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American Country Awards: Is This The Year They ‘Figured It Out’?

Our Country

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Chenoweth and Adkins (Photo: Mark Davis)

The question on everyone's mind--well, at least those who have watched the program in its past two years--would 2012 be the year that the American Country Awards finally seals its credibility in the awards show game?

Well...yes and no.

Thinking positively, the show at this point has hung in for three seasons and draws what seems to be an enthusiastic voting poll (the awards are wholly fan-voted). It continues to showcase newer talent--Jason Aldean, who was pushed this year into bona fide household-name territory, swept the ACAs last year. The same thing may happen to Luke Bryan who dominated this year's winners list by scooping up everything he was nominated for.

The performances are impressive. Despite the fact that many of the busier artists don't bother to show up (and, oddly, those ones never seem to win, although they include fan-adored names such as Taylor Swift and Blake Shelton), the A-list turnout is respectable. And, hey, the trophies are the coolest in the industry: Each winner gets a real guitar.

On the negative side: The ACAs just simply still need more work on their program overall. They seem to keep rehashing the same problems each year without improvement.

As in past years, the timing was unevenly paced--and particularly awkward this year, when Bryan was seemingly handed every award at once, all in the last 10 minutes of the show.

Additionally, hosts Trace Adkins and Kristin Chenoweth are both very popular stars on their own, but together their chemistry remains diminished and has not improved with practice. The jokes and banter are well-meaning but still have not found a groove even close to, say, the CMA Awards' Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood.

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Chenoweth does Honey Boo Boo (Photo: Mark Davis)

Case in point: Last year, the pair played off the differences in their height. This year...they played off the differences in their height. Okay, okay, so we get that the "play off the same old joke" is itself meant to be a joke, but it's not as winsome as it might be. During the telecast, Adkins broke a dainty pink chair that was supposed to be Chenoweth's; Chenoweth herself playacted as child star Honey Boo Boo (complete with "go-go juice"); the two battled over who should dress up as Santa and who should be the elf--of course 6'6" Adkins ended up being the elf. (And, please, ACAs, give up the "Cart Kristin in some sort of a baby carrier" skit. Please.)

To be totally fair, there were several inspired moments throughout the show, including Penn & Teller's funny skit "magically" announcing Miranda Lambert's Female Artist Single of the Year win, Lauren Alaina receiving her New Artist of the Year award from fellow American Idol alum Scotty McCreery, Adkins performing a rollicking "What's Your Name" with Lynyrd Skynyrd...and yes, the stupid baby carrier joke even took on a sweet note when Adkins tossed it to newly expectant mom Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum.

There's hope and a lot of love in this program, even if it's not quite there yet. We'll continue to be optimistic and be looking foward to 2013; yet one more year for it to find its true path.

Here's the list of 2012 ACA winners:

Artist of the Year:
Luke Bryan

Artist of the Year: Male
Luke Bryan

Artist of the Year: Female
Carrie Underwood

Artist of the Year: Group
Lady Antebellum

Artist of the Year: Breakthrough Artist
Jake Owen

Artist of the Year: New Artist
Lauren Alaina

Album of the Year
Luke Bryan, Tailgates And Tanlines

Single of the Year
Luke Bryan, "I Don't Want This Night to End"

Single of the Year: Male
Luke Bryan, "I Don't Want This Night to End"

Single of the Year: Female
Miranda Lambert, "Over You"

Single of the Year: Group
Lady Antebellum, "We Owned the Night"

Single of the Year: Vocal Collaboration
Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood, "Remind Me"

Single of the Year: New Artist
Hunter Hayes, "Wanted"

Single of the Year: Breakthrough Artist
Brantley Gilbert, "You Don't Know Her Like I Do"

Music Video of the Year
Luke Bryan, "I Don't Want This Night to End"

Music Video of the Year: Male
Luke Bryan, "I Don't Want This Night to End"

Music Video of the Year: Female
Miranda Lambert, "Over You"

Music Video of the Year: Group or Collaboration
Little Big Town, "Pontoon"

Music Video of the Year: New Artist
Hunter Hayes, "Wanted"

Touring Artist of the Year
Jason Aldean

Related:

The night's big winner, Luke Bryan, on Yahoo! Music

ACAs red carpet looks

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