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Category: Academy of Country Music

Poll: Will Carrie Underwood or Taylor Swift have the longer career?

June 18, 2010 |  2:44 pm

Carrie Underwood Taylor Swift CMT Music AwardsCarrie Underwood and Taylor Swift remain relatively evenly matched when it comes to award hardware. Over the last five years, both of these women have won their share of kudos decided upon by both the public and the industry.

In their showdown at last week's CMT Music Awards, Carrie Underwood won over the public, taking the top honor of video of the year for "Cowboy Casanova" and also scoring the performance prize for her rendition of "Temporary Home" on the CMT show "Invitation Only." Taylor Swift went home empty-handed despite three nominations, including bids for video of the year and female video for "You Belong to Me."

At the Academy of Country Music Awards in April, Underwood prevailed as entertainer of the year for the second year in a row. Swift lost all five of her bids, even though she was coming off big wins at both the Grammys (album of the year) and the Country Music Assn. Awards (entertainer of the year, album of the year, best female vocalist). However, she could not convince a combination of ACM members and online voters to give her that one prize missing from her mantle.

In a recent poll, our readers thought Carrie Underwood the better singer over Taylor Swift by a margin of more than two to one. However, talent is only one factor in the continued success of a performer. The public can be fickle, and what works today can seem tired tomorrow. Country crooners tend to have longer careers than their pop counterparts. Yet even among the Nashville set, stars can burn out quickly (Gretchen Wilson) or fade away (Shania Twain).

Photos: Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood at the 9th annual CMT Music Awards. Credit: Getty Images.

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Carrie Underwood crushes Taylor Swift in talent poll

June 18, 2010 | 12:50 pm

Taylor Swift Carrie Underwood CMA AwardsSince Carrie Underwood trounced Taylor Swift at last week's CMT Music Awards, there has been a heated debate among our readers as to who is the better singer.

Almost 10,000 people voted in a poll asking which of these two songbirds was the biggest talent. Carrie Underwood was the clear winner, taking 63% of the vote. Taylor Swift ran a distant second at 30%, with 5% of readers unable to choose between the two and 2% opting for another singer as their favorite.

As comments on this post topped 250, the following are just a small sample:

kb:The key word here is 'talent' and that's where Carrie Underwood is the winner, hands down! Taylor Swift shouldn't even be mentioned with the word 'talent' in the same sentence. Has anyone besides me ever even listened to her weak, screeching voice? Like fingernails on a chalkboard! UGH!!

nicole: They're both great. But Taylor has it all. She's much younger than Carrie and she can actually right her own songs. Yeah, she's not the best singer, but she's the most emotional singer. And Taylor Swift is the only person I know who would have a 13 hour meet and greet. She cares for her fans MUCH more than Carrie. MUCH more.

Katie: Taylor is not in Carrie's league, vocally. No competition. The fact that Taylor wins Vocalist awards is maddening.

g jenkins: Taylor has it all. She can write, sing and show a purity to her being. She gives evenyone a sence of what a true sweetheart is! Not trashy......Taylor stay true to yourself as this will pay off in the long run.

Irene: Carrie by far. She is the real deal.she has a beautiful voice and very pretty. I would vote for her anytime. I think Reba is the queen and Carrie is the princess right now. Carrie will be queen.

matt: you cant compare the two, taylor is a great writer decent singer, carrie is a great singer decent writer, it just depends on what you look for, they are both great and you cant really say one is lesser

Terri: Neither one is qualified to be Queen of country--Taylor is so young & yes sings off key! None of the currently popular girls will EVER compare to Shania, Leeann or Faith. This is not a high School cheerleading contest. Country music has become very boring. And--George Strait is STILL the man!!!!

Photos: Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood at the 2009 CMA Awards. Credit: ABC

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Songbird smackdown: Taylor Swift vs. Carrie Underwood

June 11, 2010 |  1:52 am

Carrie Underwood Taylor Swift CMT Music Awards On Wednesday, Carrie Underwood triumphed at the CMT Music Awards winning the top honor of video of the year for "Cowboy Casanova" and also scoring the performance prize for her rendition of "Temporary Home" on the CMT show "Invitation Only." Last year's big champ -- Taylor Swift -- went home empty-handed despite three nominations, including bids for video of the year and female video for "You Belong to Me."

