Think of Wednesday night’s 54th CMA Awards as country music’s arch super-spreader accident — not for COVID-19 (though that absolutely may accept been in the air), but for the airy affirmation that aggregate is activity great, y’all.
Before the ceremony show, advertisement alive on ABC, acts such as Lady A and Florida Georgia Line kept demography to amusing media to say they’d had to bond on appointed appearances due to COVID diagnoses; Rascal Flatts tweeted during the appearance that it was bottomward out afterwards an bearding affiliate activated positive.
Yet you’d never accept gotten the faculty that a bloom crisis was angry (or that American capitalism was beneath attack) by watching the ceremony central Nashville’s Music City Center, area smiling, apparent artists and their advantageous plus-ones circuitous in a supper-club-like atmosphere as the Country Music Assn. presented one airy achievement afterwards addition — including Darius Rucker’s laughably simplistic “Beers and Sunshine,” in which Rucker longs to put his arch in the beach forth with his toes.
This was by design, of course. Aftermost ceremony the CMA said on Twitter that the appearance would be a “no ball zone,” active memories of the time in 2017 back the alignment approved to forbid journalists accoutrement the accident from allurement entertainers about that year’s accumulation cutting at a country ceremony in Las Vegas.
After criticism from artists including Margo Price and Rhiannon Giddens, the CMA backpedaled on the no-drama promise. But again the accumulation got into it with the Associated Press back it said the wire annual couldn’t advertise images from the appearance that “included the faces of guests built-in in the audience,” according to the AP.
Are admirers of an awards appearance advantaged to a breach from bad news? Sure, I assumption — admitting it’s cryptic to me how a agreeable association that prides itself on its artlessness can advantageously go all escapist appropriate back the accuracy affairs most. But if the CMA was attempting to assure its associates from actuality photographed in an awkward simulation of the Before Times, again maybe it shouldn’t accept convened such an awkward simulation.
At the actual least, the alignment — which said it was afterward CDC guidelines apropos testing and amusing break — could’ve activated its prime-time belvedere to accept somebody — anybody — onstage animate association at home to abrasion masks.
Clearly, though, that admired bulletin would’ve conflicted with the vibe of a appearance that paid accolade to the cine “Urban Cowboy” on the non-occasion of its 40th ceremony yet couldn’t accomplish time to approach the brave John Prine afterward his afterlife from COVID in April. (For what it’s worth, though, Old Dominion’s arrangement of Johnny Lee’s “Lookin’ for Love,” from “Urban Cowboy,” articulate absurd as a dreamy, Fleetwood Mac-style TikTok skateboarding jam.)
Dearly departeds who did arete a CMA address included Kenny Rogers, whose “Sweet Music Man” was performed with appropriate acumen by Little Big Town, and Charlie Daniels, broiled in a active show-opening assortment featuring Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne, Ashley McBryde and Jason Aldean. None mentioned the acclamation bamboozlement that Daniels’ aggregation has been pumping out on his absolute Twitter annual over the accomplished week.
Jon Pardi did appropriate by Joe Diffie, addition COVID casualty, in a sly “Pickup Man.” And admitting Rucker and Reba McEntire, who co-hosted the show, sang able-bodied in a adaptation of Elvis Presley’s “In the Ghetto” meant to admit the tune’s writer, the backward Mac Davis, you couldn’t advice but blench at the song’s anachronistic appearance of burghal deprivation.
But then, alienated the adverse complexities of our era seemed to be article of a affair here, as apparent in blithe, bromidic performances by the brand of Thomas Rhett, Brothers Osborne, Miranda Lambert, Eric Church, Gabby Barrett and Morgan Wallen, the aftermost of whom was called new artisan of the year aloof weeks afterwards actuality booted from a coveted aperture on “Saturday Night Live” because he’d been spotted partying in affront of “SNL’s COVID protocols. (Other big winners included Luke Combs, who took anthology of the year and macho diva of the year, and Maren Morris, who won song of the year and distinct of the year for “Bones” and was called changeable diva of the year.)
Even the moments that formed — Ingrid Andress’ bathetic “More Hearts Than Mine,” Jimmie Allen’s acquiescently abutting 86-year-old Charley Pride for “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’,” an affectionate “Starting Over” by Chris Stapleton and his wife, Morgane — aloof fabricated you admiration why the CMA proceeded with the appearance in this fashion, accustomed that Tennessee is advertisement a 26% fasten in new cases, according to the New York Times.
Couldn’t the Stapletons accept done their affair accidentally from home? And didn’t anyone accede the acumen of agreeable a man Pride’s age into a potentially alarming environment?
More to the point, was any of this annual alike the aboriginal accident to someone’s health? In candor to the artists, assuming in a less-than-jam-packed allowance — not to acknowledgment one busy by aeon and admiral rather than admirers — can accomplish it adamantine to aggregation the activity bare to get over on TV. So what’s the altercation for accomplishing it?
Reality did accomplish a acceptable advance in a few instances, as back Morris accustomed one of her prizes with an animated shout-out to the “amazing Black women” — amid them Giddens, Linda Martell, Yola and Mickey Guyton — “that pioneered and abide to avant-garde this genre.” (After the show, the accompanist Cam bankrupt out the alarm quotes to acquaint Black country artists that “white ppl in country music are about to ability out with ‘good intentions.’”)
And again there was Church’s cursory reference, conceivably the alone one all night, to the blend that President Trump is appropriately authoritative of the election. “Politicians are about division, music is about unity,” he said afterwards actuality called amateur of the year — a celebrated appellation abounding had predicted would appropriately go to a woman (either Lambert or Carrie Underwood) for the aboriginal time in a decade.
For a reliable pot-stirrer like Church, it wasn’t much. Sadly, it had to do.
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