The Earth Is Still Shaking!
November 6, 2015
Did anyone really see this coming? The nominations were a clue but it would have taken a master magician to pull off a hat trick like we saw with a "rookie" act named Chris Stapleton at the CMA Awards. Somehow the stars aligned and it may have been one of the most unusual nights in the storied history of the Awards.
The 2015 CMA show on paper looked like a big homemade stew. Mixing up a lot of very different styles of Country. On paper those ingredients could taste great or simply be awful. There was no awful ... There were some average efforts. That dash of R&B/blues salt turned into a tablespoon and it overwhelmed everything in the meal that followed.
Some people have come on strong with a good night at an awards show ... Michael Jackson ... Lionel Richie, Whiten Houston at the Grammys, but a " New Artist" winning Album and Male Vocalist with no hit radio record? That is historic.
How many times this week have radio folks heard the question, "Chris who?" Music Row knew. The other artists knew. The industry audience nearly blew a fuse watching that performance. Everyone wanted to jump on that stage with Timberlake and Stapleton. Keith Urban with his phone taping and others hypnotized. It was something many DVRs watched multiple times. Following Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton would have slapped you cold.
It has been called the funeral of Bro Country. One song on an awards show? Hardly a funeral...
Stapleton's tidal surge did swamp other boats in the harbor CMA night ... following him was not pretty.
The rise of Stapleton on CMA night was a masterful PR campaign. "The Row Insiders" and the "cool kids" knew his work, but most radio audiences in the U.S. did not. Three huge wins with virtually no radio, you can't wonder out loud enough about that. New world order, or just the recording industry sending out a message to corporate radio?
Radio has been pushing the kiddie Country and bro Country model for several years. Taylor is gone but not forgotten. Are the listeners hungry for a little meat on the menu?
The sat radio people and streamers have the luxury of multi-channels and no commercials. They can be looser and can stretch. Not sure how the mainstream folks catch this wave, but I am sure a lot of people are asking that question.
The other tsumani watch last night ended with a green light. The almost appearance on Gwen Stefani at the show.
The fans are as predictable as rattlesnakes in a box on how that would have gone over. It is getting big-time attention and will help The Voice ratings. No one was talking about it like they are talking about it now!
Ratings ... down a few million from last year. Who knows what they will blame that on? Empire is strong, but is that the same audience? No Tim & Faith and Alan ... and Toby ... No George. No Vince or Willie ... The veteran star power was very weak ... Easy to post-game comment. The veteran Country star power could have been better.
It's all about selling new music for the labels ... not about the best show you can make. Maybe it's always been that way. But baby acts don't always get ratings ... The Mix will...
The Grammys put the McCartneys with Kanye. The show needed more Reba/Brooks and Dunn moments.
There is room for great diversity in the Country world. Taylor Swift was unique. Alabama was unique. Garth was a one of a kind. Looks like there is potential for Chris Stapleton to change the status quo. Maybe he just rocks the boat. He's already done that. Now to put together a plan to make his dreams really come true.