What would fall and hit the ground faster in the vacuum left where Chris Lane’s self-awareness is supposed to be, a dense pound of his excessive ego, or a pound of air from his vacuous cranium? The answer is “Fix”—an abhorrent effort to assemble any and all obvious and transparent pandering mechanisms known to pop music’s collective brain trust.
Down with Pop Country
You know, I would normally be so diametrically opposed to any rapper announcing his intent to make a country record that I would puff my chest out in defiance, shake my little fists, and give other indications of a stony countenance to let them know that I’ll be damned if they waltz through the gates of country music without at least a strong dose of hostile friction from my disgruntled ass.
Every year, Kenny Chesney’s annual concert on Pittsburgh’s North Shore at the Heinz Field has become the biggest country music embarrassment of the year. This year it’s the video of a drunken female talking on the phone, bent backwards like a character from an M.C. Escher painting while walking backwards before eventually falling down.
Clearly this trend of cross genre collaborations is only going to deepen, so with a servant’s heart and a sincere desire to help the collaborators and interlopers with their “country” efforts, Saving Country Music has constructed a pocket reference field guide to help these cross-genre collaborators navigate through their country music experience.
Every year we wonder if it can get any worse, and while there are positive signs for country music’s future all over the place, the bad stuff somehow continues to only get worse. The only saving grace is that many of the songs highlighted below have become commercial flops, whereas in previous years it would be a virtual Top 10 on the country charts.
Usually such a list is only reserved for the worst songs at the halfway pole of a given year, but 2016 has been especially lush with heartbreakily bad efforts, including from some artists who tend to be on the right side of the good music/ bad music divide. So before we really take the gloves off, let’s reflect back on 2016 biggest disappointments in the album category.
Musician, comedian, actor and writer Bo Burnham is known for mixing comedy with music in his stage shows and popular YouTube channel to deliver a cutting and hilarious perspective on modern life. And in a new special just released to Netflix called Make Happy, Burnham puts the modern state of country music directly in his crosshairs.
Here at Saving Country Music, if there’s anything we love more than baseball caps with perfectly flat brims being worn backwards at country shows (apparently called “snapbacks”), it’s a good contest. So when a press release arrived at headquarters announcing a “snapback” design contest for pop country group Old Dominion, you’re damn skippy I was game.
When I heard that Dallas Davidson was working on a new solo album, it sounded like just another stupid plan to offload his leftover Bro-Country material now that the songs aren’t selling so well. Harmless. Sure, release a solo album Dallas, and take one last gasp as the Bro-Country songwriting king before you’re relegated to the refuse pile of country music’s most deplorable era.
Randy Houser may want to spend more time perfecting his faux hawk instead of speaking his mind after he put his foot in his mouth in a recent interview with radio.com (see below). The co-writer of “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” and the close friend of Bro-Country Godfather Dallas Davidson decided to go on the offensive against Bro-Country haters.
On the 2016 ACM Awards, former boy band member and intermediate guitar player Nick Jonas may as well have come out on stage a drown a puppy. On live television, during Kelsea Ballerini’s dumb new song “Peter Pan,” Nick Jonas perfected the most aggressively terrible guitar solo ever played on any awards show or other live television event in the history of ever.
There’s pop, and then there’s taking one end of a piece of bubble gum and holding it betwixt your upper and lower bridge while you twirl the other end around your finger and daydream about unicorns and princess weddings. That’s about what you get with “Said No One Ever.”
While “Red, White & You” makes an ironclad case for itself as the worst “country” song in the history of recorded music, it indisputably takes the top prize for the worst lyrical line the world has ever been forced to behold. What the hell does “yum yum” mean you ask?
On Monday, the official lineup for the 2016 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo was “announced” by astronaut Scott Kelly from the International Space Station. Perhaps the aeronautical histrionics were a bid to distract everyone back on Earth from the fact that this year’s lineup is the most mundane, most mainstream-centric and generic pop tart Kellogg’s cereal assemblage of plastic talent ever accrued on this beautiful blue planet.
Abbi Walker, Billy Currington, Bri Bagwell, Cole Swindell, Cooper Wade, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Houston Rodeo, Jamie Richards, Jason James, JB and the Moonshine Band, Josh Ward, Justin van Sant, Little Big Town, Max Stalling, MIke and the Moonpies, Miranda Lambert, Randy Rogers, Sam Riggs, The Band Perry, Trent Willmon, Wade Bowen, Zane Williams
Yes ladies and gentlemen, over the last 24 hours or so, this “Brantley Gilbert Makes $10.5 Million Donation to Toys For Tots” headline has been circulating like a bad venereal disease passed around after the drunken office Christmas party, spreading all across the complicit landscape of country music media without anyone questioning the accuracy or legitimacy of the claim.
On Tuesday (12-15) it was officially revealed that Blake Shelton would no longer be co-hosting the ACM Awards with Luke Bryan. The ACM’s are scheduled to occur again next in April of 2016. It’s a position Shelton has held for many years. Blake will be replaced by the pilot of the drunken skies, Dierks Bentley. But the decision has left many wondering why Blake would pull out of such a prominent position.
As an addendum to Saving Country Music’s Worst Songs list, 2015 necessitates we also single out some of the worst albums released in 2015. Take note that in most years, such a list is not necessary. Not that there aren’t bad albums, but even when you’re speaking about country music’s worst offenders, many actually release fairly decent songs on their albums. But 2015 was a different case.
And so continued on the unrelenting march of terrible songs in 2015. This year included some especially diabolical turns that puts the last 12 months in contention for the worst run for songs in country music history. Of course the usual suspects appear on the rap sheet like Luke Bryan, Thomas Rhett, and Sam Hunt. But 2015 ushered in the worst year for watching previously heralded artists turning their coats from blue to red.
Alabama, Bret Michaels, Brett Eldredge, Cole Swindell, Danielle Bradbery, Eli Young Band, Eric Paslay, Gary Allan, Granger Smith, Jennifer Nettles, Kelsea Ballerini, Luke Bryan, Randy Houser, Sam Hunt, Scotty McCreery, The Band Perry, Thomas Rhett, Ucle Ezra Ray, Zac Brown Band
Jennifer Nettles is the Kathy Bates of country music, and I’m not talking the ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ Kathy Bates. Where some female performers like to exhibit personas such as the sweet girl next door or the strong Southern Belle, the Sugarland co-singer apparently thinks a psychopathic yandere cross bred with a hyper-spastic oversinger is what will curry the favor of the mindless drones of mainstream country.
There’s not a single song on Old Dominion’s new album Meat and Candy that shouldn’t have been aborted in the womb. This is the type of material professional songwriters throw together to crack themselves up in writing sessions to lighten the mood. But in an utter breakdown in the system, it somehow found its way completely unabridged onto a record.