Gwyneth Paltrow sings her brains out at the CMA Awards

Gwyneth Paltrow was at the CMA Awards on Wednesday night enduring Coldplay jokes from Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley because she has a movie to plug, the upcoming Country Strong.

But ABC and the CMA producers knew what they were doing when they scheduled Paltrow’s performance near the tail end of the show — there was a curiosity factor at work here: Would Paltrow be able to cut it in front of an audience of country pros sitting in front of her?

Of course she could. Strumming an acoustic guitar, looking a little nervous but singing the movie’s title song in an expressive, surging tone, she didn’t really need the assistance of the wonderful Vince Gill, there to give a polite country-industry imprimatur to Paltrow’s efforts.

Paltrow’s performances on the Country Strong soundtrack album are solid ones. She delivers the songs with a conversational directness in a tuneful voice.

Was she as good as Miranda Lambert singing Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter”? Of course not, but some things are just near-perfection. But Paltrow performed her song as well as any number of other pop-country acts did theirs, if not better than a few of ‘em. (Rascal Flatts, I’m listening at you.)

She’s bound to come in for some ridicule from folks who don’t consider this scion of Los Angeles showbiz royalty  “authentic” enough. The entire notion of authenticity in popular music is questionable at best and ludicrous most of the time, and when it comes to country music in particular — well, this sort of cold shoulder extends at least as far back as Olivia Newton-John. In other words, it’s a criticism that is old, tired, and irrelevant.

If Paltrow has a weakness, it’s only in the fact that she tends to approach any role, including that of country singer, with a well-thought-through determination. This can result in a certain self-consciousness — her detractors would say “coldness”; I’d call it braininess. And I find such bright professional strategizing, when it’s executed this energetically, charming.

Did you see/hear Paltrow on the CMAs? What did you think?

Twitter: @kentucker

For more: CMA Awards: Best and Worst of the Broadcast

Leah Greenblatt on Taylor Swift’s performance: Strong showing, odd ending

Comments (218 total) Add your comment
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  • Amber

    She was very nervous, but props to her for having the courage to go up their and sing like that! btw, Kelly Clarkson did an amazing job!

    • Seddie Forever!!!!!!!!!

      she is as bad as the rest of country-pop, having twang in your voice does not equal country

      • UGH

        Country hasn’t been Country in 20 something years. You can thank Garth and Shania for ruining it and turning into bad 70’s A.M. radio.

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      • Granpa Jones

        Country hasn’t been country for 50 years, just overproduced MOR ever since a string sections and a chorus started being used. Thank Patsy Cline for killing real Country music

      • KC

        Weird. Why does it appear on the home part of this site, GP is wearing a different top than the one in this article?

      • @UGH

        The funny thing is… go back and listen to Garth Brooks today. He sounds so incredibly country compared to what is currently out there. On topic…I though Gwyneth Paltrow did a fine job. She’s a more talented singer than many in Nashvegas these days.

      • Doremifah Solatido

        Patsy Cline wasn’t “country” enough for Granpa Jones? Country died around 1960? Maybe he’s looking for performers who use washboards and handsaws for instruments…..

      • @Doremifah

        Beleive G.J.’s post was a sarcastic reply to UGH’s re Garth & Shania ruining country music. Anyway, what’s wrong with washboards and saws? Real country fans know it all ended when fame seeking, money grubbing performers started incorporating corrupting elements of contemporary popular music into country in order to cross over. So, thanks to Jimmy Rodgers, real country is dead! Burn in hell! And take Louis Armstrong with you!

    • LOL

      GP proves how easy it is to sing “country” music these days.

      • jackson

        Second week running and no South Park review? What gives? If you won’t do it, get somebody else to. If anything, the mere fact that they had Bieber killed by having him being popped like a zit merits a recap.

      • Callie

        Good point, LOL.

    • Lucy

      blah blah blah…she is so nothing!

