A View from the CMA Awards

Pierce Greenberg | November 11th, 2010

“Light blue or dark blue shirt?” I asked my girlfriend Kristen as we hurriedly prepared for the CMAs. “It says on the ticket that evening/business attire is required—or else they kick you out.”

“Oh please,” she responded. “If that were the case, they probably wouldn’t let Brad Paisley in.”

Ah, the CMA Music Awards—the one awards show where the general population crowd is looking spiffier than most of those being honored. (Although, Keith Urban’s graphic tee and Kenny Chesney’s V-neck were far less formal than Brad’s cop-out sports jacket.)

As we walked down 5th avenue past the Ryman, we looked down and saw Broadway teeming with sharp-looking tuxes and sparkly dresses. The scene was almost surreal—like someone had replaced all those unkempt hopefuls and fanny-packed tourists with highfalutin benefit-dinner types.

To make things even more unusual (or normal?) was the presence of Elvis and Abraham Lincoln interpreters. Not to mention the ever-fashionable “repent guy” with his huge “God Hates Sin!” sign.

Once inside, we took our seats in section 105: lower level, great view of the stage, but little shot at being on TV—sorry, mom. We sat anxiously, looking down onto the floor to sneak a look at any of the artists.

As the lady next to me pointed out, there were about five or six little clusters of people standing. If you were important, you were being hovered over—hence, not being seen. Although, we did spot Darius Rucker and Zac Brown enjoy an extended man-hug. Oh yeah, and we saw The Band Perry in all of their perpetual awkwardness. Yay. Not.

Carrie Underwood started the night on a rough note—at least technically speaking. All the rage of our past award show live blogs has been about how horrible the TV performances sound. Carrie’s first one wasn’t great—but hey, it was the first song of the night, so I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt. Kristen pointed out that Rascal Flatts was pretty flat, as well.

Other than that, everyone from Keith Urban to Taylor Swift and even Kid Rock sounded great sonically—lyrical and production values aside.

Despite the strict regulations against flash photography, fans were snapping pictures throughout night. I understand wanting to have a memento of your CMA Awards experience, but the art of taking photos from a far away distance on a point-and-shoot has always baffled me. The actions of a lady in front of me were particularly perturbing.

During every performance, she would turn around in her seat to take pictures of the giant LED screen that was behind us. Not only was this an unusual practice, but it nearly gave me an epileptic seizure with all those flashes. She spent at least a fourth of the show bent around in her seat taking photos of what people were watching on their TV’s at home.

The show was pretty much everything I expected: loud, flashy, and melodramatic—sometimes all at the same time. And for anyone who wanted to complain that there wasn’t any “real” country music present—during the commercial breaks, the big screens showed archived CMA performances that featured Charley Pride, Mel Tillis, Tammy Wynette, Conway Twitty, Ronnie Milsap, and others. That lady never turned around to take their picture.

So, after a few well-deserved tear-ups (Paisley and Miranda Lambert), a surprise cameo by Loretta Lynn, and some Hollywood flair, the 2010 CMA Awards—the first I’d ever been to—were complete. If nothing else, the event is certainly a spectacle. And because I took my critic glasses off for the night, it was entertaining and exciting to be a part of.

Just this one time.

Editor’s Note: The 9513 attended the CMA Awards courtesy of the American Cancer Society and their movement for More Birthdays.

  1. Ben Foster
    November 11, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    I’d love to attend the CMA Awards sometime. I enjoyed your on-site recap. Dang, why didn’t I get any pictures of the images on my TV screen?

    I tried to take off my critic glasses too. While it was impossible to overlook the excessive loudness, all of the flat and off-key vocals went totally over my head. Even Taylor Swift and Rascal Flatts sounded good to me. So yeah, I enjoyed the show (though my expectations were not excessively high to begin with).

    November 12, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Why is it hte ladies always look glamorous and the guys like scuzballs?

  3. Stephanie
    November 13, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    I admire your ability to insult both host and hostess while praising country’s residential pop star, Miss Swift.

    To the same token, I must say that I admire you, Pierce, and The 9513 writers/contributers as a whole now considering that you acknowledge and own your biases. Good work…even if you are a journalism major.

  4. brittany
    December 14, 2011 at 7:24 am

    what was the population of fans at the cma awards in 2010 and 2011?

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