ABC’s “Nashville” Makes Good Money Off Of Bad Music Drama

October 10, 2012 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  32 Comments

You can probably make a pretty good case that no matter what ABC’s new drama Nashville served up I was predisposed to not like it. I’m one of those non-TV snobs whose never had cable, and though I’ve attempted to be vigilant over the years separating the City of Nashville from Music Row, the erosion of many music values has happened within the confines of that fair city’s four corners. And being an individual who grew up in Dallas but lived most of his life away from it, I know just how hard it is to slay negative stereotypes hardened into the brain by pop culture and television specifically (no, I don’t own cattle or work in the oil business), and cringe at what a series like this could do to the perception of what I have found over the years to be a beautiful and diverse city.

The early reviews of Nashville have been of the nature where you can sincerely call it “critically acclaimed” and I concur that at least from the perspective of the first episode, it was well written. And aside from the obvious, and at times horrifically out-of-sync lip syncing during the singing parts that took away from the value of the songs themselves, the show was superbly acted. With only 40-something minutes to work with, the writers did well in presenting complex characters and scenarios, though there were a few of those moments that gave you that dirty, gossipy feel that TV will when they were presenting the numerous love triangles that then intertwine with each other to the point where even Isosceles would be asking for a breather.

Read: “Nashville” Cast’s Real Life Counterparts

In a series that could have been potentially filled with cliche characters, the only obvious one so far is the young, up-and-coming starlet Hayden Panettiere whose hitting on anything with an outie to get ahead. But I understand, this is drama and you need your villains. You don’t keep the masses engaged with subtly.

Judging the Nashville premier episode solely based on its entertainment value as a television show, I would give it a solid 1 1/2 of 2 guns up.

Del McCoury on “Nashville”

As for the musical impact, I would say that at this point, this is the thing the least to be determined so far, and that it may take months to gauge what a plus or minus Nashville might have on the sonic world. It was cool to see Del McCoury get a cameo and to hear the tail of a Tammy Wynette song being played in prime time. At the same time, all of this stuff is being portrayed as the old, “has-been” music that is fighting for its life against the young blood looking to steal the spotlight in Nashville.

And though one of the story lines in Nashville is the cronyism that permeates the city, cronyism is exactly what is making the music in this series purr. The show’s music producer is T Bone Burnett, who is the husband of the show’s executive producer Callie Khouri. In the first episode, a song clearly picked from The Civil Wars was showcased, and Burnett has said he wants to work with people he’s worked with before on the show, like The Civil Wars, Lucinda Williams and others. Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine label is exclusively distributing the music showcased on the show, and Gaylord Entertainment, now Ryman Hospitality is one of the big money entities behind the series.

And this gets me to the icky feeling that I have about this whole thing. Nashville smacks of the same type of tactic used by Music Row’s major labels to re-integrate and monetize anti-Nashville sentiment through “new Outlaws.” Instead of trying to tackle and resolve the issues facing the country music industry–like how to deal with aging talent, the intrusion of industry into the creative process, the use of Auto-tune, and the all-too-common practice of kinky sex being used to evaluate music instead of the music’s creative value–they are using these negative aspects present in mainstream country music as dramatic fodder, with the backdrop being many of Nashville’s historic institutions like The Grand Ole Opry, The Ryman Auditorium, and the Bluebird Cafe.

Is it compelling? Sure. Is it right? Of course not. Will it result in either the increased exposure of good music as T Bone Burnett hopes, or the greater awareness of the issues plaguing mainstream country? Well have to see. But I remain skeptical. I would rather see Nashville attempt to fix their problems as opposed to try and make money off the drama they create. But of course, that doesn’t make for compelling television.

A lot is still to be determined about Nashville, but I continue to believe the show’s impact could be massive in one direction or another. So I will be fighting through lip-syncing, bad love scenes, and general modern television bullshit to keep a close eye.

32 Comments to “ABC’s “Nashville” Makes Good Money Off Of Bad Music Drama”

  • you made me google Isosceles and you didnt mention Hayden Panettiere’s breasts


    • Hayden Panettiere’s breasts.


  • I don’t know that T-Bone has ever produced Lucinda Williams.


  • I thought it was pretty entertaining. So.. If the main characters on that show are supposed to have some sort resemblance to a real life singer, who would the indie kid be? Ryan Adams?


    • Could be Hayes Carll or RA probably. The guy in Country Strong was supposedly based off of Hayes.


