The Country Music Association Awards take place tomorrow night, and anyone interested in country music (who isn’t Toby Keith) is likely to be somewhat interested in the results. But one look at the nominees makes one wonder if the whole shebang isn’t in need of revamping its rules, or at least making itself more in tune with the times. The Los Angeles Times pointed out how for a ceremony that bills itself as something relevant to 2008, tomorrow night’s show sure seems to be stuck in 2007:
* Of the country records up for album of the year, only two were released in 2008, George Strait’s “Troubadour” and Alan Jackson’s “Good Time.” Carrie Underwood’s “Carnival Ride” and Brooks & Dunn’s “Cowboy Town” were both released in October of last year, and Kenny Chesney’s “Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates” was a September 2007 release.
* Speaking of one King Chesney, he has already lapped the CMA Awards. His latest effort, “Lucky Old Sun,” was released just a few weeks ago.
* Sugarland’s adultery tearjerker “Stay” is nominated for song of the year. The duo performed the song on last year’s CMA Awards telecast and scored its first ever No. 1 album on the U.S. pop charts this summer. No song from the new effort, “Love on the Inside,” is nominated. “Stay” was featured on 2006 release “Enjoy the Ride.”
* Jason Aldean is up for new artist of the year. But his sophomore album, “Relentless,” was released in late May 2007, which fell during last year’s eligibility period. And it’s not like he was some country nobody; his album bowed at No. 4 on the U.S. pop charts.
* Country music in 2008 is almost exactly like country music in 2007! At least that’s what can be gleaned from the entertainer of the year field, which features the same exact nominations in 2008 as it did in 2007, save for one act. Swap your Rascal Flatts for your Sugarland, and everything else remains. Chesney, Brad Paisley, Strait and Keith Urban round out the field.
While there isn’t an award show in existence (that I know of) that manages to give out awards with any sense of timeliness, having the eligibility period for a November awards show end on June 30 all but slams the door on the possibility of any record that’s peaking anywhere near the ceremony being honored. Sure, country radio has a slow churn, but when only two of a year’s five “Song of the Year” nominees place among that same year’s top ten tracks on country radio, there’s a big cognitive disconnect going on.