A Case for More Awards Shows (Really)
How well do you know your awards show alphabet? There's the ACMs and CMAs. We used to celebrate the ACAs, but now we embrace the ACCAs instead. The VMAs, BMAs, PCAs, CMTs, STDs … Okay, we made that last one up, but come 2016, who knows?
The Grammys are generally considered to be the Holy Grail of music awards, but let’s be honest: they’re all just hunks of metal and glass. Quick! Who won the Grammy for Country Solo Performance in 2014? Who won Best Country Album in 2014?
Think of awards shows like you do cliques in high school: Each one serves a specific group of people.
Who won this year? Don't worry if you had to think about it. It’s not important.
Oh sure, we pretend it is. For artists it actually is important. Being recognized for your hard work and creativity always feels good, and awards encourage artists to keep being artists. But the lack of artists turning out to accept their awards unless they'll be on television underlines what’s more important: to be seen and heard.
Is winning a Billboard Music Award any less prestigious than winning a Grammy? Not if you're Luke Bryan. He scored two BMAs in 2014, but the CMAs reigning Entertainer of the Year has never been nominated for a Grammy. Honestly, it’s difficult to imagine him being recognized with a nod -- mainstream country appeal seems to work against an artist come Grammy season, unless you’re Carrie Underwood (seven wins to date). Kenny Chesney has never won a Grammy. Neither has Toby Keith.
Alison Krauss has 27.
Think of awards shows like you do cliques in high school: Each one serves a specific group of people. There are jocks, band kids, gear heads, computer nerds, potheads, debate club students, cheerleaders and artists. The growing arrangement of awards shows also gives a boost to a specific set of musicians:
Grammy Awards: The artist. The introverted musician who’d rather stay home and drink red wine out of a bowler hat than grab the country’s largest stage (Did you see Sia's performance on Sunday?). Yet somehow, they always manage to do it anyway.
CMAs: The populist. The counry singer that covers every magazine and tops every country chart. Winners are usually good looking and always easy to relate to.
ACMs: Similar to the CMAs, but … actually it’s pretty much the same thing, but occasionally there is a fan-voted element.
ACCAs: Like its late sister the ACAs, the inaugural American Country Countdown Awards featured lesser known artists like Randy Houser. There’s one key difference. While the ACAs usually honored anyone willing to fly out to Las Vegas in early December, the ACCAs use some sort of system based on Kix Brooks’ ‘American Country Countdown’ radio program. However, it’s not completely transparent. Reba McEntire won the Nash Icon Award -- fitting since she was the only Nash Icon artist at the time.
People’s Choice Awards: Typically country artists with mainstream appeal find themselves nominated and performing here — think Lady Antebellum and Hunter Hayes. In future years, look for Sam Hunt at the PCAs.
Billboard Music Awards: Really the BMAs are just an excuse to throw a pretty great concert. Since all the winners are based on Billboard chart data, there is absolutely zero suspense. This is the closest thing to a “fan-voted” show you’ll find.
We could go on. The CMTs honor the year’s best videos. The VMAs honor anything but country music. The Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards honor songs you're sick of. Everybody plays and — if you hang around long enough — everybody wins something. And why shouldn't everyone win something?
This is a good thing. Viewers and fans of music get show after show of big-name performers playing their hits in front of elaborate sets while wearing jaw-dropping costumes. During the lead-up and post-show coverage, the stars hold center court with media, meaning we learn things like Brantley Gilbert’s engagement story or Kacey Musgrave’s dirty CMAs secret. When different outlets are granted access, some fun things can happen, like this:
In addition, we find songs and artists we’d never heard of, or find new reasons to hate on artists we decided we hated as soon as they introduced themselves. Haters love to hate. It’s a win-win-win.
The main argument presented when complaining about the glut of awards shows is that the importance is diluted. This is a simple matter of economics and without a doubt true. If there was just one country awards show each year, the elusive Entertainer of the Year award would be more valuable. It’s supply and demand.
But who cares?
Each of these honors are inventions of man. We hold them high because we’ve always held them high. As fans we receive no benefit when our favorite artist wins a trophy, guitar, surfboard or belt buckle, aside from some reassurance that our favorite guy or girl really is as good as we think. What we do get is three (usually) entertaining (sometimes) hours of television and an occasional moment to remember for a lifetime. Those moments come during performances. It’s Miranda Lambert singing ‘Over You.’ It’s Bryan singing ‘Drink a Beer.’ It’s Alan Jackson debuting ‘Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning).’
Why wouldn’t we want more of that? It’s like fat-free ice cream that actually tastes good or a whiskey river that gives you a buzz without leaving you drooling on your best friend's sister. Sip it up and forget about it in a few days time.
See Country's Top 5 Grammy Moments