That snub of Taylor Swift is even more surprising given that she won both those awards last year for "Love Story" and in 2008 for "Our Song." But Carrie Underwood has proved to be even more popular with CMT viewers. In 2007 the one-time "American Idol" champ took home awards for both video of the year and female video for "Before He Cheats." That year Swift won the breakthrough video race for "Tim McGraw." But in 2006, Underwood won both that prize and female video for "Jesus, Take the Wheel" giving her a one-award advantage over Swift.

While both of these talented women have won their share of awards decided upon by the public, in their most recent showdown before the CMT kudos -- the  Academy of Country Music Awards in April -- Underwood also came out on top. She prevailed as entertainer of the year for the second year in a row. Swift was coming off award romps at both the Country Music Assn. (entertainer of the year and best female vocalist) and the Grammys (album of the year). However, she could not convince a combination of ACM members and online voters to give her that one prize missing from her mantle.

Photos: Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood at the 9th annual CMT Music Awards. Credit: Getty Images.

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Poll: Is Taylor Swift or Carrie Underwood the bigger talent?

June 11, 2010 |  1:22 am

Taylor Swift Carrie Underwood CMA Awards Since Carrie Underwood came roaring back to defeat Taylor Swift at Wednesday's CMT Music Awards, there has been a heated debate among our readers as to who is the bigger talent.

The two singers are fairly evenly matched when it comes to awards hardware. However, as seen by this sampling of comments about the original post, opinion remains divided as to who is the true queen of country music:

Jen: The only reason that Taylor won so may awards this past season was due to the sympathy vote after the Kanye outburst. Carrie is oh so deserving of these awards and so many more. Carrie is a true American idol.

Mark Raymond Cubbage: I do believe Taylor should have won, not Carrie. Like Taylor or not, "You Belong With Me" was one of the biggest sensations of the year. Everyone from country to pop was covering it and it never seemed to leave CMT. "Cowboy Casanova" went almost unnoticed. The only reason Carrie won is because she is currently active with a new release, whereas Taylor is in the "writing" stage. Had she just released a new single, chances are she would have won for sure. After awhile, all of Underwood's songs begin to have the same rhythm. Anyone else notice?

CLM: So glad to hear Carrie took the awards. Real tired of hearing Taylor and her teeny bop songs. The title was fitting. Congrats Carrie.

Amanda: Taylor should have won one or all of them. They were very disappointing. Why did she not perform? Those awards were boring. Taylor looked beautiful like always. I dont get why Carrie has been winning the past two award shows. Well when Taylor comes out with her new CD she will be winning again.

Judy: Thank goodness the fans got it right this year. Carrie, is absolutely the Queen of Country Music. She is such a beautiful girl, inside and out. She is just Awesome!!! Congratulations to Carrie and all of the winners!!!

katydid: "Cowboy Casanova" is a very strange song and the video is pretty trashy in my opinion. Carrie has a great voice but I don't think she is all that authentic. Carrie is a product of the industry like her or not. Taylor writes her own songs and has stayed true to who she is. She's so young, just imagine the songs she'll be writing as she matures. I guess voice won over substance.

Add your voice to the ongoing debate and cast your vote in our poll as well.

Photos: Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood at the 2009 CMA Awards. Credit: ABC.

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Gold Derby nuggets: ACMs still win night with lower ratings | ABC finds five hours for 'Lost' finale

April 19, 2010 |  3:15 pm

Carrie Underwood ACMs • The Academy of Country Music Awards on Sunday won the night for CBS with 13.05 million tuning in to see Carrie Underwood keep her crown as entertainer of the year. With the other nets programming original fare this year, viewership was down 12% from last year's awardscast which had scored the best numbers in a decade. Lower ratings for these country music kudos bucks the trend this TV season which has seen increased audiences for everything from the Emmys and Oscars to the ACM's country cousin, the Country Music Awards, which were up by 7% last November.

