7:00 p.m.: The inaugural American Country Awards are starting with a skit, in which towering country star Trace Adkins refuses to wear meat chaps (a Lady Gaga joke that Brad Paisley already made at last month’s CMA Awards), declines to ride in a tiny car and looks for “trophy girls” with “Honky Tonk Badonkadonks.” Trace is saying he’s not going to do a monologue, adding “It’s a live show, what are they gonna do, fire me?” He’s introducing his pal Blake Shelton, who won male vocalist at “some other awards show.” That also would be the CMAs.
Again, someone please explain to me what we’re doing back here? Oh, yeah, the CMA’s topped the weekly ratings for ABC and Fox wants a piece of that action. Cheesy skit opening is not the way to make awards show greatness.
7:05: OK, so I’m not sold on the ACA’s but it’s a great opportunity to showcase Oklahoma’s country talent, starting with Blake, who is inviting people who don’t like his Tishomingo lifestyle to “Kiss My Country A–.” His “fiancy” Miranda Lambert is singing along in the crowd. It is totally their year.
7:06: Miranda’s got purple feathers on one shoulder of her gown. Wonder which one of them shot the donor bird.
7:07: Bret Michaels, whose played country music in his time, is taking the stage to be the first presenter at the ACA’s. After the year he has survived, he deserves it. He’s going to give out the breakthrough artist award, which I’m betting will go to The Band Perry or Easton Corbin. Here are the nominees:
Breakthrough Artist of the Year
Jaron and The Long Road To Love
The Band Perry
7:09: Winner: Easton Corbin wins the first-ever, ever, ever ACA. I thought maybe The Band Perry’s young and enthusiastic fan base might wrangle enough mouse clicks, but no, the neo-traditionalist hitmaker wins it.
OK, that’s new. He’s not even giving a speech. Instead, Bret is kicking it over to the side stage, where Easton and band are performing his breakout hit “A Little More Country Than That.”
Are the ACAs going to eliminate acceptance speeches in favor of just letting the winners perform? Could it be? If that is the case, then the ACAs just may be the best awards show ever.
7:16: Trace is allowing the trophy girls to pat him down because they saw his full-body scan and decided he needed it. “Take your time and be thorough, ladies. I’m very patriotic. God Bless America.” Silly but funny.
7:17: OK, so good news and bad news: Instead of trophies, the winners get silver Fender guitars, which is fairly awesome. The bad news: Instead of giving speeches, they will be interviewed by Nancy O’Dell. So they are giving speeches at her prompting. Sigh. Easton is thanking the usual suspects, with emphasis on the fans who voted for him. It’s a fine speech but I thought we just might be off the hook. No such luck.
7:19: Lady Antebellum is honoring Rascal Flatts with the Country Group of the Decade prize, which honors the band for a decade of awards and hits. Lady A is introducing the band, which includes guitarist Joe Don Rooney of Picher, to perform a medley of their hits, including “These Days,” “God Bless the Broken Road” and “What Hurts the Most.”
Not a big fan of the medleys. Or of upstart new awards shows giving out decade awards. That doesn’t make much sense. Shouldn’t your show have to be around a decade before it honors a band that’s been around for a decade? OK, shouldn’t it at least be on the air for more than 30 minutes before tossing around phrases like “group of the decade”?
7:27: The crowd gives Rascal Flatts a standing ovation. Joe Don Rooney thanks his parents for supporting his crazy music dream and then takes the honorary Fender Strat away, saying “You’re not a guitar player, give me that.” Jay DeMarcus declares “What a way to start our second decade.” Congratulations to the band on receiving the first ACA Decade Award, even if the show hasn’t even been around an hour yet.
7:42: Trace is reminding everyone to remember the troops and kicking it to a live video feed of Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, where he performed recently on an USO tour. So that’s a nice touch.
Apparently, the National Finals Rodeo has been happening in Las Vegas this week, so it’s a perfect opportunity for nominee Jewel and her “sexy cowboy husband” Ty Murray to give out the top single by a male artist prize. Here are the options:
7:33: Joe Nichols, Jennette McCurdy and Jaron & the Long Road to Love are coming from all over the arena and converging onstage to introduce the Grammy-nominated Band Perry. The trio is going to perform it’s No. 1 country song in the land, “If I Die Young.” I’m sort of warming up to this sibling act, but it will be interesting to see if they have more than just one admittedly well-penned song in them.
7:37: Ventriloquist Jeff Dunham and his puppet Bubba J are coming on for their first live show update. They’re having mike issues. Since Bubba J is my least favorite Jeff Dunham character, I’m not that sorry. I say let’s get Achmed the Dead Terrorist out for the next one. From what I could catch of the glitchy break just now, it seems that Toby Keith is going to be honored as a video visionary.
