If Non-Mainstream Country Artists Won The 2021 CMT Music Awards

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In 2021, we are blessed with the opportunity to discover artists over the internet and the “need” for mainstream (AKA radio) is becoming less and less necessary.

While the selection of quality artists in the mainstream seems to be growing, still it’s important to fight for artists who maybe aren’t as well known in the industry.

So with the 2021 CMT Music Awards right around the corner, hosted by Kane Brown and Kelsea Ballerini, the focus is entirely on music videos. And while awards shows on the whole leave A LOT to be desired these days, the CMT Music Awards might be the worst.

You might have a few good moments here and there, but if you like read deal country music, you’re not gonna be happy. In fact, you might want to rip your eyeballs out. To call it corny as all hell would be putting it lightly…

So just like in 2020, I will be taking a look at the CMT categories and looking at it through the lens of giving the award to a non-mainstream artist. So here’s the alternate edition of the 2021 CMT music Award Winners…

Video of the Year

Actual Nominees:

Carrie Underwood with John Legend – “Hallelujah”
Dierks Bentley – “Gone”
Elle King and Miranda Lambert – “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)”
Ingrid Andress – “Lady Like”
Kane Brown – “Worldwide Beautiful”
Keith Urban with P!nk – “One Too Many”
Kelsea Ballerini – “hole in the bottle”
Kenny Chesney – “Knowing You”
Maren Morris – “Better Than We Found It”
Mickey Guyton – “Heaven Down Here”
Miranda Lambert – “Settling Down”
Ryan Hurd with Maren Morris – “Chasing After You”
Sam Hunt – “Breaking Up Was Easy In The 90’s”
Willie Jones – “American Dream”

Alternative Winner: Arlo McKinley “She’s Always Around”

In August of 2020, Arlo McKinley dropped one of the best albums of the year in Die Midwestern. On that album is this song, “She’s Always Around” which is a deeply personal song about opioid addiction and the friends he’s lost to that addiction.

It’s truly a great song, but the music video just takes it to another level.

Male Video of the Year

Actual Nominees:

Chris Stapleton – “Starting Over”
Darius Rucker – “Beers and Sunshine”
Kane Brown – “Worship You”
Luke Bryan – “Down To One”
Luke Combs – “Lovin’ On You”
Thomas Rhett – “What’s Your Country Song”

Alternative Winner: Koe Wetzel “Good Die Young”

Koe Wetzel is so fun, and this song and video is a personification of that. It starts out with him getting told he’s going to prison in 24, and the video is basically a countdown until he goes off to prison.

If you want to get into Koe Wetzel and see what his attitude is all about this is a perfect starting point for you.

Female Video Of The Year

Actual Nominees:

Carly Pearce – “Next Girl”
Gabby Barrett – “The Good Ones”
Kelsea Ballerini – “hole in the bottle”
Maren Morris – “To Hell & Back”
Mickey Guyton – “Heaven Down Here”
Miranda Lambert – “Settling Down”

Alternative Winner: Morgan Wade “Don’t Cry”

Just like last year with “Neon Cross” I’m back with the dive bar aesthetic making an appearance on the winner board. On December 18, Wade closed out the year by releasing the song and music video for “Don’t Cry”.

Her album, Reckless which came out in March has been one of my favorite releases in 2021 so far.

Duo/Group Of The Year

Actual Nominees:

Brothers Osborne – “All Night”
Lady A – “Like A Lady”
Little Big Town – “Wine, Beer, Whiskey”
Old Dominion – “Never Be Sorry”
Parmalee and Blanco Brown – “Just The Way”
Runaway June – “We Were Rich”

Alternative Winner: Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall “In His Arms”

If you love stripped down and acoustic country boy do I have a song for you. I know Miranda Lambert is technically mainstream, but compared to the Lady A, Little Big Town, and Parmalee’s on here this is massively different. Plus, she barely gets played on the radio anyways… The ACMs and the CMA Awards bend the rules every year, why can’t we?

It’s such a simple video, three people around a truck out in nature but it’s efficient. Also, I’m absolutely obsessed with Miranda Lambert’s jacket in this video. The Western vibes are unreal.

Breakthrough Video Of The Year

Actual Nominees:

Dylan Scott – “Nobody”
Hailey Whitters feat. Little Big Town – “Fillin’ My Cup”
HARDY – “Give Heaven Some Hell”
Lainey Wilson – “Things a Man Oughta Know”
Mickey Guyton – “Black Like Me”
Niko Moon – “GOOD TIME (Ride Along Video)”

Alternative Winner: Zach Bryan “Mine Again”

Zach Bryan releases so much music (thank God!) so it was hard to pick just one. To me, his 2020 deserves the breakthrough status so I decided to go with “Mine Again” which was released in December of last year.

The drone shots of the Mountains really do it for me. And oh yeah, it helps when you have one of the most passionate performers in the game right now pouring his heart out too.

Collaborative Video Of The Year

Actual Nominees:

Carrie Underwood with John Legend – “Hallelujah”
Chris Young and Kane Brown – “Famous Friends”
Elle King and Miranda Lambert – “Drunk (And I Don’t Wanna Go Home)”
Keith Urban with P!nk – “One Too Many”
Ryan Hurd with Maren Morris – “Chasing After You”
Tim McGraw and Tyler Hubbard – “Undivided”

Alternative Winner: Cody Johnson & Reba McEntire

Also technically in the mainstream, I still tend to think of Cody as a Texas artist. But like Miranda, he’s another artist that really doesn’t see much radio play (and it’s ridiculous of course). Originally on Cody Johnson’s Ain’t Nothin’ To It album in 2019, the collaboration with Reba McEntire on “Dear Rodeo” made major waves in 2020. Plus, it got hit with this phenomenal video of CoJo and Reba at an empty rodeo.

For my money, there wasn’t a better collab in country music this year. Texas country at its finest.

CMT Performance Of The Year

Actual Nominees:

From the 2020 CMT Music Awards – Brooks & Dunn and Luke Combs “1, 2 Many”
From the 2020 CMT Music Awards – Dan + Shay “I Should Probably Go To Bed”
From the 2020 CMT Music Awards – Jimmie Allen and Noah Cyrus “This Is Us”
From the 2020 CMT Music Awards – Kelsea Ballerini and Halsey “The Other Girl”
From the 2020 CMT Music Awards – Little Big Town “Wine, Beer, Whiskey”
From CMT Crossroads – Nathaniel Rateliff and Margo Price “Twinkle Twinkle”

Alternative Winner: Kesha & Old Crow Medicine Show “Wagon Wheel”

I’m a sucker for Old Crow Medicine Show. In fact, I’m that guy who has to say “you know this is a cover, right?” whenever Darius Rucker’s version comes on. And credit to Kesha, she did a good job with the song.

Kesha and Old Crow doesn’t really sound like it would work on paper, but when they hit the stage, it was one of the best CMT put out this year.

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