God and Viacom yesterday announced the nominees for the ninth annual
CMT Music Awards
, which are to Nashville, Tenn., what the VMAs are to MTV-opolis, except less important and more boring. Among the contenders in the USA Weekend Breakthrough Video of the Year category: Laura Bell Bundy, for her work on "Giddy On Up."
On one level, "Giddy On Up" is approximately "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)" transplanted to a frontier-town saloon, with the singer belting been-done-wrong lyrics: "I been through your pockets and your shirts./ I don't wear Bath & Body Works." On another, it is a belly-dancing tribute, with Bundy working a dance-hall dress so as to achieve a seven-veils air and, during the climactic shoot-out scene, baring an expanse of midriff that is nothing short of Shakiran. But the clip's crucial moment comes at its very end: With a kind of conspiratorial brattishness, the singer sticks her tongue out at the camera to say that she is play-acting, which she quite thoroughly is. Far be it from me to impugn Bundy's street cred, but her résumé — which includes a Tony nomination for playing the lead in Legally Blonde — is that of a theater geek, not a die-hard cowgirl.
Or at least it seemed so on Tuesday, when, playing a nomination-night set (yes, there are such things) for a typical lethargic group of bizzers in New York City, Bundy gave the impression of Kristen Chenoweth playing Jessica Simpson. As small productions go, it was a big production, with a lot of brass on stage and also a trumpet and an alto sax. Bundy twirled, grinded, and danced the Roger Rabbit in a fashion indicating that she and her handlers have big dreams of crossover success. There is enough R & B in this C & W that it is easy to imagine Atlanta commuters of all colors turning to Bundy to make their morning drives minorly less hellish. The end of the show involved a little "Billie Jean" and a lot of clog-dancing. Then came the encore — it did not take much to entice the singer back for an encore — which involved some panty flashing and then a "Proud Mary" that exactly split difference between CCR and Tina Turner. Then Bundy wrapped things up like the cabaret star she at heart is. "Thank you for coming," she said. "There's still free booze."