- If You Missed It: First Aid Kit on Fallon
- Good News: Motley Crue Country Tribute Album Delayed
- Amazon Launches Prime Music Streaming Service
- 1927 Bristol Sessions revisited by Dolly Parton, Marty Stuart, Steve Martin and more
- Web Exclusive of Kacey Musgraves on Fallon
- NPR's KCRW Releases In Studio First Aid Kit Performance
- Kelley Mickwee of The Trishas New Song, New Album Coming
- National Geographic Features Pictures from New Photo Exhibit
- 'Ghost Brothers' tour lives again, in new markets
- New Country Awards Show Replacing Old One on FOX
- Video premiere: Dex Romweber Duo's 'Roll On'
- Justin Townes Earle to Release New Album 'Single Mothers' Sept. 9th (updated)
- Bluegrass Legend Ralph Stanley: 'Im Just As Fresh As I Was 100 Years Ago'
- Miranda Lambert Hits No. 1 with "Platinum" Album
- House Panel To Hear Testimony On Media Ownership Rules Today
- Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers Bring Taste of California to Nashville
- Video Premiere for Otis Gibbs "Ghosts Of Our Fathers"
- Big Machine, Cox Media Group Sign Direct Licensing Deal
- Walls St. Journal Features Producer Dave Cobb (Sturgill, Isbell)
- Songwriter Don Devaney Passes
- Song Premiere: Dom Flemons, "San Francisco Baby"
CMT and Viacom are by far the biggest perpetrators of cultural erosion in the country music community, and their annual fan-voted awards are a laughable attempt to showcase talent and bestow accolades that in the end are meaningless (No Trig, tell us how you really feel). But since a lot of eyeballs will be trained on this 3rd-rate event and things might transpire of interest to the overall country music world, let’s watch along and share our criticisms, observations, and if need be, praise.
As the night goes on I will be posting my observations in timeline form, and as always, you’re encouraged to pipe up in the comments section below. Also below you can find the nominees, and a list of what to expect as far as performers and presenters.
Now, let’s get small!
CMT Music Award Winners:
- Video of the Year – Carrie Underwood, âSee You Againâ
- Male Video of the Year – Blake Shelton, âDoinâ What She Likesâ
- Female Video of the Year – Miranda Lambert, âAutomaticâ
- Group Video of the Year – The Band Perry, âDoneâ
- Duo Video of the Year – Florida Georgia Line, âRound Hereâ
- Breakthrough Video of the Year – Cassadee Pope, âWasting All These Tearsâ
- Collaborative Video of the Year – Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan, âThis Is How We Rollâ
- CMT Performance of the Year – Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie, âOh No/All Night Longâ
10:01 - Yeah, so I’m not exactly how I should rate what just happened and what sort of sliding scale to use, but I have to say the opening number after ZZ Top, with Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan, and Jason Derulo was the biggest mess/most disappointing thing I have ever seen transpire that could ever in any way be associated with country music. Positively awful and jarring. Also was completely classless to end the thing 20 minutes early so they could promote their “Party Down South” show to the country music masses: pretty much the whole point of tonight’s show. You could palpably feel the awkwardness when the host said “Goodnight!” and it was 20 minutes ’till the end of the hour.
It was cool to see the Alan Jackson tribute and that it was a complete song instead of an abbreviated montage, and that they gave him an award.
CMT has been going in the worng direction for years, but there is clearly a feeling that “Party Down South” has completely lowered the brow of programming there across all of their shows, including the CMT Awards. The toilet humor was non stop, and at times, completely awkward. I still don’t understand Bobby Bones’ joke/not joke about Jake Owne being the hottest woman there. Waiting for an explanation. So yeah, it was the CMT Awards. Let’s recap the winners and go home.
9:50 - Alright folks, I will try to compose some final thoughts and wrap this thing up. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOUÂ to everyone that stopped by, read, watched, participated, retweeted, commented, etc. etc. We made it through … together.
9:46 - So seriously, CMT just rope a doped America into watching a bunch of “Party Down South” bullshit by ending their show early. What a load of garbage.
9:42 - Wait a second, so they’re going to end this thing 20 minutes early to roll a “Party Down South” infomercial? Are you fucking kidding me?
9:40Â - Carrie Underwood wins the CMT Award for Video of the Year forÂ “See You Again”.
9:38 - Nothing says country like Gwar-ish mohawks and wind machines.
9:37 - Welp, Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood got the amount of mascara right this time, but this song still blows.
9:35 - Now some guy I don’t know (probably a TV guy) is talking about wanting a mustache ride. What’s up with the homo-errotic joke series this evening?
9:34 - Watching a tort commercial about vaginal mesh (???), and it’s still better than most of the presentations tonight.
9:29 - Back on Little Big Town, I know they have some big proponents out there, but every chance they have to get my attention they lay an egg. The stupid motorbotin’ “Pontoon” song and now “Day Drinking” are just about worthless.
9:25 - The CMT Award winner for Duo Video of the Year goes to Florida Georgia Line for âRound Hereâ. And water is wet.
9:22 - “Boys ‘Round Here” Blake Shelton? I thought we were done with this garbage.
9:21 - Oh look, Little Big Town used that colored chalk shit just like Florida Georgia Line did in their “Cruise” video. Good luck getting that shit out of you maxillary sinuses. “Day Drinking” was just all about co-opting elements from other successful bits.
9:19 - The bullshit floor tom drum ensemble bit is the scourge of American popular music in 2014. Leave that bullshit to The Blue Man Group, Stomp, and Imagine Dragons.
9:17 - Why is Little Big Town dressed like their wife just told them they have to take engagement pictures?
9:12 - Before you say “It can’t get any worse”, appreciate we still have the banshee yawp of Carrie Underwood & Miranda Lambert’s “Somethin’ Bad.” Get ready to smear your mascara.
9:09 - Miranda Lambert wins the CMT Award for Female Video of the Year for “Automatic”. Not a bad song or video. Well deserved.
9:06 - Okay so we’ve heard the songs “Hey Bartender,” “Drunk On A Plane”, “Bottoms Up”, and Little Big Town are supposed to debut a song called “Day Drinking.” Do we see a pattern here kids?
9:01 - Oh great, and here comes “The Move”
8:59 - One more hour people, we can do this! I believe in you! Maybe we’ll hear a steel guitar! (probably not)
8:53 - Never seen more label-anointed/manufactured country stars in the history of the genre than Dan + Shay. Six months ago they were filling Ventis in a Starbucks in Franklin. And by the way fellas, only Joey + Rory are approved to use mathematics symbols in their name, so step off.
8:50 - Brantley Gilbert sounds worse than Tyler Farr. What the hell’s going on here? Were they huffing gasoline in the parking lot, or did they give each other strep? Terrible.
8:49 - “Are there any drinkers out there?” says Brantley Gilbert whose also used his sobriety for marketing. I respect his sobriety, but you can’t have it both ways Brantley.
8:48 - Did Steve Austin really just call a song “brick ass”?Â ???
8:44 - Man last year, the side stage had some cool acts. They were backed by The Mavericks, Ashley Monroe and a bunch of other cool people were featured there. This year it’s just lame rapping bro hams throwing down clichĂ©s and poorly-executed and awkward urban gesticulations.
8:41 - Cole Swindell is more white than the wind driven snow. Stop rapping you non-threatening suburban-bred white people!
8:40Â - The CMT Award for Collaborative Video of the Year goes to Florida Georgia Line featuring Luke Bryan for âThis Is How We Roll”.
8:38 - Sara Evans and Vince Neal from MĂ¶tley CrĂŒe make a good pairing, why?
8:36 - All across the country, parents have one hand ready to cover their kids eyes when these “sexy flight attendants” start straight up stripping.
8:35 - Thought Dierks last album was pretty good, but I think “Drunk On A Plane” is one of the worst tracks, though I guess a lot of folks love it.
8:33 - This host is an ass whip.
8:28 - Sorry folks, apparently it is “Lzzy” not “Lizzie” Hale from Halestrom who played with Eric Church earlier. In the heat of battle here.
8:25 - Jennifer Nettles is the worst oversinger in country music. What is the point of this song and performance? Why are the CMT Awards promoting John Legend and his song “All Of Me”? You want to include collaborations with artists from other genres, I get it, you’re trying to draw eyeballs. But at least do a country song.
8:23 - Didn’t recognize LeAnn Rimes without her shoving her thong in a tabloid’s camera.
8:22 - Never thought I would hear a Latin conga drum dance beat on a country award show. Actually, yes I did.
8:20 - The winner for the shamelessly self-promoting “CMT Performance of the Year” award goes to Luke Bryan & Lionel Richie for “Oh No / All Night Long”.
8:18 - Tom Arnold does a dumb bit where he pretends to be a Jason Aldean hologram. I’d pay money to see Rosanne Barr comes out of the wings and throw a big sloppy sandwich at his ass.
8:10 - Appreciate Eric Church giving big ups to Brandy Clark, Dwight Yoakam, and Halestrom on his tour, and for giving Lzzy from Halestrom a big opportunity here. Remember when he also gave a big opportunity on an awards show to Valerie June? http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/valerie-june-stuns-the-acm-awards-in-duet-with-eric-church
But man, “That’s Damn Rock & Roll” is a terrible song. Lzzy did her job though.
8:08 - That is Lzzy Hale from Halestrom performing with Eric Church. They are on tour together, along with Brandy Clark.
8:07 - Huh. VERY interesting song choice by Eric Church, singing “That’s Damn Rock & Roll”, which starts with an anti-establishment rant.
8:06 - “I got it! His song is called “Beachin’” so will have everyone tossing beach balls!” (high fives ensue).
8:03 - Oh, and here comes Jake Owen wearing capri pants. Like shooting fish in a barrel people.
8:02 - Who was that dude in the pastel hot shorts? You should NEVER have to see the pasty inner thigh of another male.
8:00 - Still think Keith Urban’s new haircut looks like a chupacabra, but it’s good to see a sedated, nuanced performance amidst all this madness. Was good to see ZZ Top again too.
