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CMA Awards: Best and worst of the broadcast

The real winners were announced last night at the 46th Annual Country Music Association Awards. But here are a few more honors from the telecast you should feel free to weigh in on:

Best Hosts: There really aren’t enough superlatives to describe the effervescent duo of Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood — they’re simply the best. If you were to look through the last five years of Oscar/Grammy/Tony/Emmy telecasts, you’d be hard pressed to find one joke that could compete with Paisleywood’s opening monologue. Their goofy (and increasingly saucy) hosting style always brings the laughs, and they keep the show moving briskly. On top of that, they both performed their own singles, delivered heartfelt tributes to Andy Griffith and Connie Smith, and demonstrated impressive “Gangnam Style” technique. Do better than that, Seth MacFarlane.

Best performance: I’m a sucker for the CMA Awards’ tribute performances (I still get a little teary thinking about last year’s Glen Campbell effort), and this year’s Willie Nelson-centered medley was no exception. Charles Kelly and Hillary Scott (of Lady Antebellum) sounded terrific on “Always on My Mind,” as did Blake Shelton and Keith Urban on “Whiskey River” and Faith Hill and Tim McGraw on “Good Hearted Woman.” The whole thing felt so warm that when Nelson himself took the stage and sang “The life I love is making music with my friends,” (from “On the Road Again”), you really believed it was happening in that moment. Watch below. READ FULL STORY

Who should win at the CMA Awards? -- POLLS

Tonight is country music’s biggest night. The 46th annual Country Music Association Awards will air at 8:00 p.m. on ABC, and it’s already shaping up to be a great show.

Why? Well, because the CMA Awards are always a great show. In an overcrowded field of country awards (ACAs, I still haven’t warmed up to you), the CMA Awards remain the most prestigious — and most entertaining — of the bunch.

Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, who have become quite the formidable comic duo, are returning for a fifth year as hosts (check out their interview about the show here), and performances from stars like Kelly Clarkson and The Band Perry, both of whom will perform new singles, as well as Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean will keep the night rocking.

But at the center of the awards are still, believe it or not, the actual awards! We’ve already given you our thoughts on all the nominations (as well as all the snubs and surprises), but now let’s handicap who might win in the major categories. READ FULL STORY

Jason Aldean, Kelly Clarkson and more to perform at CMA Awards

ABC has announced the first crop of performers for the 46th Annual CMA Awards and it’s shaping up to be a powerhouse show.

Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Kelly Clarkson, and Little Big Town will all take the stage on Nov. 1. Aldean currently holds the title for CMA Album of the Year and shared the prize for Musical Event of the Year with Clarkson for their duet “Don’t You Want to Stay.” Meanwhile, Clarkson has received a nomination for Female Vocalist of the Year, though she faces some tough competition from Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride, Taylor Swift, and Carrie Underwood. Bentley is up for three awards — Album of the Year, Single of the Year and Song of the Year — while Little Big Town has also received a trio of nods for Single of the Year, Vocal Group of the Year and Music Video of the Year.

Tickets for the CMA Awards will go on sale on Sept. 29 at 10 a.m. CT. You can purchase them here.

Read more:
Jason Aldean debuts title track of new album ‘Night Train’ live (and it’s awesome) — VIDEO
CMA Awards 2012: Snubs and surprises
CMA Awards: Eric Church leads noms (and Snoop Dogg’s in the house!)

CMA Awards 2012: Snubs and surprises

The 46th Annual CMA award nominations were announced yesterday. Here are a few thoughts on who made the cut — and who was sorely left out:

SURPRISE! Kelly Clarkson: I don’t know that anyone in the country community dislikes Kelly Clarkson. Heck, I don’t know if anyone in any community dislikes Kelly Clarkson. But it rings rather false that she scored a Female Vocalist of the Year nomination. Though the original American Idol did have a country remix of her single “Mr. Know It All” out to radio last year, and though she did appear on Jason Aldean’s “Don’t You Wanna Stay,” two songs does not a country singer make — even if she is dating Reba McEntire’s stepson. Should Lady Gaga have gotten a nomination after putting out a country remix of “Born This Way”? READ FULL STORY

CMA Awards: Eric Church leads noms (and Snoop Dogg's in the house!)

Nominations for the 46th Annual CMA Awards (airing live on Nov. 1 on ABC) were announced this morning on Good Morning America. Eric Church led the way with five nods, including Male Vocalist and Album of the Year, along with Song, Single, and Video of the Year for his hit “Springsteen.” (Not a country music fan? Give that one listen and get back to us.)

Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert scored four noms a piece while Taylor Swift, who earned three noms, was the lone female to make the Entertainer of the Year category. Kelly Clarkson’s nom for Female Vocalist of the Year is slightly less of a surprise than Snoop Dogg popping up in Musical Event of the Year (listen to Willie Nelson’s “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” featuring Snoop, Kris Kristofferson, and Jamey Johnson). The full nominees list: READ FULL STORY

John Mayer, Dierks Bentley to play Levon Helm benefit concert

John Mayer, Gregg Allman, Dierks Bentley and several other musicians are getting together to pay tribute to the late Levon Helm.

