Explore the potential Country Music Awards controversy and their approach to top accolades.
The Unveiling of the People’s Choice Country Awards
On Thursday, September 28th, a new country music awards show made its debut, aiming to capture the hearts of country music fans.
The People’s Choice Country Awards were introduced as a joint venture between NBC Universal and Ryman Hospitality Properties, the parent company of the Grand Ole Opry.
The partnership, which came to life in April of the previous year when NBC Universal invested $293 million for a 30% stake in Ryman Hospitality, was meant to “unlock synergies” between the two entities.
The inaugural People’s Choice Country Awards were not a complete disaster, but they left much to be desired.
The show garnered 3.96 million viewers, making it the second most-watched program on network TV that night, just behind “The Bachelor.”
However, when compared to the 9.7 million viewers of the 2022 CMA Awards held in November, the new awards show fell short of expectations.
Awards for the People, by the People
One of the unique selling points of the People’s Choice Country Awards was the claim that the winners would be chosen by the people themselves, much like the long-running all-genre People’s Choice Awards.
Unlike industry insiders or music peers, the fans would determine the winners through their votes.
This approach aimed to honor the most popular artists and the acts with the most devoted fan bases.
In a surprising turn of events, country music fans chose Morgan Wallen as the inaugural People’s Choice Country “Artist of 2023.”
They also selected Wallen’s album “One Thing At A Time” as the “Album of 2023” and his tour as the “Concert Tour of 2023.”
With four awards, including those won by Jelly Roll, Morgan Wallen emerged as the biggest winner of the night.
Country Music Awards Controversy: Did They Punt on Morgan Wallen Wins?
Despite the fact that Morgan Wallen received three of the top awards, viewers of the People’s Choice Country Awards would have been oblivious to this fact.
Throughout the broadcast, there was no mention of Wallen’s wins, nor was he acknowledged as a victor in any category.
It was only after the awards concluded that a press release revealed Wallen’s triumphs.
The decision not to announce the top prizes during the telecast raised questions and eyebrows.
Some speculated that the two-hour duration of the show may have limited their ability to announce all the winners.
Another theory was that they wanted to avoid drawing attention to Morgan Wallen’s absence, given the lack of star power in the presentation.
Dodging Controversy or Undermining the Awards?
It appears that the People’s Choice Country Awards chose not to showcase Morgan Wallen’s wins to avoid potential controversy.
The decision seemed like an attempt to sidestep any backlash on social media. However, this move undermines the fundamental premise of fan-voted awards, where the winners are determined by popular vote.
Morgan Wallen remains a polarizing figure in the world of country music, but many argue that the public has largely moved on from his past controversies.
Wallen has made efforts to make amends, including multiple apologies, substantial donations to Black charities, and ongoing work to rebuild his character and reputation.
The handling of Wallen’s wins suggests that the People’s Choice Country Awards, backed by the Grand Ole Opry, may have been apprehensive about the potential backlash associated with his victories.
Instead of standing by the results, they opted to announce them discreetly through a press release.
From a public relations perspective, their decision may have been an attempt to mitigate controversy.
However, it compromises the integrity of these awards. Fans mobilized to support their favorite artist, and the least they deserved was recognition during the broadcast.
The Future of the People’s Choice Country Awards
The fate of the People’s Choice Country Awards remains uncertain. If they return next year, Morgan Wallen is likely to win again, as these awards are essentially popularity contests.
However, the lack of acknowledgment for Wallen’s wins may deter fans from participating in the voting process, potentially leading to decreased engagement and viewership.
The People’s Choice Country Awards was a collaborative effort with the Grand Ole Opry, which has been making strides in modernizing and diversifying the institution.
Nevertheless, the handling of Morgan Wallen’s wins underscores the questionable planning and execution of the awards show from the beginning.
In conclusion, whether you support Morgan Wallen or not, acknowledging the results of fan-voted awards is essential.
The decision to omit his victories from the broadcast raises questions about the authenticity and transparency of such awards shows.
It remains to be seen if the People’s Choice Country Awards will learn from this experience and adapt in the future.