Home KSUX News Tony’s 2018 CMA Awards Recap

Tony’s 2018 CMA Awards Recap

The Night the country music industry tried to kill bro country.

The CMA broadcast started with another moment of silence to honor and pay respects for the lives lost at a country music event. This trend has become way too much of a tradition. I fear it won’t be the last. It was done in a very classy and respectful manner. Just like the last time.

Luke Bryan kicked off the show with a spirited rendition of “What Makes You Country”. I was beyond pleased to see Ashley McBride and Lindsay get some early screen time on stage.

“A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega” by McBride is one of my favorite non-radio hits on KSUX. We played it originally on Friday Night Spotlight and occasionally after that. It never caught fire on the charts or with requests – but, I wish it had. She is one of the most talented artists to not get the love from radio. Lindsay Ell is a guitar virtuoso and also largely off radio and the country music landscape. Of course, neither was given a solo spotlight, but it was great to see.

Jason Aldean seemed to be using a microphone you would buy for a child’s 5th birthday with a “Barney the Dinosaur” theme. His vocals were some of the worst I’ve heard on an awards show. And, I’ve seen them all. He was paired with Miranda Lambert who seemed much happier when sharing time with her Pistol Annies’ partners later in the show.

Shocker #1 – Luke Combs wins “New Artist” of the year. Of course, Chris Janson has been on the radar for close to a decade and is already in the Grand Ole Opry. New. Right.

I love me a marching band and Thomas Rhett did not disappoint. One Facebook pal said she was certain it was a “fake” band because several weren’t blowing their horn. Alas! A controversy! If I was in the band, I would so be fake playing.

What I dug about the show? No lip synchers….not even Garth. This time. Garth’s lovey dovey serenade to Trisha was sweet. It seemed for fitting for a re-commitment ceremony but I guess it’s always good to bank some brownie points on national tv.

I don’t get Midland. Are they mocking traditional country? Or endorsing it? I don’t get the feeling of “authentic” with them.

Shocker #2 – Saturday in the Park alum Kacey Musgraves wins album of the year on her 10th anniversary of moving to Nashville. She is the furthest artist away from bro country. I guess tonight it was meant to be….

Speaking of FGL. Their performance was soft, gentle and classically elegant with Bebe Rexha. Yup. I just wrote that.

Maybe the two best vocalists were not country. Bebe Rexha turned in a masterful performance like I’ve never heard before and 79 year old Mavis Staples. Can we get her to the Orpheum?

The Orpheum will be rockin’ with CMA Duo of the Year Brothers Osborne. Oh and the group of the year? Old Dominion. They were just here for Battery Park. Sioux City is the Music City of the Midwest. If only we could market that…that would be so much better than “Sioux City Sue” on a water tower.

I’m an American Idol apologist. I didn’t like the Idol pandering and taking away time from a Jake Owen, Blake Shelton, Jon Pardi, Maren Moris solo, Kip Moore, Justin Moore, Ashley McBryde solo, Kane Brown, Carly Pearce, Walker Hayes etc…

It was nice to see Ricky Skaggs get some attention. The crowd seemed to enjoy it. About as anti-bro as possible.

Chris Stapleton wins a slew of awards…again.

But…not Entertainer of the year. It was great to see Keith Urban get choked up with genuine emotion. He may be the classiest dude in country!

• There were many slow ballads in that first hour
• Brad and Carrie were funny as usual, maybe 15% too long
• Was that a see through skirt on that one presenter?
• I heard Kenny Chesney had a death in the family and cancelled
• Ryan Seacrest does not need more screen time
• No Chris Janson solo performance?

• Eric Church is the man!
• Carrie Underwood’s “Love Wins” was released at the perfect time
• “Burning Man” performance was on fire!
• Wish there were more “surprises”
• Keith Urban showed why he earns the big award
• Country music is great for procreation – lots of pregnancies!
• No political talk!

I don’t believe this will go down as one of the best CMA Awards shows of the last decade. I wish there was more sizzle and fun – especially in the first half of the showcase.

It seemed like the producers were trying to recapture the magic of past years and not focusing on the present and future.

The presentation seemed prodding, pandering and praising the past.

Overall grade C +


Sure, I’ll live in the past too….


Tony Michaels

KSUX Program Director / Sioux City, IA