Sharon Waxman delves into the mystery surrounding entry into the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. -- which puts on the Golden Globes -- and discovers that there is trouble afoot as HFPA president Philip Berk supports the admission of Lesley O’Toole over the objection of member Patricia Danaher. As Sharon points out, "the battle may be over who gets to control the market in writing for UK publications, but the problem is a perennial one for members of the Foreign Press, who get unmatched access to movie stars -- including access to transcripts from HFPA news conferences -- because of the prominence of the Golden Globes. The 84-member group accepts only five new members a year to protect those and other privileges, such as free travel to two film festivals per year." THE WRAP

• "Glee" leading lady Lea Michele is not one to hold a grudge. Snubbed by the Tony Awards three years for her performance in the tuner "Spring Awakening" -- which went on to win the best musical prize -- Michele will be on hand May 4 to announce the nominees for the 64th annual edition of these top theater kudos. Joining her at the podium will be Jeff Daniels, a nominee for lead actor last year for his role in "God of Carnage." While that play won the Tony, Daniels lost his race to Geoffrey Rush in "Exit the King." Daniels exited his play last fall but returned in March to tackle the other male role -- the one that earned James Gandolfini a Tony nom last year. TONY AWARDS

• A record 61 entries from 36 countries, along with 497 entries from students representing 122 U.S. colleges and universities are in the running for the 2010 Student Academy Awards. Winners of this competition -- now in its 37th year -- will be announced during a ceremony on June 12 at the academy's swank Samuel Goldwyn Theater. As the press release notes, "Since the program’s inception, Student Academy Award winners have gone on to earn 40 Oscar nominations and won 7 Academy Awards." The most recent of these was Pete Docter who co-directed the 2009 best animated feature 'Up.' In addition, Gregg Helvey, a 2009 Student Academy Award winner, also helmed the live action short nominee "Kavi" last year. AMPAS

Lost_Logo • ABC is devoting a four-hour block of primetime on May 23 to the finale of "Lost" and airing a special edition of "Jimmy Kimmel Live" later that night. In addition, the alphabet net will also salute the Emmy Award-winning series with other events on both coasts. As per Michael Schneider, "Exec producer Carlton Cuse let slip via Twitter last week that one event, 'Lost Live: The Final Celebration,' will take place at UCLA's Royce Hall on May 13." And comedy troupe the Upright Citizens Brigade will celebrate the show with finale eve events at their outpost in LA and New York as well. VARIETY

Juan Jose Campanella -- who directed last year's Oscar-winning foreign language film "The Secret in Their Eyes" -- chats with Bilge Ebiri about his second entry in the derby race having lost in 2001 for "Son of the Bride." As Campanella recalls, "the last few days, people started talking about it in blogs and stuff like that. I saw something in 'Entertainment Weekly' even. It made me very nervous. When we first got nominated, we thought, 'Oh, it’s a great honor to be nominated, let’s go there and enjoy ourselves. It’ll be like 'Son of the Bride,' it’s good for the movie, and that’s it.' And then the last week or so, I saw these things and I thought, 'Oh s***.' Because now I was getting my hopes up and suddenly becoming nervous. So, we went in thinking that we were in the running." NEW YORK

• In anticipation of his upcoming hosting gig at the MTV Movie Awards, Aziz Ansari says he has been busy catching up on all the potential nominees. "I've watched 'Twilight' a bunch. I've watched 'Avatar' 400 times. I have hit movies playing on Blu-ray at all times. I've been stalking Daniel Radcliffe. Whatever I can do to get the movies in my head." And he admits, "I want to make sure all the short films I do really meet the high bar that's been set by all the other hosts. I thought all the stuff Andy (Samberg) did last year was awesome, and I just want to do my own version." MTV

Top photo: Carrie Underwood at the Academy of Country Music Awards. Credit: CBS

Bottom photo: "Lost" logo. Credit: ABC

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Why was Taylor Swift skunked at the ACM Awards?

April 19, 2010 | 10:20 am

Considering her recent award romps at the Grammys (album of the year) and Country Music Assn. (entertainer of the year and best female vocalist), it's shocking that Taylor Swift lost all four nominations at the Academy of Country Music Awards.