      • Sarah

        Why was Gwyneth even singing there? She is so much classier than everyone else there. They should rename the show from CMA to RMA or more precisely the redneck music awards. Why would you want to celebrate these uneducated, ignorant fools?

      • @Sarah

        Why would you waste your time reading an article and posting about this show if you have such disdain for the performers? More the fool you.

      • @ LM & Sarah

        @LM. Noone is nothing sweetie- your mother should have taught you that growing up. You may not Like GP but she’s hardly nothing and has achieved a lot for being in her thirties.
        @Sarah- did you even read the article? She was promoting her movie in which she plays a country music singer.

    • Jen

      I thought she did OK … but was she actually playing her guitar? Her arm was so limp and unenergized, it looked like she was faking.

    • FromChicago

      She’s a generic singer….can’t tell her from a dozen other women singers…Please Gwyn, do.not.become.a singing star! And anybody can strum a guitar after a few lessons.

    • Annia

      Admit it ya’ll, She can sing. Just because she is first and foremost a “movie star” doesn’t mean she can’t sing. A few years back she did a duet with Huey Lewis and it was awesome. Better than some so called country music singers wanna be out there. Nicole Kidman, too, can really sing. Bravo to GP for a terrific performance.

  • eh

    She brought it. Good job, Gwyneth. People seem to love her or hate her, but judging from the reaction of the audience – and Nashville is notorious for being very clique-ish – they also appreciated her work. Work it, girl!

  • ro

    i thought she did a great job..She seemed nervous,but who can blame her..Beautiful voice

  • Sally

    She was awesome! She has guts to perform live on the CMAs, in a stadium packed with the best voices in country music. Go GP!!!

    • ALM

      She did a good job, and I agree that she had a lot guts to play that room. I wish she had put down the guitar, though. She was only semi-strumming (and it wasn’t plugged in), so she could have sliced her nervousness in half if she had just concentrated on the vocals.

    • Dennis

      Totally agree. Paltrow is a far superior singer to a hack like Taylor Swift.

      • graeme

        Yup, she was quite good.

      • IAMSOBZ

        My thoughts exactly. At least she has some inflection in her voice as compared to the droning Taylor Swift monotone.

  • Sam

    I thought she was wonderful. Sounded really great. Sure she was nervous, but great for her to get out there and perform out of her comfort zone. I love her duet with Tim McGraw on the Country Strong soundtrack.

  • Marcia

    I think she out sang Miranda Lambert by MILES. And from the look on that little brat’s face, it looked like she thought so too! I don’t know why Ms Lambert is so popular, as she can’t hold a tune to save her life.

    Go Gwyneth!

    • Victoria

      marcia… you obviously don’t know country music… miranda is amazing!

      • Phil

        Tell us Victoria, what school gave you a degree in “Country Music” that qualifies you to lash out at Marcia because her taste is different than yours?

      • Alia

        Victoria’s comment wasn’t expressed well, but I have to agree that there are very, very few people on earth that can out-sing Miranda, and as much as I like Gwyneth’s voice, she isn’t one of them.

      • Katie

        Please! Miranda Lambert is overrated like Taylor Swift is. Gwyneth sang great! I would buy any album of hers over Miranda any day any time! Hey Miranda, how about you lose some weight you fat cow!!!!

      • Easy Listening

        Marcia needs to come down off her witches stool. Her ‘brat’ comment was uncalled for, regardless of what you think of either singer.

    • Amy

      I agree with you, Marcia. I don’t care for Miranda Lambert at all — her voice doesn’t impress me and I can’t stand her personality. I thought Gwyneth was great and sounded much better than the likes of Lambert, Taylor Swift, and Rascal Flatts.

      • Katie

        I agree totally with you Amy. I bet alot don’t remember that Miranda was on a TV reality show called Nashville Star? She didn’t win there either. Chris Young was also on that show and HE did win! He is fantastic! I loved Gwyneth tonignt, she sounded awesome! She also looked awesome, if she can lose that 20 pounds she gained for that movie roll how come Miranda can’t lose any? She looks terrible!!!