  • I thought it was entertaining.Had to like the part where Hayden was singing in the studio and the exec said “Thank God for auto tune” and did you catch when the limo picked her up,it was blaring hip hop music? Yep,that’s today’s country star! Looks like there is going to be a crap load of story lines going on in it too.


  • I dvred the show and will watch today just a thought here

    Could it be that Hayden Panettiere’s was suppose to be Taylor Swift? and Connie Britton,. Faith Hill :D


    • This issue has come up before. Hayden Panettiere herself has stated that her character is not based on Taylor Swift.


      • she’s probably only saying that so she dont step on anyone’s toes.

        i think it’s kinda obvious from the way her hair was,her dress,the sparkle guitar in the studio.


        • Looks like someone should put together a list of the “Nashville” characters and their potential real-life counterparts. ;)


          • I watched the show this afternoon. I will have to watch it again to make up my mind but Trig is right the music was bad. Hopefully they will add more characters than just Hayden and Connie not sure how long a conflict between them would make for good television


          • Maybe the girl who sang her poem at the Bluebird was suppose to be Miranda Lambert?


          • The character Hayden whatever is playing looks to be banging her way to the top.Taylor was only 16 when she started so it can’t be her, or someone would be in jail.Carrie had 20 million fans before her 1st album even came out so she didn’t need to bang anyone…My vote goes to.. Lorrie Morgan?


        • The character’s personality is very different from Taylor Swift’s personality.


    • I thought several references were impliedly to Taylor Swift despite what they say publicly. lol The part where she is in the studio and they say “Thank God for Autotune” is a red flag to Tonedeaf taylor all the way.

      then when Connie was in the car with her little girls, they were singing along to Taylor- oops- Hayden on the radio and the mother couldn’t stand it so she turned it off. That is what most of us adults do every day in our cars, sadly– turn off Taylor Swift. lol

      I do think Hayden is a good actress and a better singer then Taylor though. lol


      • But Taylor has also said many times that she refuses to use Auto-tune, a statement we can corroborate by the fact that she has sung off-tune many times publicly.

        Either you sing out of tune, or you use Auto-tune. It’s impossible to do both.


        • Auto-tune isn’t necessarily only for live performances, you know. Taylor uses heavy auto-tune in studio.* Hayden’s character uses heavy auto-tune in studio. The only difference between the two in that respect is that, live, Taylor doesn’t auto-tune while Hayden’s character seems to. But the point stands that neither of them can stay in tune without help.

          *This review might interest you, particularly the reviewer’s follow up comments in the comment section at the bottom of the page: http://www.amazon.com/review/R27YHUM1YX9N3Z/


          • Looks like the reviewer there was unable to produce any evidence of auto-tuning in Fearless. He simply linked to a website that did not even mention any of Taylor’s songs.


          • I still cannot figure out how anyone could be a fan of any “singer” who consistently cannot sing live and stay on pitch, carry a tune, basically talk/sings and doesn’t have much range or depth in their singing voice.

            I guess it’s true that people buy music with their eyes and that if the lyrics appeal to their ego, then they like it and call it music. My ears cannot deal with tinny, off pitch, talk singy stuff. I need beautiful, soaring musical notes. The musicians in my family are known for perfect pitch and astute skills.

            I’m not being critical here, as much as still trying to figure out what makes people tick when it comes to musical likes and dislikes.


  • I think T-Bonehead has somewhat succeeded already as I enjoyed the music presented on the show far more than most of the crap played on Top 40 AirHead Country Radio these days. That male/female duet near the end at the re-created “Bluebird” set featuring Aussie cutie Clare Bowen was excellent!

    The Connie Britton character struck me as more of a Jo Dee Messina type than a Faith Hill while Hayden Panettiere’s vocals reminded me of Kellie Pickler as she was able to stay on key.

    My favorite scene, mentioned previously, was when Connie Britton’s two young daughters began singing harmony in the back seat of the SUV when a Juliette (ie Hayden) song came on the radio. Connie’s reaction was the same one I used to have when Carrie Underwood or Taylor Swift came on LA’s To 40 country radio station until I just quit tuning in entirely. It reminded me of a recent visit to a Del Taco fast food restaurant when a group of four teenage girls began singing loudly along with a Taylor Swift song being played over the Muzak style sound system. Taylor doesn’t have fans, she has minions! (lol)


    • I agree the song and performance was great, but the lip syncing completely threw off the experience for me. Not just in that scene, but all the musical performance scenes. And from the chatter I’ve seen around the web, this is a big issue for the series. It is the element that is going to keep many music fans away. Could they not find actors who are singers too?


    • “Taylor doesn’t have fans, she has minions!”

      LOL! Obviously you have never been to a Taylor Swift show or even watched any videos of her touring. Taylor Swift has the strongest fan base in mainstream music today, because she is the most authentic singer in mainstream music today and connects with her fans at an emotional level better than any other mainstream singer.

      How many mainstream artists do you think would have experienced a drop in sales and concert audience numbers after messing up in the Grammys like Taylor did in 2010? The vast majority of them? Well, Taylor’s numbers were not even dented, and instead continued to grow just as rapidly as they had been before the Grammys. And the reason for that is the rigidity of her fan base, which will stay with her through thick and thin as long as she stays true to herself.


      • I’m late to the party, I know. My bad. Just wanted to respond…

        “…as long as she stays true to herself.”

        That’s the key thing, though, isn’t it? She’s built her castle on being the every-girl that white privileged suburban teens/young adults can relate to. Her image through lyrical content and public commentary relate to feeling inferior to the girl who is prettier or more charismatic, the girl who has it all. But what happens when the public knows you’re now the that girl? This article might be of interest to you:


        But she’s like Teflon, that girl. So, who knows? From the get go it’s always seemed like we were all collectively living in her dream world. She’s sleeping somewhere and we’re not even real.


  • I wasn’t going to watch this show, I confess, but the presence of T Bone makes it even less likely. He’s one of those musicians that by nearly every workable theory of my musical taste (such as they are) I’m supposed to like, but listening to just about anything he’s done or produced is roughly akin to soaking my hands in freezing two week old dishwater. I get he likes what he does and that he likes some of what I like, but he’s always seemed a bit antiseptic to me… not that old dishwater is particularly antiseptic. It’s okay, though– televison is like radio. I don’t find any interesting new music on either one, nor do I expect to.


  • Unfortunately, I don’t see the intrusion of industry into the creative process changing in Nashville anytime soon. Since the days of the Nashville Sound, Music Row has had a strong staff songwriting culture, and too many people’s lives are invested in maintaining the status quo on that front.


  • I’m out in L.A. and actually working on Nashville. Just wanted to let you know that all of the actors ARE singing – sometimes live on the set and other times lip-synching to vocals they had previously recorded for the show. There are no actors lip-synching to other singers’ voices. That’s not going on at all. Also, we took great care to make sure all vocals were in synch, and are baffled about what you said you saw in the premiere episode. Could you be more specific? Also, were you watching on a DVR, perhaps, or online? Honestly, there are no synch issues with the source.


    • I stand corrected that the actors were the ones singing the parts. However I stand by my assertion that to many folks the songs were clearly being lip synced, and this took away from otherwise good performances. I completely understand that to the average eye, they will be fine. But to folks to regard themselves as music fans, and folks who regularly watch live performances, they will clearly be able to tell the performances are lip synced, no matter how good of a job anyone does.

      On Wednesday night, I received hundreds of visitors to this site who went to Google and put in “Nashville lip syncing” or a similar string of words. I would have to go back and punch up the numbers specifically to tell you how many, but I want to say it was quite a few. Furthermore I saw similar chatter on both Twitter and Facebook. I personally would rather see live performances, even if they are not flawless, than an actor lip-syncing. But then again, I am admittedly not in “Nashville’s” target demographic.

      I don’t want to take away from the work you and the actors did, because overall the music was good. But being able to eliminate or use lip syncing sparingly I think is somewhere where the show can improve the experience for viewers.


  • When I first saw the show it seemed like Hayden’s character was a mixture of Taylor Swift and Miranda Lambert


  • i gotta admit im loving this show so far lol


  • So the show has flaws. So does the grammar used in this article. Whose should be who’s. See, no one’s perfect.


  • Besides the bad singing, acting and bad sex scenes it’s not bad kind of like train wreck you can’t look away even when you know you should! Especially 2 blonde girls both with Curley hair, Hayden & don’t know other one.


  • My wife and I abhor country music. We just started watching this show and we’re fairly hooked. Sure, there are some pretty bullsh*t moments (everybody is a musician with great talent and want a record deal and can play another person’s unheard songs within seconds), but I gotta say; we love it. We watch between 3-4 episodes a night. We’re also getting the songs stuck in our heads as well, especially Wrong Song, ha ha ha!!


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