Since I posted my podcast episode on the 50th Anniversary CMA Awards Show (ep 17), the Beyonce / Dixie Chicks performance has sparked a flood of extreme reactions. We are living in a time in our country when people are quicker to shout about their extreme opinions and beliefs than at any other time in my lifetime. The musical performance that I focused on in my podcast is hardly mentioned in the many comments I’m reading. The conversation has sunk to that low point that only hatred can fuel. There have been many racist comments (some veiled and some not) from hateful people that feel their country music is under attack from evil invaders at the invitation of Nashville executives. There has been more totally absurd anti-Chicks nonsense flying around social media. There have been outrageous and dangerous comments from the fanatical Beyonce fanbase directed at Kenny Chesney for not smiling and dancing during the performance….of all people!…Kenny Chesney! I could get into how I believe these two despicable groups of people have come to feel empowered to spew their hatred but it would take me too far off topic and into a political rant… and my blood is already boiling as I type. I have always loved the fact that music was one of the few places in this world that was free of hatred like this…and that I was a part of such a place. I guess I’ve been wrong. These two groups of assholes should get together. They have a lot in common.
Now let’s address the Beyonce guest appearance on this year’s show. First of all, the song and the performance were both outstanding. We can and will argue about it’s relevance to country music…but if you argue that the performance was bad, either you simply need to declare it so to support your larger argument…or you don’t know shit about music and performance. The band was great. All that brass and energy were electrifying. The Chicks are always great…never once have I seen them when they weren’t. Beyonce is a very talented lady and a force of nature. She owns every stage she sets foot on. You might say differently to support your other arguments…but you aren’t being honest. It also must be noted that the song and performance were far closer to country music than Carrie Underwood’s or Keith Urban’s. Neither of them have been in the vicinity of a country song since the beginning of their careers….but they get awards and Beyonce gets hate mail.
Would I have had the Dixie Chicks on that stage if I were calling the shots?…most definitely. They make great music, they got a raw deal from fans and radio… and they’ve been missed. Would I have had Beyonce on that stage?…No. It drives me crazy to see country music’s inferiority complex on display at awards shows. It’s like we don’t think we’re cool enough and if we hang with the cool kids maybe some of it will rub off on us. I think most people who read this and listen to the podcast agree that country music and country artists are very cool all on they’re own. Other genres that lack authenticity and soul should be inviting us onto their stages in hopes that some of our’s rubs off on them. Also…that slot (5 min.) could have been used for a Sturgill Simpson, an Ashley Monroe, or the like…a true, deserving country artist that could have grown their audience with the opportunity. Last I checked, that is the mission of the CMA…to grow country music.
That said…it’s the TV network and producers that call the shots. All involved will tell us that it is a partnership with the CMA and the labels but that is not true. It’s only about the money/ratings. ABC is the one that risked the big money and they decide on everything that goes out over the air. They feel that collaborations like this are ratings boosters and in this case they needed a boost as they were up against the 7th game of baseball’s World Series. I ask…if Beyonce being on the show was intended to attract more viewers, then why keep her appearance a secret until the last minute? Even then it was a rumor and not an official press release. How was her fanbase to know to tune in?…and would they stay tuned not knowing when (or if) she would appear? All cross-genre collaborations are overrated in terms of audience building. The awards shows would be better served looking within the country world for compelling content. I might suggest the UK and Australia if they are determined to reach beyond Nashville. They both have vibrant country music scenes and again…it’s the CMA’s job to grow country music.
Bottom line…overall ratings were down just 7% from 2015. Not bad considering they were up against the World Series…but in the coveted 18-49 demo they were off 24%.
Oh, and….the show was great! Check out my podcast (ep 17) for details. insidenashville.net