      • Easy Listening

        Jealousy will get you no where, ladies. Now get back on your treadmills and turn on Oprah.

      • Stella

        Wow Katie thats the 2nd comment of yours about Miranda Lamberts weight…what does that have to do with her ability to sing? How sad for you that you are so shallow.

    • pb&j

      I agree and after seeing the “Faith Hill” Miranda Lambert was throwing prior to noticing the camera light on her, I am so not on that train. Grow up please. You were just honored several times, put on your big girl panties and show respect. GP sang her butt off – like her or not.

    • casey

      I also noticed a sour look on her face. Everyone else was beaming about after her performance, except for Lambert. Probably mad that she was up for so many awards and Paltrow still got the pimp spot.

    • Miley

      you obviously are tone deaf lady… she’s about as good as they come in this genre. But obviously the masses agree with me. Youre hilarious, the haters go as far to just make up lies, cause love or hate miranda lamberts music, the girls pitch and tonwe are spot on or damn close to every performance she gives… now jason aldeaan and rascal flatts i could see the cant carry a tune argument for…terrible

  • tune

    Gwyneth rocked :)
    You go girl! I cant wait to see this movie now. Love her badass!

  • blue

    Honestly, she sucked for the level she was aspiring to. I’ve seen karaoke better than that.

    • witteney

      Gotta say, I think you are dead wrong, GP was great. You better clean out yo ears blue.

    • Katie

      Hey Blue I have a pair of my dead grandma’s hearing aids you can have. YOU seem to need them if you think Gwyneth can’t sing. YOU SUCK!!

      • Quocdat

        This is such a dope idea! im gonna message one of my fav local attisrs elle vie she has to some how be a part of this!! check her out on you tube or her site elleviemusic.com she just dropped the illest mixtape!Any ways I will be there on Thursday!! cant wait!! keep it up

    • TvTroz

      I wasn’t even going to say anything, but as a vocal coach, vocal technician and experienced studio and backup vocalist (yes, I’m not ashamed to admit that I don’t have the charisma to pursue a solo career) I can tell you that Gwyneth held on to her notes, she sounded strong and she has a nice and pleasant tone to her voice. I would hear her over Miranda Lambert and (god forbid) Taylor “I can’t sing live to save my life” Swift ANY day of the week and twice on Sundays.

      • Annia

        You are so funny!!!!

  • Victoria

    she sounded pretty genuine to me!!! miranda rocked the house and this is the only song/performance that i have loved from taylor swift…

  • k2scuba

    She was nervous, shaky, and frankly….terrible. Such a shame that she took the spot away from a deserving artist. Would we be listening to her if she was not the daughter of Hollywood royalty? Probably not. She is mediocre at best.

    • KSat

      Gwyneth eclipsed her parents’ fame long ago. Get over it.

      • AD

        Stupid comment! Just because someone has more fame doesn’t mean they have more talent. Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton have more fame than a great deal of talented people. Don’t confuse talent with fame. Actually, I like GP and thank she’s talented; I just took exception with your “fame” comment.

    • Diana

      Her voice was better than I anticipated, but she blinked so much in those stage lights. She needs a bit more experience in handling those. Or a mechanism to cope better. Maybe tinted contacts? Or just learn to focus in a spot between the lights and endure the glare.

    • Cara

      GP was ok, not fantastic but OK…She looked great, I think the song was a bit boring.

  • Jeff Sanford

    Gwyneth is amazing! What a show-stealing bitch. The look on a few of the female country singers (Miranda Lambert) faces said it all. Awesome.

  • Hosuewife in the Desert

    I hated the Huey Lewis duet of “Cruisin” she did a few years back, and I didn’t much like this. Just because someone in Hollywood says you CAN do something, sweetheart, it doesn’t mean you should.

