Alan Jackson has never been afraid to make a statement.
There was of course his shot at the Nashville music industry that he took with his 1999 duet with George Strait, “Murder on Music Row.”
But even before that, there was Alan’s protest at the ACM Awards back in 1994 when he had his drummer play without drumsticks after being told that he would have to perform with a pre-recorded track. And then in 1999, when the CMA Awards were only going to give the legendary George Jones enough time to play an abridged version of his song “Choices,” Jackson took matters into his own hands and abruptly stopped his performance of his own song “Pop-a-Top” and launched into his own performance of “Choices.”
Jackson has also been outspoken on the state of country music, lamenting the loss of that traditional country sound that so many grew up on:
“I’m such a fan of country music. I just feel like it’s fading away, the real roots.
It’s always been up and down but usually there’s just a little bit of it hanging on. Now, I just feel like it’s getting further and further away, and it’s makin’ me sad.”
And country awards shows are no exception to the changing country music landscape: In fact, they seem to be leading the charge.
Every year we see these awards shows trot out pop stars, athletes, celebrities, and actors and actresses who have nothing to do with country music in a failing attempt to reach out to a wider audience, while all it really does is alienate actual fans of country music who are quickly losing interest in the shows.
Before the 2016 CMA Awards, Alan Jackson was asked about this trend and his hopes for the 50th anniversary edition of the awards show:
“Yeah, they may play some real country music.
But I understand the dang television station trying to get the ratings with whatever they think is gonna prop it up, with some big event with some other type of artist on there.
Yeah, hopefully it’ll be a good country music show for a change.”
And that was at least partially the case.
The show opened with a performance from some of the legends of country (including Jackson) performing some of the biggest country hits of all time – artists like Charlie Daniels, Reba, Randy Travis, Charley Pride, and Vince Gill.
The show even featured a Jackson and George Strait performing a duet of their own songs “Remember When” and “Troubadour.”
But the producers of the CMA Awards just couldn’t help themselves.
They also invited Beyoncé to perform with the Dixie Chicks, a decision that left many scratching their heads on a night that was supposed to be celebrating 50 years of the Country Music Awards.
And apparently Alan Jackson wasn’t a fan.
According to one Nashville manager interviewed by Billboard, Jackson stood up from his seat in the front row and walked out in the middle of the performance:
“The overall show was great, but in my opinion that seemed out of place and felt forced. It just didn’t fit the night to me, celebrating the 50 years, and the Dixie Chicks seemed like her backup band on it, without enough of a real shout-out to them.
I was sitting behind Alan Jackson, and he actually stood up from the front row and walked out in middle of the performance, so I think that spoke volumes for the traditional, real country acts.”
Jackson wasn’t the only country artist who was unhappy with the decision to have a pop artist performing during what’s supposed to be “country’s biggest night.” Travis Tritt also took to Twitter to mock and express his displeasure with the decision:
This year’s CMA Awards will take place on Wednesday, November 9 at 8pm/7pm central, and will be hosted by…Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning. There weren’t ANY other country artists who could host alongside Luke, eh?
I guess we’ll see which other pop artists or celebrities the CMA Awards decides to trot out this year in a failing attempt to boost their ratings.
At least they’ll be honoring Alan Jackson…
Justin Moore On The Country Music Awards Shows: “If They Put Country Artists On There They’d Probably Get Back Some Viewers”
When it comes to these awards shows, it’s probably beating a dead horse at this point to ask to see actual country artists.
Over the years they’ve trotted out pop stars and actors and rappers and just about every other celebrity they can think of to try to fix their tanking ratings.
We’ve said for years that they’ll put anybody on these shows but actual country artists, and then sit there wondering why nobody’s watching and why their ratings are so bad that no networks even want to air their shows anymore.
It makes no sense. I mean, the ratings are so bad that the ACM Awards had to move from airing on CBS to streaming on Amazon Prime.
And everybody’s thinking the same thing: Give us actual country artists.
But now Justin Moore is saying it.
On a recent episode of The Justin Moore Podcast, Justin didn’t hold back when talking about the problem with these awards shows:
“If they put country artists on there they’d probably get back some viewers.
