Kenny Chesney Questions Entertainer Win
Kenny Chesney stakes claim to the ACM Entertainer Of The Year Award for the fourth consecutive time. But he's questioning the way he won. This year was the first time the coveted award was based solely on fan votes, instead of the former practice of allowing members of the ACM to vote, a decision not without its own share of controversy. Chesney, while grateful, admitted he was not in favor of the change, nor of the fact that it was only for this category.
"I think it's important to know that I do think the fans should be a part of this awards show. I really do. But I'm probably one of the guys in the audience that didn't think it should be for Entertainer of the Year," Chesney explained to reporters backstage after his win. "I don't think it's right that they picked the one award that means the most, that all artists sacrificed the most for, and turned it into . . . a sweepstakes, to seeing who can push people's buttons the hardest on the Internet . . . It's a complete disrespect of the artists -- what they've lowered us to -- to get Entertainer of the Year . . . Because of that, it really diminishes the integrity of the music that we're making and how much work goes into it. That's what really matters. That's what Entertainer of the Year really is. It's not about flying somebody to some shows and giving free songs away . . . and seeing how hard you can push people's buttons on the Internet. As much as I love the ACMs and what they've done for my life, that's how I really feel about it."
Those comments were, at least in part, a reference to Rascal Flatts, who offered a free download of a previously unreleased live version of their new single 'Winner At A Losing Game' to fans who promised to vote for them. While not technically breaking any rules, the ACM did not count those votes in the online tally, and the offer was rescinded after only one day.
"My first reaction to it wasn't anything towards the act that put out the MP3 offer, because I love them boys," Chesney said of Rascal Flatts. "And they deserve to be up here at some point. No doubt about it. It's just an example of how they [the industry] have made us conduct ourselves to stand up here. I could talk about it all night, but it should be about the music."
When Rascal Flatts were asked the same question about the new voting method, lead singer Gary LeVox expressed an entirely different opinion.
"It's about time," said LeVox. "They're the reason that the three of us -- all of us -- have jobs . . . It's a shame that they don't have a voice. This year was the first year that they did. It's incredible, and hopefully it continues."
Chesney was quick to acknowledge that his feelings toward the voting change did not in any way reflect his feelings for the ACM as an organization, saying that as a whole both the ACM and the fans "have been great to me and continue to be," he said. "And don't get me wrong. I'm excited the fans have voted me Entertainer of the Year. It means the world. When I go out on the road next week, I want to thank them over and over. And tonight on the Internet, I'm going to thank them over and over again. But you have to admit, if they [the ACM] continue to do this, it's a different award."