REVIEWING THE 57TH CMA AWARDS NOMINEES ~
SINGLE OF THE YEAR
I don't listen to current country music. Thus, I only recognize a few of the nominees, and that mostly comes from reading about them, not actually hearing them. So who better to judge the best than me? I'm unbiased. I'm ignorant. I'm completely in the dark, much like country radio is.
I decided to start with the easiest categories, because it's difficult for me to judge an artist's abilities without knowing his or her catalog. Therefore, I'm going with Single Of The Year first. That's only five singles to compare to one another. Bear in mind that I've only before heard one of these singles, but since these are the nominees, I am assuming they're all superior performances. This should be tough. My rule is that I must watch each video all the way through in order to shape an informed opinion.
FAST CAR ~ Luke Combs
Anyone who was alive in the nineties knows the original, written and recorded by Tracy Chapman, but this award is for single of the year, so lack of originality doesn't come into play here. This is the only nominated single of the five that I'm familiar with, and I struggle with whether I like it because it's familiar or because it stands on its own. I do like this Combs guy; he has a real country voice (a good one), and while he doesn't do anything to change up the original, he delivers it with feeling. Worth keeping an eye on to grab the award.
HEART LIKE A TRUCK ~ Lainey Wilson
To be honest, I find this irritating. If it came on my radio (if I ever listened to radio), I would shove the volume down as soon as the chorus hit. I looked it up, and no surprise, three people wrote this song. That must account for the plethora of words crammed into every line. Maybe it's a defensive thing ~ uncertainty of one's talent ~ that songwriters can't let a song simply flow anymore. You know, Willie Nelson populated the first line of one of his songs with one word. But this needs to be looked at as single, not song of the year. The recording is hurt by the stabbing (in a Norman Bates kind of way) electric guitar that reminds me of latter-day Tim McGraw. This might be among the best of the best; I don't know, but if I was still a CMA voting member, I would pass this one by.
NEED A FAVOR ~ Jelly Roll
I'm not sure how to categorize this, but certainly not as country. Soul Christian, perhaps? (I just made that up.) I guess it's not a bad song, per se, although the background choir is a bit too intrusive. This is a hard one to judge, because I only know country. Which leads me to ask why this is nominated for country single of the year. On the plus side, the message is good. Again, this is a single I would listen to once, and never again.
NEXT THING YOU KNOW ~ Jordan Davis
Okay, I fell for this. It might have been the video, so I'm going to try to discount that. This single is reminiscent of mid-nineties philosophical hits by artists like Billy Dean and Sawyer Brown, and will appeal to older voters, but will probably be discounted by everyone else. The melody is rather pedestrian, but the words are simple yet profound. This is a dark horse.
wait in the truck ~ HARDY (feat. Lainey Wilson)
I have to get this off my chest ~ capitalize! What's the deal with this song title being only in lower case? (Notice, however, that the artist's name is written entirely in CAPS. I'm so confused.) But I digress. I like a good story song as much as anybody, even though the main character is a complete idiot. This song will hold one's interest the first time they hear it, but it's probably not going to be a classic. I have nothing bad to say about it, except that it's pretty forgettable.
Which single should win? Remember, a single is a performance, an interpretation of a song, but the song itself also has to be worthy. (I'll tackle Song of the Year next time.) Single of the Year should at the very least be a recording one would listen to again and again.
I have to give it to Luke Combs' Fast Car. None of the others can beat him as far as vocal chops, and by the by, he didn't record Chapman's song with the intent of swooping up trophies, but just because he liked it. And no one can mistake him for anything but a country singer. That can't be said for all of the others.
For the record, my ballot looks like this:
- Fast Car - Luke Combs
- Next Thing You Know - Jordan Davis
- wait in the truck - HARDY
- Heart Like A Truck - Lainey Wilson
- Need A Favor - Jelly Roll