7:39: I’m really starting to like Carrie Underwood’s “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” song. It makes me want to see the movie, so it’s done its job. Fox is probably going to run that trailer at least 50 more times tonight.
Single of the Year by a Male Artist
“Do I,” Luke Bryan
“Little More Country Than That,” Easton Corbin
“That’s How Country Boys Roll,” Billy Currington
“Gimme That Girl,” Joe Nichols
“Why Don’t We Just Dance,” Josh Turner
7:45: Winner: Josh Turner’s “Why Don’t We Just Dance.” And here’s the deep-voiced cutie to perform it with his band and a couple of swing dancers. He sounds great. One plus for the ACAs so far is we’re seeing artists that don’t get to play the other country awards show perform. Band Perry only did a snippet of “If I Die Young” at the CMAs, and Josh and Easton are totally new. Rascal Flatts so far are the only performers who usually play these things.
7:52: Nancy says that Josh’s song is the most-played song on country radio this year. Josh is thanking God and his wife, who is home pregnant with his third boy, along with his producers, country radio and the fans. To be specific he thanked country radio for “playing the crap out of this song.” I guess that’s a compliment?
7:55: They’re awkwardly kicking it over to Vegas illusionist Criss Angel, who doesn’t exactly blend, but he’s going to present the Video Visionary Award to someone who is not afraid to take chances, not afraid to poke fun at himself and not afraid to take on controversial topics. Again, it’s another Okie done good: Here comes a medley of Toby Keith’s video highlights, from “As Good As I Once Was,” “Trailerhood,” “I Wanna Talk About Me,” “American Ride,” etc.
Toby’s going to play the song to his latest video “Bullets in the Gun.” I have to say it’s one of my faves of his, and as promised, the cinematic video is playing in the background. And there’s a horn section in the background, too. Huh. Not sure that it goes with the song any more than the Mindfreak goes with this show, but I guess the ACAs are trying to mix it up a bit. Or maybe Toby is. Anyway, the fans in the audience don’t seem to mind the random three-man brass section.
8:00: Toby is thanking his God, the ACAs, his manager and video director Michael Salomon, along with Show Dog-Universal, “my little label back in town.” He’s hoping everyone has fun in Vegas. I still think the whole Fender Strat as trophy concept is cool, and I’m happy for Toby for winning one.
8:05: “We’re running over, shut up,” Trace says. Don’t know if that will work, but it made me laugh. He also notes that he ditched the suit because “this thing seems kinda loose.” He’s now in a leather fringed jacket and black boots and he’s introducing another Okie who “when she hosts, she knows how to behave.” Is is really a good idea to keep referencing other country awards shows?
Anyway, Reba is taking the stage to sing “Turn on the Radio,” and as usual, she can belt it with the best of them. She’s dressed all in black, including some epic knee-high boots. In the audience, Blake and Miranda are singing along, and so is Carrie Underwood. Who doesn’t love this woman?
8:09: Standing O and lots of smiles for Reba. As it should be. Jeff Dunham and Bubba J are back. “This is the best Soul Train Awards ever,” Bubba J declares. “And Reba McEntire is awesome.” Bubba says that when he was talking to Reba backstage, she and her hair looked awful. “Bubba J, you were talking to Carrot Top.” The Carrot doffs his black Stetson, and indeed, his red mop his truly bad. At least he’s a good sport about it.
8:12: Trace is posing with another bevy of beauties, and now he’s kicking it to Uncle Kracker to sing “D— It’s Good to Be Me.” I guess since Kid Rock isn’t here, Uncle K is filling the roll of the pseudo-country, sort-of-Southern-rock performer for the ACAs.
8:14: Wow, they cut that performance way short. It’s a must. They’re more than halfway through and have given out two awards. You know, there are three other country awards shows they could’ve watched and used to model this show.
8:17: Tulsa comic Rodney Carrington is wearing a ginormous sombrero and a fake mustache. He’s cracking jokes about his outfit, but he’s more on the mark with his comments that there are so many country music awards shows because country stars are generally insecure and if they don’t meet for awards every few weeks they just shrivel up and blow away. “And then we’ll be left with nothing but rap and everyone’s tired of that crap.” Rodney’s apparently there not as a sight gag – which is good because that wasn’t that funny – but to introduce Keith Urban performing “Put You in a Song” by satellite from Dallas. This show is already running way long, do we really need to pipe in performances from other locations?
8:22: Jerrod Niemann and Laura Bell Bundy are introducing duo Steel Magnolia to sing “Keep on Loving You.” Again, it’s a good idea for the ACAs to feature performers who don’t usually get a showcase on other awards shows, but you’ve got to give out more than two awards per 90 minutes, especially if you’re aiming for a two-hour show.
