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Score One For Gloriana–And A Big One For Country Music

Our Country

Guess what: This blog entry is about last night's American Music Awards. But it isn't going to be about Taylor Swift. At least--not primarily. (You all can sit down and wipe your brows in amazement. Right?)

Okay, so Swift sewed up 2009 neatly with her cherry-on-the-sundae scoop of five AMAs, including the top honor of Artist of the Year--beating out the late, legendary Michael Jackson--and two cross-genre wins (female pop/rock artist and adult contemporary artist).

But at this point, I'm not shocked or surprised.

This blog entry also is not going to be about Carrie Underwood's penchant of late for appearing in shorty-shorts (unkindly called a "diaper" by a few news reports).

Nor about Keith Urban's rather sweet reference to Nicole Kidman--not Sunday Rose--as his "baby girl." Nor about Rascal Flatts getting the country group award after a notable and probably stinging upset by Lady Antebellum at the CMAs a couple weeks ago.

Although all these things are interesting, one thing truly stood out to me. And that was Gloriana winning Breakthrough Artist of the Year.

This particular win signifies a lot of things to me, most notably the idea I've been tossing around all year about the rapidly increasing weight of country music overall in the entertainment world.

Taylor Swift, while always a country girl in our hearts, has crossed so firmly into the pop terrain that her recent top-honor win at the CMAs was more startling than her AMA sweep. Gloriana (who opened for Swift on her Fearless tour) is not quite anything but country at this point.

The AMAs are, of course, voted on by the public, as well as airplay and sales figures. So, a country band--and a genuinely new band--won the hearts of new-music seekers out there.

Not a bad job at all, Gloriana.

What makes it even more amazing is the fact that Gloriana won the award over Lady Gaga--I can list all of Ms. Gaga's accolades, awards, and numbers, but it's simplest to just say that she is a household name. My 69-year-old mother and 2-year-old daughter both know who she is. You can't open up a gossip rag these days without seeing a photo of her.

However, Gloriana, without aid of feather headdresses, plastic-bubble dresses, or burning pianos--just a quartet of good-looking kids and some catchy music--took the breakthrough honor.

I can't tell you how much this heartens me overall. Nothing against Lady Gaga, who is a fine entertainer in her own right. But one of the things I've always liked best about country music is its pure musicality. Sure, there's plenty of rhinestones and highlights and leather--and, well, Carrie Underwood in dinky hot pants. But at the root of it all, country is a genre about the music, not necessarily the staging.

Are we going back to the roots of loving music for being, well, just music?

The continuing strength of country just keeps proving his over and over again, especially in 2009.

Viva NashVegas, indeed. And a hearty congrats to Gloriana.

Let me know what you think.

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