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Tag: Kacey Musgraves (1-10 of 11)

The 10 Best Country Albums of 2013

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It’s tough to say what constitutes a country album these days. 2013 was a year that saw arena-filling acts feud over pop’s influence in the genre, Nashville stars record with Norwegian pop Svengalis, and a country-rap collaboration become the longest-running No. 1 country hit of all time. Ten gallon hats and Wrangler jeans now feel out of place in a sea of trucker caps and wallet chains.

Plus, the rise of Americana, a somewhat amorphous genre that’s not considered fully folk, fully rock, or fully pop — but one that shares so many roots (and so much instrumentation) with county music — has further blurred the lines. Much of what we call “Americana” or “singer-songwriter” today falls more into the classic “country” category in storytelling and song structure than the pop-infused output of Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, or certainly Taylor Swift.

In short, the genre is something of a mess right now. It’s telling that the country format is both more popular and more criticized than it has been in decades. I spent quite a bit of time this year writing about country’s problems (the aforementioned feuds, the lazy lyrics, the lack of women on the radio) but even so, I’m happy to report that there was great music to be found. A lot of it. Music that has me hopeful for 2014. Some mainstream albums broke the mold, and more than a few shining stars from Nashville’s fringes made a major impression.

So, taking all of that into account — and taking into account that we all might have different definitions of what constitutes a country album — here are my picks for the genre’s ten best discs this year. (Spoiler alert: Luke Bryan, Tyler Farr, Justin Moore, Jake Owen, and Thomas Rhett definitely didn’t make the cut.) READ FULL STORY

Meet Shane McAnally, the Nashville songwriter behind country's biggest hits

He’s written smashes for nearly everyone on country’s current A-list — Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban, Kelly Clarkson, The Band Perry — but Nashville powerhouse Shane McAnally’s rise to the top didn’t exactly follow the most direct route.

The native Texan, now 39, began as a recording artist himself, and only returned to Music City in late 2007 after an almost eight year break from the business. It took Chesney taking a chance on his “Somewhere With You,” which hit No. 1 on the country charts in 2008, to take him from songwriter non grata to one of the industry’s most in-demand scribes.

“All of a sudden, everything I had been writing mattered,” McAnally tells EW in a feature in this week’s print edition. “He sort of anointed me, not even knowing he did it.” READ FULL STORY

CMA Awards breakout Kacey Musgraves talks Taylor, Dolly, and singing about weed

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Blake Shelton may have won Album of the Year at this year’s CMA Awards, and George Strait may have taken home Entertainer of the Year honors. But who shot to No. 1 on the iTunes country albums chart (and No. 3 on the all-genre rankings) the next morning? That would be Kacey Musgraves, the 25-year-old Texas native who won Best New Artist and performed her much-discussed (and FCC-bleeped in the live broadcast, for its reference to smoking a joint) single “Follow Your Arrow.”

A few days before the CMAs, EW chatted with Musgraves, whose album Same Trailer Different Park won major acclaim earlier this year, about tying Taylor Swift, dying for Dolly Parton, and where she stands on the Luke Bryan/Zac Brown feud.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You tied Taylor Swift for the most nominations at the CMAs—six each. How did you get the news?
KACEY MUSGRAVES: I was woken up by a phone call from friends and my manager. And my roommate downstairs was screaming up at me. [Laughs]

Were you trying to stay asleep to distract yourself from your nerves?
No, I was just hungover. But it was a good reason to get out of bed, I’d say. READ FULL STORY

CMA Awards: Best and Worst of the Broadcast

The real winners were announced Wednesday night at the 47th Annual Country Music Association Awards. But here are a few more honors from the telecast you should feel free to weigh in on:

Best “Suck it, haters” Taylor Swift moment ever: So not only did George Strait, Keith Urban, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Brad Paisley, and Rascal Flatts — all people for whom Swift opened at the start of her career — come out onstage to present the 23-year-old with the Pinnacle Award, there was also a video including kind messages from Mick Jagger, Justin Timberlake, Carly Simon, Julia Roberts, and Ethel Kennedy, among others. Watch it below. It’s might have been the best acceptance speech of Swift’s career, as she paid respect to each of the artists onstage with her.  READ FULL STORY

How country music went crazy: A comprehensive timeline of the genre's identity crisis

Are you aware that Nashville is currently embroiled in an outright civil war?

The country music genre has gone through quite a transformation in the past couple years, adopting the electric guitar sounds of nearly-defunct rock radio, the rap-infused cadences and AutoTune normally reserved for hip hop, and, most controversially, the pop elements left behind as that genre gravitated toward electronic dance music. And attitudes have become ever more contentious between traditional and modern-country fans in 2013. Lately, the frustrations have reached a boiling point.

The straw that broke the camel’s back arrived two weeks ago, when Zac Brown called Luke Bryan’s No. 1 single “That’s My Kind of Night” the “worst song I’ve ever heard.” That remark caused Jason Aldean to hop on Instagram and tell Brown, “trust me when I tell u that nobody gives a shit what u think.” The country community quickly took sides in the debate, and the resulting feud has catapulted country music’s identity crisis straight into the spotlight.