Taylor Swift lost entertainer of the year to Carrie Underwood, female vocalist of the year and video of the year to Miranda Lambert and song of the year to Lady Antebellum.

Taylor Swift ACM Awards Academy of Country Music news

It's not as if the ACM Award voters hate her. Swift's "Fearless" CD won best album last year and she was voted best new female vocalist two years ago. Maybe they just grew tired of her due to media overplay? The answer is difficult to discern considering the complex voting method used to determine the winners of some categories. While most ACM Awards were determined exclusively by members' votes, other categories, like entertainer of the year (which was widely expected to go to Taylor Swift), was decided by a combo of academy members and Internet votes.

Below are some views of our forum posters. See more here.

Awardshq: Taylor should have won Entertainer of the Year. No other country star was bigger than her this year. Even if you don't like her, you can't deny that.

Longoria: Did Taylor not win a single award? Praise Jesus there is a God!

N Lester: Yes! You speak the truth. I'm glad the public awarded actual talent instead of popularity.

Continue reading »

Gold Derby nuggets: Laura Dern 'Enlightened' by HBO | ACM honorees include Keith Urban | Tony Awards eligibility updates

April 8, 2010 |  4:57 pm

Laura Dern Enlightenment HBOLaura Dern has inked a deal with HBO for her first regular TV gig. She and Mike White -- who directed her in "Year of the Dog" in 2007 -- have created "Enlightened" a half-hour single-camera comedy about "a self-destructive woman who has a revelatory experience at a treatment center and becomes determined to live an enlightened life, creating unexpected havoc at home and work." Dern's mother, Diane Ladd, as well as Luke Wilson and Sarah Burns are to co-star in this showcase for Dern, which will begin its 10-episode run this year. Last year, Dern won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris in the HBO political drama "Recount." THR

Anne Thompson is aces at covering the Cannes filmfest and reports, "filmmaker Claire Denis ('White Material') will preside over the Un Certain Regard jury. I have also learned that Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal (whose new Spanish film 'Even the Rain' is tagged for possible inclusion in the fest) and Italian actress Giovanna Mezzogiorno ('Vincere') will join Tim Burton’s competition jury, while Canadian writer-director Atom Egoyan ('Chloe') will preside over the Cinefondation Jury. And the Director’s Fortnight will award Agnes Varda with its 8th Carosse d’Or life achievement award." THOMPSON ON HOLLYWOOD

ACM logo • Australian crooner Keith Urban will be feted at the upcoming Academy of Country Music kudocast on CBS with the Jim Reeves International Award. Past recipients include Garth Brooks, Roy Clark, Buck Owens and Dolly Parton. Mel Tillis and the late Marty Robbins will be the recipients of the Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award which has gone previously to such country legends as Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Brenda Lee and Loretta Lynn. Don Schlitz and the late Cindy Walker are to be honored with the Poet's Award and "Crazy Heart" will be given the Tex Ritter Award for showcasing country music on the big screen. The ACMs will handed out in Las Vegas on April 18.

• "Curb Your Enthusiasm" is coming to the TV Guide network beginning June 2, and while the basic cablecaster will edit the show for nudity and language, it is not cutting it for length. "Curb" ran 30 minutes or so on commercial-free HBO, so to round out the hour time slot, the net is programming "Curb: The Discussion." Hosted by "Curb" star Susie Essman and co-produced by the show's creator and star Larry David, the first panelists will be David's old pal Jerry Seinfeld, Emmy nominee Jon Hamm ("Mad Men") and Oscar nominee Taraji Henson ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"). TV GUIDE

• The 24th annual Genesis Awards air on Animal Planet on the weekend of April 24. The kudos -- honoring the media for their coverage of animal protection issues -- were handed out on March 20 at the Beverly Hilton. Among the recipients of the 19 awards were the Oscar-winning films "Up" and "The Cove" and the TV series "Bones" and "Family Guy." Actress Tippi Hedren was presented with the lifetime achievement award by her daughter Melanie Griffith. GENESIS