7:57 - Alan Jackson should have just dropped the mic and flashed the double bird, but unlike many of these pop country pop tarts, he actually has class.
7:55 - “Screw this dog and pony show, let’s go get a steak,” says Alan Jackson as he casually throws his CMT “Impact Award” in a dumpster and drives away.
7:53 - Country music should take out a restraining order on Tyler Farr’s creepy, girl-stalking ass, forbidding him from coming within 100 years of the genre.
7:52 - Wow, Tyler Farr sounds like absolute shit. Did he swallow a razor blade? No sarcasm intended, somebody get a nurse.
7:50 - Blake Shelton wins the CMT Award for Best Male Video, completely killing any and all buzz from the Alan Jackson tribute.
7:48 - I don’t watch enough television to know who the hell half of these hosts/presenters are.
7:45 - Alan Jackson is presented with the first CMT “Impact Award” by Carrie Underwood. “That song never sounded better,” he says Alan about the Kacey Musgraves and Lee Ann Womack’s performance.
7:43 - Lee Ann Womack, Kacey Musgraves, singing Alan Jackson, backed by Kacey Musgraves’ much underrated band. And not some hurried 30-second song montage. This is great!
7:41 – Really good to see the Alan Jackson tribute during the first hour. Usually they bury these things next to last.
7:40 - Yes! Relief. The Alan Jackson tribute!
7:32 - The CMT Award for Breakthrough Video of the Year goes to Cassadee Pope for âWasting All These Tearsâ. She promptly puts on an act like she gives a shit.
7:30 - Puberty jokes aside, Hunter Hayes truly is one of the refreshing male alternatives to bro-country, but his songs just do nothing for me.
7:29 - Bobby Bones posted this earlier:
7:26 - Bobby Bones just said that Jake Owen was the hottest woman there tonight.
7:25 - Trust me folks, we’re gonna get a snoot full of “Party Down South” promotion this evening.
7:24 - That first segment was so scattered, I didn’t even have time to compose a funny/thoughtful/coherent thought.
7:20 - Yeah so the “Nationwide Stage” will be where artists get 30 seconds to deliver their most recognizable hook before getting cut off by a hard cut to the Cialis commercial. Ask your doctor.
7:17 - The Band Perry wins the Group Video of the Year—a meaningless award that will nobody will remember 30 minutes from now and won’t even make it into the fine print of their WikipediaÂ page.
7:16 - Kristen Bell making moose knuckle jokes speaks to the “Party Down South”-ification of CMT that has happened over the last year, saying “Screw the family friendly nature of country music.”
7:14 - I’ll give the opening this: They have made one reference after another to the male dominance in country music, speaking to just how far that phenomenon has made it in the country music zeitgeist.
7:12 - Did Luke Bryan just make a veiled homo-erotic joke about himself coming out of the elevator? What the hell is going on?
7:11 - Ten minutes in, and clearly NOTHING is going to last longer than 30 seconds to cater to the American short attention span. I feel like my head’s in a blender.
7:10 - Don’t know who any of the people in this opening “host” skit, rendering every joke completely flat. Oh wait, is that Chris Arnold? Dude’s lost some weight.
7:08 - Sorry folks, should have warned this was going to be an expletive-laden live blog. Didn’t know it would be that way until I tuned into that garbage.
7:07 - Jason Derulo, you want me to talk dirty to you? How about this: Stay the fuck out of country music. Please and thank you.
7:06 - Five minutes into the COUNTRY Music Television Awards, and we’ve heard every single genre on the planet but country and klezmer.
7:04 - What the fuck is going on?
7:01 - Holy shite! It’s the little band from Texas, ZZ Top! This might be the most country stuff gets all night. Not country, but if you don’t like Billy Gibbons, you can kiss my ass!
7:00 - Here we go!
6:55 - The only two things I’m looking forward to tonight: 1) Alan Jackson tribute with Kacey Musgraves & Lee Ann Womack. 2) The commercial breaks.
What To Expect (Intel from around the web):
- There will be an Alan Jackson tribute performed by Kacey Musgraves and Lee Ann Womack.
- Actress Kristen Bell will host, and the “case” from CMT’s “Party Down South”, as well as DJ Bobby Bones are expected to make appearances.
- Lady Antebellum will be performing “Bartender” (apparently, with lost of lasers).
- Jake Owen will perform “Beachin’”.
- Lady Antebellum will debut their song “Day Drinking”.
- Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert will perform their duet “Somethin’ Bad”.
- Dierks Bentley will perform “Drunk On A Plane”.
- Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, and pop star Jason Derulo will be performing together, likely “This Is How We Roll”.
- Jennifer Nettles (Sugarland) will be performing the song “All of Me” with Hunter Hayes and John Legend.
- Lzzy Hale from Halestrom will be performing with Eric Church.
- Brantley Gilbert will perform “Bottom’s Up”.
- Blake Shelton, will also perform.
- Dan + Shay and other smaller performers will be performing on a side stage.
- Presenters include Steve Austin, Beth Behrs, Brooklyn Decker, James Van Der Beek, Kate Walsh, Cassadee Pope, Rascal Flatts, LeAnn Rimes, Blake Shelton, Bobby Bones, Carrie Underwood, the cast of “Party Down South”, Cody Alan, the Eli Young Band, Jason Aldean, Justin Moore, Keith Urban, Kip Moore, Lionel Richie, Sara Evans, The Band Perry, Vince Neil, Tom Arnold, Lindsey Stirling, Eric Decker and Jessie James Decker.
2014 CMT Video Award Nominees (for those who care):
VIDEO OF THE YEAR
- Blake Shelton featuring Pistol Annies and Friends – “Boys ‘Round Here”
- Carrie Underwood – “See You Again”
- Florida Georgia Line featuring Luke Bryan – “This Is How We Roll”
- Luke Bryan – “That’s My Kind of Night”
- Miranda Lambert – “Automatic”
- Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban – “Highway Don’t Care”
MALE VIDEO OF THE YEAR
- Blake Shelton â âDoinâ What She Likesâ
- Eric Church â âGive Me Back My Hometownâ
- Hunter Hayes â âI Want Crazyâ
- Jason Aldean â âNight Trainâ
- Luke Bryan â âCrash My Partyâ
- Randy Houser â âRunninâ Outta Moonlightâ
FEMALE VIDEO OF THE YEAR
- Carrie Underwood â âSee You Againâ
- Cassadee Pope â âWasting All These Tearsâ
- Kacey Musgraves â âFollow Your Arrowâ
- Miranda Lambert â âAutomaticâ
- Sheryl Crow â âEasyâ
- Taylor Swift â âRedâ
GROUP VIDEO OF THE YEAR
- Eli Young Band â âDrunk Last Nightâ
- Lady Antebellum â âCompassâ
- Little Big Town â âYour Side of the Bedâ
- Rascal Flatts â âRewindâ
- The Band Perry â âDONE.â
- Â Zac Brown Band â âSweet Annieâ
DUO VIDEO OF THE YEAR
- Dan + Shay â â19 You + Meâ
- Florida Georgia Line â âRound Hereâ
- Florida Georgia Line â âStayâ
- Thompson Square â âEverything I Shouldnât Be Thinking Aboutâ
BREAKTHROUGH VIDEO OF THE YEAR
- Brett Eldredge â âBeat of the Musicâ
- Cassadee Pope â âWasting All These Tearsâ
- Cole Swindell â âChillinâ Itâ
- David Nail â âWhatever Sheâs Gotâ
- Thomas Rhett â âIt Goes Like Thisâ
- Tyler Farr â âRedneck Crazyâ
COLLABORATIVE VIDEO OF THE YEAR
- Blake Shelton featuring Pistol Annies and Friends â âBoys âRound Hereâ
- Florida Georgia Line featuring Luke Bryan â âThis Is How We Roll”
- Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly â âCruise (Remix)â
- Hunter Hayes featuring Jason Mraz â âEverybodyâs Got Somebody but Meâ
- Keith Urban with Miranda Lambert â âWe Were Usâ
- Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban â âHighway Donât Care”
CMT PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR
- Dierks Bentley and OneRepublic â âCounting Starsâ
- Jake Owen â âDays Of Goldâ
- Lady Antebellum and Stevie Nicks â âRhiannonâ
- Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie â âOh No/All Night Longâ
- The Band Perry and Fall Out Boy â âMy Songs Know What You Did in the Darkâ
- Willie Nelson and Neil Young â âLong May You Runâ
More legal troubles and location battles for the cast and producers of CMT’s new reality show Party Down South. The latest fugitive from the show is 24-year-old Mattie Breaux of Louisiana, who is wanted by police for a bench warrant after she failed to appear in court as part of a pretrial hearing in March. The hearing was for a previous arrest for driving while intoxicated in September. Breaux was taping Season 2 of the reality show at the time of the hearing.
On Party Down South, Breaux is known to have a turbulent, and at times violent alter ego named “Martha” that comes out when she drinks too much. “Martha” was a focus of one of the show’s episodes in Season 1.
Mattie Breaux is the second Party Down South cast member of the eight to find herself on the wrong side of the law. In late February, fellow Louisiana native Lyle Boudreaux was arrested in Maurice, LA for burglary of a vehicle. According to police, while at a Mardi Gras parade, Boudreaux found an unlocked car, rifled through a purse, and stole a credit card to fund the nightâs drinking. When he went to the 2nd bar on the night and tried to start an open tab, bartenders noticed the name on the card and alerted police. The 28-year-old Party Down South star was arrested, and eventually released on $10,000 bond.
And these are not the only problems for the troubled show. In March, the show got kicked out of Pensacola, FL where the taping for Season 2 was originally supposed to transpire. A backlash from Pensacola residents incensed by the portrayal of Southerners in Party Down South resulted in the cancellation of food and lodging contracts for the show’s support staff, including a $1 million hotel deal, and a $160,000 catering contract.
