CMA Awards Preview: Country Music’s Biggest Night!

1378839266_stretchCountry music’s biggest night is right around the corner! The CMA Awards (basically the Oscars of country music) will air live from Nashville on Nov. 6. The star-studded show will be co-hosted for the sixth straight year by Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley, and will feature performances by Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Little Big Town, Kacey Musgraves, Tim McGraw and many more. Listed below are some of our early thoughts about the show. And be sure to listen to New Country on Slacker to hear all of the nominees!

lukebryan2Most Predictable Category: Male Vocalist of the Year. We will be shocked if Luke Bryan doesn’t walk away with this honor for the first time in his career. The Georgia native has dominated the charts in the past year, shattered sales records with his “Crash My Party” album and has sold out show after show on the road. Blake Shelton has had Male Vocalist bragging rights for the past three years in a row and is Luke’s biggest competition, but don’t expect a Shelton fourpeat. Other nominees are all dark horses in the category: Jason Aldean, Eric Church and Keith Urban.

carrie-underwood-2013-cma-music-festival-04Most Unpredictable Category: Album of the Year. All five nominees in this category are equally strong contenders. Sure, some projects sold triple the amount of copies than others, but keep in mind that the CMA Awards are voted on by people who work in the industry, and they always love a critic darling as much as a sales titan. The nominees are Blake Shelton’s “Based on a True Story,” Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away,” Taylor Swift’s “Red,” Kacey Musgraves’ “Same Trailer Different Park” and Little Big Town’s “Tornado.”

Most Unique Performance to Watch: Taylor Swift’s collaboration with Vince Gill and Alison Krauss. Sure, they’re all lumped into the country genre together, but let’s face it, Swift’s signature sound is about as similar to Gill and Krauss’ style of music as Lil Wayne is to Little Jimmy Dickens. Still, that’s all the more reason to expect this performance to be spectacular, and most likely more country-friendly than anything Swift has had on the radio this year. Other noteworthy collaborations will include Zac Brown Band with Dave Grohl, and Hunter Hayes with Jason Mraz.

Most Fabulous Fashionista to Watch: Carrie Underwood.  At last year’s CMA Awards, the blond beauty changed clothes 12 times! Expect no less this year, as the night’s hostess is sure to dazzle us with fantastic frocks, flowing locks and a whole lotta leg.

Stagecoach Music Festival Reveals Star-Studded 2014 Lineup

Three guys at the top of their country music game will co-headline the 2014 Stagecoach Country Music Festival in Indio, Calif. Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan and Eric Church lead the names on a long roster of talent for the three day event, set for April 25-27 at the Polo Empire Club.

The full lineup of more than 60 artists includes mainstream country singers along with Americana and Alt-Country acts, plus a few country legends. Eric Church will close Friday’s show, after performances by Loretta Lynn, Brantley Gilbert, Easton Corbin, Jon Pardi, Eric Paslay, Thomas Rhett and more.

Jason Aldean has headlining duties Saturday night, with his opening acts including Ashley Monroe, Crystal Gayle, Danielle Bradbery, Holly Williams, Hunter Hayes, Jennifer Nettles and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, among many others.

Luke Bryan will close the festival Sunday after sets by Asleep at the Wheel, Charlie Worsham, Dustin Lynch, Florida Georgia Line, Lee Brice and more. See a full roster for all three nights here.

Tickets go on sale Oct. 18, with the three-day general admission price set at $249. Get tickets here, and get the party started early by listening to our Stagecoach 2013 station here.

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This Week’s Movers and Shakers on the Slacker EQ

EQ PlayWelcome to Slacker’s EQ charts for the week of September 22nd, where we measure the most listened to, “hearted,” and shared songs across all genres and amongst millions of Slacker listeners throughout the US and Canada. Take a look at the full charts here. 

A quick note–If you’ve upgraded to iOS7, then hopefully you’ve grabbed the new Slacker app, which features our new “My Vibe” feature, which matches you to you perfect playlist based on what you’re doing at any given moment. We launched My Vibe on the Slacker website this week as well, so even non-iPhone music fans can get this unique experience. And Android fans, never fear–we’ve got a major app update that includes My Vibe coming your way very soon!