These days, pop-country is more popular than ever — but also more despised than ever. Stars like Brown, Alan Jackson, Kacey Musgraves, and Gary Allan have begun publicly expressing unhappiness with their format, which this year has become an increasingly homogenous platform for men (a few weeks ago, Carrie Underwood was the only solo female in the Top 20) singing about trucks and beers and girls and then more trucks.

Tensions have been brewing all year long (and really, much longer than that) — and there’s been no shortage of public feuding among the genre’s A-list. As country fights to figure out what it should look and sound like, its biggest stars are airing some very honest (and sometimes harsh) opinions. Here’s a timeline of country’s wild, crazy, and sometimes mud-slinging year:

January 23: Blake Shelton calls classic country fans “old farts” and “jackasses”
While speaking in a GAC special, The Voice coach angered thousands of elderly country fans when he remarked, “Nobody wants to listen to their grandpa’s music. And I don’t care how many of these old farts around Nashville going, ‘My God, that ain’t country!’ Well that’s because you don’t buy records anymore, jackass. The kids do, and they don’t want to buy the music you were buying.” The comment caused a controversy that endured for weeks and helped spark this year’s debate about traditional-country vs. pop-country.
tumblr_lzra85ej5d1rp44uwo1_500_zpsfb76f65e READ FULL STORY

CMA nominations 2013: The snubs and surprises

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Now that the 47th Annual CMA award nominations have been announced, here are a few thoughts on who made the cut, who was sorely left out — and the things that just don’t make much sense:

SURPRISE! Kacey Musgraves The Nashville newcomer scored six nominations (five for her own music, one for co-writing Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart”), which tied pack-leader Taylor Swift. Musgraves may not have the sales power of Swift, but she clearly has the industry support. Not many Best New Artist nominees also find themselves competing for awards like Best Female Artist or Album of the Year, a category that her disc Same Trailer Different Park absolutely deserves to win.

SNUB: Carrie Underwood An acclaimed album, four number one singles, and a 110-date arena tour (not to mention her new Sunday Night Football duties) were not enough to finally earn the perennial CMA Awards host her first Entertainer of the Year nomination. Annoyingly, this snub has been going on for a while. Methinks there must be record label politics holding her back. How else do you explain Jason Aldean, whose recent singles have floundered, sneaking into the category ahead of her? READ FULL STORY

Luke Bryan on country music's woman problem: 'I do think it sucks, but I don't know what I can do'

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There’s no bigger country star right now than Luke Bryan.

The hatless, hip-shaking singer currently has the number one album in the country with Crash My Party, which sold a staggering 528,000 copies in its first week. (That gives him the third-highest debut sales week of the year, beat out only by Justin Timberlake and Jay Z). His previous disc, the compilation Spring Break…Here To Party, hit No. 1 earlier this year, too, and each of his last eight singles has reached the Top 5 on the country charts. In April, Bryan not only hosted the ACM Awards, he won the career-galvanizing Entertainer of the Year prize as well.

So why is everyone crashing Bryan’s party? Perhaps because his music typifies today’s predominant modern-country sound: a mesh of head-banging ’80s rock, late-’90s hip-hop, liberal doses of pop production, and thuddingly derivative lyrics about barnyards and breswkies — invariably delivered by men. You could say that Bryan (who, it should be noted, is an exciting, cheeky, genuinely fun performer) is merely riding the same wave that has lifted acts like Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, and “Cruise” duo Florida Georgia Line to the peak of country fame. READ FULL STORY

CMT Awards: Best and worst of the broadcast

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The real winners were announced last night at the 2013 CMT Music Awards, a fan-voted program that technically honors country-music videos. Still, here are a few more honors from the unremarkable telecast you should feel free to weigh in on:

Worst hosts: With dead eyes and a stiff posture, Jason Aldean left returnee Kristen Bell to once again try way too hard to elicit laughter from the crowd. Their ongoing gag about which duet to sing together (a thinly veiled attempt to get people to use the #CMTawards hashtag) was downright painful — and frequent teleprompter issues didn’t help. These two were no Brad and Carrie. They were no Blake and Reba, either. Heck, they were no Blake and Luke — and that’s saying something. READ FULL STORY

ACM Awards 2013: See the winners here!

Did Blake and Miranda maintain their reign as the king and queen of country? Did Taylor Swift take home a third Entertainer of the Year trophy? And did newly engaged Best New Artist nominees Jana Kramer and Brantley Gilbert beat out Florida Georgia Line? Check out all the country stars taking home trophies at tonight’s 48th Annual ACM Awards: READ FULL STORY

Justin Timberlake smashes expectations, sells 968,000 copies in first week, breaks iTunes record worldwide

Think how many suits and ties he can afford now.

Justin Timberlake’s comeback album, The 20/20 Experience, crushed industry projections, selling a mammoth 968,000 copies in its first week and easily topping the Billboard 200. In the last year, only one album has sold more units out of the gate: Taylor Swift’s Red, which scanned 1.2 million copies in its first seven days.

Timberlake scored the best sales week for a male artist since Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter III debuted to 1.01 million copies-sold in June 2008. And, as Billboard notes, Timberlake also earned third-biggest week for a solo male singer (aka: non-rapper), behind Usher’s Confessions, which debuted to 1.1 million in 2004, and Garth Brooks’ Double Live, which started at 1.09 million in 1998. READ FULL STORY

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