CMA Awards 2015: 9 Things You Didn’t See on TV

6 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

10 Things to Know About CMA King Chris Stapleton.

The most-watched program on TV Wednesday night was ABC’s 2015 CMA Awards broadcast, with 13.6 million viewers. Chris Stapleton had three big wins at Wednesday night’s CMA Awards, taking home the trophies for album of the year, male vocalist of the year, and new artist of the year.That’s one takeaway from watching Chris Stapleton, a Grammy-nominated bluegrass musician mostly unknown outside of Nashville circles, win trophy after trophy at the Country Music Association Awards on Wednesday.

And while a couple million of those people might’ve been cringing at a Brad Paisley joke or two, the sold-out crowd at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena was in stitches. The most impressive of these victories was actually in the new artist category, where he beat out several young stars who will help shape country’s future: Sam Hunt, Kelsea Ballerini and Maddie & Tae.

Our in-house reporters bring you those “guess you had to be there” tidbits from the show, while our backstage crew captures water cooler moments from behind the scenes. 2015 may not bring everything that Back to the Future II promised it would: flying cars, self-lacing shoes, we don’t see ’em happening over the next 12 months. (Then again, don’t bet against Nike.) But this year will definitely pack plenty of punch when it comes to cultural happenings. Stapleton and Timberlake have been friends for years — in fact, the prodigiously bearded blues man began gaining mainstream attention for his solo work last year after Timberlake shared some social media love for the singer. And the number of major prizes given to Stapleton — who gets a fraction of attention compared to the vast majority of the other leading nominees– looked like a plea from the industry to the outside world: We want our credibility back.

Mad Max will roar back out of the apocalypse while Mad Men rides off into the sunset, rock’s Antichrist Superstar and hip-hop’s Yeezus will rise again. Kentucky has also produced several impressive Nashville songwriters in addition to Stapleton, including Lee Thomas Miller — who helped Stapleton write the devastating “Whiskey snd You” — and Ashley Gorley. Stapleton was the thread connecting most of the artists at the CMAs: As a songwriter in Nashville for more than a decade, his tracks have been cut by nearly every singer in Nashville. That’s notable for two reasons: First, 37-year-old Stapleton has been working in the music industry for the last 15 years — hardly what you would call new.

He wrote, “About last night… I’ve been friends with @castapleton and his lovely wife Morgane for a couple of years now, but sometimes you meet people and feel like you’ve known them your whole life. Three of Stapleton’s four competitors in the male vocalist category — Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton and Dierks Bentley — have recorded Stapleton tunes.

We still haven’t gotten over how good Justin sounded with some country flair (even Miranda Lambert is still recovering), so we think the next logical step is for Justin Timberlake to put out a country album. Second, Stapleton beat out the quickly-ascending Sam Hunt, who was widely expected to win as the genre’s latest contender for a pop-crossover sensation. One of the most popular writers to emerge from the U.K. in the Nineties, the author exploded onto the literary scene with tales of overgrown boys whose passions metastasize into lifestyles and prevent them from being functional adults. (You get the sense that Judd Apatow has read ever word Hornby has ever written and taken copious notes.) Fever Pitch (1992) is a winsome, wince-inducing memoir about how the author’s obsessive fandom for the Arsenal football club; his first novel, High Fidelity (1995) follows a record-store owner whose greatest romance will always be with his vinyl.

Stapleton does not exist on the margins of country music: Bryan’s “Drink a Beer,” Darius Rucker’s “Come Back Song,” Kenny Chesney’s “Never Wanted Nothing More” and Josh Turner’s “Your Man” all went to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs and Country Airplay charts. Choosing Stapleton over Hunt seemed deliberate, especially as co-host Brad Paisley took a few jabs at the 30-year-old Hunt during the opening monologue for his rap-tinged, lyrical talk-singing in songs such as “Take Your Time” and “Break Up in a Small Town.” (Paisley turned it into a verb called “Sam Hunting.”) Hunt is a symbol of country music’s latest identity crisis, marked by the wave of “bro-country” that music critic Jody Rosen coined as “music by and of the tatted, gym-toned, party-hearty young American white dude.” Stapleton couldn’t be more different from these singers who have taken over the country charts, from the bluegrass vibe to his low-key personality on stage to his long beard and cowboy hat. Stapleton’s most recent No. 1 composition is Thomas Rhett’s “Crash and Burn,” which reached the top spot on Country Airplay at the end of September.

