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MSN Entertainment's Guide to the 2013 Academy of Country Music Awards
Sunday, April 7, at 8p.m. ET/PT on CBS

Academy of Country Music Awards

Blake Shelton / Warner Bros.

Blake Shelton's 'True Story'

He speaks on his new album, tour, hosting the ACM Awards and the current season of 'The Voice'

Phyllis Stark
Special to MSN Music

For a self-described "normal dude," Blake Shelton has the world by the tail right now.

Between his happy marriage to fellow country music star Miranda Lambert, his 10th studio album, "Based on a True Story ...," in stores this week, and a returning gig as a coach on NBC's hit show "The Voice" -- where a member of his team has won two of the first three seasons -- Shelton's visibility is at an all-time high. But just to ensure that he really is everywhere, he'll also be kicking off a headlining summer tour in July.

This weekend he'll be back to co-host the 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards on CBS for the third time, joined by first-time co-host Luke Bryan. Shelton is also up for three awards on the April 7 telecast from Las Vegas, including Entertainer of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year, and he'll open the show with a performance of his hilarious new single, "Boys 'Round Here," joined onstage by Bryan, Brad Paisley on guitar, Sheryl Crow and the three members of Pistol Annies: Lambert, Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley.

In an interview this week with MSN Music, Shelton dished on trying out some "progressive" sounds on his new album, plus his "crappy" acting skills, and why he thinks his ACM Awards co-host is a "loose cannon."

MSN Music: Seems like it's pretty good to be you right now.

Blake Shelton: I try not to think about it too much because I think I'll end up overthinking stuff and derailing it. ... So I just try to act like none of this stuff is happening. But I do realize that it's pretty unbelievable, and I'm very thankful for it.

Your new album just debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Country Albums chart with your best first week album sales ever, 199,000 copies …

I know! What about that s---? That's awesome.

How do you manage at this point in your career to just keep topping yourself?

It's not something that I'm trying to do; it's just something that I hope happens. The cool thing about country music is, I think, as long as you're being honest, and you're singing and performing and writing music that you can relate to, then the audience can relate to it. I consider myself a pretty normal dude other than I have a really cool job. But I just sing about what goes on in my life, with being married and being back home in Oklahoma, and everyday stuff. ... It's just how I continue to make records, and I guess it's still connecting with people, and that's awesome.

Vote: Who do you think should win the ACM Entertainer of the Year award?

At this point in your career, your musical identity is firmly established. But with this being album No. 10, did you think about taking some risks?

I didn't feel like I needed to -- or even was interested in -- going anywhere new lyrically. I just think I can't do that and feel good about it. I have to sing about things that I understand. But musically, it's a different story, especially with being on "The Voice" and being exposed to all different types of music and having to work with [those] types of music, depending on who the artist is on my team. I'm surrounded by new sounds and music these days. And of course if you hear it, it goes into your head, then eventually it regenerates itself and comes back out.

Fortunately for me, whatever comes out of my mouth is country, whether I like it or not. You can listen to me talk and know that. [But] I think musically, the album may have a little bit more progressive sound. I've tried some different things with loops, and there's a song on there called "Small Town Big Time" where there's two Auto-Tune verses, just because I like how that sounds. I'm having fun playing around with stuff like that.

Speaking of "The Voice," this season in particular you seem to be having more fun than ever. Is there a new energy with the new coaches, Usher and Shakira?

In some ways, the show is brand-new again, especially when you have two major, big personalities like Cee Lo [Green] and Christina [Aguilera] go away. You can't replace that. You just have two new, different types of personalities come in, and they have a different angle and a different slant on how they play the game. It's almost like you're learning all over again, and that is fun.

You can probably tell by watching that we're seriously having the time of our lives on the show and playing the game, because it's not serious. It's music. It's fun. It's enjoyable. That's what music should be, a getaway for people, and that's what we're doing in these blind auditions. They're fun, and it's changing people's lives. It's entertaining to watch that.

In a poke at a guy in the red "The Voice" chair next to you, and your own enjoyment of a good cocktail, you recently said on Twitter your new coach name would be "Lusher."

If you keep watching, I've got all kinds of different names for Usher I like to play around with.

Give us a preview of your summer tour, where you must know you're front-loading expectations by calling it the Ten Times Crazier tour.

We did a tour last year and ... it was fun. I learned a lot and, in fact, I learned so much that I know exactly what I want to do this year. Not only is ["Ten Times Crazier"] a song on the album, I just thought it was a perfect statement about [how], if you compare this tour to last year's tour, it is going to be 10 times crazier.

2013 ACM Awards: Photos of nominees | Find out who got nominated

You've taken a lot of good-natured shots at Luke Bryan in the promos for Sunday night's ACM Awards, but how do you really feel about co-hosting with him?

The second that he was chosen as the co-host, I knew he was going to be great at it. I like to give him a lot of crap, and that's cool because Luke can take it and give it back. He's just a funny guy and fun to be around. ... I'm happy that he's the guy, because he would have been the one that -- if it was all up to me -- I would have picked anyway.

How does he differ as a co-host from your former hosting partner, Reba McEntire?

Reba is very funny, and she's got great timing. That's something that [neither] Luke [nor] I probably will never master the way Reba did and still does. She's a pro. Luke is a little bit more of a loose cannon. That's the biggest difference. Reba probably still has some boundaries, and she has a lot of class. Luke and I, neither one of us has any.

What's one joke you've already thrown out of the ACM script for being too inappropriate?

I'll tell you what, I'm avoiding that script at all costs right now. I'm going to take my first look at it Thursday or Friday, because I've learned over the years that there's no point in memorizing or even looking at anything at this point because it's going to change a thousand times.

Speaking of scripts, you recently guest starred on Reba's show, "Malibu Country." Do you have any more acting plans, especially spending as much time as you do in Los Angeles now?

Man, I really don't. I think I'm a pretty crappy actor. With having television success, I think the reason it's probably working for me is because I'm still in my element. I'm still doing music -- performing it, working with it and working with artists. That's what I do anyway. This show just happens to be on TV. When it comes to acting, I didn't move out here to do that, and I don't plan on doing it at any point. Little things like ["Malibu Country"] may come up and it's fun to do, but it's not something I would ever want to pursue for a career.

Finally, a report surfaced this week that you and Miranda were starting a bed-and-breakfast in Oklahoma. Will you two really be changing sheets and making waffles?

Oh sure, hell yeah. I've got plenty of time for that. [Laughs] I actually don't know where that story came from, but I have heard it before, and it's pretty funny to Miranda and I both because when we're home, the last thing we want to have is a situation like that where we're having to be in a service industry of any sort.

Veteran entertainment journalist Phyllis Stark has been reporting extensively on the music industry for two decades. As a freelance writer, her work appears regularly in numerous publications and sites. She previously was Nashville bureau chief at Billboard magazine.

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MSN Entertainment's guide to the 2013 ACM Awards brings you the excitement of the Academy of Country Music's annual Las Vegas celebration with comprehensive coverage -- your one-stop destination for predictions, full red-carpet coverage, nominees, winners, video, photo galleries, show highlights and more.
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