CMA 45 – What I Heard and Saw?
Country Music Academy Awards 45 was entertaining enough Wednesday last. From a “fan” perspective, it was like being at a really cool concert FREE! After all, it was LIVE television, in-the-moment and real. The performances were, for me, – exceptional because the artists really nailed it or…didn’t nail it. SOME might say “what do you know about making the music or the production? Please know: while NOT a star, nor big production technician, I am a student of and have capabilities in both. From a performer’s perspective, I admire ALL of them; pleasing performances, even if some were lackluster. From a technician’s perspective, I wondered why the sound engineers had what I perceived to be difficulty mixing lead vocals…particularly for Faith Hill’s re-emergence. No fault of Faith’s - she belted out a high quality performance. Sorry sound guys/gals, you lost her in the band and backing vocal mix in the second half of her performance; lackluster.
I’d caught wind of Lionel Richie/Rascal Flatts collaboration and had very high interest in the scheduled performance of Richie’s HUGE pop hit “Dancin’ on the Ceiling” from a country perspective. I’m not a Richie fan on the whole; THAT song BY HIM is one of my ALL time faves. My admiration of Rascal Flatts began when I heard their knocked-out NOT COUNTRY cover of “Life Is A Highway” on Disney’s “Cars.” By my ears, they out-rocked the rocker who originally composed/recorded the piece. But “Dancin’ on the Ceiling” is memorable because it didn’t live up to my expectation. Primarily, Lionel and Gary Levox struggled hitting their notes. To be sure; I couldn’t do it better, but I am left to wonder: just what were they not hearing with those in-ear monitors?
On the “other” side are those performers whose efforts where … effortless. In the Glen Campbell Tribute, “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” from Vince Gill was stellar. I couldn’t tell, but it appeared he might not have used those “new-tech” in-ear monitors. If he did, they were tiny and he really knows how to tune his pipes with the “music-in-his-head” aspect of using them. I thought I’d heard Keith Urban wasn’t supposed to sing after a polyp removal from his chords; he admirably pulled off “Wichita Lineman”, one of my ALL time favorites. Brad Paisley offered a heartfelt “Galveston.” During Miranda Lambert’s “Baggage Claim,” I had to say “WHOA! She lit the stage afire!” Cool effect! I liked the cabin/quarter moon/star shower set for Thompson Square’s rendition of their “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not.” Eric Church rocked his latest, “Drink in My Hand.” And Rascal Flatts featuring Natasha Bedingfield on “Easy” in my estimation is one of THE MONSTER collaborations/musical events of 2011…hands down, period…EVERY radio station should airing it. So you see, musically, I can find “stellar” in everyone’s effort.
Fashion wise, though, Natasha Bedingfield’s dress was HIDEOUS! It looked to me like discarded shag carpet. I bet it cost $5,000.00. I kept hoping she’d take it off as part of the performance (not a wardrobe malfunction, mind you). It was THAT bad. Carrie Underwood’s last gown of the night was definitely a real LOOKER. Did you see that banded midriff as the neckline plunged? And as the last presenter, Reba was, (from my fashion perspective) elegantly, simply stunning in her charcoal velvet gown with rhinestone (or were they diamonds?) studded collar. Visually appealing, musically acceptable, technically adept and award winners who definitely are the correct choice, the CMA Awards gala is memorable and in my estimation, every bit as much a reason party as the World Series or Super Bowl!