“It was really an image thing,” Hotel spokesman Julian MacQueen told USA Today. “We spent millions and millions of dollars investing in an image for Pensacola Beach that gets away from the whole Redneck Riviera crap. I hate that image. That’s not who we are. All you have to do is watch a trailer of the reality show and realize it will undo everything we’ve been trying to put together. It sure puts a stereotype out there, and it’s the lowest form of entertainment. Yes, it’s painful, but it was the thing to do. You never make up that business. What you can do to make yourself feel better is look at the business it possibly could have displaced.”
In lieu of Pensacola, Party Down South moved to Athens, GA, where they haven’t been very well-received either, or very well-behaved.
Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson said in April that she felt that the South was always portrayed unfairly in the media, and that the mayor’s office did not condone the show. âIâm terribly disappointed that this is being filmed in our community. Thereâs so much promise in that (TV) technology … (but) weâve sunk to the lowest level. It makes me worry about our society.â
According to numerous accounts, bodyguards/babysitters watched the cast whenever they would leave their house for Athens proper, though one of the cast members still ended up in the ER twice for alcohol issues. The presence of Party Down South has also stimulated talk of creating tighter controls on TV and movie production in the area for the future.
Thursday night is the finale for season one of CMT’s flagship reality show series Party Down South. The show has stirred up quite a bit of controversy for its sexualized and graphic content, especially in its ads that have pervaded the internet and many of Viacom’s other networks like MTV and VH1, running during what is described as family entertainment and drawing the ire of many, including Ben “Cooter” Jones of The Dukes of Hazzard. Maybe even worse have been the static ads with little quips from the show and clips of the show’s participants that are all over the internet, and that CMT bombards Twitter and Facebook with during the airing of each show.
It recently came to light that one of Party Down South‘s cast members had been arrested for stealing a credit card, and that some of the cast may be unwilling to come back for a 2nd or 3rd season because the show’s producers have been paying them virtually nothing compared to their counterparts on Jersey Shore. So with a servant’s heart, and wanting to pitch in and make sure Party Down South sticks around, Saving Country Music thought we would make some ads for CMT pro bono that they could use to promote their show.
You’re welcome Viacom and CMT.
This week in Nashville is the annual CRS or Country Radio Seminar where executives and personalities in country radio gather with executives and artists in the country music industry to hobnob, network, and attend workshops and presentations about the direction and future of radio and country music. This year the backdrop of CRS most certainly will be the Country Music Media Arms Race breaking out in 2014 (see more about this below).
Bits of interesting news about the country music radio industry tend to trickle out of CRS week, like a couple of years ago when an Edison Research study concluded that country listeners wanted more classic country on the radio. Edison Research President Larry Rosin said at the time, âI believe that we as an industry have really made a mistake in our conception of our own stations. While many people donât want to listen to classic country music, some still do, and weâve let them float awayâŠWe run the risk that we just are more and more pleasing to fewer and fewer people until all we are is ecstatically pleasing a tiny, unsustainable number of people.â
Scott Borchetta Quizzically Compares Big Machine Music to a Ferrari,Â not McDonald’s.
Even before the CRS events got started in earnest Monday evening, many interesting pieces of information about radio and country music emerged in the run up to CRS. Big Machine Records’ Scott Borchetta had the most puzzling quote, choosing a strange, if not unfortunate analogy to compare his label’s music to when explaining why he chooses to delay releasing music from artists like Taylor Swift and Justin Moore on Spotify and other streaming services until months after the release date has passed. Borchetta told The Tennessean:
âIâm not McDonaldâs. Iâm not 1 billion served. Iâm much more in favor of building a Harley-Davidson or a Ferrari and take that 1 or 2 percent of the population who love what we do and super-serve them.â
It seems like that analogy needs to be flip flopped, but big power players like Borchetta, and their ability to control the market with landmark deals with Clear Channel and others entities will certainly be one of the big topics at CRS 2014.
Why Radio Still Matters
Every time Saving Country Music broaches the subject of country radio, the alternatives such as satellite and streaming services are brought up as evidence of why radio doesn’t matter anymore. Though radio may not matter to a specific consumer, when it comes to the research, the experts, and to the culture and listeners in country music specifically, radio is still by far the most dominant format, especially for consumers to discover new music.
“Time and time again when studies are done, broadcast radio remains the No. 1 source for discovering new music,” Broken Bow Records executive Jon Loba told The Tennessean ahead of CRS. “Radio is still 80-plus percent of your music exposure. One thing I remind staff at least once a month in an artist development meeting when we are focusing on other mediums of exposure that are important â streaming, or press for TV, or whatever else â I try not to let everyone get in the weeds with that. Radio is still the primary form of exposing new music.”
Despite dramatic growth in music streaming across the board, just like with the transition from CD’s to downloads, country music is lagging behind other genres in the changeover, allowing country radio to continue to hold onto its power over consumers. As Nate Rau writing for The Tennessean explains:
“An analysis of music streaming data for 2013 shows that, despite growing noticeably, country still lags behind the other genres. Of the top 10,000 streamed songs last year, 28 percent were rock songs, 28 percent were hip-hop/R&B songs, 19 percent were pop songs and 8 percent were country songs, according to Nielsen data. But on traditional radio, country music outranks all other genres as the most popular format.”
Radio Losing Its Autonomy From Record Labels
Whereas in the past many radio stations were independently or regionally owned and their charge was to serve their communities with music, now that radio consolidation has put the majority of radio stations in the hands of a few select companies, principally Clear Channel and Cumulus, the point of radio in many instances is not to serve communities, but to serve record labels. As Broken Bow’s Jon Loba explains:
“When I got into the business, at my first CRS in 1997, I remember radio stations saying, ‘It is not our job to sell records. Our job is to keep listeners tuned in to our station. That is it. If we happen to sell records as a byproduct, thatâs fantastic, but itâs not our job.’ [Now] thereâs a much more symbiotic relationship, not just in words, but actually in action. CBS and Clear Channel both are taking the time to say very proactively, ‘We want to help you highlight your priorities, we want to help you sell records. We know healthy record labels are a large part of our business.’
The Country Music Media Arms Race is Heating Up
Similar to how all popular music is coalescing into one or two huge mega-genres or mono-genre, the media that covers and serves country music fans in radio, print, online, television, and social formats is consolidating around two big media players: Clear Channel & Cumulus—the two largest radio station owners in the United States, supported by partnering or gobbling up other important players in the country music media realm.
In December of 2013, word came down that Clear Channel had cut a deal with CMT to create nationally-focused country music programming to be distributed across the 125 country radio stations owned by the company, as well as some digital and television platforms. This move was in response to Cumulus, the 2nd-largest radio station owner in the United States behind Clear Channel, which had created its own national syndicated format earlier in 2013 under the NASH-FM brand, serving 70 separate radio markets.
Then Cumulus matched Clear Channelâs cross-media move by partnering with the long-running magazine Country Weekly to migrate the NASH-FM brand into print and online media. Announced in late January, Country Weekly in the next couple of quarters will become NASH Weekly. Cumulus has also registered nashweekly.com, and is expected to make an online presence for the NASH brand a focus. Then yesterday, even more ventures and partnerships were announced from Cumulus, including a television station, live concerts and events, even potentially restaurants and consumer products will be part of the massive NASH brand expansion.
Personalities and cross-platform promotion are what is driving the media arms race. CMT’s Cody Alan who now also appears in Clear Channel’s syndicated radio network can do an interview with a big country star, and use that interview both on television and in radio, transcribe it for print and/or online media, and promote it through both company’s social networks. However there are obvious trappings to having one or two companies control all of country music’s media.
âFrom the record company standpoint, it is absolutely more efficient and cost-effective with respect to reaching a larger audience in one shot,” says Broken Bow’s Jon Loba. “But it can also be somewhat scary in that there are fewer voices and opinions being heard out there.â
- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -
What’s for certain is that in 2014, country music media will go through the biggest paradigm shift in the genre’s history, touching every facet of how consumers engage with country music, and creating two massive companies who will dominate the media landscape, partnering with the country music recording industry and blurring lines between covering music and creating music like never before.
CMT, who has been dramatically reshaping their broadcast schedule recently, featuring a whopping 7 new reality TV shows in their latest lineup, is looking to add yet another one called Ow! My Balls! in the upcoming months. The show reportedly features a man continuously getting hit in his testicles, with no other significant plot or characters.
CMT has said that by 2016, they want to have four complete nights of original reality show programming, with the flagship being the controversial show Party Down South from the same producers of MTV’s Jersey Shore. Party Down South has been criticized by many for perpetuating negative Southern stereotypes, promoting imbecile behavior, and generally dumbing down society. Ow! My Balls! is likely to ruffle feathers even further, and was recently green-lighted with full production on the show to start soon in hopes of adding the it to next season’s lineup.
However cartoonist, voice actor, and director Mike Judge, best known for the animated series King of the Hill, and for being the director of the 2006Â dystopian cult film Idiocracy, is not too happy over the upcoming reality show, and is taking action. Judge first showcased the Ow! My Balls! concept in Idiocracy, and the show portrayed in the movie virtually mirrors the one in production for CMT. Judge’s depiction of the show was meant to illustrate how the human population is slowly devolving into a state of anti-intellectualism, devoid of curiosity, and resulting in a uniformly unthinking society.
Lawyers for Mike Judge have sent CMT a “cease & desist” letter.
“This is clearly a case of intellectual property infringement by CMT,” says Mike Judge’s Lawyer Spencer Frankenfurter. “If the network had negotiated with us for the rights to use the concept, or had at least asked permission, then maybe we would be more accommodating. But as it stood, CMT wanted to make all the dough, while Mr. Judge took it in the … well, you know.”
As Saving Country Music has been reporting, many people are incensed over CMT’s new reality show Party Down South made by the same producers of Jersey Shore and part of CMT’s new lineup that includes 7 new reality series as country music continues to get squeezed off of Country Music Television. Ben “Cooter” Jones, an original cast member of The Dukes of Hazzard as mechanic Cooter Devenport and a former United States Congressman, has taken the point on the matter, wanting CMT to at least remove its placement of ads for the show amidst what is advertised at programming fit for family entertainment. The ads for the show themselves have very questionable content.
Now Ben “Cooter” Jones has crafted an open letter to CMT and its parent company Viacom, calling the show the “most offensive and sleaziest thing ever to make it to a national audience.” Read the letter in its entirety below.
AN OPEN LETTER TO VIACOM INC. AND THE COUNTRY MUSIC TELEVISION NETWORK (CMT)
To Whom It May Concern:
Your company Viacom, under the aegis of CMT (a network in the MTV group) is committing an act of what can only be called âcultural pornographyâ by airing a production entitled âParty Down Southâ. It is a so-called âreality showâ in which a group of young men and women who call themselves âproud Southernersâ do things which no one, Southern or otherwise, could possibly be âproudâ of.
In one episode we are informed by your advance press that the characters will urinate on themselves and then upon each other. (We are also informed that we can get a raunchier version on an âappâ.) May we assume that your Executive Chairman, Mr. Sumner Redstone and that your President and CEO, Mr. Phillipe P. Dauman have screened this show and fully approve of its content?
Well, I suppose not, since yours is a corporation with over $22 billion in assets, and those big-shots are probably too busy to sit around watching drunken louts urinating on each other, huh? But you have invested quite a bit in this vile travesty of a âshowâ, since CMT has ordered ten episodes of this slimy creature and has spent another fortune promoting it.
And so I have a bone to pick with you. I have several reasons to detest this show, which is without a doubt the most offensive and sleaziest thing ever to make it to a national audience already neck-deep in offensive sleaze, much of it courtesy of your corporation.
My objections are to some extent personal. For starters, I have been a part of the âDukes of Hazzardâ since 1979. As you know, âThe Dukesâ has been a continuing hit, a beloved part of Americana which has brought great attention to CMT with its extraordinary cable ratings. The reason âThe Dukes of Hazzardâ has been a solid franchise for 35 years is that it is family show in the best sense of that phrase. It is a show the whole family can enjoy together without worrying about what the kids are going to see and hear. It is like the old âBâ westerns of Roy Rogers and Gene Autry, when the good guys always did the right thing, and the bad guys got their comeuppance, and there was great action and comedy and music, and nobody ever really got hurt. Our show used cars instead of horses, and the Duke boys became heroes to several generations of folks in the American Heartland and everywhere else for that matter. I was the trusty sidekick âCooterâ and the affection that people feel for that show is as much an honor to me as having been twice elected to Congress.
So when CMT started airing some truly execrable commercials for âParty Down Southâ during the showing of âThe Dukesâ, I and thousands of other viewers were appalled. I know from 35 years of daily contact with our fans that there were countless young kids watching our show and therefore being exposed to these really trashy commercials. So we complained âen masseâ. But apparently your company could care less about the concerns of your audience. You have not ever acknowledged the problem and have continued to show the smut.
I am also offended by your portrayal of the South. Hollywoodâs depiction of the South has famously been the stuff of scores of books, articles, and dissertations. We in the Southland are
accustomed to being mocked, stereotyped and accused of all sorts of decadence and hatreds. The South has become a convenient whipping boy for the sins of the entire United States. But since we donât produce the films and the television shows, your false version of us becomes the âaccepted truth.â
âParty Down Southâ is a show about 4 men and 4 women who are obviously being told by these Hollywood/New York producers to drink as much booze as possible and then to do the most banal and boorish things conceivable. And these morons succeed at depraved acts that would have made the Marquis DeSade blush.
Idiotic alcoholic behavior exists all over the world. It is not to be celebrated. We can only hope that one of these âParty Down Southâ bozos doesnât kill somebody while driving in a blackout. It happens somewhere every night in America. Thatâs the real âreality.â
So Viacom, you are robbing young kids of innocence with your commercials. You are insulting the South without a clue of the richness and diversity of our many Southern cultures, and you are glorifying drunken debauched behavior for no reason except that old bottom line. Oh yes, and you are doing it on the Country Music Television network which was built by appealing to rural heartland viewers with a sense of tradition and genuine values. Whatâs up with that?
When the standards of programming are relentlessly lowered until the unacceptable becomes acceptable, what then? For it has already happened. âParty Down Southâ is Exhibit A. But what comes next? How do we stop this social corrosion and the degrading of mores? Shouldnât that be of great concern to those in control of our national media? Canât you say more than âIf you donât like it, turn the channel?â
Do yâall understand why we are upset? Do you care? Is anybody home? I fear I know the answer to those questions.
I knew something was amiss when in the same week, the name of Ben “Cooter” Jones of all people had been evoked on Saving Country Music multiple times, and for multiple reasons; first in an album review for the Ben Davenport Band, and then as part of the backlash to CMT’s new show Party Down South. Best known as the real-life counterpart of The Dukes of Hazzard character “Cooter Davenport”—Hazzard County’s mechanic and Duke Boy ally—Ben Jones has lead an industrious life to say the least, and at 72 years of age is showing no signs of slowing down.
Jones is the owner-operator of the Cooter’s Place Dukes of Hazzard museums and gift shops that have locations in Nashville and Gatlinburg, Tennessee—dedicated to preserving the legacy of iconic television show. Aside from being an actor, Jones has also been a playwright, once penning a one-man play about baseball player Dizzy Dean, and is also known as a political essayist. And then of course there was that little thing when he was a member of the United States House of Representatives from Georgia’s 4th District from 1989 to 1993 before being displaced through redistricting.
Ben Jones is a music lover as well, and has been putting his heart into hosting and helping to organize The Shenandoah Jamboree at the Yellow Barn at Shenandoah Caverns in Virginia that holds forth the first Saturday of every month, March through November, and features traditional country talent like Tommy Cash and Barbara Fairchild. “It’s a wonderful show,” says Shenandoah Valley resident Bob Rimel. “Ben “Cooter’ Jones is trying very hard to keep country music alive, especially here in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.”
Jones is also the frontman of “Cooter’s Garage Band” that plays classic country, rock and roll, and 50′s doo-wop. “They are a band full of talented musicians, and they let me sing; but really I am just an actor pretending to be a singer,” says Jones. “We have been performing together for fifteen years now.”
As if Ben Jones didn’t have enough on his plate, he has also decided to join the voices of dissent again CMT’s new reality show Party Down South. Incidentally, reruns of The Dukes of Hazzard also air on CMT, and the confluence has created a showdown between CMT and Cooter. As a former actor on a Southern-based television show, Ben “Cooter” Jones’ opinions seem especially poignant, and like Saving Country Music, was shocked at the content of simply the ads for the show. Jones told rockingodhouse.com,
I am not pleased with the commercial that airs during our showâs time slot called âParty Down South.â The Dukes of Hazzard is a family-friendly show, and people watch it with their children and families. They have no place showing a commercial that promotes smut, drunks, and filth in-between commercial breaks of The Dukes of Hazzard. The show Party Down South makes the South look stupid, and not all of us Southerners act like that. It is from the same people who produced Jersey Shore; itâs a load of trash, and I donât like it. Now, people have the right to watch whatever they want, and I am a grateful to be back on CMT. I just donât believe that they should show dirty, filthy commercials during the breaks in our show. Nobody of decency and in there right minds would care to see that load of junk anyway!
Ben Jones waged a battle with CMT to get the ads running during The Dukes of Hazzard pulled, especially during a 35th Anniversary event, and apparently won. On Monday (1-27), Ben Jones released this message:
If I’m not mistaken, and I sure hope not, it looks like Hazzard Nation has won
another important victory for good clean fun. Yesterday’s Dukes 35th Anniversary Marathon
was free of those sleazy commercials for the pathetic “Party Down South” show.
Dukes fans let CMT know in no uncertain terms how they felt about this insult to
family viewers and how they felt about their kids being exposed to this trash.
They don’t want to admit it, but I’ve got a feeling our message got through. I think it
would be a good idea to thank them for their response to our concerns. (And I also
think it would be a good idea to “keep their feet to the fire” on this one.)
Some folks have written to me thanking me for taking a strong stand on this. But it wasn’t me,
it was a whole lot of y’all standing up for what is so obviously right. CMT and their sponsors
have hopefully seen their mistake and have corrected it.
By the way, they are claiming “Party Down South” is a “hit”, even though it didn’t finish in
the top 100 shows playing last Thursday night. Some “hit”! They don’t measure old syndicated re-runs like
“The Dukes”, but I’ll bet you a dollar we whipped them.
Thanks for all of your support of our show for all these years. America loves the “Dukes”!
Ben Jones aka “Cooter”
It looks like decades later, Ben “Cooter” Jones is still fighting for what’s right in the South.
Yes ladies and gentlemen, just like the great American eagle and the mighty Soviet bear staring each other down and belligerently stockpiling armaments to intimidate one another, the two titans of American radio, Clear Channel and Cumulus Media, have entered a no-holds-barred arms race with country music as the platform, acquiring assets and cutting deals, fueled by deregulation, with the ultimate prize being you, the sweet and innocent little country music consumer.
In December, word came down that Clear Channel had cut a deal with CMT to create nationally-focused country music programming to be distributed across the 125 country radio stations owned by the company, as well as some digital and television platforms. This move was in response to Cumulus, the 2nd-largest radio station owner in the United States behind Clear Channel, which had created its own national syndicated format earlier in 2013 under the NASH-FM brand, serving 70 separate radio markets.
Now Cumulus is matching Clear Channel’s cross-media move by partnering with the long-running magazine Country Weekly to migrate the NASH-FM brand into print and online media. Announced this week, Country Weekly in the next couple of quarters will become NASH Weekly. Cumulus has also registered nashweekly.com, and is expected to make an online presence for the NASH brand a focus.
Two Different Companies and Philosophies
Though many consider Cumulus and Clear Channel as 1 and 1A in the move to consolidate radio ownership and nationalize programming at the expense of local radio talent and regional flavor, the two companies operate from two distinctly different philosophies. For example, Clear Channel is the company most notorious for firing local talent and implementing national syndicated programming at local stations whether the stations or markets want it or not. Cumulus on the other hand insists its local stations choose how much of the nationally-syndicated NASH-FM programming they carry during a given day, though many times these stations eventually choose the syndicated shows because of increased ratings and lower labor costs.
