So, the CMA Awards nominees were announced this week--as I duly noted, with VivaNashVegas's hot picks to win. When I first scanned the list, I thought, "This is a pretty refreshing year." Lots of new and seriously talented names on the roster, an African American artist nominated in multiple categories (it's been a while, folks), and the youngest contender in history (who also happens to be female) taking on the boys in the Entertainer Of The Year category.
Yup, can't beat 2009 for CMA excitement. Not a bad year at all.
However--one thing's been bugging me. The Raconteurs' nomination in Musical Event Of The Year category.
I've written before about being mystified at Jack White's consistent success in the Country community. Please, don't misunderstand. I like Jack White. I just...don't get it. I've wracked my brain trying to figure out what the elusive element is--it's certainly not easily apparent, as White is about as non-Heartland as you can get without actually not being an American.
The only thing I could come up with is the guy has pure talent, but any fan of country music knows there's no shortage of pure talent in Nashville. They hand it out free on the streets out there.
And, the Raconteurs as a unit are not the first band one would think of in terms of a country audience, cool bluegrass one-offs with Ricky Skaggs notwithstanding. Just a look at the other contenders in the Musical Event category solidifies the oddness. Carrie, Kenny, Brooks & Dunn, etc.
So, I began to wonder: Do country fans themselves actually LIKE the Raconteurs (or Jack White, or whatever)? Not country artists; not the arbiters that be at the Country Music Association.
Real fans--the ones who drive miles to Fan Fair each year, and hang out breathlessly at casino elevators during the ACM awards week in Vegas trying to capture a photo of their favorite star (I inadvertently got snapped one year when coming down to the lobby to attend a label afterparty--"Damn!" said the fan, when she realized I was blond and dressed up, but unfortunately weren't nobody).
I went to Twitter to check the temperature. Did a search for "Raconteurs CMA"; went back a day or two's worth of tweets, and found a lot of people merely posting a link to the news that they'd scored the CMA nod.
But very little actual opinion on the matter.
I did find among the various tweets the following commentary:
"Filed under--Huh ?...Jack White and the Raconteurs Nominated For CMA Award"
"WOW! Go on wit your badself Jack White!"
"Not fan of country. Dig Ricky Scaggs/Bluegrass. Jack White=cool so downloaded Old Enough w/Scaggs."
"Loving that Jack White has been nominated for a CMA award. Cementing his genius as a musician in every genre."
"Sweet, Better win!"
Convincing either way? I dunno. My temperature is still hovering at--this is a strange nomination and not really reflective of a true country audience's taste.
For what it's worth, I did not have the same nagging feeling about last year's similar rock/bluegrass nomination (and subsequent win) in the Musical Event category--Alison Krauss and Robert Plant's "Gone, Gone, Gone (Done Moved On)."
Why? Well, it's not really fair an explanation, I suppose--but somehow, I can easily see the heartlandiest of country fans jamming to a Led Zep (or any basic classic rock 101) tune far easier than I can imagine the same scenario substituting the Raconteurs. And, of course, Alison Krauss is beyond critical reproach. (Is it cool that the spunky, talented and super-young Ashley Monroe is now in this same category in roughly the same role? That I will not argue.)
I never said I was fair or rational. Just going on instinct. And, well, I'm a party pooper in terms of going for the new and cutting-edge--at least in this CMA awards category--so I'm rooting for B&D and Reba to take the win this year.
So, I'd like to hear from some real country fans. What do you think of the Raconteurs' CMA nomination? Here's your chance to agree, or tell me off.
Here's the video for "Old Enough" featuring Ricky Skaggs and Ashley Monroe, if you need a refresher.
As always, be sure to: