‘American Idol‘ judge Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum and host Jason Aldean will also perform during the June 5 broadcast.
By Jocelyn Vena
Photo: Getty Images
Others, including Carrie Underwood and Alicia Keys also offer support after the massive twister kills more than 50.
By Gil Kaufman
Night after night, Hunter Hayes has the pleasure of checking out Carrie Underwood on her massive Blown Away Tour. No, he’s not a season ticket holder, he just so happens to be the lucky man picked to open for her on the entire length of her North American tour.
So, what has he learned from watching her? That the “American Idol” alum is a pretty rad singer.
“She’s a sweetheart. She’s awesome. Her show is really impressive and it’s kind of cool ’cause I’m a production guy and I’m really into watching shows and she’s a consistent vocalist,” he told MTV News last week when he was in town in between gigs on the jaunt. While he’s been on the road with her for months now, and will be touring with her straight through May of next year, that sense of awe has yet to wear off.
“It’s really something I love to watch and it’s intimidating ’cause you sort of stand there and you’re like, ‘How do you that?’ It’s unbelievable,” he added. “It’s really cool.”
Hayes says that it’s not always easy being the opening act on any tour, mostly because people usually only show up to concerts in time to grab some snacks before the main show kicks off. But, as this star continues to rise, so does the number of people in the audience.
That’s probably due in part to a mantle that’s filling up with trophies and more and more people discovering his 2011 self-titled debut album, featuring his current single, “Wanted.”
“I’m having a blast,” he said. “We’ve been really well-received for an opening act. It’s really intimidating when you go up as an opening act cause you expect to be sort of house music for people finding their seats or whatever,” he noted, before sharing that music fans have been showing up early to hear him sing. Many of them have even learned the words to his songs. That experience, he shares, has been “really cool.”
“We felt really at home,” he continued. “It’s a really comfortable thing for me, which I’m excited about ’cause we’re doing the whole tour with her.”
The East Coast is only just beginning to recover from Sandy’s wrath, but nothing is going to stop country music’s biggest night. Hosted by country royalty such as Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley for the fifth consecutive year, the 46th annual CMA Awards will air live Thursday (November 1) at 8 p.m. ET/PT from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena. This year, however, we may be seeing a little less cowboy boots and a few more pop superstars strutting down the red carpet.
Taylor Swift, whose fourth studio album, Red, sold 1.21 million copies in its first week, is competing in three categories tomorrow night: Entertainer of the Year, Female Vocalist of the Year and Musical Event of the Year. Swift took home Female Vocalist of the Year in 2009, but she’s got some stiff competition this year with Miranda Lambert, Martina McBride and a couple American Idol alums.
“American Idol” is making quite a grand showing on the Bridgestone Arena‘s red carpet tomorrow night. Aside from host Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson is also nominated for Female Vocalist of the Year and we’ll be seeing Kellie Pickler as one of the evening’s presenters.
“The Voice” coach Blake Shelton is up for Song of the Year for “God Gave Me You,” Single of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year and Entertainer of the Year.
But we’re most looking forward to a rather unlikely CMA appearance — Snoop Dogg a.k.a. Snoop Lion, who just premiered his video for “La, La, La,” is nominated for Musical Event of the Year for “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” his collaboration with Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Jamey Johnson.
Thursday’s roster of performers includes Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Kelly Clarkson, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Brad Paisley, The Band Perry, Carrie Underwood, Zac Brown Band, Eli Young Band, Brantley Gilbert, Lady Antebellum and Blake Shelton.
Which CMA Awards performance are you most looking forward to? Tell us in the comments!
In a premiere filled with drama, sass and a whole lot of country flavor, ABC‘s new series, “Nashville” kicked off last week and proved to be country gold.
Fans were introduced to country music queen Rayna James (Connie Britton), whose career is threatened by up-and-coming phenom Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere), who is aiming to steal her spotlight.
Panettiere, who shows off her vocal skills on the series, takes on the role of Juliette Barnes, a cunning singer who believes she can backstab her way to the top of the charts.
When MTV News caught up with Panettiere recently, she assured us that her character is “not based off anybody,” and definitely not country sweetheart Taylor Swift, despite early rumors. In fact, all they share is a common age and blonde hair. But she did admit that when it was time for her to perform in front of an audience, she turned to another country star for some assistance.
“[Juliette] is her individual self and is not based off anybody. She’s got her own problems she’s running from, a very dark past,” Panettiere said. “But when it comes to the stage presence I watched a lot of Carrie Underwood because Carrie has that energy about her, not super choreographed on stage, but she can just go up there and own it and just take over.”