The “Love for Levon” benefit concert will be held Oct. 3 at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J. It will include performances from such artists as My Morning Jacket, Ray LaMontagne, Eric Church, Patty Griffin, Bruce Hornsby, Mavis Staples, and Joe Walsh. READ FULL STORY

Album sales: Adele gets a big Grammy boost, Whitney Houston's 'Greatest Hits' returns at No. 6

Thanks to an endless amount of Grammy buzz leading up Sunday night’s big award show, Adele’s smash album 21 topped the Billboard 200 once again this week, selling 237,000 copies.

That figure marks a 95 percent increase over last week — almost entirely as a result of buzz, not necessarily her six Grammy wins. (Soundscan tracks album sales through Sunday night, so the real effect of the Grammy boost will be seen next week.) All told, 21 has topped the chart for 20 weeks (coincidentally, the same amount of time that The Bodyguard soundtrack did) and has sold over 6.6 million copies. The set should blaze right past the 7 million mark over the next few days.

Van Halen’s A Different Kind of Truth started off in second place with 187,000 copies, just a touch behind the band’s last record 1998’s Van Halen III which started its run with 191,000 units. Now 41 debuted one slot lower, moving 141,000 discs — a consistent result for the veteran franchise.

In fourth, the Fray’s Scars and Stories sold 87,000 copies, less than half of what the band’s last album achieved in its first week. Their 2009 self-titled collection moved 179,000 in its first week, though that album’s lead single “You Found Me” caught on with listeners much more than Scars‘ first single “Heartbeat” has. Paul McCartney’s latest album Kisses on the Bottom opened in fifth place with 74,000.

Following her tragic death on Saturday night, Whitney Houston reentered the Top 10 at No. 6 with Whitney: The Greatest Hits, which sold 64,000 units, an increase of 5,994 percent. Consumers took to digital retailers to revisit Houston’s catalog.  Collectively, her albums sold 101,000 total copies — 91,000 of which were digital. Again, though, since Soundscan only counts sales through Sunday, Houston will likely receive a much bigger bump next week.

Dierks Bentley debuted in seventh place with his new album Home, which sold 55,000 units this week, a better result than his bluegrass effort Up on the Ridge, which moved 39,000 copies in its first frame.

The Civil Wars also received a notable Grammy bump. Their debut disc Barton Hollow jumped from No. 121 to No. 41 after their buzzy minute-long performance on Sunday night. It will be interesting to see how high they climb on next week’s chart.

Check out the full Top 10 below: READ FULL STORY

Dierks Bentley talks new album 'Home' (and other country tunes you should be buying today)

Today, Dierks Bentley releases his sixth studio album, Home, which has already spawned a No. 1 hit, the rowdy drinking song “Am I the Only One,” and an ACM Song of the Year nomination for its title track, a healing anthem Bentley cowrote days after Gabrielle Giffords was shot in his home state, Arizona.

That’s representative of the range you’ll find on the record. “It’s kinda weird,” he tells EW, “but we had the album cover blown up and put on the wall and we would look at that like, Do these songs fit that guy? Because when we’re in the studio, you’re doing different things, your head’s down. You’re like, ‘This song sounds cool,’ and then a year later, you’re like, ‘That song sucks,'” he laughs.

“There’s definitely a small town country vibe to it. There’s a little bit of fun. Sometimes the most important thing about country music is not taking yourself too seriously. You can have moments when you put out a heavy song, but it’s good to have songs that remind you you’re an artist but you’re also an entertainer.”

He continues: “There was a time when I had a lot of leavin’ left to do. Now, I do have kids. I feel like it’s okay to make a record and be honest about that. That’s a big deal in my life right now.” READ FULL STORY

Dierks Bentley's 'Tip It On Back': Hear the new song from his CD 'Home' here! -- EXCLUSIVE

Dierks-Bentley

Dierks Bentley has never met a drink he didn’t like, and on his new song “Tip It On Back,” which you can stream exclusively here at the Music Mix, he wants you to join him.

The track, which comes from his upcoming CD Home (out Feb. 7), trades in the raucous humor found in Home‘s chart-topping drinking ode “Am I the Only One,” and functions more as an evening pick-me-up after a long, tough week.

(According to EW’s Mandi Bierly, Dierks makes a perfect seasonal anti-depressant all by himself, but a few adult beverages don’t hurt either.) “Tip it on back, make it feel good,” he encourages his fellow imbibing bar hounds.

Give the work-reprieve a listen below, and then crack open a beer and kick back. (It’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right? Maybe Australia?) READ FULL STORY

White House celebrates country music with PBS special -- featuring the Band Perry, Dierks Bentley, James Taylor and more

In Performance at the White House, a concert series created by Michelle Obama, turns its ear to country music in a new PBS special premiering Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET (check local listings).

Artists gathered in the East Room of the White House Monday to tape the intimate show, with the President and First Lady sitting in the front row. According to USA Today, the president explained that traveling the country, he’s gained an appreciation for how much country music and its storytelling mean to so many Americans (and also told the audience “Hootie’s in the house!” referring to Darius Rucker, who was among the performers).

Dierks Bentley opened the evening with his inspirational hit “Home,” a song he was inspired to write after Gabrielle Giffords’ shooting in his native Arizona. Bentley also performed “Always on My Mind” with American Idol runner-up Lauren Alaina and “Me and Bobby McGee” with Kris Kristofferson and the rest of the cast, which included Allison Krauss, James Taylor, The Band Perry, and Lyle Lovett.

Find the full setlist below:

READ FULL STORY

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