If you’re a Taylor Swift fan, you might be considering never ever getting back together with the Country Music Association Awards this morning. The Nashville institution pulled a Carrie on the country-pop superstar Thursday night, inviting her up to perform “Begin Again” before shutting her out of the night’s awards entirely. To add insult to injury, hosts Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley took delight in skewering Swift’s recent breakup with Conor Kennedy in the show’s opening. Has country music fallen out of love with El Sastre Rapido?
Don’t count on it. It’s worth remembering that Red wasn’t eligible for this year’s awards—Swift was only being judged on the basis of a scant number of collaborations and (possibly) “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” which is the furthest thing from country she’s ever recorded. You can’t fault her, then for losing Entertainer of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year to Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert, respectively, two artists who had absolutely monster years. (Although the loss to Lambert did bring an opportunity for some fun Nashville comparisons.) Taylor’s only other nomination came for her Hunger Games collaboration with the Civil Wars, “Safe & Sound,” a nice song sure, but hardly the Musical Event of the Year. It’s best to wait another year before writing the “Country Music Turns on Taylor Swift” headlines: If Red gets shut out too, then we’ll have our evidence.
Of the artists who actually did take home some hardware from the awards, it was the husband-wife duo of Shelton and Lambert who cleaned up. Shelton won both Entertainer of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year, Lambert nabbed Female Vocalist of the Year and the happy couple shared Best Song honors for “Over You.” Elsewhere the CMA spread its favors around: one trophy for Kenny Chesney (Musical Event of the Year for his Tim McGraw collaboration “Feel Like a Rock Star”), one for Toby Keith (Music Video of the Year for “Red Solo Cup”), one for Little Big Town (Single of the Year for “Pontoon”) and one for Eric Church (Album of the Year for Chief).
All in all, a fairly subdued night. We can’t wait for next year, though, when Taylor Swift goes up against Carrie Underwood in the battle of the blonde bombshells. The big-voiced country purist vs. the pop-rock experimenter—you’d better get your popcorn ready.