The Academy of Country Music’s latest awards show highlighted how much fun is still possible in the fast-paced future of music streaming.
LAS VEGAS — The 57th Academy of Country Music Awards ended with nods to the past, beginning Monday night with a tribute to Elvis Presley and ending shortly after a moving rendition of the 1974 hit from the host Dolly Parton “I Will Always Love You,” sung by Kelly Clarkson.
In the two hours between the two, the 2022 ACMs spoke volumes about the country’s future: the beat of a music industry that has rendered TV ratings nearly null and void. , traditional measures of musical success, and stereotypical notions of who becomes a country music star. . For the first time, the awards show, which took place at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, was streamed exclusively on Amazon Prime, rather than a broadcast network.
But one thing remained in this revolution of the music industry against tradition: more than anything, country music will find any excuse to turn any moment into a party.
Dolly on Ukraine
Gabby Barrett and Jimmie Allen – two of the event’s three hosts, alongside Parton – kicked off the night, performing covers of two country classics with Las Vegas roots. Barrett and Allen kicked off the show with Faith Hill’s 1995 country hit “Let’s Go To Vegas” and Elvis Presley’s iconic 1964 film soundtrack classic “Viva Las Vegas.”
Parton, in his monologue, of course had jokes. But she also brought a sober moment to the festivities, when she drew attention to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“I want us to take a serious moment before we start having fun. … I want us to send our love and hope to our brothers and sisters in Ukraine,” Parton said.
But that serious moment gave way to an almost non-stop musical evening, with performances from Eric Church, Maren Morris, Chris Stapleton and many more.
Miranda Lambert wins first prize
Despite being nominated seven and five times respectively and being two of the top recipients of Academy of Country Music Award nominations, Chris Young and Walker Hayes left Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium empty-handed. The same can be said for Luke Combs, event co-host Jimmie Allen and other male country stars.
More than anything, the 2022 ACM Awards represented an important moment for established and emerging female artists. Miranda Lambert’s wins for Entertainer and Music Video of the Year (for the Elle King collaboration “Drunk”) bring her total ACM trophy count to 37 and extend her lead as the world’s most decorated artist. history of the show.
While her big night might come as a surprise to some, it reflects a year that saw Lambert excel on the back of singles like “Drunk” and her acclaimed “Marfa Tapes” album collaboration with Jon Randall and Jack Ingram. .
And yes, it was a star moment for Louisiana native Lainey Wilson, who came onto the show’s carpet with a win for New Female Artist of the Year, and added a win for Song of the Year. year for “Things A Man Oughta Know”. ”
Carly Pearce has won honors for Female Artist of the Year, after winning the same category at the 2021 Country Music Association Awards. His strong duet “29: Written In Stone” “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” with Ashley McBryde won Music Event of the Year
Stars don’t sell; They click
Even outside of Morgan Wallen’s 3.4 billion Spotify streams in 2021 (which largely contributed to his Album of the Year win on Monday), streaming has had an impact on a number of featured artists. before by ACM.
The “Fancy Like” and “AA” singer Walker Hayes is perhaps the best representative of an artist who has benefited greatly from country music’s embrace of the radical cutting edge of the music industry’s fight against its evolution.
“Shoot, I wish I could say I did the TikTok thing on purpose, but I just did what my manager suggested,” said Hayes, who has been nominated for five awards.
On the back of viral acclaim and streaming superiority in 2022, he’s essentially carved his way into the high end of the country music industry. He’s not an unlikely country superstar, but perhaps the godfather of a wild new era where 15-second choreography mixes with catchy songwriting to define the industry’s highest level of success.
“At first I was reluctant, but now I’m a great defender,” he said. “If there’s a new place where you can bring anything you create directly to fans, try it, test it, and enjoy. Exploring any way to get music direct to fans is good.”
Say less, do more
Over the past couple of years, a lot of lyrics have been devoted to offering notes of reconciliation for issues surrounding gender, sex, and race issues in country music. On Monday night, two artists who have yet to win an ACM award – BRELAND, a 26-year-old African-American singer-songwriter born in New Jersey and Brittney Spencer, a plus-size African-American performer from Baltimore, Maryland – shone.
The former sang his new country gospel trap song “Praise The Lord” alongside three-time ACM Male Artist of the Year Thomas Rhett.
The latter joined the Osborne Brothers for a cover of Nancy Sinatra’s country staple “These Boots Were Made For Walkin'”, as the sibling tandem (along with recently identified gay sibling TJ Osborne) closed the event for the second year in a row.
Change is not easy. But, relying on country music’s ability to find any excuse to turn any moment into a party, the 57th ACM Awards put the genre – and its industry – in a wholesale embrace of evolution. undeniably fun.