Laura Bell Bundy has to work on country ‘cred’

Laura Bell Bundy performs  at the 45th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas on Sunday, April 18, 2010.  (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

Laura Bell Bundy performs at the 45th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas on Sunday, April 18, 2010. Photo by Matt Sayles | AP.

Like anything that happens on Live TV these days, Laura Bell Bundy‘s performance on the Academy of Country Music Awards Sunday night drew quick response from the Twittersphere.

While there were many accolades and a lot of credit for clearly not lip syncing her performance of Giddy on Up - work a few more pauses into the choreography next time; girl’s gotta breathe - there were also many dissenting voices such as these:

  • Looks like the Britney Spears of country music, and I don’t mean that in a good way.
  • What that heck is a Laura Bell Bundy? She’s NOT Country. lol
  • Just bc you say giddy up & wear chaps, doesn’t make you country!
  • Do you ever wonder if Johnny Cash is turning in his grave when he hears Laura Bell Bundy?

Harsh. But therin lines the big challenge for our Lexington Broadway Baby-turned-Nashville Star: country credibility. Though it may not always seem like it looking at the country music landscape these days, this is a genre where “credibility” counts, and even if you dreamed of a country career since birth, coming straight to Nashville from New York City will make you a little suspect.

So will smashing the mold.

A big factor in the divisive reaction to Laura Bell was that her performance didn’t look like anything else on the ACMs, though it would have been right at home on the Grammys. (You have to imagine some of her new peers were watching thinking “I can’t do that.”) That was set into even starker contrast Sunday night because while Laura filled the stage with dancers and lights and sported a revealing cowgirl getup, female vocalist of the year Miranda Lambert and entertainer of the year Carrie Underwood both performed ballads in modest settings. A few tweeters were even lecturing Laura Bell that Miranda’s performance is how country is supposed to be done — like there’s only one way to perform country.

Of course, you don’t have to have “cred” to be a successful country artist. Shania Twain became one of the best-selling artists of all time though some country fans never accepted her. And Taylor Swift — despite leaving the ACMs empty handed — is still the star du jour, while taking a regular slagging from portions of the country crowd.

But Laura Bell can’t be happy having her performance reduced to Laura Bell Bundy channels Britney Spears.

While it probably took a song and production like Giddy on Up to get a country newcomer like Bundy a performing spot on the ACM’s, there are ways in which the song does her a disservice. It really is not representative of of the rest of her debut album, Achin’ and Shakin’, which is getting critical props for it’s old-school softer side. And the video and Sunday’s performance can come across as someone bringing her Broadway act to Nashville. Following her career the last 12 years, there have always been hints that a country career was something Laura Bell wanted to pursue, including her 2006 independent release, Longing for a Place Already Gone, which is rootsier country than anything you heard from anyone on the ACMs. But most of the people that tuned in the ACMs Sunday night are just getting to know her.

Now that Bundy has everyone’s attention, it’s time to start telling more of her story.

  • Interesting P.S.: Laura Bell Bundy posted this on her Facebook fan page this evening: “And, now I understand why some artists choose to lip sing when they dance like crazy! Woo! I’ve finally caught my breath, and I gotta do it again tomorrow at 8 am! again thank you to the fans, I am OVERWHELMED by your support! xo”
  • She is scheduled to be on Good Morning America at 8 a.m. April 20.
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6 Responses to Laura Bell Bundy has to work on country ‘cred’

  1. I did not see Ms. Bundy’s performance and have no opinion of it, but I would hope that a seasoned professional like Laura Bell Bundy would not take any criticism generated on twitter seriously or to heart.

    This may be one of the worst things about the internet. It makes every unqualified nitwit out there an armchair critic and falsely validates the misbegotten notion that any opinion, no matter how uninformed, is equal to any other opinion.

    It also devalues professional critics who hopefully have the experience and knowledge to assess something with serious, discerning thought.

    As for Ms. Bundy’s country career, I’ll suspect her sales numbers will be the barometer for her popularity and “cred” as a performer in that genre.

  2. June says:

    Leave the girl alone. You arm chair critics. Can you do all the things that she can do? I saw it and enjoyed every minute of it. She’s got a voice, beautiful hair, great figure and talent. She’s been a star in everything she has tried and I am sure she will be a country music star. Probably will be Entertainer of the year on the awards next year. Wait and see.

  3. Lexington Person says:

    I am honestly embarrassed that they continue to advertise her roots from Lexington, KY. She really is a no talent — clown (yes, just like Michael Bolton). Everything about her is very cliche’ and has been done to death. She doesn’t even look country. She looks like a mix between Britney Spears and Shakira, which looks wise isn’t bad at all. However, Reba, Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, Keith Urban and other fellow country artists are examples to live by if you want to be a country music star. She has only made it as far as she has because she is smokin’ hot and has a good body. Give me an amazing voice and real composing talent and then we can talk. At least Taylor Swift writes her own lyrics.

  4. kywildcatfan says:

    It’s amazing all the young talent that gets so much attention! What has Laura Bell Bundy done besides appear on Broadway, ( which I guess is quiet an accomplishment). Loretta Lynn remains the most celebrated celebrity to ever come from Ky. She is…The most awarded lady in country music, from her no. 1 songs, songwriting, CMA awards, Grammy’s, the Movie, all the other awards thru the years including the Kennedy Center Honor, all of which are housed at her sprawling museum on her ranch south of Nashville in Hurricane Mills. Tn. It’s fine to be able to dance but if one wants a career in country, the song & the music needs to come first, all the other stuff can be added later, if you’re lucky.

  5. diana says:

    And pray tell, what does country “look” like? Please.

    Have you heard Keith Urban speak? Yeah, THAT sounds country all right.

    I won’t even go into what Taylor Swift sounds like.

    Many good wishes to LBB, she is an extraordinary hard worker.

  6. Rich Copley says:

    Cool. We have a little chat going here. A few quick thoughts:

    Charles, Certainly Twitter does not constitute an authoritative review and I would never present it as such – I am one of the last people who wants to see Tweets displace the professional review. But, Twitter, article and blog comments, etc., do reflect the thoughts and impressions of the audience the artist is trying to reach. What I saw Sunday night was an amplification of chatter I’d been seeing since the “Giddy On Up” video debuted in January, which is why I thought it was worth noting.

    I also thought it was worth reiterating as a journalist who has followed Ms. Bundy for a dozen years now, that while many in the audience seem to think her country move is some impulsive, opportunistic thing, she has actually been talking about this as long as I’ve known her.

    Lexington Person, Just a note of fact: Laura Bell Bundy wrote 11 of the 12 songs on her album. It’s great to have an opinion, but facts are facts, and we can’t ignore them in advancing an opinion.

    kywildcatfan, You are absolutely right. Loretta Lynn has had an amazing career and is one of Kentucky’s most celebrated artists. I would note, her heyday was from the ages of 25 to 45. If someone had not paid attention to Ms. Lynn and many others we now call legends when they were young, would they have had those careers? Listening to Alan Jackson’s new album, Freight Train, has had me thinking about stars that I saw as the hot young singers becoming new legends.

    Thanks so much for the conversation. Glad you are having it here.

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