Perhaps putting the telecast of the Academy of Country Music Awards up against American Idol was thought to be a way to neutralize the television juggernaut. Instead, country music fans simply waited to flip from Fox to CBS to watch the coverage of same old, same old.

Pop singer hiding under a cowboy hat Kenny Chesney won a third straight award, and perhaps the second he deserved, for Entertainer of the Year. George Strait and Brooks & Dunn also were honored with the country duo winning their 14th consecutive award as best duo. That means the last time someone else won the award was in 1993, and if you think country hasn’t changed since then, it’s worth noting that Billy Ray Cyrus notched song #11 on Billboard’s year end country charts. Yes, Billy Ray was still relevant…or at least still moved units.

Former American Idol winner Carrie Underwood was appropriately honored for her smash Some Hearts, while Underwood wannabe Kellie Pickler was frozen out. The clock is ticking on Ms. Pickler, and she appears to be at minute 16 of the 15 she was allotted. Buh-bye, Kellie and remember to take your red shoes.

Country is on an up cycle again, and if you find your joy in cool beats or in alt-guitar pop, you might want to listen to some country going on. Gretchen Wilson (out this month with a new album) rocks as hard as Melissa Etheridge, with just a twang’s difference, while Chesney channels everyone from 1970s singer-songwriters to Jimmy Buffett. Country is mainstream and worth a listen.

Spinning In the CD:

I am grooving to Maroon 5’s new single, Makes Me Wonder. Little Adam has grown up since his Kara’s Flowers days and is showing the world that the band was no one-hit wonder. You’ll be listening to Makes Me Wonder for the rest of the summer if you go near a radio dial.