Sep
19

7 Signs The Mono-Genre Is Here

September 19, 2012 - By Trigger  //  Random Notes  //  12 Comments

When I first proposed the theory that all popular music was coalescing into one big mono-genre where even the two traditionally polarized genres of country and hip-hop would be living side by side, even I didn’t think the conversion would happen so quickly and be so indisputable. Looking at country music, the top albums, the top songs, and the top artists all have ties to the merging of all popular music. It is truly a man bites dog world out there in music these days. Here’s 7 signs the mono-genre is here.

#1 – Colt Ford’s New Album Debuts at #1

The King of Country Rap Colt Ford’s latest album was released August 7th and debuted at #1 on the Billboard country charts, unprecedented for an artist who receives relatively no radio play and is not a huge concert draw. Sometimes albums in their debut week will cause an anomaly in the charts, starting off really high but then falling precipitously weeks after, but Declaration of Independence has remained in the Top 10 now for over a month, currently sitting at #7 on Billboard. At some point, radio will have no choice but to quit ignoring Colt.

#2 – Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”

When the reigning Entertainer of the Year for both the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music releases a song and the other version is the country one, this is a pretty good sign country music is losing its autonomy. While the country version of “We Are Never…” is falling on the charts, debuting at #13 on Billboard and sliding now to #19, the “pop” version has done something no other song had done from a country artist since 1980: stay on top of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart for 3 weeks straight. Kenny Rogers’ “Lady” was the last one to accomplish this feat, a song written by Lionel Richie (see below). And don’t forget Taylor’s “Both of Us” duet with rapper B.o.B.

#3 – Tim McGraw’s “Truck Yeah”

Rap or country, city farm, it don’t matter who you are

It’s one thing to have an artist known for country rap to gain acceptance, or to have a pop star whose always been more pop than country go even more pop. But when a bona-fide top-tier country music franchise comes out with what is ostensibly a rap song that name drops Lil’ Wayne, talks about “subs pumpin’” and being “up in the club,” there’s no question major genre line blurring has gone mainstream. “Truck Yeah” is like the mono-genre National Anthem.

#4 – Jason Aldean’s Continued Success

It’s old news that Aldean’s country rap “Dirt Road Anthem” co-written by Colt Ford was the best-selling song of 2011, but the song is not done making headlines just yet. “Dirt Road Anthem” was certified triple platinum in June, is up for Song of the Year at the CMA Awards in November, and Aldean is also a frontrunner for the CMA’s most coveted trophy: Entertainer of the Year. His upcoming album reportedly includes another country rap, and it’s hard to dispute that Jason Aldean is anything but a country music mega-star, with billing just as high as Taylor Swift, if not higher. It was his milktoast, softcore version of country rap that made the genre-merging music mainstream.

#5 – Lionel Richie’s Tuskegee a Commercial Blockbuster

Lionel Richie proved that a non-country artist with non-country songs on a non-country album of all previously-released material can use country infrastructure and avenues to release an album and it can go on to be a massive blockbuster success. Tuskegee was the best selling album for the first half of 2012, not just in country, but in all of music. It had sold 912,000 copies by mid July, and has since been certified platinum. Much of this is the fault of the Academy of Country Music running an hour-long special on Lionel earlier in the year; a gesture not extended to any other country artist.

#6 – CMA’s Announce Nominations in New York, Grammy’s Announce Nominations in Nashville

This may seem like a subtle thing, but the symbolism is significant. Country music and the CMA’s seem to be perpetually wanting to apologize for their countryness these days, and how better to do that than to move the CMA announcement to the most metropolitan part of the country? Meanwhile the Grammy’s, paying homage to the increasing importance of the country music super-genre, are announce their nominations where the CMA’s should be: in downtown Nashville.

The Grammy’s might also paying tribute in part to Nashville’s burgeoning independent scene. Depending who you talk to, Nashville is considered the epicenter of independent music, existing right under the nose of Music Row with little acknowledgement or regard. The Grammy’s recognize the indie world as one of the fastest-growing segments in music. Remember, the mono-genre is not just about all popular music becoming one, but how micro-genres and independent music will increase as mainstream listeners search for choice.

#7 – Independent Music On The Rise

The more mainstream music consolidates, the more independent music will increase due to the listeners falling through the cracks and becoming disenfranchised with the lack of choice and diversity. Mainstream artists will also be enticed to the independent world by the lure of creative freedom and a more attentive, engaged audience. According to Nielsen SoundScan, independent sales are up 61% since 2006 to a record $26.2 million annually. Spotify is also reporting an increased payout to independent labels.

12 Comments to “7 Signs The Mono-Genre Is Here”

  • Spot on sir as usual. The silver lining in all of this is the rise of independent music. Case in point, a few weeks ago I went to Billy Bobs Texas to witness Charlie Robison record the latest instalment in the live at Billy Bobs series. While not completely sold out there were in the neighborhood of 4500 people in the club. Charlie has had no mainsteram radio or label push in years. Yet he still draws at a high level. Why? The rise of alternative media from twitter and facebook to satelite and internet radio to a growing number of terrestrial radio outlets that play Americana/Texas/Red dirt music.A few weeks before that I saw Cooder Craw pack Gruene Hall for about there 3rd gig in around 6 or 7 years. Thankfully as the mainstream becomes one homogenized glob of goo. Independent music is becoming more and more viable.

       3 likes

  • You have to realize that Lionel Richie’s Tuskegee is a collection of songs from the 80′s, so I wouldn’t consider it to have such impact as with other songs that have more of a modern flavor. as far as Colt Ford, if this album produces no hits, which is a likely outcome, he might be done releasing music. In the iTunes page of Declaration of Independence, it’s easy to see people frustrated, one of them going as far as to say that ”Can anyone be man enough to follow the footsteps of Willie, Waylon or Merle?”.

    Their is no doubt whatsoever that even though some people are fighting back, the artists are still trying to push for more rap into country. Jason Aldean’s Night Train apparently has some rap elements on his song with Eric Church and Luke Bryan, so that ain’t good. I thought he would keep his promise when he said that Dirt Road Anthem would be a one time deal.

    The biggest let down of them all has to be Tim McGraw’s, Truck Yeah, when one of the most respected acts in country music, does this.
    Let’s hope that Easton Corbin’s ”All Over the Road”, can keep things country, at least for a while.

       2 likes

    • ”Can anyone be man enough to follow the footsteps of Willie, Waylon or Merle?”.

      Yes….there is one guy doing it the Willie/Waylon/Merle way.
      Check out the Oct. 16 release of “Livin’ for a Song- tribute to Hank Cochran”, that’s your guy….it won’t be mono-genre.

         4 likes

  • I genuinely don’t see all the fuss over Tim McGraw doing “Truck Yeah”.

    He’s been a whiney pop-country boy-band-esque girly-man since his third album. This is just the natural evolution of it.

       5 likes

  • The way I see it, it’s getting close to a tipping point much like you saw with the fall of hair metal and the rise of grunge (regardless of your opinion on grunge). Mainstream pop country music has become so much about looks, image, and bright lights that people will eventually get sick of it and gravitate towards something more raw and real. When that happens, look for artists like Hellbound Glory, the Turnpike Troubadours, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, JTE, and Corb Lund (who had the overall #1 selling album in Canada) to break through and get some big time attention.

       6 likes

    • Yes, just like Disco, it will wear out its welcome. Of late I have taken to listening to Johnny Reid and Bob Seger and Joe Cocker …….whatever, just waiting for music to come to its senses. Good article Triggerman.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SY8PDpBeajg&feature=fvwrel

         0 likes

  • #7 is a strong indicator at just how music lovers are tiring of corporate produced music. Just look at all the roots music festivals that keep growing in number and size.

    Hopefully, the corporations won’t be tempted to swoop in and try to take control. As long as there’s not as much money in at as releasing one Taylor Swift album, you wouldn’t expect them to pay much attention.

    But then again – when an Avett Brothers or similar band starts getting attention, then the corporations start paying attention. Add a couple more success stories like the Avetts and you’ll see corporate copycats, which then waters down the real thing and alienates the fans that brought that band/style to the forefront, only to watch it be swallowed up by the machine.

       1 likes

  • You’ve hit the nail on the head. Still, I know this horrible fucking trend will crash and burn soon enough and Colt Ford will get the Fred Durst treatment. Current fans of this guy will one-day be jumping through hoops and walking barefoot over broken glass to deny that they ever listened to this shit. It may not happen soon enough but by then there will be yet another machine-generated abomination of a trend for these same “fans” to go chasing after. Never underestimate the fickle masses.

    As for Tim Mcgraw, well, that may very well be the absolute worst piece of music to hit my ears this year. That’s saying a lot. There are songs of his that I actually do enjoy listening too ( which I will still defend) and although I was sick of him and Faith going on about the joys of parenthood a decade-and-a-half ago (EVEN though I am now a parent, myself) I have not once ever ripped on the guy. Shit, I even ignored his chumming with Big and Rich. Name-checking Lil Wayne? That was enough but then the song got even worse. I think he’s probably reached a point in his career where he feels that he can do whatever the fuck he wants and people will buy it. I dunno. I’m tired of bitching about it so enough of that.

    Short of it is that with the ever-changing state of what passes for mainstream country these days, there will always be good music to find for those who are willing to look and you do an excellent job of helping steer people in the right direction.

    In the meantime, what would be some of your predictions for the future trends following this country/ rap bit? You could have some fun with this one.

