ACMs Commentary : Give Them Reba, or Give Them Death

Howdy, friends.

Last night, the 53rd Annual ACM Awards aired.  I live-posted the entire event on my Facebook! Here's the full commentary from Facebook --with my added SHOW SUMMARY below.

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** Reba looks great. Don't fuck with Reba. Nobody should be fuckin' with the Reebs. Sure, the opening monologue was a little stiff but county music awards ain’t really known for their cutting edge comedy.  We're more a "situationally" funny crowd, amirite?

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** Kenny Chesney opened the show. His song didn’t do nothin' for me- however I do commend his lifelong commitment to the sleeveless shirt. His song was called “why can’t we all just get along” and one of the ways he suggested we all “chill” included to “buy a boat” — very dialed in, very poignant. NOT.

Here’s a better song that gets the sentiment right:

( John Prine, “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore)

** Maren Morris is playing a song called “RICH." I like her. She’s not playing a country song, but who cares. If you got a catchy (good) pop song,  you won’t catch me “country shaming” nobody.

** Chris Young is playing a song, but I sadly missed it. I did catch that he was lit dramatically like he was in the band Saliva in their prime. Reba said he wrote a bunch of songs. I’ll do more research and update.

UPDATE: I didn't do more research yet.  I don't know if I will. 

** Florida/ Georgia Line is on. And they are with a woman named Bebe Rex-Ha who seems pretty talented, but who I will forever quietly ( who am I kidding? I mean publicly) smite for being on this toilet song to acquire “big” and in my opinion “temporary” — “relevance”. Those guys are the turds in the punch bowl. I will always be open to a redeeming quality in any human, let alone artist. These are turds.

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Turd people above.  Turd people below.

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** Miranda Lambert won the first thing. More on her later.

** I went and got my two liter of crisp, cold Mello Yello from the fridge and missed who this one performer guy just was. He had on a plaid shirt and I heard one line of him and he kinda looked like a Ken Doll. If anyone knows who that was..well, I’m sure he’s a nice man.

EDIT: Still don't know who this was.  A comment on Facebook just said "oh you mean the goat man."  I still do not know if I meant the goat man or not.

** update: the commercial I just saw with John Legend singing goofy ad copy for Google Assistant was a pretty stark reminder of the landscape outside popular country and the rest of the world. I change my previously open-minded opinion : everything sucks except Reba.

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** update 2.0: Applebee’s commercial using Melissa Etheridge sync causes me even more frustration.

** Reba’s back. She has a white fringe beauty on.

** Alan Jackson is doing Chattahoochee. It kinda hurts. I don’t know why. I get that we’re celebrating 20 years. More on this later, too. Oh, John Pardi took a verse.

** Sugarland look like actors hired to play Sugarland.

** Chris Stapleton won Album of the Year. He’s not there 'cuz him and his wife are delivering babies. Everyone stood and applauded the babies.

** And there's Lady Antebellum begging to stay relevant. Hate this. Wangs. I get why this woman got signed, but who looked at those other two dweeb-heads and said YES THIS! This package is IT!

(PS : full disclosure: I was once edited out of a Lady Antebellum music video and I can testify that this does not influence my opinion.)

** oh, Bono’s here. Just kidding. It’s Dierks.

I was gonna shit on this song, but it seems to me that there are images of cancer survivors flashing on the screen behind Dierks and this is possibly about his wife? I will refrain.

But it’s not a good song.

** Commercial Time again: I love the new Pepsi cans with the throwback logos.  Don't you?

** Reba’s back again. She’s wearing a velvet gown. She looks bangin’  - If she doesn't need a restraining order from her famous fan Wheeler Walker Jr by now, she will after these awards.

** Blake Shelton is up now. Reba said he was “her buddy” —

And ya know, I was ready with two (half-hearted, keyboard warrior) guns blazing to obliterate whatever garbage Blake paraded out here because I’ve always been upset when he takes huge musical mis-steps. But, turns out — he has given what I consider the smartest performance tonight and played a real country song, dialed back, and it’s worth a listen.

It’s called “I Lived It” and it gave me a little hope. (Blake didn’t write it, FYI, but doesn’t change the good cut.)

Here's a copped YouTube video of it:


** Kane Brown came on stage to make us all rationalize that Fla/ Ga Line isn’t that bad.

(They are.)

I wish a real rapper would come spank his little ass.