Tony Award • The administration committee for the Tony Awards convened for the third of four times this theater season on Thursday. The committee is made up of two dozen theater folk, with 10 apiece from the Broadway League and the American Theater Wing -- which jointly host these top theater kudos -- and one each from the Dramatists Guild, Actors' Equity Assn., United Scenic Artists and the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. They rule on category placement as usually only those performers listed above the title are eligible to contend in the lead categories at the Tony Awards. However, with the increase in equal billing for all, there is a need to separate out the true star turns from the supporting players. As such, two-time nominee Laura Linney will contend as a lead for "Time Stands Still" as will Patrick Breen for "Next Fall." And of the four actors in "A Behanding in Spokane," only Oscar champ Christopher Walken was found to be in a leading role.

• And finally, file this in the truth-is-stranger-than fiction drawer. Turns out that Hungarian-born adventurer Count Laszlo de Almásy -- who inspired the romantic hero played by Ralph Fiennes in the 1996 Oscar-winning "The English Patient" -- was "actually homosexual and in love with a young soldier, according to letters discovered in Germany." DAILY TELEGRAPH

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Top photo: Laura Dern at the 2009 Golden Globe Awards. Credit: NBC

Middle photo: Academy of Country Music logo. Credit: ACM

Bottom photo: Tony Award statuette. Credit: American Theater Wing

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Does an Oscar equal $100 million or $10 million?

March 4, 2010 |  2:20 pm
Oscars worth academy awards news

Hollywood.com box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian has attempted the impossible: to put a price tag on winning the Oscar for best picture. It's tricky because of when a movie is released. For example, is it safe to say that "Slumdog Millionaire" made $97 million in real gold as a result of being in the running for a gold-plated statuette? That's how much it earned after it was nominated. It was clear at that point that it would win, because it had swept the key precursor prizes and all of the pundits were betting on it. But "Slumdog" wasn't released wide to theaters until nominations were unveiled. Previously, it had earned only $43 million when it was held back in limited release.

Or consider "The Departed," which was released more than three months before Academy Award nominations. At that point, it had already reaped $121 million, so it only got a $10-million bump after bids were out. Check out Paul's breakdown here.

Photo credit: Hollywood.com

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Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood vie for ACM entertainer of the year award

March 2, 2010 | 10:10 am

Taylor Swift and reigning champ Carrie Underwood face off against six male artists for the top prize at the 45th annual Academy of Country Music awards on April 18. Three of the men in the race are former winners of entertainer of the year -- Kenny Chesney (2004-2007), Toby Keith (2002, 2003) and George Strait (1989). Another two are multiple male vocalist of the year champs -- Brad Paisley (2006-2008) and Keith Urban (2004, 2005) -- while the final entry -- the Zac Brown Band -- are relative rookies. The ACM entertainer of the year will be determined by online voting as will the four newcomer awards.

Reba McEntire Blake Shelton Academy of Country Music Awards Nominations Perennial ACM host Reba McEntire and Blake Shelton announced the nominations Tuesday morning on CBS' "The Early Show." McEntire -- the 1994 entertainer of the year -- contends this year for female vocalist, an award she has won seven times already. Shelton is vying for vocal event of the year for "Hillbilly Bone."

While Lady Antebellum did not earn an entertainer of the year bid, the group lead with seven other nominations including vocal group, album, single and song. Both Underwood and Miranda Lambert have six nominations while Swift has five.

Expect Swift -- who swept the CMAs last fall with four wins including the coveted entertainer of the year title -- to do just as well at the ACMs. In addition to her entertainer of the year bid, Swift contends for female vocalist and is up for three awards for "You Belong With Me" -- video of the year, song of the year performer and song of the year co-writer.

At last fall's CMAs, Swift ended the three-year reign of Kenny Chesney as the top entertainer. His loss there had been foretold by his defeat for the same award -- after four wins in a row -- at last spring's ACMs to Carrie Underwood. Underwood -- who co-hosted the CMA Awards -- had won female vocalist there for the previous three years but was bested by Swift.

Underwood has won that same award at the ACMs for the last three years and contends again this year. Her CMA co-host, Brad Paisley, won his third consecutive CMA male vocalist prize last fall and is defending his three-year winning streak at the ACMs.

