Five Things the American Country Awards Could Do Better in the Future
The 2012 American Country Awards were Monday night (Dec. 10), and while the show has improved each year in the three since its introduction to Fox, there is still some room for growth. The support from superstars like Jason Aldean and Lady Antebellum proves the show is being embraced by the country music community. With a few tweaks — some major, some minor — it could be received with open arms by viewers at home, as well.
We’ve got a few suggestions as to how the ACAs could do better. One change that doesn’t seem necessary is a host switch. While neither Trace Adkins and Kristin Chenoweth are burning up the country charts right now, both serve the purpose of bringing in new fans from outside of country music. Plus, they’re sort of adorable, although one wonders how much more material there is to be written about their size difference.
5 Things the ACAs Could Do Better:
1. Get out of Vegas: Las Vegas is a party town that one connects to the sins of excess and debauchery. These are wonderful words to associate with your awards show if winter is turning to spring and fans are ready to try on their bikinis and cut loose. In December — a time when families are slowing down, huddling up and focusing on values and the reason for the season — this venue feels out of place. Really, who spends Christmas in Vegas? A new home may help match the party to the mood of country America.
2. Turn outward: Hosts Trace Adkins and Kristin Chenoweth have good chemistry, but their jokes were mostly aimed at themselves. Really, they had just one joke (he’s big, she’s little… we get it) but to their credit, they made the most of it with several amusing skits. The writing is getting better, but the next step would be to build an actual monologue that recognizes the quirks and stories in recent country music history. They don’t necessarily have to go after the tabloid news-makers of 2013 (although how did we get through 2012 without one joke about Randy Travis?), but a wider scope would put less pressure on the big man and his little Honey Boo Boo. An in-audience correspondent could be a nice addition. as well. Two former ‘American Idol’ stars would do well in this role, perhaps even together.
3. Build a year-round presence: Major awards shows have a way of popping up in off months, with additional specials or charitable events that fall under the ceremony’s brand. A charitable event would help endear the American Country Awards to country fans. Right now it feels like a long-distant aunt we know we’re supposed to like, but can’t quite remember why.
4. Make memories: Tributes to country legends and out-of-genre collaborations are two ways to make memories at award shows. Keith Urban‘s performance with the Grammy Camp musicians was a highlight from the 2012 ACAs. Adkins and Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s performance had potential, but they might have chosen the wrong song. An all-star tribute to someone like George Jones would add credibility (especially if the Possum showed up) and create a moment for fans to talk about on Tuesday morning. The show aims for a younger audience, so perhaps including the cast of ‘Glee’ would be more appropriate. Either way, there need to be more surprises.
5. Simplify: There are far too many categories. At the end of this year’s show, it felt like Luke Bryan won nine guitars simply because producers were running out of time. Viewers still didn’t know the results of four hot awards until the show ended. Announcing those ahead of time would have been a professional courtesy.
Our suggestions? Integrate male, female and group Single and Video of the Year and call it Song of the Year (no one really knows the difference between Song and Single anyway). Combine Breakthrough and New Artist. Keep Touring Artist of the Year, but call it something much cooler, and drop vocal collaboration categories. Yes, this will turn the American Country Awards into a mirror image of other country awards shows in this way, but the broadcast can define itself with performances and production.