In the meantime, here are some key insights from Slacker’s EQ charts this week.

Katy Perry continues to dominate both the Overall and Pop charts, holding down the #1 spot on both for the 3rd week in a row. However, Lorde’s “Royals” is poised to take over the #1 spot on the Overall chart next week if she continues to engage Slacker listeners as strongly as she did this week.

Britney Spears‘ “Work Bitch” makes a huge debut on the Pop chart, jumping 552 spots to crack the top 20. Millions of Slacker listeners heard this track featured as one of our “Songs Stuck In My Head” last week, and clearly, they approve!

We saw some major movement on Slacker’s Hip Hop/R&B chart this week: Sage The Gemini’s “Gas Pedal” speeds on to the charts, moving up 47 spots to debut at #27. Jay Z’s “Tom Ford” debuts at #40, and after a slow start with Slacker listeners, Justin Timberlake’s “Take Back the Night” is picking up steam, moving up 34 spots to crack the top 10.

Luke Bryan continues to engage Slacker’s country fans, as his “That’s My Kind of Night” holds the #1 spot for the second week in a row. The Band Perry make a big statement with their new single “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely,” as it moves up 28 spots to debut on the chart at #40.

The most notable thing about Slacker’s EDM chart this week is how a small handful of superstar DJs and acts are absolutely dominating it. Zedd, Krewella, and Avicii all have 3 songs on the chart; Tiesto and Baauer each have 2.

EDM’s massive popularity continues to cross over to other genres, as Cash Cash’s “Take Me Home” and Two Door Cinema Club’s “Changing Of The Seasons” (feat. Madeon) both make big debuts on Slacker’s Alt/Indie chart.

Slacker’s Rock curators have been championing Los Angeles’ Gemini Syndrome for years, and this week Slacker listeners responded, pushing their new track “Stardust” up 29 spots to land at #38. Meanwhile, the new Chester Bennington-led incarnation of Stone Temple Pilots moves up over 100 spots to crack the top 25 with their “Out of Time.”

You can hear Slacker’s top 40 songs this week on a countdown hosted by Parker here, and make sure to check back next Wednesday to see how your favorite songs engaged millions of Slacker music fans just like you!

Want to learn more about what the EQ score is? Read more here or check out our nifty infographic here.

 

Taylor Swift Wraps Up Red Tour at Home

1379696341-t_swizz-2616Taylor Swift performed the first of three sold-out shows at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena Thursday night Sept.19), with Saturday’s concert marking the end of the US leg of her Red Tour. Slacker joined the music superstar at a pre-show reception, where she explained the decision to wrap up the trek in the city she has called home for almost a decade.

“This is not only my hometown but is one of the craziest crowds that we play to. So on the last tour, I made a mental note: we need to end the tour in Nashville next time,” she told partygoers. “I see faces here I’ve known for years, and I’m so happy that you still want to come see me play a show. This is the most exciting night of the tour for me.”

The beaming beauty was presented with several plaques at the reception, commemorating her staggering album and single sales. Her latest album, “Red,” has now sold six million copies, and she was also surprised to discover Thursday that she’s up to four million in album sales in the U.K. alone.

Swift is hard at work to keep that momentum going. “Up next, I’m going to make another album,” she told the crowd, adding sarcastically, “I mean, I think I want to keep doing this.

“I really like to take two years to write a record. I’ve been writing for the last year, and this is the year that it goes into overdrive,” she continued. “It’s all I think about and I become obsessive over it … I’m hard to talk to. It’s a weird thing that I need to work on!”

taylor swift and luke bryan nashville Swift did a lot of talking to the thousands of fans packed in the downtown Nashville arena – telling stories behind the songs and profusely thanking everyone for their support over the years. Her high-energy, explosive set included fan favorites ranging from her very first No. 1 hit, “Our Song,” to her current duet with Red Tour opening act, Ed Sheeran, “Everything Has Changed.” A second duet partner was a huge surprise to the audience – country superstar Luke Bryan, who sang one of his biggest hits, “I Don’t Want This Night to End,” with Taylor.

