Well, how is everyone’s Holiday season going? Enjoying your time with family? In-laws left yet? Did Santa Claus bring you everything you wanted? Did you put on a few extra pounds from all that Pecan pie? Ha, you know I did. Looking forward to New Years? Isn’t that Ryan Seacrest dreamy?
Anyways, sorry to barge in on all your Holiday revelry, but the news just came down that Carrie Underwood won’t be returning to host the CMA Awards in 2020, which she’s done for the last dozen years. And yeah, it kind of feels like a thing that’s worth remarking on. In a Monday social media missive, the country pop star said her time as the MC of the CMAs was coming to an end, at least for now. And no matter how you feel about Carrie Underwood or her music, it’s hard to not assess how this development leaves a gaping hole in the CMA production, and marks the end of an era, and an end to one of the few reasons to tune into the CMA’s annual presentation.
For the 11 years previous to the 2019 show, Carrie Underwood hosted with Brad Paisley, and the duo was commonly one of the few highlights in the otherwise paltry and disappointing production. Brad and Carrie had “it”—that indefinable chemistry that goes off well just like a great country music duet. Of course most of the bits were corny, but you had to laugh, and they knew how to work the crowd, and how to be just edgy enough but still acceptable for primetime. They knew how to work in innuendo and walk right up to the edge. It added some spice to the otherwise sad sack presentation.
When the CMAs decided to shelve Brad Paisley for 2019 to put more emphasis on women, you knew then they were running the risk of messing with a good thing. Sure, they could always bring Brad back next year, but now if they do, Carrie Underwood won’t be there. That means there’s little reason to bring Brad back, so now you’re out both hosts and left searching for the best alternatives, which as we’ve seen with the ACMs over the last few years who’ve tried trotting out folks like Dierks Bentley and Luke Bryan with little to no success, it can be bad.
And the hosting of the CMAs in 2019 was pretty bad. Even the bellyachers over the removal of Brad Paisley as co-host were still happy initially to see that Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire would get more face time. And who better to pair up with Carrie Underwood than these two veterans of the stage who know how to speak into a mic and deliver a joke? But it seemed like all three lost their way during the 2019 CMAs. The jokes were flat. The timing was off. There was no chemistry, like the chemistry Brad and Carrie have. There were too many fast ball pitchers, and no foil.
We have no idea if this decision was instigated by the CMAs, the Carrie Underwood team, or if it was a mutual thing. And we probably never will. These things tend to stay closely guarded. But who would blame Carrie Underwood for not wanting to come back to an organization that she’s done nothing but give and give to, only to get continuously snubbed by?
Nobody wanted the 2019 Entertainer of the Year trophy more than Carrie Underwood, and it would have been the perfect storybook ending to the show with its emphasis on women—way more than removing Brad Paisley from hosting duties. Yet who walks away with Entertainer of the Year? Garth Brooks, again—a guy who retired from country music 20 years ago. In fairness, Carrie Underwood does have nine CMA trophies, but over the years with her 35 nominations, it’s felt like she’s been snubbed more than received her due—something even Carrie Underwood detractors will shrug and confirm.
Look, the world won’t end over this. It’s a tempest in a teapot. But make no mistake about it, the reason this announcement was made on the Monday between Christmas and New Years is because it’s bad news, and this is the perfect time to bury it. Are people really concerned who’s going to host the CMA Awards right now? No, they’re following the NFL head coaching carousel, and stocking up on firecrackers. By the time the 2020 CMA Awards roll around 10 1/2 months from now, the hope is folks won’t be thinking about what a downer it is that Brad and Carrie won’t be hosting again.
But it does feel significant, if only symbolically. It feels like the end of an era, and it’s most certainly the end of one of the most tolerable things about an otherwise intolerable presentation in the CMAs.
So long Carrie. Get out while you can, I guess. Don’t be surprised if she’s not even in the building next year. Why return to the scene of the crime? Meanwhile, we can’t wait to see what Kelsea Ballerini, Mitchell “Bitches” Tenpenny, or whomever they roll out next year have in their bag.