Clear Channel is betting big on its national personalities. DJ Bobby Bones is seen as a rising star in country radio, his syndicated country show based out of Nashville is now the #1 show in the home of country music, and is broadcast to over 50 of Clear Channel’s member stations and growing. Bones has already begun to branch out into online and television formats, and he’s seen as a personality that could become the face of Clear Channel’s country network. Cody Alan is another human asset that started at CMT, but now hosts the Clear Channel’s syndicated nightly show “After MidNite” and Clear Channel sees a lot of potential in.
Cumulus meanwhile is betting more on its physical assets. The Cumulus / NASH heavy hitter is it’s New York flagship station, 94.7 Nash FM. Before Cumulus launched the station, New York had been devoid of a country music station for two decades. Now 94.7 is pulling in almost 1 million listeners, and is expected to grow to 1.5 million in the next year to 18 months. Cumulus is also looking to expand the NASH brand into the restaurant business, with a potential fleet of bistros to be opened in the future. Why restaurants? Because the brick and mortar aspect of a restaurant chain is the type of substantial asset a business looking to build a substantial brand desires.
Don’t Forget About Rolling Stone Country
Meanwhile there’s a 3rd big player in the country music media race that brings one of the most trusted and well-recognized brands in American music to the table: Rolling Stone. Wenner Media announced in early December that in the 2nd quarter of 2014 they would be launching a million-dollar website dedicated to country music, with a Nashville office housing an editorial staff of 10 to 15 writers, a strong stable of sponsors, and a long-term commitment and outlook. With the ability to branch out into video and streaming radio through the online format, and the power of the Rolling Stone brand, Rolling Stone Country will be a formidable new country music media participant vying for many of the same country fans as Clear Channel and Cumulus.
2014 could see the biggest restructuring and realignment of the business of covering and distributing country music through radio the genre has ever seen, with millions of dollars in capital being infused into the marketplace as big media companies build their country media empires. It also means that just like radio station ownership and the genres those radio stations play, the business of covering country music is likely to consolidate into the hands of a few very big entities, while smaller outlets and radio stations must resort to niche programming to grow a grassroots following, having to deal with slim budgets in the shadows of the big boys.
And with that said, I would like to formally submit myself for consideration from one of these big media outlets looking for a scrappy, industrious, and experienced country music writer. Just set up the interview and I’ll dazzle, trust me. Here’s my resume: www.savingcountrymusic.com.
…or at least let me wash dishes at one of the new NASH Grill locations. It’s hard out here for us independent writers.
“This summer I’m looking for a big truck, big muscles, and big dick.” – Lauren from Party Down South
“Tinkerbell, put your big girl thongs on and I’m fixing to get hard and run your city.” – Ryan Daddy from Party Down South
“If it’s idiotic and stupid, I want to do it.” – Walt from Party Down South
“Stupid shit is kind of one of my forte’s” – Murray from Party Down South
The “Country Music Television” you once knew is no more. Not that CMT has been worthy of your attention for a good long while, but when their new season launched earlier this year, a total of 7 new reality shows were added to its broadcast roster, further shoving any actual “country” music programming aside for supposedly “unscripted” shows. Country Music Television also very quietly officially changed their named to simply “CMT,” meaning it is no longer an acronym for “Country Music Television,” it is just simply a string of letters. You know, truth in advertising.
Just like the other Viacom-owned music television properties whose roots trace back to serving music communities before Viacom’s takeover—channels like MTV, BET, VH1, and TNN (now Spike)—CMT is now working towards a reality show model, hoping to have 4 complete nights of original programming by 2016. “We’re trying to create content that is bolder, louder and more repeatable,” Executive Vice President of CMT Jayson Dinsmore told The Hollywood Reporter. No, that wasn’t “reputable,” that was “repeatable,” meaning they want programming they can show over and over, and over.
The flagship of CMT’s new lineup is a reality show called Party Down South from producer SallyAnn Salsano—the same producer of the popular MTV reality show Jersey Shore. The idea is to create a Jersey Shore of the South, but just like Jersey Shore, the show does not depict realities of life, it cobbles together castoff, amateur acting talent from across a wide geographic region, places them in one house, gives them alcohol and activities, and embellishes the drama with canned scenes and scripted scenarios.
It’s not necessarily the concept of the show itself that is the problem. If it was couched as young adults acting stupid and was slotted on a television network that catered to such programming like Spike instead of one that up until now has been one of the few family friendly channels left on the cable dial, then it would be just another cable television curiosity. But it doesn’t take a minute into the introduction to the show when one of the cast members can be heard saying, “We’re about to show everyone what being from the South is about.”
And similar to much of the music you can find these days on mainstream corporate radio, and fighting for the last dying gasps on what used to be CMT’s music video format, the cast of Party Down South can’t shut the hell up about how Southern they are, imbibing very heavily into Southern stereotypes with an unnatural, almost sadistic focus and rapidity.
Simply put, Party Down South is the biggest slander of Southern culture that has ever been perpetuated through popular media, and the bean-counting executives at CMT should be positively ashamed of themselves in how this show depicts young women of the South a sluts, specifically referring to them as both “whores” and “bitches” in unbleeped content, and how the men are depicted as incredibly, incredibly stupid. There are also curious amount of damaging depictions of irresponsible gun ownership throughout the show, with a “God and guns” idea being one of the show’s focuses. These negative stereotypes and connotations not only constitute the content of the show, they are the crux of their marketing for it, right beside their assurances that what viewers are getting is the “real South.”
Party Down South is CMT poisoning its own culture and people. Would the suits that OK’d this show sign off on seeing their own daughters being depicted in the type of light this show casts, being called “bitches” and “whores” and having their faces plastered all over the marketing of this dreck?
There should be protests in the streets in front of CMT’s corporate headquarters over this, but since over the last few years the country music fan has been slowly kneaded into a complicit bystander as their culture is stolen right from under them, and then reconstituted to the curious masses in the form of gratuitous and caricaturist depictions that they not only don’t put up a fight, they pull up a chair and watch because corporate media has robbed them of any other choice for their entertainment.
And mark my words, if this show is in any way successful, you will see Party Down South personalities handing out awards at big country music award shows, signing record deals, and becoming general personalities within the country music industry.
CMT has turned its back on its roots as an outlet for music and family entertainment, and the blood of the dying culture of country music and the South stains their hands.
Clear Channel, the largest radio provider in the US, just struck a massive deal with CMT, a division of Viacom, to create national country music programming to be distributed across 125 country radio stations owned by Clear Channel, as well as some digital and television platforms. The move is meant to match a similar national syndicated format created by the second-biggest radio provider in the US, Cumulus, who launched the NASH-FM national country network on 70 separate radio stations earlier this year.
The historic deal means more programming will be created on a national level, and distributed to local stations. Though Clear Channel says the new deal will be good for local radio stations because it will give them access to national-caliber talent and programming through theirÂ syndicated network that local stations would otherwise not have access to, the move continues the trend for radio to lose its local and regional flavor in favor of programming catering to a national audience.
Cumulus insists that stations in its NASH-FM network are able to choose how much or how little of the national programming they wish to run, allowing local program directors an element of control over preserving the local flavor of a station. But there’s no word on whether the Clear Channel network will give its stations similar latitude.
No word yet either if the move will mean the loss of jobs by local DJ’s similar to when Clear Channel slashed local talent in favor of national programming in October of 2011, but CMT personality Cody Alan has been announced as the host for the syndicated radio show “After MidNite” scheduled to start in January.
What the CMT/Clear Channel deal also means is not only a consolidation of programming across multiple radio markets, but also across multiple media platforms. With CMT programming crossing into radio, and vice versa, and digital media formats also getting into the game, the homogenization of country music media can only continue to increase, effecting not just the local programming of radio stations, but also the local artists who rely on radio play to either get their start on a national career, or sustain a local one.
Robb Flynn, vocalist, guitarist, and frontman for the long-running heavy metal band Machine Head is the latest to join the chorus of dissent against the direction of country music. In a journal entry sent to subscribers and posted publicly on Facebook, Flynn decried CMT and modern country music videos as the “Blinding of America.” Flynn’s comments were part of a bigger commentary soliciting fans for feedback about the direction they wanted to see Machine Head’s music take.
So when I get to the gym, I jump on the elliptical machine to warm up and often the TV has been left on the CMT (Country Music Channel) and sometimes I’ll change it to the news and other times I’ll just stare at the CMT channel and watch in silence. Well, virtual silence because I stare in disbelief and seethe at the soundless images coming off the screen at me….And all those video images are cut with carefully manicured guys and gals in jeans and cowboy hats, playing songs written by a high paid group of other writers who produce simple pop songs that have slide guitar and acoustic and sound all shit-kickin’ and country-fied….I ask myself while watching these fucking mind-meltingly bad videos, what do I want?
Flynn specifically takes on the flag-waving and religious aspects of modern country that many see as pandering.
I stare at the blinding of America. I stare at an endless stream of country music videos all showing the same thing – programming, subverting, and manipulating the viewer with religion and the well-oiled military machine. Visually the current theme is “heroes coming home from war, and their damsel-in-distress-lonely-women waiting for them as they stare at Jesus and touch their cross necklaces, praying.” I watched this same video play out over and over and over again. The not so subtle message playing out: âWar’s over guys, pray to Jesus!â
Flynn also talks specifically about Toby Keith’s song “Red Solo Cup,” but leaves it sort of ambiguous if he’s being sarcastic or not.
Every once in a while you’ll get a video like Toby Keith’s “Red Solo Cup” which is just about partying and acting a fool, and I dig that, it’s not mindless propaganda other than well I guess… selling Solo cups and booze for his alcohol sponsor. But fuck it, I love that song!
Robb Flynn’s comments come within the wider context of a Season of Discontent where artists from inside and outside the country fold are speaking out about the direction of the genre more than ever before.
