There’s a new ailment that’s terrifying the country music world – PPTSD, or “Post-Partum Taylor Swift Depression.”
That was the cheeky diagnosis from Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood onstage at the 2014 Country Music Assn. Awards. Swift, whose full-throated move to pop music excluded her from many of the major categories, was a major absence at this year’s ceremony, where she had long ruled as commercial and critical juggernaut.
But Swift’s exit from country music (and high-profile move to New York City) freed up room for other acts to take home top prizes.
Miranda Lambert won two early prizes: single of the year for “Automatic” and album of the year for “Platinum.” The album was openly inspired by some of her struggles with celebrity, in the wake of her high-profile relationship with fellow country star Blake Shelton.
Kacey Musgraves’ album “Same Trailer, Different Park” unexpectedly beat Swift’s “Red” at this year’s Grammys for country album. Musgraves’ single “Follow Your Arrow” won the CMA for song of the year, which she co-wrote with Shane McAnally and new artist nominee Brandy Clark. (Both are gay, a rarity in the often conservative world of country hit making).
Other notable awards went to singer-songwriter Brett Eldredge, named new artist of the year on the strength of his 2013 LP “Bring You Back.” The pop-country crossover group Florida Georgia Line won for vocal duo of the year, its second year in a row to win that title. Little Big Town won for vocal group of the year.
In the wake of Swift’s mainstream success, the night’s early performances emphasized both traditional county music virtues and the ever-blurring lines between its artists and pop music. The quartet Little Big Town performed a duet with R&B singer Ariana Grande, which eventually segued into Grande’s single with the British pop singer Jessie J, “Bang Bang.” But for Musgraves’ performance, she brought out the legend Loretta Lynn for a verse of Lynn’s “You’re Looking at Country.”
Similarly, the rock-leaning the Band Perry played a by-the-books cover of Glen Campbell’s "Gentle on My Mind," but it was preceded in the telecast by Lambert and pop singer Meghan Trainor teaming up for a banjo-inflected take on her pop sensation “All About That Bass” (which host Paisley jokingly suggested that she amend to be fishing-themed).
“Anybody who tuned in tonight expecting to see ABC’s hit sitcom ‘Black-ish,’ this ain’t it,” Paisley cracked. But more than ever, the CMAs are reflecting the fact that country music is looking more like the rest of America each year.
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