The American Country Awards, in its second season this year, had a lot going for its 2011 show--top-notch star performances, a nominees list that's off the beaten path from the pack of already established country awards shows, and a pair of winsome and attractive hosts.
But--it had pretty much the same things in its favor last year. And, sorry to say, like its debut year which garnered uneven reviews, the show fell flat yet again in its sophomore effort.
That's not to say the ACAs--an entirely fan-voted awards show--didn't have some inspired moments. Standing out like a shining jewel was a performance by Miranda Lambert's "other" project, the all-female trio the Pistol Annies. Even American Idol supreme Kelly Clarkson deemed to tweet regarding them, "I think there should be an honorary Annie night where we all get to sing together."
Jason Aldean was the big winner at the 2011 ACAsHowever, in a two-hour ceremony that included such highlights as yet another American Idol (Scotty McCreery, who won his first-ever award for New Artist of the Year), the generally overlooked Toby Keith (who was named Artist of the Decade), new and exciting faces such as Thompson Square and Chris Young, and lots and LOTS of Carrie Underwood--hey, another American Idol!--the fact that the Annies stood out so sharply isn't a positive factor overall.
Probably the biggest weakness of the evening should be attributed to hosts Trace Adkins and Kristin Chenoweth. Both artists are extremely likable and charismatic personalities in their own rights. Put together--and forced to riff off the differences in their respective sizes over and over again (Chenoweth is very short; Adkins is very tall)--the result was, well, not that funny.
That's not to say both didn't try: Chenoweth gamely overstuffed the back of her jeans to perform a rendition of Adkins's hit "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk" and allowed Adkins to cart her around in a baby carrier.
For his own part, Adkins endured being tackled by wrestling pro Big Show.
But, let's just face it, the pair didn't come close to the chemistry Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood have displayed for several years running hosting the Country Music Association Awards, nor the casual charm Reba McEntire has employed heading up the Academy of Country Music Awards.
As the show established last year, the focus was on newer and/or hotter talent. Currently white-hot commodity Jason Aldean carried the night with 6 awards, including Artist and Album of the year. Underwood followed him with 3 trophies (she was the big winner last year). Thompson Square also won 3, while Chris Young trailed right behind with 2.
Overall, an interesting night in many ways--but it's safe to say that most of us will be waiting patiently for the ACAs' third year to see if matters finally gel in a way that produces a show that can compete with the already established biggies.
Click here for a red-carpet gallery of ACAs fashion.
What did you think of the ACAs? Be sure to let me know your thoughts.