What good is your revolution if there’s no one there to tell the rest of the world about it?
In the mid 70′s when country music was in upheaval from a new crop of rough shot artists thinking they should be able to write their own songs, record with their own bands, and keep creative control of their music, Rolling Stone Associate Editor Chet Flippo hit the streets of Nashville to help chronicle what was happening. Not nearly as off-the-wall as his more famous Rolling Stone counterpart Hunter S. Thompson, but just as willing to take an offbeat approach and embed himself amongst his journalistic subjects to get the whole story, Chet Flippo became the eyes and ears for the rest of the world enraptured by country music’s Outlaw revolution.
Beyond writing features for Rolling Stone, Flippo lent his pen to the very music of the Outlaw movement, writing the preambles and liner notes to both Wanted: The Outlaws, the first platinum-selling album in the history of country music, and Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger, arguably country music’s most influential album of all time, and many other albums of country music’s Outlaw era.
Flippo was an editor and writer for Rolling Stone until 1980 when he left to write a biography of Hank Williams, but continued to contribute to the magazine over the years. From 1991 to 1994 Flippo was a lecturer in journalism at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, before moving to Nashville. From 1995 until 2000, he was the Nashville Bureau Chief for Billboard, leaving in 2000 to become the Country Music Editor for Sonicnet.com.
But Flippo was known more recently for his work on CMT.com in his always-enlightening Nashville Skyline columns. For 12 years he oversaw editorial content for CMT. A writer who had seen it all with the courage to say what he believed, Flippo had the ability to stimulate discussion like none other in his field. Though he never seemed exactly at home on CMT with his more traditional country mindset, Flippo’s air brought a sense of legitimacy to the whole CMT operation.
Chet Flippo, whose influence wasn’t just confined to country, was the author of 7 books including
- Your Cheatin’ Heart, a Biography of Hank Williams
- On The Road with The Rolling Stones
- David Bowie’s Serious Moonlight – World Tour
- McCartney: The Biography
- Everybody Was Kung-Fu Dancing: Chronicles of the Lionized and the Notorious.
His library illustrated his all-encompassing perspective of the artists he chose to cover, and the intimacy with which he was afforded from the respect the artists had for the Chet Flippo name.
Flippo was born in Fort Worth, TX, and was a veteran of the Vietnam War, serving in the U.S. Navy. He went to college at the University of Texas in Austin, and after working as Contributing Editor for Rolling Stone magazine while in graduate school, he became Rolling Stoneâs New York Bureau Chief in 1974, rising to senior editor after Rolling Stone moved its offices from San Francisco to New York in 1977.
Chet Flippo’s wife Martha Hume, also a noted music journalist and author, died on December 17, 2012, and today we got the unfortunate news that Chet Flippo has now joined her in the great newsroom in the sky.
Every third year the Country Music Hall of Fame inducts a non-performer into its exclusive ranks. If there was ever a journalist that deserved to be included amongst the artists he covered so dutifully for so many years, it would be Chet Flippo.
RIP to an inspiration to music journalists from across the world, and across the sonic landscape.
Update: MTV has suspended production of “Buckwild” after Shain Gandee’s death.
- – - – - – - – - – -
It’s all fun and games…until somebody gets killed.
The depths Viacom and American corporate media have slumped to in their tireless endeavor to exploit and further stereotype the rural residents of the United States is nothing short of a black eye on the American culture, and an abomination of the entertainment medium. Yeah, they may bleep out all the bad words and blur out the occasional errant boob shot to pander to their corporate TV sponsors, but the effect of this type of marginalizing of human behavior, especially when it is incredulously aimed at a youth audience, is worse than most garden variety hardcore pornography on the psyche of the viewer, and on the dignity of the subject.
Viacom, the world’s 4th largest media conglomerate and owner of MTV, CMT, BET, and VH1, decided last year that the level of exploitation found in their CMT ‘Redneck’ franchise that includes the shows Redneck Vacation and Redneck Island was not enough, so they ratcheted up their malfeasance of the public media, and in an act of grotesque profit mongering, targeted their rural stereotyping on MTV’s youth demographic and launched Buckwild–a reality franchise that follows unsupervised youth of West Virginia as they act out scripted scenes that offer no context and cast a very narrow window into the behavioral patterns of the Appalachian people and America’s rural culture.
Today it was announced that one of the stars of Buckwild, Shain Gandee, along with 2 other people, were found dead when their 1984 Bronco was stuck knee deep in mud in the West Virginia back country outside of Sissionville. It is believed that the passengers died of carbon monoxide poisoning when the tailpipe of the vehicle became submerged. Who were the two other people in the vehicle? Apparently that is not important to most of the reporting outlets, because they weren’t reality TV stars.
Just like MTV’s reality show Jersey Shore, outcries from locals worried about the perpetuation of negative stereotypes from the show went unheard. In the aftermath of the death of Shain Gandee, the mayor of nearby Charleston, West Virginia has called for the cancellation of the show, saying, “Of the few cast members on the show already two have had legal issues and now one has died.Â The show only enhances the negative stereotype the Kanawha Valley already has.”
It’s not that some of the scenarios portrayed in Buckwild and other reality series aren’t similar to some of the recreational activities of rural residents. But for entertainment purposes, they are prodded into pushing the limits, and many times are fueled and enabled by television producers supplying them money, alcohol, and other items to help spurn unrealistic and riveting scenarios that rarely take into account the well-being of the participants. Another Buckwild cast member Salwa Amin was arrested in a drug bust that involved transporting and distributing heroin and oxycodone. Cast member Michael Buford has been arrested for DUI.
Though MTV offers condolences in public statements, the off-the-screen drama of the cast members and even Shain Gandee’s death only fuels interest in the reality franchises they are a part of.
Buckwild unabashedly takes pages from the White Family of West Virginia franchise, a family that has been featured in numerous films starting with the 1991 documentary Dancing Outlaw. But Buckwild takes the extra dangerous step of having both the cast members and the audience fit squarely in a youth demographic. A week after 2009′s Wild & Wonderful Whites of West Virginia was released–a movie produced by MTV–cast member Jesco White was arrested on drug charges. They were later dropped.
As America’s rural and agrarian culture continues to contract, rural culture is regularly lampooned, stolen from its residents, commercialized, then sold back to them in a caricaturish fashion like Buckwild and CMT’s ‘Redneck’ franchise.
Why doesn’t MTV and Viacom stick their cameras into the hidden reality of white affluence, where the bored sons and daughters of the supposed sheltered and upstanding world wreak havoc on themselves with alcohol, and dangerous and sometimes deadly doses of illegal substances and designer drugs in out-of-control parties? Or let alone, why doesn’t MTV stick their noses into the medicine cabinets of their moms and dads to find out that this isn’t a matter of youthful indiscretion, but an institutionalized way of life? Of course, that would all be too scary for corporate America, but you can exploit rednecks all you want, because like Italians and blacks, they are part of a cultural minority that can be lampooned and sold as an entertainment oddity.
This type of shameful, exploitative entertainment should be banished from the airwaves, and not from some intrusive governmental intervention, but from an awareness throughout the rural population about the effects of cultural filth like Buckwild. And it should happen before someone gets seriously injured or killed.
Tonight is the annual Academy Awards, arguably the biggest, most important night in all of American entertainment, if not in the entire world. And during the presentation, and in the list of nominees and winners, you will not see a parade of the movie industry’s most flashy personalities. You won’t see anybody judged on looks or popularity. You will not see the most commercially-successful endeavors given exclusive billing and opportunity for accolades. No, what you will see is the best and the brightest of the industry highlighted based mostly on the creativity and artistic integrity of their works.
It’s not that The Oscars completely ignore commercial viability or success. When a movie like Titanic or Lord of the Rings emerges, the industry recognizes the importance of these legacy films and gives them the proper nods, but not without regard to the artistic integrity of these movies or the talent displayed by the actors in them. Film understands that the most financially-successful movies have their legacy cemented by the strength of their box office numbers, and don’t need to be buffered by accolades better suited to those films that did not enjoy as much commercial attention. And this does not just go for The Oscars. From The Golden Globes, to Cannes, to a myriad of smaller film festivals all across the country and world, in the film industry there is an insistence on finding the most important works in a given year, and shining the spotlight on them.
Contrast this with the music industry, especially the country music industry that is flush with award shows now to the point of being redundant, and the differences are nothing short of embarrassing. In the film industry, low-budget and artistic films regularly find their way to the very top of the award show itinerary. In music, low-budget and independent albums, songs, and artists are completely shut out in favor of the same cloistered group of franchise-caliber names on an annual basis.
A perfect example is country music’s dilemma of finding a 5th female for the “Vocalist of the Year” category at both this CMA Awards and the ACM Awards for the 2012 cycle. The CMA’s, struggling to find a name of similar caliber to the top 3 ladies of Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, and Taylor Swift, reached completely outside of the country world to nominate Kelly Clarkson. The ACM’s also drew a blank beyond Martina McBride as a 4th candidate, and gave the nod to Kacey Musgraves, who despite being an interesting up-and-coming name, hasn’t even released a major album yet.
Meanwhile in 2012, a consensus built throughout music–from The Rolling Stone, to CMT’s editorial chief Chet Flippo, to right here on Saving Country Music–that Kellie Pickler’s album 100 Proof was an album worthy of accolades that balanced artistic integrity and commercial sensibilities. But Kellie and 100 Proof went completely ignored by the award shows, even though they were actively looking in the ranks of unknowns and outside the genre for a female name to fill out their candidate list. Along with the disparaging current outlook this paints for females in country music, it also illustrates the pull the industry has on what are supposed to be independent awards. The reason Kellie Pickler was not nominated is because she enjoyed no support from her label; a factor that is virtually superfluous in the movie world.
The point of awards is to promote the industry they cater to, and if they only consider commercial success, they become a self-fulfilling prophesy and feed a cloistered, creatively anemic environment. When the Academy Awards “Best Picture” nominees are announced, each film gets a sizable boost that helps re-focus the industry on the artistic integrity of the medium. A couple of years ago, The Oscars increased the amount of “Best Picture” nominees for this reason and others.
