Your Annual Reminder that the CMT Awards Don’t Matter

Alphabet soup anyone?

The CMAs. The ACMs. The CMTs. The PCCAs (yes, there is a PCCAs now).

None of them come even close to truly recognizing the “best” that country music has to offer in a given year. It’s questionable if any of them truly deserve your undivided attention at all. We feel lucky if they even get around to recognizing anything that’s remotely “good,” let alone “country.” Every once in a while they actually throw a real country music artist in the mix, but it’s commonly as a token.

Only two of these awards organizations actually hold any kind of meaning to an artist’s career, or in the grand scheme of country music at large. The first is the CMAs operated by the Country Music Association, which actually does have some weight behind it. The second is the Academy of Country Music Awards (ACMs), which were originally set up to better represent country artists from the West Coast. Both have been held for nearly 60 years, and both can goose the prospects for artists, songs, and albums.

But don’t mistake it. The CMTs are not real. Even the awkward and fledgling “People’s Choice Country Awards” concocted by NBC and the Grand Ole Opry’s parent company—which will hold their 2nd annual event this year—are still more relevant than the CMTs, because at least the PCCAs are awarding music and artists as opposed to videos, which are just placeholders in a popularity contest.

CMT, or Country Music Television, is where sitcom reruns go to die. Nobody watches it. That’s why they have to put their biggest annual event on CBS. Most of the people in the coveted 18 to 34-year-old demographic don’t even have cable. Many of them don’t even watch TV anymore. As the CMT Awards peddle B and C-level major label country stars, performers like Zach Bryan, Zach Top, the Red Clay Strays, and Wyatt Flores will be trending on Tik-Tok, resulting in significantly more attention and traction.

A bunch of noise has been made about how CMT “banned” Jason Aldean’s video for “Try That in a Small Town” after it stirred controversy last summer, yet now the CMTs have invited Jason Aldean to be a performer in 2024.

It’s all transactional with these people. Nobody stands on principle. You can criticize Jason Aldean just as much for going on the “woke” CMTs after they shunned him for “Try That in a Small Town.” What a lot of people forget is that CMT actually agreed to premier the controversial video on their platform when it was first released. That means they vetted the video, and chose to be a partner in releasing and promoting it. It was only when the heat came down that CMT decided to distance.

Did the CMT ban of “Try That in a Small Town” result in any meaningful damage to the song? Of course not. It’s CMT. Nobody watches it. It was completely performative. If anything, it aided and abetted “Try That in a Small Town” shooting to #1 as the backlash against the attempted cancellation of it resulted in massive support. It’s a great example of how the forces trying to control the content in country music win every battle (banning it on CMT), and lose every war (it went #1 because of it).

Rolling Stone made a big deal about CMT’s reversal in inviting Jason Aldean to the CMT Awards, but they’re one to talk. They put a moratorium on covering Morgan Wallen except whenever he did something wrong, but have since lifted that to promote his tour dates and other stuff. Because again, everyone’s just looking for clicks, views, and clout.

Others are hyped that Tyler Childers, Koe Wetzel, Zach Bryan, and the Castellows are up for big awards. But remember, the CMT Awards don’t matter. In fact, it would be my guess that Tyler Childers or Zach Bryan will win something. This is the CMTs trying to lure in independent viewers who are increasingly making up more and more of the country music population. Don’t fall for it. If you want to hate watch the CMTs, be my guest. But be cleared eyed about what’s happening, namely that the CMT Awards don’t matter.

There is also going to be a tribute to Toby Keith featuring Brooks & Dunn, Lainey Wilson, Lukas Nelson, Sammy Haggar (what?), and Roger Clemens (steroids). My guess is the tribute will probably be pretty good. Will it be worth sitting through a multi-hour presentation of B and C-level mainstream stars to see it? Probably not. This is what YouTube is for.

The CMTs are being held in Austin, TX for a second straight year. Trust me when I say that nobody in the Austin country scene gives a shit about any of this. It’s an anomaly, an outlier, a curiosity, and a reason to avoid downtown on Sunday. The CMTs have as much business being in Austin as Roger Clemens has in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

So no, don’t get excited just because so and so wins such and such at the CMT Awards. They’ll be lucky if it ends up being mentioned on their Wikipedia page. Last year, Kane Brown’s wife won a CMT Award for crying out loud. This is the level they’re at. You’re watching the last dying gasps of cable networks and major labels trying to spin the relevancy of television awards shows in an oversaturated marketplace.

Meanwhile, CMT and parent company Viacom hope you get confused and think you’re actually watching the CMAs, facilitated by the alphabet soup of silly and redundant country music awards shows these days. And if precedent holds from last year when that exact thing happened, many probably will.

© 2024 Saving Country Music