Well so much for entertaining the idea in your country music brain that if Miranda Lambert had her way, she’d go all “Gunpowder & Lead” on the purveyors of Bro-Country for their sexist and objectifying behavior if she wasn’t such a classy chic who would rather let her music do the talking. Miranda removed any and all doubt about how she feels about Bro-Country, at least in what she’s willing to portray to the public.
Florida Georgia Line
I can remember it almost like it was yesterday. Granger Smith released a hilarious song and video under his pseudonym Earl Dibbles Jr. called “Country Boy Song,” and we were all falling over each other and high-fiving at how it was the perfect illustration of just what a scourge laundry list country songs had become. This was the early in the summer of 2012. The term “Bro-Country” was over a year from being coined.
The calamitous and disturbing plan of the Academy of Country Music to pair up some of country music’s worst stars of today with country music heroes of the past just keeps getting worse. Though a few of the collaboration ideas seem kind of cool, some of them are downright sinister to the hearts of traditional country fans who revere the past greats, and revile the new artists who are stomping on the traditions of the genre.
The Brothers Osborne have been attempting to straddle the line between commercial acceptance and critical acclaim ever since signing with EMI Nashville in 2013. With a stripped-down and earthy sound sonically, and songs that speak to the relevant themes of today’s country but still remain hard to hyphenate with “Bro-,” even if you don’t dig on their music, they’re an outfit that’s hard to hate.
In 2015, the names and music residing at the top of Billboard’s respective genre charts seems topsy-turvy and misguided. While Sam Hunt and his music that resembles next to nothing country is at the top of the country charts, an artist like Brandi Carlile who does uphold some of those country standards has the top album in rock. A very serious case can be made that those two artists should be switched.
I don’t need a workup from Dr. Scratch-N-Sniff to know something is seriously ill with country music here in the first quarter of 2015. We’re not talking about the worn-out complaints about how pop country sucks and how Sam Hunt and Florida Georgia Line don’t belong. Take all of those concerns and put them to the side for a second. I’m talking about the once high-flying country genre…
Once you thought the drama over Sony Records Nashville CEO Gary Overton’s quote about country radio was starting to wind down, it has now hit overdrive. on Sunday night (3-1), Florida Georgia Line decided they wanted a piece of the action, publicly rebuking Charlie Robison on Twitter. But as per usual, Florida Georgia Line would have probably been better served by keeping their mouth shut.
The next menace was country rap, symbolized by Jason Aldean’s “Dirt Road Anthem” becoming the biggest country single in all of 2011. Then country rap gave way to Bro-Country—the most dominant torment to country music arguably in the genre’s entire history. Now what looks to depose Bro-Country as the next malevolent hyper-trend? Let’s just call it “Metro-Politan.”
“Bro-Country”—the much-maligned sub-genre of country music that is defined most purely by acts such as Florida Georgia Line, Chase Rice, Cole Swindell, and a host of others, was recently featured on the Cambridge Dictionary’s “New Words” blog as a neologism, or newly-coined word. And it couldn’t come at a better time since many of Bro-Country’s perpetrators profess ignorance at the word’s meaning.
2015 just might be the year of American Aquarium, or that’s at least the popular sentiment being kicked around in certain circles. Written and recorded after a long hiatus between releases, American Aquarium took their time with this one, letting the songs maturate, and allowing a stylistic shift in their sound to emerge, something that would hopefully get them over that hump.
As Tippin says, country music appears to be shifting away from so-called “Bro-Country” to music of a little more substance lately, and though there still seems to be much more work to be done and a few more Bro-Country hits could still materialize (or something even worse to take its place), positive signs that country is moving in a more positive direction are appearing.
But what “Something In The Water” had that no other song that could offer battle to Bro-Country had previously was substance, and one of the most powerful performances we’ve heard from a country artist in the last few years. This is what was needed to defeat Bro-Country. It wasn’t going to take pandering. Leadership is what was needed, and an exhibition of raw talent that could not be denied.
We complain all the time about how today’s popular country music pretty much all sounds the same, but is this really true from a technical standpoint? That is what one enterprising Audiophile and songwriter set out to illustrate by making a mashup of some of Bro-Country’s biggest singles over the last couple of years in a pretty mind-blowing and revealing video.
2014 was a year of great flux in country music. Where 2013 was dominated by public feuds and outcries by many country performers about the direction of the music, 2014 became the year things began to be done about many of the problems plaguing the genre. With Bro-Country as the battleground, the fight to return some balance to the country format began to make headway.
Raleigh, NC’s American Aquarium was the hardest working, hardest touring band in 2014 from any genre according to the concert-finding app Bandsintown which presides over the largest database of music touring data. The announcement was made Thursday after Bandintown was able to aggregate 206 tour dates for the band in 2014—more than any other band or artist registered in their database.
From crude videos taken on somebody’s phone, to full production videos with scripts and actors and sets, to animated shorts and everything in between, you never know what’s going to capture the imagination and become the perfect compliment to a song in the visual form. what breaks through the crush of visual material to be called the best in 2014?
Independent music fans love to say “90% of what they play on the radio is crap!” Well then it would stand to reason that 10% actually has some value. And in the interest of pragmatism and inclusiveness that is vital to the charge of Saving Country Music, it is important to not ignore when Music Row and mainstream artists get it right, but to celebrate these moments.
Monday night (12-15) was the inaugural airing of what is attempting to be country music’s 4th awards show called the American Country Countdown Awards, or ACCA’s, and the ratings couldn’t have been worse. A big media push prior to the awards couldn’t account for an overcrowded awards show space and a lackluster presentation, and the overnight ratings for the show were abysmal.
I’ve received more requests to comment on Cody Johnson’s music in 2014 than any other artist. Meanwhile my status of staying mum on him has caused some to question whether I actually care about country music, others to question the legitimacy of of flying the “Saving Country Music” banner, and still others have come out saying point blank Saving Country Music must be a fraud for not discussing the Texas singer.
2014 has been a year of great flux in country music, with some legendary successes by independent artists and new mainstream artists, and the shuffling out of other artists and the fumbling of what once were legendary, high flying careers. Here’s a run down of the five biggest winners and losers in the greater country music world in 2014.