The 2013 Country Music Awards, celebrating a conservative subsection of music, served up a blend of values and ideas. On one end, it mocked Obamacare and the sexualized stunts of Miley Cyrus while praising patriotism. But newcomer Kacey Musgraves brought a taste of the “anything goes” mindset in her music.
Musgraves’ debut album, Same Trailer Different Park, became an instant hit earlier this year. Rolling Stone proclaimed her the next crossover wonder, a la Taylor Swift. The witty, young songwriter wore an almost detached look during the awards even as she won Best New Artist. According to Britain’s Observer, she has “her sights set far beyond Nashville.”
Musgraves performed her song “Follow Your Arrow,” in which she bitingly points out society’s double standards: “If you save yourself for marriage you’re a bore/If you don’t save yourself for marriage you’re a horr … ible person.” But instead of searching for a foundation beyond human hypocrisy, Musgraves simply chucks the whole notion of standards, and, not unlike Cyrus, concludes that anything goes with lyrics such as, “Make lots of noise / Kiss lots of boys / Or kiss lots of girls if that something your into / When the straight and narrow gets a little too straight / Roll up a joint / Or don’t … follow your arrow wherever it points.”
The Observer article recounted Musgraves’s frustration that country radio stations are refusing to play the song, recognizing its message doesn’t match their audience. TV executives, on the other hand, were unfazed by such concerns.
If Musgraves was rocking the boat, most of the performers were just trying to sail it and preserve the status quo—which in country music means a whole lot of beer, achy-breaky hearts, and love lost and found.
Hosts Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood skewered the new healthcare law to the tune of George Strait’s “Amarillo by Morning.” The crowd burst into laughter and applause as they sang: “Obamacare by morning, why is this taking so long / I’m going to wind up with hemorrhoids, if I stay here till dawn / We’ll have cataracts and dementia—it’s getting on my last nerve / Obamacare by morning, over six people served.”
Patriotism made an appearance in the winner of Song of the Year, “I Drive Your Truck.” Co-writer Connie Harrington said the song was based on a true story. The father of Medal of Honor recipient Jared Monti drives his son’s truck to remember Monti, who died in Afghanistan when he tried to save another soldier.
One emotional high of the show was George Strait’s win for Entertainer of the Year. Long dubbed the “King of Country,” Strait is the 12th best-selling artist in American history. He received a sustained standing ovation and his acceptance speech was the show’s top trending moment on Facebook.
In a night celebrating human talent, songwriter Scott Hendricks was one clear voice acknowledging the source of the talent. Despite his record of producing more than 45 No. 1 hits, he used his moment at the microphone to simply say, “Thank you God for blessing me more than I deserve.”