** Its commercial time again. I’m one liter into the Mello. I love awards shows.

** Keith Urban is on stage. Here’s what Keith has going for him: he is a fantastic guitar player and he is married to Nicole Kidman. Everything else is swirling near — you guessed it — a toilet. This song is the same song as his other toilet tune “John 3:16” with different words.

Shitfire, that was painfully uncool.

** Old Dominion won “Vocal Group of the Year” and they said “they look good, feel good, are friends, making music” and to me they “look old(ish) and like they might be shitty people behind closed doors.”  I have no insider knowledge of this fact or data other than my Scorpio senses.

** Commercials are on again. Want a hamburger. Still thinking about how uncool Keith Urban is. I feel less cool for watching that performance.  I didn't feel unbelievably cool for watching the ACMs to begin with.

** Kelsie Ballerini is on now. She is sitting in a heart-shaped light. She is singing “Tennessee Whiskey” with different words. Just kidding. Or am I. This is called “I Hate Love Songs” - it’s awful. 

** Jason Aldean is on now. He’s still rockin an earring. Oh, both earrings.  

One time I said Jason Aldean looked like a potato. I regret that because I said it out of anger and there’s a lot of great songwriters who I’d never call a potato even though they look like a potato, too.

Out of respect, ya know.

** Miranda Lambert is on now. Freshest face/ voice on there tonight.

Playing a Loretta Lynn-autographed guitar. Nice homage.

This song is called “Keeper of the Flame” and it’s catchy and dang good. That’s refreshing.

** Its commercial time again. There were no good commercials.

** Eve has come out on stage as a presenter.  Who is Eve’s manager? What is Eve doing here?

* places bets that her JAM duet way back with Gwen Stefani and friendship there got her on this random presenter gig by way of the Ol “Blake Shelton Balls By-Way” *

That song was a jam, though.  


** Little Big Town is singing Elton John.

Upsides: Elton John has great songs and they are singing them in a pretty way.

Downside: I don’t like them. Not sure anyone will remember this. Not sure I remember it and I haven’t finished typing ...

** Toby Keith is dressed like his name is Tony Keith.

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** Midland played next. They made Tony Keith look like he walked out of GQ.

Seriously: They are playing caricatures of country music and that is disrespectful and I will never drink that kool-aid.  Give me a fuh-reek-in break.

** Commercials are on again. JIF had a cute one. I wish peanut butter would become the new trendy food like Kale or Avocados. Viva La ‘Nut Butter Revolution!

** Here’s some folks I think should be in the running for host next year:

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Alex Jones

Connie Collingsworth

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 Gwen Stefani & Nicole Kidman

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** Carrie Underwood is on now. She can certainly sing her ass off. She is beautiful and powerful.

I didn’t love this song.

I also didn’t love super random guitar player man emerging in a faux sexy manner from the smoke or any of that faux stage flirtation.

I also don't give one rip about her nose.

** Ashton Kutcher and Sam Elliot from “The Ranch” are on. I freakin love Sam Elliot.

** Keith Urban just won “Vocal Event of the Year” which is a weird category I’ve never heard of. It was for his song “The Fighter” which is still kind of a toilet, but a gold-plated toilet with a warm seat. I have admittedly listened to it and been ashamed, but let it play. Keith is probably nice: I’m sorry for what I said before, Keith. Bad, uncool music happens to good people.

For those who want to know what qualifies as gold plated, warm seat, toilet:

** Here to confirm I thought “Dan and Shay” were a girl indie duo until this moment.

** Also here to confirm that I’d rather puke tequila like on a devastating 21 year old hangover than hear Dan or Shay (don’t know which is which) over-sing romantically about it ever again.

** during this commercial break, I discovered my ol' buddy Ian Noe is making hamburgers downstairs. He wants to know when Taylor Big Swifty is coming on.

** Darius Rucker is the Bruce Springsteen of over-50 black males in country music.

Yes, I died laughing at myself writing that.

Mello everywhere.

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Just fact checked to make sure: Darius is 51. He’s also a Taurus for any interested parties.

** Lindsey Vonn looks great. I hope she never sings.

** Female Vocalist of the Year is taken by Miranda Lambert. Her dress is great. Praise Jesus.

** Thomas Rhett has terrible songs. He’s playing one of them now. My opinion: If you’re gonna write sucky lyrics, you better ride them on incredible up-tempo melody. A ballad of sucky lyrics is the got-dang worst.

