what Howard Stern did for sat radio? And he plays NO music. It's about entertaining. Just a shortage of entertainers in some places.