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Monday, April 14, 2008

Miley Cyrus! Oh, and the CMT Awards!

Is it too soon to give out music award trophies? Has the sting from the Grammys' Herbie Hancock-over-Kanye West upset worn off yet?

Perhaps a mood-lightener -- in the form of some music video awards -- are in order? After all, in the hierarchy of music awards, the ones honoring videos occupy a lower rung. So get ready for Monday's Country Music Television Awards, bringing us such nail-biting categories as "tearjerker video of the year."

We may have a CMT "tearjerker" winner here, in "Ready, Set, Don't Go." Billy Ray Cyrus doesn't look on the verge of bawling in the clip, but nostalgic father/daughter songs always do the trick. And when your daughter is an international superstar named Miley, this probably isn't going to be Kellie Pickler's year.

But dang if you don't tear up when Pickler sings of her mom, "I hear the weather is nice in California," and a slide guitar droops right through her broken dreams. But hats off to the CMTs, as such emotional narratives (just try and turn the video off before it ends) are missing from the Grammy Awards, where this year the only drama going into the show was in whether or not Amy Winehouse would turn up.

But that's not the only reason the CMTs are worth tuning into. A few more are scrabbled together here:

1. The aforementioned Queen of All Media, Miley Cyrus. You may remember her from this week's "Idol Gives Back" special, or maybe the Grammy Awards, or maybe the Academy Awards, or maybe her smash 3-D film, or maybe one of her multiple CDs, or maybe her Disney Channel series, "Hannah Montana."

As far as teen pop idols go, Miley's tunes are on par, if not better, than anything that's ever come from Ashlee Simpson and Avril Lavigne, and Hilary Duff was never this much fun. The Times' Ann Powers took a slight jab at her "Idol Gives Back" performance over here, declaring that she's "no Carrie Underwood."

In terms of pure vocal talent, no, Miley Cyrus is no Carrie Underwood, but I'll take Cyrus and her raspy chirp of a voice over Underwood any minute of any day. When it comes to pure exuberant stage presence -- think singing, screaming and cheerleading like the only thing that matters in this world is this silly little sugar-high of pop song -- Cyrus (and these are words that may haunt me for the rest of my life) deserves an arena.

Nasal pitch and all, this performance of "See You Again" is a Pixy Stix shot straight into the bloodstream. The guitars never really kick in, since they don't have to. Cyrus herself powers the song into overdrive.

There's not a twang in sight, but this, ladies and gentlemen, is your co-host of the Country Music Television awards. She may have been born with Nashville in her blood, but she's 100% Hollywood now, so having Miley host a country awards show still seems out of place.

Until, that is, you remember that her insane popularity has made it so that even Oscar has no power to resist her.

2. In fact, the CMTs don't make much sense at all, and don't seem bothered by it. Aside from the aforementioned "tearjerker" award -- a celebration of emotional manipulation -- the CMTs give an award to the best award show performance of the year, and there's a whopping eight (8!) videos up for video of the year.

And then there's the CMT Awards website, which contains this little nugget of a time-waster, Taylor Swift's photo blog. Though little more than a bunch of goofy pics (Taylor and mom, Taylor in a prom dress and Taylor and, of course, Miley), she does provide some commentary, like trying to remember why she was wearing sunglasses in a studio. Taylor: "No idea."

But oddly enough, finding out who's actually performing isn't all that easy. A clip of Miley at the Kids' Choice Awards (forgot to mention that one earlier) is prominently placed (both Nickelodeon and CMT are owned by Viacom).

But bringing up a list of CMT performers (Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, LeAnn Rimes, Keith Urban and Brooks & Dunn, Underwood, Sugarland, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Toby Keith, Alan Jackson and Swift) takes a little digging.

Heck -- if you're giving out awards to videos, kudos go to the CMTs for not approaching anything close to self-importance, or importance, for that matter.


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