The 2013 Country Music Association Awards are all about the girls this year; in particular, its top two nominees, Taylor Swift and Kacey Musgraves. On the surface, the two singers share a few things: They're just a year apart in age, both were nominated in a whopping six categories, and they're pitted against each other in two key categories (Album of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year).
That's not to say, however, that the pair really do have anything in common. Actually, it's quite the contrary; making this November's CMA Awards a charming study in classic "good girl" vs. "bad girl" competition.
We're all familiar, of course, with the good girl in this scenario. Taylor Swift has long ruled Nashville — and the nation — with her ladylike fashion style, sweet outreach to fans, and songs that parents aren't afraid to let their daughters listen to. Her one eyebrow-raising factor is her penchant for falling in and out of love; a weakness that certainly hasn't hurt her stunningly successful career one iota.
Meanwhile, newcomer Musgraves — this is her first year nominated at the prestigious country event — has staked out her claim as somewhat of the anti-Swift. Whereas Red is filled with material suitable for a tween's ears, Musgrave's tunes explore far edgier territory. Her CMA-nominated singles, "Merry Go 'Round" and "Mama's Broken Heart" (performed by Miranda Lambert) are both lyrically apt to break Mama's heart. Instead of lamenting "I knew you were trouble," Musgrave sings about characters who themselves are trouble, with mentions of booze, smokes, and general run-down hopelessness. Even the title of her nominated album, Same Trailer Different Park, is a clue there's something a bit less glossy than Harry Styles on Musgrave's mind.
Musgrave has also taken on topics of general taboo in the country community, such as homosexuality, making her somewhat of an outlier. Oddly enough, however, this status puts her in unexpected company with Swift, who has received her share of outlier's criticism, albeit for much different reasons (veering out of the country genre musically and dating a string of distinctly non-country Hollywood types).
At any rate, angel or devil, the two women are both poised to make history at this year's ceremonies. Musgraves, who already wrote one for the books as the first woman to lead the nominations in her first year nominated, is vying to become be the first artist ever to win Album of the Year and New Artist of the Year in the same year. (Got all that?)
Swift's hopeful feat is far less of a tongue twister: She's vying to become the first female to win Entertainer of the Year three times. Along with the three-peat, she's also going to set a record if Red wins Album of the Year--that'll mark the first time a female vocalist has taken the prize twice. (Swift's Fearless won the award in 2009.)
The 47th annual Country Music Association Awards will take place November 6 in Nashville.