And that’s not a knock to everybody else, but it just makes no sense why you call it a country music awards show and you don’t put all country music artists.”
“Probably about, I dunno, 10 years ago, they started going away from the country acts – and I don’t mean traditional country, I mean actual country artists, whether you’re pop country, rap country, rock country, whatever.
And they started bringing in celebrities and people outside the genre that were artists…and letting them play. Not only present, but play, and it knocked off the guys like me, Tracy Lawrence, name anybody, any artists that’s not a superstar.”
And he’s spot on.
I mean, how many years do they have to lose viewers before they realize that nobody’s tuning into a country music awards show to see pop collabs and awards presented by Hollywood celebrities?
Justin’s co-host and tour manager JR even brought up our tweet pointing out that this year we got the actors from Yellowstone – but other than Lainey Wilson and Chris Stapleton, none of the actual artists from the soundtrack.
Give us performances from artists like Justin Moore, Tyler Childers, Ryan Bingham, Morgan Wade, Cody Johnson, Jon Pardi. Or give us the legends like Alan Jackson, Travis Tritt, Reba…I could name a hundred country artists that I’d rather see than another collaboration with some pop artist, or some cheesy presentation from “insert random Hollywood celebrity here.”
Sure, this year we got Dolly Parton hosting, but then when it came time for a performance of her biggest song, they called in…Kelly Clarkson. WHEN YOU’VE GOT DOLLY RIGHT THERE.
And Justin thinks (and we agree) that this is exactly why their ratings are tanking:
“They thought, ‘Hey, we got to get ratings and these country bumpkins can’t get us ratings.’
And what they don’t know is that’s complete bullshit.
All they did was sour peoples’ tastes. They kept going away from having country artists, having more pop artists, actors, celebrities, etc. And as they kept the balance getting out of whack more and more the ratings kept just plummeting, dropping, dropping, dropping, dropping, to the point where [CBS] is losing so much money that they just completely drop it.
They tried to get cute with it thinking ‘We know what we’re doing. People want to see this.’
No, country music fans want to see freaking country music artists. That’s what they want to see. So they shot themselves in the foot.”
He’s spot on. The industry as a whole has taken its fans for granted, and the awards shows think they can get back to their “glory days” not by going back to what worked before, but by appealing to fans outside of the genre at the expense of artists like Justin who deserve to be there.
Justin’s always been a guy who’s been noticeably absent from these awards shows – especially for a major-label artist with the kind of success that he’s had. (Remember when he was nominated for Best New Artist in 2014, five years after his debut album and when he already had FOUR #1 singles under his belt?)
Well according to Justin there’s an easy explanation for why he’s never a part of these awards shows: He’s never invited.
“People ask me all the time, why don’t I ever go to awards shows? This is why. Cause nobody ever asks me to be a part of ’em.
I’m just being completely honest with you. Ain’t trying to piss nobody off but we’ve sold 5 million albums, had 10 number ones and probably 20 total hit records on the radio and I’ve been on one of the awards shows twice and another one one time. That’s it. Period. Because they never asked to be a part of it.”
And to anybody who thinks Justin just has a chip on his shoulder about the awards shows because he’s not invited? He’s got a message for them too: You’re damn right he does.
“For anybody out there that picks this up and writes a story and goes ‘That’s just sour grapes,’ you’re damn right it’s sour grapes. We deserve to be a part of that.
And I don’t mean ‘we’ by just me. There’s a hundred other acts that deserve to be a part of it too.”
I think Justin’s absolutely right to be annoyed. They’re so focused on “expanding the genre” that they’ve forgotten the genre itself. And it shows in the ratings.
Justin summed up the entire issue with just one sentence.
“That’s why you lost all your ratings: Because you forgot the flyover states.”
Now I’m sure Justin’s comments probably ruffled some feathers, and they were picked up by some of these same other sites that you see gushing over what these artists were wearing on the red carpet or promoting the latest pop collaboration that’s blowing up the country charts.
But Justin knows who’s been saying the same thing about these awards shows that he’s preaching now:
“Pick it up, Whiskey Riff, go ahead. I love you boys.”
We’re right there with you Justin. And unlike a lot of these other sites, we always have been.