The Academy of Country Music Awards are gearing up for their 50th Anniversary presentation at the behemoth Dallas Cowboys Death Star on April 19th, and they’re busting out some very special and very expensive hardware to hopefully ensure the event is as star-studded as they hope. Potentially no sector of country music has felt the pinch of Taylor Swift’s departure more than the stupid award shows who’ve been relying on the superstar’s presence over the last half decade to keep their ratings up. The CMA Awards in November shed 700,000 viewers despite recruiting pop stars Ariana Grande a Meghan Trainor to help fill in for Swift’s absence, and the ACM’s hope to avoid a similar dip for their 50th Anniversary gala by offering something special.
Even though Taylor Swift has 86’d country and said she wants nothing to do with the awards specifically, the ACM’s have minted a special 50th Anniversary “Milestone Award” crafted by noted jewelry designer David Yurman to be handed out to Swift and a few select others. The Milestone Award trophy is made up of more than 1,010 grams of sterling silver, with the top edged with 4.16 carats of black diamonds and an 18k gold band, and topped by black onyx carved in the shape of David Yurman’s signature Albion® gemstone, with the numeral ’50’ inlaid in 18k gold.
Basically this thing has a price tag greater than most of our net worths.
The ACM says the trophy is ambiguously recognizing the recipients’ “groundbreaking career achievements in ACM Awards history.” ACM CEO Bob Romeo adds, “The history of the ACM Awards and country music would not be the same without the incredible achievements by these seven superstars.” Receiving the award along with Taylor Swift are Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, Brooks & Dunn, Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks, and George Strait.
But wait a second, if this award is supposed to be for people who the ACM’s would not be the same without, why wouldn’t you include folks like Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, George Jones, or Hank Williams Jr., many who are all still living and had a huge impact on the ACM institution and facilitated the success of not just the ACM’s, but the careers of these later artists? The ACM Awards were started because of concerns that West Coast country artists like Merle Haggard and Buck Owens were not receiving fair representation by the Nashville-based CMA. Why not show some love to those folks? And just considering the artists that are being recognized, why did Carrie Underwood get the snub? Pop country or not, and least she’s shown some loyalty to the genre.
Garth Brooks seems like a pretty obvious pick for this, Brooks & Dunn has received more ACM Awards than anyone, George Strait has won ACM’s in four separate decades, country music wouldn’t know what to do with itself if it wasn’t shoveling hardware Miranda Lambert’s way these days, and Reba isn’t a bad choice either. But Kenny Chesney, and especially Taylor Swift seem like clear outliers where an opportunity presented itself to showcase an older artist who actually did help set a milestone for the Academy.
Truly, no offense to Taylor Swift. I understand she was the youngest ever recipient of the ACM’s Entertainer of the Year, but that was an aberration all into itself because she wasn’t country then and never has been. Taylor’s wish is for the country music community to respect her move to pop, and hey, all kudos to her for finally being honest about her music—something that other “country” artists should heed. The ACM’s Milestone Award feels like an attempt to bait Taylor Swift into an appearance on the show while there’s many older artists who would find greater value in the distinction.
No word yet on if Swift will show up to accept.
UPDATE: According to Billboard, Taylor Swift is planning at the moment to attend.