The Grammy Awards of the music world tend to include a bit more focus on artistry compared to the genre specific shows, but Oscar night every year is a reminder of how behind the music industry is compared to its peers in putting its best foot forward, and promoting the brightest talent.
Just like its Viacom-owned sister wives of MTV and VH1, CMT seems to be slowly making the transition from a music video format to a reality show network anchored by its popular series of “redneck” programs. Redneck Vacation, Redneck Island, and now Redneck Rehab, there seems to be no limit to what CMT will do with rednecks: driving them to The Hamptons, flying them over the pond to scare uptight English aristocrats, shipping them off to islands to do potato sack races all day (or whatever the hell they have them doing). CMT apparently has no trouble using “rednecks” as a faceless commodity for comedic fodder.
And of course these rednecks are usually portrayed in a negative light: fat, stupid, unemployed, easily entertained by a simple pool of mud. CMT and their redneck franchises has made magnificent leaps in solidifying negative stereotypes about rural life and rural residents. Of course every once in a while there’s a canned, teary moment to attempt to add some depth or moral to the shows (and of course most everything is canned and scripted), but by that point the permanent damage is already done.
But if CMT is going to fill 24/7 with redneck programs, they’re going to need some more ideas. So being the always helpful, altuistic soul that I am, I thought I’d throw them some fresh concepts as how to use rednecks to fill programming (and show off my novice Photoshop skills while doing it).
The Romans; now they knew how to put on a show. Imagine the ratings bonanza if you dropped a bunch of rednecks in the middle of an arena full of voracious wild animals hell bent on eating their asses. Or screw the animals, just have the rednecks fight each other to the death, over a plate of fried chicken and cornbread, or a brand new 4-wheeler or something. Now that would make some riveting television. Viewer discretion is advised.
Let’s face it, eventually rednecks splashing in the mud in the safe harbor of the Western world will get old, so why not send them to Syria, Afghanistan, and other theaters of war to spice things up. I can see it now, a bunch of rednecks mud wrestling and eating weird redneck shit in the middle of a bombed-out street as rocket propelled grenades and artillery shells go streaming to and fro overhead. Hell, maybe a redneck will become collateral damage. Imagine the ratings bonanza then!
Alright, admittedly this idea may only be good for one episode, or maybe a sweeps week special presentation, but you could stretch it out nice and good. Think of the hilarity that will ensue trying to get the fat dad squeezed into his barrel. They’d have to grease him up and use a human-sized shoehorn. Jr. and sis could fight back and forth about who gets to go over first. Jr. gets pissed when they won’t let him take his PSP on board. Sounds like television magic to me.
What will they do when they get there? Who knows, but it’s bound to be stupid, and we’re bound to laugh at it. Everything is funnier at zero gravity. Someone call up Richard Branson and get this done! It’s fucking outer space for crying out loud!
Use Rednecks For Biological Research
Forget the entertainment purposes, since rednecks have no intrinsic value and shouldn’t be afforded even the most basic of human dignities, why not use them for biomedical experimentation? Hell, think of how many diseases we could cure if we had an ample supply of humans we could do unabated research on with no regard for safety or outcome? Think of all the people that could be saved that are actually worth saving? Or even better, we can harvest their organs…oh wait, nobody would want redneck organs. They probably smell, and will make you quit your job and play in the mud all day.
A few days ago, CMT launched a new format and website called CMT Edge with the intent of covering artists outside the norm of mainstream country music. Since then I’ve been asked many times what I think of it, and my stock answer has been that I don’t exactly know what I think of it yet. The venture is still in its infantile stages, and it will take time to determine just what CMT Edge will be, and the impact it will have.
Having said that, I see no reason at this point not to stay positive about it. It’s always good to have more avenues for good music to reach people. As I always say, I want good music to get popular, and popular music to get good. Any sense of ownership or desire for exclusivity anyone might feel with the independent music they love and worry that CMT Edge might erode that exclusivity is being silly and selfish. So far, they’ve featured artists like Sara Watkins, The Avett Brothers, Trampled by Turtles, and JD McPherson among others. They also appear to intend to use CMT Edge to cover older country artists like Dwight Yoakam and Patsy Cline; both who’ve been featured already.
If you look at the categories of the 11 features posted on CMT Edge so far, 8 of them are labeled “Americana”. I don’t think it’s coincidence CMT Edge was launched the same week the Americana Music Conference is going on in Nashville mere steps from the CMT headquarters. Americana is growing, and CMT would be fools to not try and tap into that market. Make no mistake that CMT, which is owned by Viacom, would have never launched this venture if they didn’t think there was a profit to be made, and that there’s demand for the content.
So what is the possible downside to CMT Edge? It could possibly take attention away from independent media outlets, especially ones in the Americana world like No Depression, Paste, or possibly in some small respects Saving Country Music. But again, more outlets for good music is generally a good thing, and if these outlets feel threatened, they should step up their game. And I doubt CMT Edge will dig as deep as many of the current independent outlets do. As much as bands like Trampled by Turtles and The Avetts are on the outside looking in when it comes to mainstream country coverage, they are also very successful bands making good livings playing music. To stay profitable, CMT Edge will stay with established acts who simply don’t fit comfortably in the mainstream country world. Don’t expect Hellbound Glory and Jayke Orvis to get features soon.
My biggest concern is in the underlying subconscious labeling of acts that could come with CMT Edge coverage. Some may see a band being featured on CMT Edge as an implication that they are a smaller tier, second rung act. By not putting these acts beside country music’s biggest names, but below them through an outlet meant to cover the “edge,” there’s the danger of typecasting these artists as cut-rate. It’s always been a belief of mine that the top tier independent talent deserves equal-billing with country’s top names. If just given a chance, an artist like Justin Townes Earle could possibly score just as high as Jason Aldean with the public. Consumers just need to be given that choice. CMT Edge in some respects kicks the “more choice” can down the road instead of confronting mainstream country’s issue of a lack of new talent entering the genre.
Mainstream country lacks a legitimate farm system. And once an artist is cast as Americana/Independent/Underground, etc. they’re usually beholden to those avenues for their music till eternity, many times facing low ceilings of success and no chance of mainstream radio play or media coverage. Meanwhile in mainstream country, there’s few artists working the traditional program, going from honky tonks, to clubs, to theaters, to eventually the arena and a major label deal. Instead, new country talent is culled from the safe, easy avenues of reality TV programming, or professional Nashville songwriting circles. This has left country creatively bankrupt, as the most-creative and brightest talent flocks to Americana because they don’t want to be labeled as “country” because of the non-creative, commercial stigma.
Americana may have a lower commercial ceiling than mainstream country, but it continues to find some very legitimate traction, and seems to be building in stature and infrastructure each year. NPR is now offering Americana a big radio outlet, festivals are forming and growing that appeal to the Americana crowd, and small to medium, sustainable music entities like Thirty Tigers, Bloodshot Records, Dolph Ramseur (the man behind the Avett’s success and the Carolina Chocolate Drops) are beginning to create real organization behind the Americana idea, and are even having success getting their artists on programs like The Late Show with David Letterman, and Jimmy Kimmel Live.
What does this all have to do with CMT Edge? Clearly the independent side of the music world is growing, and CMT doesn’t want to be left in the dust. As all popular music continues to coalesce into one big “popular” mono-genre, music that is indefinable by genre and/or appeals to micro-sects of people is expanding. Whether it is Americana, classic country artists, neo-traditionalists, or punk-country, appeal for independent music is increasing, and CMT Edge is proof of that. Is CMT Edge commercial exploitation of this music? We’ll have to see, but there’s no indication that is what is happening at the moment.
As much as I think that much of CMT’s reality programming perpetuates negative country stereotypes and that its parent company Viacom is generally a negative force in the media marketplace, there’s nothing from CMT Edge so far that irks me. So let’s stay positive about it, work as a music community to attempt to steer it in a positive direction, and be glad that better music is catching on and continues to find new outlets.
Warning: Rank classless immaturity ahead.
- – - – - – - – - -
As some of you may already know, I’ve got a good friend named Pointer, and every year we get together for an annual trip to downtown Nashville around Labor Day. Pointer and I are great friends and we both love country music, but we couldn’t be on more opposite sides of the country music spectrum. You see, I like the old stuff and the cool independent stuff of today, while Pointer loves pop country. But that’s okay, we’re such good friends we get along with each other and enjoy our annual trip to Nashville together.
Last year Pointer and I visited downtown Nashville and had a great time. He loves to have his picture taken in front of things. So I thought I’d share some snapshots from Pointer’s and I’s 2012 downtown Nashville trip.
The first thing we saw as we were pulling into downtown Nashville on I-40 was a huge billboard advertising Rascal Flatts!
Pointer is a HUGE Rascal Flatts fan, and so he had to get his picture taken with it!
Then we headed into downtown Nashville proper. Nashville has such a beautiful skyline. I snapped this picture when Pointer and I were strolling along the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge across the Cumberland River.
Pointer loves the Nashville skyline too. He’s also a HUGE fan of CMT’s new reality programming like Redneck Vacation and Bayou Billionaires. I don’t like those shows because I think they perpetuate negative country stereotypes, but it’s all Pointer watches. So when we were strolling downtown, he insisted he get his picture taken in front of their building!
Then we walked across Broadway to the Country Music Hall of Fame!
I was really excited to go to the Hall of Fame to check out their new Bakersfield Sound Exhibit!
One of the things I love about the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is that they house the largest archive of country music memorabilia that exists. The most important part of the collection is called “The Precious Jewel” which is 6 of some of the most-important instruments to ever be played in the genre: Bill Monroe’s Gibson F-5 mandolin, Hank Williams’ Martin D-28 guitar, Lester Flatt’s D-28, Jimmie Rodgers’ Martin 00-18 guitar, “Mother” Maybelle Carter’s Gibson L-5 guitar, and Chet Atkins’ D’Angelico Excel.