But as the bro-country trend grows tired and listeners yearn for something more than party songs about drinking beer on the back of truck tailgates, there’s been a wider, mainstream push to appeal to country purists. And with Brooklyn, the stirring new film he’s adapted from the Colm Tóibín novel of the same name, the bashful king of lad-lit flips the script on the story that he’s been writing his entire life. The story of a wide-eyed Irish girl named Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan) who sails to America in the 1950s and finds herself in the middle of a love triangle, it’s a moving, old-fashioned story that offsets the emotional heft of a lush historical drama with the watchability of a popcorn movie. These records provide the template for Traveller, rifling through classic American song forms — country, folk, bluegrass, soul, blues — with raspy ease and liquor-fueled enthusiasm. The iHeartMusic “On the Verge” program, which uses its massive radio reach to boost debut singers, recently pushed out newcomer Cam’s bare-bones ballad “Burning House.” Last year, Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Label Group launched its Nash Icons imprint, signing veteran artists such as Reba, Hank Williams Jr. and Ronnie Dunn, so they can continue their traditional style of music.

On the eve of his Brooklyn’s release, the novelist, screenwriter, and former music critic rang up Rolling Stone for an in-depth conversation about his evolution as a writer, the genius of Taylor Swift, and if he’s ever going to rethink the Radiohead review that sullied his reputation among the obsessive music fans that High Fidelity chronicled. As for Stapleton, it helped that not only did he sweep the album, new artist and male vocalist categories, but he easily had the best performance of the night.

Sing, dance, rap, act, play many instruments, be ridiculously good-looking…what we’re saying is that he doesn’t know how to be bad at something, and we know he would work hard until the album was perfect. Haruki Murakami tells this story about going to a baseball game in his early 30s, watching a pop fly sail towards the outfield, and suddenly knowing that he wanted to be a writer. The crowd went crazy as he and mega-star Justin Timberlake performed Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey” and Timberlake’s “Drink You Away.” That, combined with the victories, meant that Stapleton was dominating the headlines on Thursday — his album, which has sold less than 100,000 copies so far, is poised to make an impact at the top of the iTunes album chart.

It seemed all too fitting that after Stapleton’s electric performance, next on the bill was Florida Georgia Line, the party-loving duo that inspired Rosen’s bro-country thesis. (“Now we have to follow that. There’s plenty of great truck songs, and Stapleton happened to write one: Along with Vince Gill and Al Anderson, he composed “All-Nighter Comin’” for The All-Nighter With Marcia Campbell. Yikes!!! #Timberlake #Stapleton” they tweeted from backstage.) The two performances were polar opposite in tone and aesthetics, as FGL sang their new tune “Confessions” and lead vocalist Tyler Hubbard rocked the trendy man-bun that was also mocked by Paisley earlier in the show. The program airs at midnight CT on weekdays and aims to “keep you truckin’.” Stapleton clearly doesn’t like making speeches — his onstage moments were full of genuine surprise, which is rare at awards shows.

In an interview with FADER, the singer declared, “As long as people want to buy [country] music and go see live shows, as long as they’re doing that for somebody, it’s good for everybody.” When Tom Petty criticized mainstream country in 2013, Stapleton wrote him an open letter: “I, for one, would like to see you put your money where your mouth is in a tangible way… I’m extending an open invitation to you to write songs with me, produce recordings on or with me, or otherwise participate in whatever way you see fit in my little corner of music.” Maybe Petty will take him up on the offer now that Stapleton has three CMA trophies. I wrote the first Fever Pitch movie (a British version starring Colin Firth, released in 1997) myself because it was a memoir and had to become something else as a film. Remember that name…” But Timberlake was late to the party: Adele has been a fan since recording the SteelDrivers’ “If It Hadn’t Been for Love” as a bonus track for 21.

The first studio thought that there wasn’t any story there and they had to put one in, so it became about a record store being eaten up by a bigger corporate record store and all of that. This is just a small sample of the reaction Justin’s performance drew from the Internet, so imagine what would happen if he put out an entire country/soul album?! It was “Oh, I see, that’s how they do it in Hollywood: They just say ‘Call up Bruce Springsteen and ask him to say the lines himself.'” And someone in the room has his phone number, of course. I think also with the screenplays for An Education (2009) and Brooklyn there’s a sense that there are rules in place that these young women have to grapple with, and it’s maybe quite attractive from a dramatic standpoint to write about.

Eilis is so eager to reinvent herself by traveling to America, whereas so many of the men in your stories seem like they’re trying hard not to change or grow up. When I’m writing a novel, I always think to myself, “Oh, this one is different.” And then there comes a point halfway through the process where I bump up against the inside of my own skull and think “Oh no, it’s me again.” But when you’re adapting, you have the context of somebody else’s head and somebody else’s impulses. Colm Tóibín leaves a lot to the imagination as the reader, which you can’t afford to do in film in quite the same way because those characters are standing right there; you have to commit in some way.

Plus I’ve got another movie I’m writing for Jason Reitman, so it’s kind of hard to rule all that stuff out and go back to thinking about High Fidelity. But the idea of me now — with three kids, a job, an enormous record collection, an enormous DVD collection, Spotify — that the one thing I’d do is go “You know what? I listen to music in between bits of writing sometimes, and I go to the gym and listen to loud music, and then I listen to stuff at home when we’re cooking or whatever, but a lot of TV and movies get watched, and the music I listen to is always going to be the music I think I’ve got a chance of loving.

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