8:29: Kaley Cuoco of “Big Bang Theory” is here to introduce the Greatest Hits honoree Alan Jackson using the title of some of his 34 hits. She is repeatedly cracking herself up with the cheesiness of this gimmick. And does Fox have so few hit shows that they’re bringing in network shills from CBS? Sad. Anyway, Alan has taken the stage, which normally would mean an instant improvement of most any country venue, but it’s another medley of “Chasing That Neon Rainbow,” “Daddy Let Me Drive,” “Remember When,” “Good Time,” etc. Again, not a fan of the medley concept.
8:36: At least they are giving some time for Alan to sing “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning.” It would be pretty tacky to cut this one to one line like “Five O’clock Somewhere.” At least they’re being respectful of the subject matter. And to Alan with the deserved standing O, even if he was forced into medley mode. He can barely give his speech for all the cheers. “I’d just like to say I love America and country music has been America’s real music all these years. And I’m proud to have been a part of that for all these years.” Short and sweet.
8:38: Now, Bubba J is wearing a blond wig and claiming he’s Alan Jackson because he looks just like her. He claims to know so much about Alan from Wiki Leaks and he’s oing that weird eye thing. This is not Jeff Dunham’s night, mostly because he’s working with one of his weakest characters.
8:40: Trace says that the director told him in rehearsals that there wasn’t enough time to include this next award, which he happens to be nominated for. “So we had a discussion, and I’m pleased to report he’s recovering nicely.” He then tells Blake Shelton to get up there because they have won for “Hillbilly Bone.” He then says that because they’re running behind on time, he’s going to do the thank yous for Blake, quickly thanking the fans, God, his label, Miranda and himself “although not in that order, because I was last.” He then tells Blake he can thank one person, so a surprised Blake decides to thank “air.” This is just getting plain silly. I think this is the award they’re talking about, but I’m not totally sure:
Music Video by a Male Artist
“A Little More Country Than That,” Easton Corbin
“Southern Voice,” Tim McGraw
*“Hillbilly Bone,” Blake Shelton with Trace Adkins
“Why Don’t We Just Dance,” Josh Turner
“The Man I Want To Be,” Chris Young
Winner: “Hillbilly Bone.” I think that’s what just happened.
8:45: Lee Ann Womack and a couple of NASCAR guys are presenting best group of the year. Here are the possibles:
Duo/Group Artist of the Year
The Band Perry
Zac Brown Band
8:47: Winner: Apparently, Lady A has won this award along with single of the year, single by a group, music video by a group, and group of the year, all for “Need You Now.” They’re quickly thanking all the usual suspects for their big year. I guess we’re handing out these awards in batches now.
8:48: And now Trace and his harem are rapidly kicking it to the newest superstar Jason Aldean, who is performing “My Kinda Party.” And he’s got his fellow Georgia boy and tourmate Luke Bryan turning this party into a duet. Sounds good. Notice they’re not cutting that one short.
8:50: Just saw a note come up on the screen that they’re handing out artist of the year awards in the next three minutes. Could this show been paced any worse? Honestly, if they wanted to do a country concert special and give out free Fender Strats along the way, people probably would have jumped on board as willingly to that as to another awards show.
8:52: I guess after this is over, I’ll do a little online research to find out who won the ACAs. Yeah, I can’t believe I just typed that, either.
8:55: Reba, fix it please. She’s giving out the artist of the year award to one of these five nominees. Let’s go Miranda!
Artist of the Year
Zac Brown Band
8:56: Winner: Carrie Underwood, who looks radiant in the gorgeous red off-one-shoulder gown. Apparently, this is one of six ACAs that the Checotah native is taking home with her. She’s cradling her Strat, and she’s giving a very nice thanks to the fans for supporting the best kind of music in the world. Congratulations to Carrie! Miranda, Blake and Lady A have gotten lots of attention this year, but Carrie has been having a great 2010, too.
8:58: Trace declares “this show ain’t over til I sing” and threatening, um, retribution if they roll the credits while he’s performing “This Ain’t No Love Song.” Cheekily, the producers run a few joking credits, thanking Trace for being such a “cooperative” host and noting that they saw his full-body airport scan and weren’t impressed. They also note that no animals or trophy girls were harmed during this production, though all the country fans who turned into such a poorly planned event definitely were harmed.
9:01: So the credits have actually rolled – yes, while Trace was singing – and the first ACAs are done. Now, I have to go find out who won so I can share that info with you. I think that was the worst awards show ever, but at least it finished pretty much on time. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the ACAs actually made me look forward to the butt-numbing ordeal that is the Oscars. They never finish on time, but at least they don’t resort to such insane measures in order to preserve the 9 o’clock news. Sheesh.