Even the most die-hard country music fans have a tough time explaining the difference between the Country Music Assn. (CMA), which handed out awards last fall, and the Academy of Country Music (ACM), which passes out honors every spring. The only differences besides the dates are network affiliation and geography -- the CMA Awards air on ABC from Nashville; the ACM Awards are doled out on CBS from Las Vegas. Both awards are bestowed by industry organizations with many of the same voters and -- no surprise -- many of the same winners.

In the 45-year history of the ACM Awards, just 23 men and 24 women have won the vocalist prizes. And only 21 different acts have been named entertainer of the year. The CMAs are no different, with many of the champs there having won first at the ACM Awards or vice versa. Over 43 years, the CMA Awards has seen 23 men and 24 women take top vocal honors while 29 different acts have ranked as entertainer of the year.

For the full list of nominees, visit the ACM website.

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Photo: Reba McEntire and Blake Shelton. Credit: CBS

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CMAs and ACMs are country cousins

November 12, 2009 |  9:02 am

Brad Paisley Carrie Underwood CMAs Even the most die-hard country music fans have a tough time explaining the difference between the Country Music Assn. (CMA), which handed out awards Wednesday night, and the Academy of Country Music (ACM), which passes out honors every May. The only differences besides the dates are network affiliation and geography -- the CMA Awards air on ABC from Nashville while the ACM Awards are doled out on CBS from Las Vegas. Both awards are bestowed by industry organizations with many of the same voters and -- no surprise -- many of the same winners.

In the 45-year history of the ACM Awards, just 23 men and 24 women have won the vocalist prizes. And only 21 different acts have been named entertainer of the year. The CMAs are no different, with many of the champs there having won first at the ACM Awards or vice versa. Over 43 years, the CMA Awards have seen 23 men and 24 women take top vocal honors while 29 different acts have ranked as entertainer of the year.

Expect Taylor Swift -- who swept the CMAs this year with four wins including the coveted entertainer of the year title -- to do just as well at the next edition of the ACMs. At the CMAs, Swift beat three-time reigning entertainer of the year Kenny Chesney. His loss there was foretold by his defeat for the same award-- after four wins in a row -- at last May's ACMs, losing to Carrie Underwood.

Underwood -- who co-hosted the CMA Awards -- had won female vocalist there for the last three years, but was bested by Swift this year. However, her co-host, Brad Paisley, picked up his third consecutive male vocalist prize. And Underwood and Paisley have won for the last three years at the ACMs.

The CMA was founded first, in Nashville in 1958, just one year after the Grammy Awards parent organization, the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, was formed in Los Angeles. The association's mission was to serve as an industry think tank and networking organization for Nashville music makers, not to present awards. The first country music kudos were bestowed in 1965 by the upstart new Country and Western Music Academy, formed one year earlier by country artists who had ditched honky-tonk Nashville for the glamour of Hollywood. That group eventually morphed into the ACM. In 1967, the CMA started passing out prizes too.

West Coasters like Merle Haggard dominated the early ACM awards, while Nashville faves Johnny Cash and Charlie Pride swept the CMAs. However, within a decade both groups were honoring the same artists with one exception -- Toby Keith, who's probably been punished by CMA members for not making Nashville his home.

Traditionally, the CMAs have more viewers than the ACMs, but both are so popular that they're aired during sweeps months, and sometimes one or both beat the Nielsen ratings scored by the Emmy Awards. Indeed, the popularity of the CMAs and ACMs ignited an explosion of award shows on TV.

Until 1970, the only major awardscasts were the Oscars, Emmys and Tonys. The Grammys only existed on TV in a rather dull, taped one-hour special billed as "Best on Record." When the CMAs nabbed a spot in prime time, NBC crammed it into its regular weekly "Kraft Music Hall."

Then, in 1971, the Grammys went live in a stand-alone awardscast. When Paul McCartney showed up to accept an award for the busted-up Beatles, the crowd and TV viewing audience went crazy, and ABC had a hit on its hands. Foolishly, however, the alphabet network gave up the broadcast rights to the Grammys just one year later when the recording academy wanted to move the show to Nashville.