In the premiere episode of “Nashville,” Juliette comes off as manipulative and conniving, someone who abuses her assistant, but Panettiere promises once they peel back all of Juliette’s flaws, fans eventually will see some good.
“She’s got the weight of the world on her shoulders, she’s got everything in the world as well. It’s a combo — I feel like people are going to find that compassion for her,” Panettiere said. “I personally like her drive, I like her spunk, I like her sass. I think she’s driven and she won’t let anyone stand in her way.”
On Wednesday’s episode, entitled “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love With You)” Panettiere reveals that her mother, who is a drug addict trying to take advantage of her daughter, comes back to cause problems.
“Second episode for me, my dearest mommy comes back to town and finds me and causes a world of trouble,” Panettiere said. “And you’ll get to see more of that vulnerable Juliette, that angry Juliette and understand her a lot more. [There are] some betrayals, some reconnections, some interesting turns for sure.”
What do you think of “Nashville”? Let us know in the comments.
LOS ANGELES — If the top-nominated artists and performers are any indication, this year’s American Music Awards might turn out to be an evening dominated by the ladies. As announced by Christina Aguilera on Tuesday (October 9), who was the first AMA performer named, the nominees are led by pop princesses Rihanna and Nicki Minaj, with four nods each.
MTV News was lucky enough to catch up with Aguilera after the nomination announcements in order to glean a few details about what fans might expect from her AMA performance.
“It’s very exciting. It’s definitely going to be a reflection of what Lotus means to me,” said Aguilera. “If you take that album cover and give it a little performance twist, I’ll bring that album cover to life, so it’s going to be really fun,” she teased, and in reference to her barely-there state on that cover, we might be seeing a whole lot of “The Voice” judge on display for that performance.
“I can’t give too much away about the songs, but it’s definitely going to represent the album because the album is very multilayered,” Aguilera continued. “It doesn’t represent ‘Your Body’ as a single tone. It has its ballads; and everything comes from a very sincere, deep-rooted place whether it’s having fun or being vulnerable. Vulnerable in the sense of how I did ‘Beautiful,’ finding strength in your insecurities, finding strength in your toughest times and as my responsibility hold to my fans, to inspire them and also hopefully inspire the next generation of voices and singers so that’s what my goal was on this record.”
Just behind the leading ladies are Drake, Maroon 5, One Direction and Usher, with three nominations each. Carrie Underwood, Chris Brown, Fun., Gotye, J. Cole, Perry, Kelly Clarkson and Pitbull are each up for two awards. Winners will be determined by online voting that starts today at amavote.com, as well as AMA.abc.com, with more performers and presenters to be announced soon.
Which AMA nominee will you vote for? Leave your pick in the comments section below!
The “American Idol” gender gap is turning into a canyon. While the four female winners have all maintained varying degrees of success from smash (Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson) to respected and solid (Fantasia) to multi-disciplinary good (Jordin Sparks), the same can’t be said for the male champs.
With the news this week that Kris Allen has parted ways with his major label home after two modestly selling albums, all but the two most recent male “Idol” winners have lost their label deals. Meanwhile, the four women have kept theirs. In fact, out of the first five male “Idol” champs, only one has made it past their second major label release.
Season two winner Ruben Studdard, whose sales plummeted from nearly 2 million for his 2003 debut to 483,000 for its gospel follow-up and half that amount for his 2006 album, The Return, made it to three before being dropped. Otherwise, season five’s Taylor Hicks and nine’s Lee DeWyze flamed out after one and David Cook and Allen made it two before parting ways with their label homes.
What gives? Is there really some kind of “Idol” male curse?
“I don’t necessarily think it’s a case of gender discrimination,” said Billboard associate director of charts Keith Caulfield. “I think it may have something to do with solo male artists often having a more difficult time in the world of pop music than solo female pop artist.” If you look at the charts on any given week you’ll see what Caulfield is talking about.
The Billboard Hot 100 is lousy with hits from the likes of Taylor Swift, Pink, Ellie Goulding, Carly Rae Jepsen and Katy Perry, but most of the male artists are either in bands, hip-hop/RB acts or the rare pop breakthroughs like Gotye and Justin Bieber. The latter have also benefitted from a viral stickiness that none of the “Idol” winners have been able to harness to date.
“[Fourth place finisher] Daughtry was able to work around that by making himself into a band and he’s still signed, but he’s seeing fewer returns, too,” said Caulfield. “When you have a lot of male winners that are all kind of in the same vein — Cook, Allen, Lee DeWyze … they’re all kind of cut from the same cloth and not terribly sonically different from one another, so it makes it hard for them all to live in the pop landscape at the same time.”
Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery broke the cycle with his platinum country debut, but he’s also faced diminishing returns at country radio lately. Last year’s winner, Philip Phillips, who is in that same general bland pop/rock vein as Allen, DeWyze and Cook, has scored a big hit with his Olympics smash “Home” and is still working on his debut.
Hollywood Reporter music editor Shirley Halperin agreed with Caulfield that the “Idol” male dysfunction is not so much chromosomal as it is a music industry issue. “My friend does a music business program at NYU and he said if he was an AR guy now he would only sign women in their teens or 20s,” she said. “That’s what sells. It’s also a numbers game. These ‘Idol’ record contracts were written so long ago that the economics don’t work. They have very generous terms for the winner, but it’s just not something a record company can afford to pay. It’s not like they’re not getting a chance. They all get a chance and then the labels see if they’re worth holding on to.”
Halperin said it’s coincidental that the women have fared better and she thinks former “Idol” label home Sony may have gotten a bit lazy with the winners they handled, pairing them with the same big-name songwriters and producers without straying from the formula enough. “[New 'Idol' label home] Interscope is trying to get it right, which you can see with Phillip’s first single, which he didn’t want to release, but which was a bit hit,” she said. “If his album is successful it could be a pace setter for the rest of the ‘Idol’ winners that they need to listen up. The biggest problem with the winners has been that they think they know better.”
Aside from the relative sameness of recent winners and the difficulty of breaking male solo acts, “Idol” blogger MJ Santilli said “Idol”‘s slipping ratings have also meant its pop culture stranglehold has loosened since its heyday. “It’s not as important as it used to be and people are still watching it and are willing to vote for someone they like, but they don’t seem willing to support them afterward,” she said. “Even if a girl won, I don’t know that she’d have better luck.”
The “cute” factor might also play a role, as in the “Idol” teen girl demo may be willing to vote for the attractive young man, but when it comes to buying his record they’re not as interested and may have moved on. “It’s vital that the winners are marketed so that they are able to appeal to an audience outside of the ‘Idol’ bubble,” she said. “Teen girls’ attention spans are not that long.”
Get your “Idol” fix on MTV News’ “American Idol” page,where you’ll find all the latest news, interviews and opinions.
After months of speculation about who will be joining the next season of “American Idol,” over the weekend it was confirmed that Keith Urban will bring some of his Nashville-by-way-of-Australia flair to the judges’ table.
He joins fellow newbies Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj (as well as “Idol” vet Randy Jackson) for the latest incarnation of the hit Fox singing competition series. With filming already underway and the revamped judging panel locked in, Urban comes to the show with some serious judging experience and will add some much-needed country expertise to the panel. “Idol,” over the course of its run, has not only churned out pop and RB stars, but also country singers like Carrie Underwood.
Before it was confirmed, Urban left his post on the Australian version of “The Voice,” citing “other commitments.” “I’ve been so fortunate to have been a part of ‘The Voice’. And as much as I’d love to do it again, it’s clear that the recording and promoting of a new album, a tour and other commitments will keep me from being a part of the second season,” he said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter about his departure from the program.
Before he joined reality TV, Urban was already a music star with 20 years of music experience under his belt. Shortly after signing a record deal in his native Australia and releasing his first self-titled studio album in 1991, Urban moved to Nashville, where he worked with acts like Brooks Dunn and Alan Jackson. In between solo albums, he formed a band called the Ranch and was a studio musician for Garth Brooks and the Dixie Chicks in the mid-’90s, before going solo once again for his self-titled sophomore effort.
As the new millennium approached, Urban’s star was on the rise, thanks to several albums like Golden Road, Be Here and Love, Pain the Whole Crazy Thing, but Urban really hit it big and found crossover success in 2009 with the release of Defying Gravity, which featured his crossover track, “Kiss a Girl.” Interestingly enough he appeared on “Idol” that year, where he performed with Kris Allen.
Urban currently has four Grammy Awards, has scored 14 #1 singles in the United States and six platinum albums. On top of his musical expertise, the star also brings celebrity appeal. He is married to Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman, with whom he has two daughters, Sunday and Faith. Having Urban, 44, on the show, makes “Idol” an even more formidable opponent for the likes of “The Voice,” which features its own country music superstar Blake Shelton.
“It’s really an honor to have been invited to be a part of the ‘American Idol‘ family,” Urban said in a statement about the “American Idol” gig. “I’m looking forward to working with everyone and to seeing the same passion that I have for music in all of the participants.”