       1 likes

    • (Sorry, I accidentally posted this as a general comment when it was meant as a response to you).

      Even Big & Rich have some good songs. Have you ever heard “8th of November”? I cut them slack because they never really profess to be true Country. They’re about doing music their way and they respect all genres. Sure, it plays into the mono-genre idea that Trigger is talking about, but they were the exception when they first hit radio and no, one or two artists that support genre-blending in a sea of others that didn’t was not bad (if anything, it was refreshing). In fact, I think Trigger’s point isn’t so much that certain artists genre-bend and moreso that there are TOO MANY and that other, more traditional artists are running to catch up by following the mono example (such as Tim McGraw). Big & Rich only include their mono schtick in about 2/5 of their songs, and even then they haven’t ever meant for themselves to be taken seriously (and usually inject a healthy does of humor into the proceedings to prove it). If you listen to their albums in their entirety, you’ll hear some songs that are more honky tonk than anything Tim McGraw has ever put his name to. Much of the rest are just good, modern Country songs (but since they’ve never been a radio draw, you won’t be hearing them anytime soon unless you seek them out). Sure, they diverge into the Arena Rock category as well, but I’d take that over Pop Country and Country Rap any day of the week. If you want to hear some good songs by them, look up “8th of November,” “Live This Life,” or “That’s Why I Pray” or “When the Devil Gets the Best of Me.” They aren’t Haggard or Jones, but I promise that they’re better than you think (and the majority of the “artists” on the radio today).

      And I know you were asking Trig, but I’d like to add my two cents about the whole Country Rap scene. Obviously I don’t enjoy it and I think that Colt Ford is more of a plague on the genre than a whole flock of Jason Aldean’s or Florida-Georgia Lines put together. This is primarily due to the fact that all of the popular Country Rap songs up to this point have been hybrids; the choruses typically involve singing (and there is SOME semblance of twang or the modern equivalent). With Colt Ford, he typically uses pure Rap synthesizer beats and just talks through the whole song, thereby showing that you can be successful in Country if you don’t sing or play an instrument (which is obviously what the genre was founded on). Consequently, I think it’ll be here for quite a bit longer than anyone else is expecting, mainly due to the minimal work and maximum financial gain.

         0 likes

  • i’m convinced there’s artists out there who have a genuine respect for both country music and hip hop. there’s no reason that it’s not conceivable to make respectable version of it. it’s only gonna happen (and it will…) with 7 though. 1,3 and 4 are always get the headlines and that isn’t helping the situation any.

       0 likes

  • “Tuskegee was the best selling album for the first half of 2012, not just in country, but in all of music. It had sold 912,000 copies by mid July, and has since been certified platinum. ”

    Never even heard of it until now.

       0 likes

  • Even Big & Rich have some good songs. Have you ever heard “8th of November”? I cut them slack because they never really profess to be true Country. They’re about doing music their way and they respect all genres. Sure, it plays into the mono-genre idea that Trigger is talking about, but they were the exception when they first hit radio and no, one or two artists that support genre-blending in a sea of others that didn’t was not bad (if anything, it was refreshing). In fact, I think Trigger’s point isn’t so much that certain artists genre-bend and moreso that there are TOO MANY and that other, more traditional artists are running to catch up by following the mono example (such as Tim McGraw). Big & Rich only include their mono schtick in about 2/5 of their songs, and even then they haven’t ever meant for themselves to be taken seriously (and usually inject a healthy does of humor into the proceedings to prove it). If you listen to their albums in their entirety, you’ll hear some songs that are more honky tonk than anything Tim McGraw has ever put his name to. Much of the rest are just good, modern Country songs (but since they’ve never been a radio draw, you won’t be hearing them anytime soon unless you seek them out). Sure, they diverge into the Arena Rock category as well, but I’d take that over Pop Country and Country Rap any day of the week. If you want to hear some good songs by them, look up “8th of November,” “Live This Life,” or “That’s Why I Pray” or “When the Devil Gets the Best of Me.” They aren’t Haggard or Jones, but I promise that they’re better than you think (and the majority of the “artists” on the radio today).

    And I know you were asking Trig, but I’d like to add my two cents about the whole Country Rap scene. Obviously I don’t enjoy it and I think that Colt Ford is more of a plague on the genre than a whole flock of Jason Aldean’s or Florida-Georgia Lines put together. This is primarily due to the fact that all of the popular Country Rap songs up to this point have been hybrids; the choruses typically involve singing (and there is SOME semblance of twang or the modern equivalent). With Colt Ford, he typically uses pure Rap synthesizer beats and just talks through the whole song, thereby showing that you can be successful in Country if you don’t sing or play an instrument (which is obviously what the genre was founded on). Consequently, I think it’ll be here for quite a bit longer than anyone else is expecting, mainly due to the minimal work and maximum financial gain.

       0 likes

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