    All Hail June Carter Cash and Loretta Lynn, the Queens of Country.

    • mariaelisse

      My, aren’t WE the jealous, condescending little woman. I’m sure if you were to check with what is likely your very bored husband, he would confirm to you that YOU don’t do everything well either! Get a life beyond the soccer field there mommy, or should I say “sweetheart”. Ugh.

      • Cas

        That was a bit excessively spiteful, don’t you think?

      • Katie

        WOW Housewife, you need some hearing aids SWEETHEART!

    • Lea

      June Carter Cash’s voice really was not that good. Sorry.

      • Diva

        Thank you! Having a great song to sing, and having a great voice aren’t the same thing. People confuse the two all the time!

    • Amy

      Really? I LOVE her Cruisin’ duet with Huey! They sound great together.

      • Cara

        Cruisin was really good, this was ok.

    • Lisa

      Gwyneth’s duet with Huey, Cruisin, is an amazing song. It was the song my husband and I choose for out wedding dance, and it was perfect. She has a beautiful voice.

    • AM

      Well she has a great singing voice so she CAN and SHOULD do whatever she likes with it.

      • Killy

        Spelling Strategies are due on Wednesdays.Spelling Tests are taken on Wednesdays.6th grade List 121. reclaim 2. rartece 3. renovate 4. reject 5. reassure 6. restore 7. reserve 8. reorganize 9. revise10. repossess11. regenerate12. refurbish13.*Latin prefix re- means “again; back”14. valiant15. prevalent16. reticent7th grade List 121. extraordinary 2. extravaganza 3. extraneous 4. extravagant 5. extracurricular 6. extrovert 7. extracted 8. extraterrestrial 9. extradite10. extrapolation11. extradition12. extravehicular13. *Latin prefixes extra- extro- means “beyond; outside”13. interjection14. preposition15. conjunction8th Grade List 12 1. objected 2. obstacle 3. obscure 4. obsolete 5. obsession 6. oblivious 7. obligation 8. obstinate 9. observant10. objective11. obnoxious12. obliterated13. *Latin prefix ob- means “against, toward, completely”14. interjection15. preposition16. conjunction

    • Annia

      Listen, those older lady singers were hot, like 50 years ago, god bless them. Loretta Lynn, well, her singing is kind of choppy to me, but I guess her honesty, downhomeness, and frankness that got her such huge fan base. No need to compare singers from different era, if you ask me.

  • Sam

    She was noticeably scared, and Vince was there for a reason…she needs backup! Kelly Clarkson, however, was awesome! Taylor too!!

    • witteney

      Taylor’s had some pretty awful live performances, way worse than GP.

      • AM

        Agreed. She was awful at The Grammys. Taylor needs to get some voice lessons and learn how to project.

  • Leslie

    I thought she was Awesome! Nervous, yes and a little stiff, but she has a great voice! A little training and I bet she could go far!! Great job Gweneth!!

  • McProphet

    I thought she did fantastic considering she doesn’t try to promote herself as an multi-hyphenate actress-singer-etc. She definitely has talent. Oh, and to all the Biebers and Ke$has and Taio Cruz’s out there- pick up an instrument and learn to sing without the assistance of auto-tune and MAYBE you could actually win something besides a Teen Choice Award.

    • RobNJ

      Why did GP even have a guitar? Not plugged in. Strumming was not to the music.

    • AM

      Agreed. I think people need to stop ragging on GP and ask themselves if they could do it. She has a good voice for someone who doesn’t sing professionally and she put a lot of work into her role for this movie. Good for her for trying to genuinely commit to it and not lip-sync to someone’s else’s voice.

      • AD

        I hate hate hate it when people say “could you do better” in response to a critique. I don’t have to do better; I’m not getting paid to sing, nor do I profess to be a singer. It’s moronic to say I have to do as well in order to critique someone. Geez; have a brain!

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