With such important and historic relics housed in one place, you can imagine my horror when Shooter Jennings and his XXX movement decided a good way to push their branding was to point a tank at a museum hosing these precious icons. Pointer was neither here nor there on Shooter until his recent duet with The Nickelback of Country Music, Bucky Covington. Pointer LOVES Bucky, and loves the duet “Drinking Side of Country” so he wanted to get his picture taken at the place where Shooter pointed his belligerent tank at the last remaining country music institution preserving its history and traditions.
For some reason, Pointer insisted on holding the lens cap when taking the picture. I wonder about that boy sometimes.
So then it was starting to get dark so we decided to hike down to Music Row, the place in downtown Nashville where all the major labels have their home offices. Last year our big stop on Music Row was Curb Records. This year Pointer wanted to find the elusive, unmarked offices of his favorite label, Taylor Swift’s Big Machine Records owned by the Country Music Anti-Christ Scott Borchetta. They purposely leave their building unmarked, but after some cyber-sleuthing and asking around, we found the proper place and Pointer couldn’t wait to get his picture taken in front of it!
Many Music Row offices are housed in older houses, and some tear down the old houses and build bigger buildings as the label grows. According to Pointer and I’s sources, the building being constructed right beside Big Machine’s current home office will be their new office soon, so Pointer wanted to be pictured in front of that as well!
Oh but I’m leaving out the best part! As we were trolling around, looking for Big Machine’s building, who did Pointer and I see than none other than Scott Borchetta himself! I can’t you how much Pointer would have LOVED to get his picture with him, but by the time we had pulled over and located the camera, Scott had slithered inside. So Pointer had to settle for getting a picture with Borchetta’s car.
Pointer and I really enjoyed our trip to Nashville once again, and looking forward to many fun Nashville adventures in the coming years.
TV watchers have been crying for over a week now because MTV, CMT, and other channels have been canceled for some viewers in an ongoing dispute between satellite provider DirecTV, and Viacom, the world’s 4th largest media conglomerate. Listen to me, crying at the loss of CMT, MTV, and certain other Viacom properties is the television equivalent of sympathizing with your kidnapper.
I’ve often wondered, why is it always the music channels that get hijacked from their original formats to become the preeminent purveyors of cultural filth? They start off by showing music videos, and somehow that organically translates to showing realty TV that displays the most vile of stereotypes. Every time the story is the same, whether it is MTV, CMT, VH1 or BET. Once Viacom buys a cable channel, they enact a reformatting to pander to very narrow, very obvious demographics of people who identify with corporate culture. I wouldn’t let my dog raise its leg on a television set that was aglow with an episode of CMT’s “Redneck Vacation” or MTV’s “Jersey Shore”. That would be assigning it more dignity than it deserves.
And is it the music programming that Viacom is using to entice its viewers to either switch providers or lobby DirecTV to return the Viacom channels? No, it’s these reality series. Urban culture, rural culture, hip-hop culture; it is all covered here. Check it:
“Whut?” WHUT? Yuck Yuck Yuck! HEEEE YAWWWW!!!
It’s bad enough that for years Hollywood and mainstream media have made Southern and rural America the brunt of their jokes. Now Southern culture is doing it to ourselves through CMT. “Camera’s rolling redneck, dance! Come on! Do something funny for us! Eat a rattlesnake, roll in the mud! Go!”
Many of these music channels started off as small-time operations with good intentions. BET was originally created by black television executives who were tired of the rest of media only portraying people of color in a negative light. But as soon as Viacom gained control, it began showing programming with even worse stereotypes than the regular networks. Viacom turned music channel TNN into Spike TV, and shifted the programming to pander to the young male “PS2 pot head” demographic. Maybe it is not a coincidence that the rise of reality programming and reformatting of these music channels paralleled the lull in the music business we saw in the mid/late 2000′s.
Some folks are blaming DirecTV for getting in the way of their “Redneck Vacation” or other watching, when it was clearly Viacom who instituted the dispute when they raised the rates DirecTV must pay to carry Viacom channels. DirecTV claims if they were to keep the Viacom programming, they would have to raise the rates of the customers. Of course DirecTV isn’t squeaky clean either with the way they bait and switch their subscription plans, making them super cheap in the beginning and then slowly raising rates and taking away programming over time.
I say good riddance to CMT, MTV, and Viacom. Hopefully DirecTV isn’t the only ones who jettison the Viacom tripe, and hopefully they stick to their guns. I know that not all Viacom channels are awful, and neither is all CMT and MTV programming. And though I’m not a television watcher myself, I know that folks need downtime in life and TV offers an easy opportunity for that. But clamoring for the return of CMT, MTV, “Redneck Vacation”, “Jersey Shore”, or certain other Viacom programming is like clamoring for more pesticides in your food.
Trust, me, you don’t want it.
The fight to preserve classic country and present it to a new generation of fans may just have become a lot easier. After 12 years off the air, the original TNN, “The Nashville Network” has just announced it is coming back this summer, and is committed to “true country music.”
TNN has just announced through press release that they will be officially returning November 1st, and their flagship will be WSMV-TV, Nashvilleâs NBC affiliate. It will be available over-the-air on channel 4.2 as well as on Charter channel 91. TNN will also be added to Comcast in November.
Matt Winn, Vice President of TNN said in a press release, âFinding the right partner to be the flagship station of The Nashville Network has been our top priority. Our decision to name WSMV the networkâs hometown affiliate was based on the stationâs award winning news team and the stationâs leadership in the Nashville market. We are pleased to have WSMV be the home of The Nashville Network.â
TNN has also announced an affiliation with ABC 33/40 stations WCFT/WJSU/WBMA in Birmingham, AL (DMA 42). WCFT/WJSU/WBMA. They will begin broadcasting TNN on Nov. 1st as well.
TNN ran for 17 years from 1983 to 2000 until Viacom, which owns CMT, MTV, CBS, and many other networks, morphed the country music, outdoor lifestyle, and family entertainment channel into Spike, leaving many traditional and classic country fans underserved. The new TNN will be a sister network to My Family TV, TUFF TV, PBJ, MyCarTV and Frost Great Outdoors, and Luken Communicationsâ Retro Television (RTV).
This time, instead of a cable network, TNN will be a digital broadcast station, meaning it would be picked up by affiliates. The programming will be a mix of digitally-restored classic content from the TNN archive, with contemporary shows mixed in. Shows already scheduled to be a part of the TNN lineup include: Memories of the Grand Ole Opry, Crook & Chase, Celebrity Kitchen, The Country Vibe, Music City Tonight and Larryâs Country Diner.
The original announcement about TNN’s return was made at the 2012 NAB show in Las Vegas. Television and radio personalities Lorianne Crook and Charlie Chase teamed with Luken Communications and Jim Owens Entertainment to acquire the rights to the TNN brand.
Every day I give thanks to 8 lb. 6 oz. baby Jesus that I don’t have cable, but unfortunately as the proprietor of a country music website, I find myself on CMT’s website quite often to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the mainstream country world. That’s where I was so unfortunately and indecently exposed to the trailer of an upcoming series on CMT called “My Big Redneck Vacation” beginning January 21st.
The premise appears to be to ship a bunch of yahoos from the South up to The Hamptons in New York, and have them behave like a troupe of Barnum & Baily hillbilly oddities for the bemusement of New England’s sniveling upper crust, all while middle class suburbanites sit at home and live the stereotypical corporate country life vicariously through these redneck caricatures. See for yourself:
Perpetuating negative stereotypes on television about people from the South, and people from the country in general has been going on since the medium of television was created and before, and this dumb and clearly-staged reality show is in no way either a new concept or out of character for the entertainment elitists living on the two coasts. My beef is where this particular show is coming from.
There’s a contingent of white people who love to point out how you can have Black Entertainment Television (BET), but if you had “White Entertainment Television” it would be racist. They act like it’s some deep point that hasn’t been made a million times before when they make it, when it really goes without saying. But one of the reasons BET was created was because certain black entertainers and television executives were tired of seeing blacks depicted only negatively on TV. In the beginning, BET tried to make people of color proud of who they were, reinforce positive role models, and preserve black culture and history.
Then to make money, BET went to a strictly music format. And then Viacom, the same company that owns MTV and CMT, bought them and made even more changes until the vision that BET began with was all but erased. Instead of trying to break stereotypes, BET began creating and reinforcing them. MTV has also gone through a significant programming shift, from almost strictly music videos, to almost strictly reality programming.
“My Big Redneck Vacation” is the cultural equivalent of eating your own children, and the beginning steps down the slippery slope that CMT’s Viacom brothers of BET and MTV have already traversed into the pit of cultural decay. I know some will say CMT is in cultural decay already, but the format change from music to reality, and vice versa has always been the guidepost in Viacom properties moving away from values and towards maximizing revenue. We know folks outside of the country culture are going to use negative country stereotypes as a form of entertainment, so why would we then reinforce these stereotypes by engaging in these practices ourselves?
“My Big Redneck Vacation” is no different than the Jason Aldean’s and Justin Moore’s of the world singing laundry list songs filled with banal countryisms to bored suburbanites, while ignoring the things that actually make the country life beautiful and unique.
And it almost appears that these negative country stereotypes are becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. By glorifying and showcasing stupid behavior, we’re perpetuating it. Folks are acting dumb, behaving idiotically, and eating poorly because that is what they think they need to do to be accepted, or to part of a front-running culture, even though they know it’s bad for them. They are proud of being stupid, because right now, being stupid gets you attention…
…or maybe I’m just over-reacting, or being “high fallutin’”. I’m sure that’s what the “Clampitt’s” would say.
- Melissa on Song Review – “The Trailer Song” By Kacey Musgraves
- Trigger on Song Review – “The Trailer Song” By Kacey Musgraves
- Trigger on Song Review – “The Trailer Song” By Kacey Musgraves
- Rob on New Hank Williams “I Saw The Light” Biopic Coming
- Richard on Song Review – “The Trailer Song” By Kacey Musgraves