** Commercials again. One is for Bounty. I haven’t bought a name brand paper towel in a long time.

** Reba just came out in another velvet stunner. Meow.

** Luke Bryan is on now. There's another one who has sang some terrible songs in his day.

Side Note: a ton of people I know have told me Luke Bryan is a super nice guy and fantastic to work with. That’s worth something to me.  

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This song is called ( I assume) “I believe most people are good” and it falls into a category I have created in my mind called “Wow, that could have been a great song but wasn’t” songs — this song lives there now.  

** Ian just came upstairs with hamburgers.  Our discussion below.

Me, sighing: “This song is in my category of songs that could have been good, but just weren’t.”

Ian: “That’s not a category.  That's just every bad song, Mary.”

Well, ain't that the truth.

** Single Record of the Year: “Body Like a Back Road” by Sam Hunt. 🚽🚽🚽

** I missed this girl’s name because I was having a hard time finding the toilet emoji on my keyboard, which is real weird because I use it ALOT. She’s whatever. She’s fine.

**A Note: I’m now watching a commercial with George Clooney for Nespresso. I don’t drink coffee, but I would for that gold standard, silver fox.

** Male Vocalist of the Year : Chris Stapleton. They all stood up and clapped for the just-born babies, again.

** Kelly Clarkson is a great singer. I refuse to comment in detail on the purple sequin error on her body.

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** And Reba is a fuckin vision. Sounds better than anyone on this whole program..

** I wish they’d kiss.

** No, I don't.

** Entertainer of the Year: Jason Aldean

Immediate comment from a hamburger-wielding Ian Noe:

“Nobody’s winning”

Well, ain't that the truth.

** This Chris Jansen man is a psycho. 

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I just googled him. Well, hell - this is the “buy me a boat” guy. 🚽

But - to be fair - he did just shake me awake long enough for me to recognize nobody else has played a barn burner all night.  Points for getting my attention.  Deduction for a lyric about mountain dew, as we know we're a Mello Yello household here.

** And, I've had enough.  Run the credits. Reba, won’t you just run the damn credits.


These days, a lot of folks hate-watch awards shows.  I want to make it very clear that the above commentary is not a pointed, hate-watch.   Instead, it is very much a regular watch with my realistic commentary.  And I just realistically didn't *like* a lot of what I saw on the ACMs.

That being said, I think it is so important (for me particularly, and in the case of music, particularly) to be aware of our collective musical landscape.  When the forest catches fire, should we hate all of the trees?  Stand with our backs to the flame, til a loose ember crawls on our neck.  Hide in our own small pocket of trees, not yet burned up.  Or so we think.  

Fuck a bunch of that noise, I say.  The hardest part of healing is to face the ugliness of pain straight on.  And to me and - I will speak for an obvious, real and still very much alive audience of country music listeners -- the current environment of popular country music... hurts.   Hurts to look at it, hear it.  I think thats why Alan Jackson's throwback performance of a light song like freakin' Chattahoochee harkened a feeling of unknown-origin type sadness in me.  

To me, mainstream country music doesn't feel good.  It feels outdated.  It feels somewhere between trying-too-hard and caring-too-little.   I spend a lot of time in the car and I have listened to popular country radio stations (for the sake of that same awareness I constantly seek) and the greatest epiphany I've had?  I didn't feel sad after listening.  I didn't feel happy.  I didn't feel a thing.  (Insert me shrugging my shoulders to an indifferent instrumental melody here.)

Without the pillars of authentic (oh yes, the word pains me too because it's been so abused) mainstream country entertainers who still know how to cut a good song , whether they wrote it or not-- Miranda, Carrie, Stapleton are my three  -- we'd all just be swirling in a toilet.  I'd love to say it's not that bad, but it is.   It is that bad.

Lucky for us, artists don't have to fit the mainstream mold to be successful now.  And lucky for us, there's a whole big, beautiful world out there of brilliant artists (older ones! young ones, too!  damn beautiful stars!) that will not forfeit great writing, or their artistic merit for that temporary relevance I mentioned earlier.  The ACMs intermittent pulse likely isn't even aware of that class of artist I'm speaking of.   But I hope they are one day.   Why, why give a shit?  Because that platform (50+ years archaic as it may be) has the potential to showcase something wonderful again.  Many something wonderfuls.

In the meantime, I'll be over here dousing my Mello Yello commentary on every shitty Florida/Georgia Line spark that gets ignited.  

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Posted on April 16, 2018 .