The 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards is coming up this Sunday and even if you don’t listen to country music, we think some of these nominees are still worth getting to know. Now, I’ve always been the kind of person who when asked what kind of music I listen to would automatically say “I listen to anything really–except country!”
But after conducting extensive research for this article, I’m probably gonna have to change that. Turns out a lot of country stars are really good. I mean hey, talent speaks for itself right? And if your idea of country music is based off of Taylor Swift then get ready to have your mind blown — and to have it blown by some REAL artists that’ll really earn you some country cred.
Here are the seven people you should start obsessing over today.
1. Hunter Hayes
We introduced you to Hunter Hayes when he was nominated for a Grammy. Although he walked away empty handed, we’re really hoping he wins something at the ACM Awards. Having six nominations gives him good odds and after listening to his nominated Song of the Year “Wanted”, you’ll agree he deserves an award. Seriously, he gives me a Taylor Swift in her “Teardrops on my guitar” days kind of vibe.
If you find you’ve got a little bit of “Haye Fever”, get excited because he’s performing live at the award show.
2. Jana Kramer
You might recognize Jana as Alex Dupre from One Tree Hill, but it turns out she can do a lot more than act. Even though the show hasn’t aired yet they already handed her Top New Female Artist of 2013 award. And that’s not all, she’s also nominated for Top New Artist. She’s scheduled to perform “Why Ya Wanna” during the show. It’s one of those songs that most ladies can relate to: ex comes back and wants to rekindle things but you know it’s probably a bad idea… Yup, been there! But, can’t you just hear the vulnerability in her voice and want to warn her before she gets hurt?
3. The Band Perry
This trio made up of Kimberly Perry and her two brothers, Reid and Neil, is nominated for Vocal Group of the Year. Their song “Better Dig Two” takes the vow “till death do us part” a little too far.The sound is almost like Carrie Underwood‘s “Before He Cheats”. It’s kinda dark and creepy, but still beautiful enough that it will stick with you — in a haunting stage-4-clinger way. Knowing that makes me pretty confident that their performance of this at the awards show will be really gothic and very theatrical.
4. Luke Bryan
Not only is he nominated for four awards this year — including the big one of Entertainer of the Year – but he’s also one of the show’s co-hosts! In his video for “Country girl (Shake it for me)” we see a small town girl trying to compete with the big city dancers for a chance to shake it for him. So yeah, he’s kind of a ladies man. The good news is that the catchy beat keeps it from sounding too sexist.
5. Love and Theft
Considering that they’re both nominated for Top Vocal Duo and they’re both very good looking, Love and Theft caught my eye right away. Their single “Running out of Air” isn’t what you’d typically consider country since it’s got a fun pop feel to it.
When I watch this video they almost make me think of Maroon 5, which certainly adds to their crossover potential.
6. Lady Antebellum
They’re up for their fifth nomination for ACM Vocal Group of the Year and their single “Downtown” will likely be the one they perform since it’s their highest-charting single on the Country charts so far. “Downtown” is a funky, pop-country song that attempts to show the trio’s playful and funny side. The video has a comedic story line that features Beth Behr (Caroline Channing from 2 Broke Girls) as front woman Hilary Scott’s wild wing-lady .
7. Kacey Musgraves
She first got her name noticed as a contestant on Nashville Star back in 2007, but now she’s finally starting to get some real recognition. “Merry go round” earned Kacey her first award nomination ever. Or should I say nominations, plural. The video got nominated for Video of the Year, while her voice got her nominated for Top Female Vocalist. The song takes a look at the idea of the “American Dream” in a small town. While the subject matter is nothing new, her perspective is as she seeks to burst the fairy tale bubble that many country songs float in.
So there you have it, 7 country artists that even someone who listens to anything but country truly enjoys. This will be the first year that I actually watch a country awards show and it’s only because I want to see all of the amazing performances it’s bound to have. Plus I’ve kind of got a huge crush on Luke Bryan now, so if there’s any chance to watch him in action, I’m taking it.
The 48th ACM Awards air this Sunday, April 7th on CBS. Join us at 8 PM when we start live-tweeting all the fun!
(Photo: Anthony, PacificCoastNews.com)