Proving her concerts are as much of a theatrical event as they are a music show, Swift had no fewer than seven costume changes throughout the night (though we lost count!). She incorporated more choreography into the set than on any previous tour, and played out several songs as if she were creating their music videos right there on stage. For “You Belong With Me,” she and her backup singers wore red cocktail dresses with long red gloves and delivered the tune in ‘50s Motown girl group style — through both their vocals and dance moves. For “I Knew You Were Trouble,” the stage and backup dancers transformed into what looked like a scene from “Phantom of the Opera.” She literally flew while singing “Sparks Fly,” performing from a stage suspended over the audience. And she ended the show by taking fans to the circus – the “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” circus, that is, complete with stilt-walkers, clowns and Swift herself dressed as the ringmaster for the colorful finale.

Up next for the Grammy winner is the Australian leg of her Red Tour, followed by stops in other parts of the world that have not yet been announced – all while feverishly writing for her next album, of course.

Luke Bryan’s “Crash My Party” is the Album of the Week

LUKEBRYAN-472x472Welcome to Slacker’s Album of the Week, where we bring you an entire album on-demand. This week we have a new album from country superstar Luke Bryan.

Nashville-based, Georgia born country singer Luke Bryan is known for his party songs, including 2009’s “Take My Drunk Ass Home.” It’s only fitting he title his fourth album “Crash My Party.” The current Academy of Country Music entertainer of the year delivers souped-up country rockers like “Beer In The Headlights” and “That’s My Kind of Night,” along with romantic mid-tempo tracks like “Bittersweet” and “Play it Again.”

While the album is predominantly packed with the contemporary party tunes he is known for, Bryan says the album features a more serious side to him musically, which can be felt in the poignant and heartfelt vocals of “Dirt Road Diary.”

Listen to Luke Bryan’s “Crash My Party” on Slacker’s Album of the Week. 

Luke Bryan ‘Tailgates’ in Nashville

When it comes to his whirlwind success, Luke Bryan insists it takes a village. The country music superstar was celebrated at a party Wednesday (July 10) in Nashville, where Slacker joined about 200 music industry colleagues in raising a glass to the double platinum sales status of Bryan’s Tailgates and Tanlines album. Photo by Alan PoiznerThe humble singer used his time in the spotlight to thank everyone from his road crew and co-writers to the head of Universal Music Group Nashville, Mike Dungan (pictured left with Bryan), whom he called a “whiskey drinkin’, partyin’, runnin’ the biggest label in the world kind of guy.”

Tailgates and Tanlines was the eighth biggest-selling album of any genre in 2012 and spawned three No. 1 hits. It was nominated for Album of the Year at both the Country Music Association Awards and Academy of Country Music Awards. Yet selling two million copies of the project is a feat Bryan admits he can’t really grasp.

“I remember when we were celebrating one million. I never imagined getting to two million,” he said from the stage. “It takes so many people to make this happen. Thanks to everyone who helped me do what I’ve always dreamed of. So many people in this room have watched me go from somebody who was so ignorant and naïve to somebody that’s … well, maybe not naïve but there’s still a lot of ignorance. [laughs]”

And a lot of days away from home. Bryan is currently on his sold-out Dirt Road Diaries tour and credits wife Caroline with holding down the fort in Nashville, chasing after their two sons, Bo (5) and Tate (2).

“I want to thank my wife for letting me be on the road and shake my butt,” laughed the “Country Girl (Shake It for Me)” singer. “Caroline busts her butt with the boys and is the perfect wife to let me have this career. We were down in Grayton Beach (Florida) last night, and we had the boys on the bus … Tate was sleeping in the bottom bunk and woke up about what, three times?”

“About 30 times,” Caroline corrected him from the audience.

“Thirty? Well, I was up for two of them,” the singer joked in response, then continuing his little family story with something that might make his youngest child blush in a few years. Bryan was excited to report that Tate “poo pooed on the potty” for the first time last week – another feat to which he credits the tireless parenting of his better half.

Bryan will have very little downtime between his current tour and promotion of his next album. Crash My Party is set to hit stores Aug. 13, and we’re betting it will be another two million-seller. Its title track, which you can hear on our New Country First station, is already No. 4 on the Slacker EQ chart.