CBS not only grabbed the rights to the Grammys but launched a live, stand-alone CMA show. The ACM awardscast was launched in 1972 too. Suddenly, there were three music-award shows on TV at the same time, and all of them scored socko ratings.

Continue reading »

Academy of Country Music Awards' TV ratings jump

April 6, 2009 | 12:52 pm

Academy of Country Music Awards Taylor Swift

The Academy of Country Music Awards attracted 3 million more TV viewers than last year, according to early Nielsen data. The CBS telecast snagged 14.8 million viewers tuning in to see performances and wins by Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift and Sugarland, which marks its largest audience since 1998.

The 44th annual ACM Awards did particularly well in the choice demographic span of 18- to 49-year-olds, scoring a 3.8 rating/10 share. That's a 31% increase.

These Nielsen results reflect the recent uptick in TV viewership of award shows. Last month, the Oscars drew 36.9 million viewers — that's a 13% jump from the previous year (31.76 million).  The Grammy Awards fended off a trend of declining viewership, scoring 19.7 million viewers, which was an increase of 2.5 million viewers over 2008.

Photo: Associated Press

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Predictions: Who'll win the ACM Awards on Sunday

April 3, 2009 |  1:52 pm

Wondering who'll triumph when the Academy of Country Music Awards are bestowed on Sunday (8 p.m. ET/ PT, CBS)? You'd be smart to heed the predix of Chris Willman. Chris has not only written professionally about the music biz for Entertainment Weekly, the L.A. Times and other leading media, but he feels special kinship with country tunes. Check out his book "Rednecks & Bluenecks: The Politics of Country Music" (New Press, 2007).

ACM Awards Carrie Underwood Taylor Swift As a longtime pal to Gold Derby, Chris has written up his predix exclusively for you! I hope this doesn't smack of ingratitude, but I dare to challenge one of his forecasts, while admitting that the odds probably favor his view. Considering how Carrie Underwood keeps romping through the category for best female vocalist, she may seem likely to do so again, but I'm betting my ranch (if I had one, but I don't) on Taylor Swift. Yeah, yeah, Taylor Swift may be considered too young (she's 19) and new to the scene for such a lofty embrace from the industry establishment, but I think she's wowed us all with her serious chops (singer, musician, songwriter), sales, beauty and charm. And I mean WOW! But now let's pass off to what Chris thinks . . . .(Here is a full list of nominees per category to consult while reading.)

Imagine if "Slumdog Millionaire" won best picture… and then nothing else, or maybe one technical award. Impossible, right? Yet that's what we're faced with at the country awards shows every year. At the ACMs Sunday night, Kenny Chesney is a shoo-in to win entertainer of the year, the top prize. This will mark the fifth consecutive time he's picked it up. (He's also gotten that top honor at the competing CMA Awards four out of the last five years.) But it seems entirely possible that that's the only trophy he'll bring home this year. Chesney can't lose entertainer of the year, but he almost can't win anything else.

Last year, Chesney had 11 ACM nominations, but only walked away with two awards — one, of course, for entertainer of the year; the other was a shared award for vocal event of the year, for a song on which he had a cameo. This year, he only pulled in three nominations, for entertainer, male vocalist and vocal event. I don't think he has as good a shot at winning vocal event this year as last: His partnership with Mac McAnally on "Down the Road" seems destined to lose to "Start a Band," the Brad Paisley / Keith Urban collaboration. And Chesney is really the underdog in the male vocalist race, where he's lost to Paisley the last two years.

How is it that Chesney can win the top prize every year but lose the lesser male vocalist prize to Paisley every year? That may be a mystery, but it's not an unfathomable one. I think Paisley's sense of humor, songwriting and guitar chops, faithfulness to traditional country sounds, and, yes, even vocal ability make him a favorite in the industry. But as Chesney himself has said in award show press rooms, the entertainer of the year belt really goes to the person who is considered the biggest ambassador for country music in the wider world, pulling in the huge tour numbers and getting the most media attention. And that continues to be Chesney. No offense to Chesney, but voters tend to pick male vocalist on artistry and entertainer of the year on sheer numbers and mass-market palatability.

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