Operating a site called “Saving Country Music” for the last eight years, I’ve learned the patient art of losing every single day with grace. It is the ever-present conceit of the living to believe that the present times are the worst there’s ever been, and country music is no exception. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that people weren’t yelling that the sky was falling when John Denver was winning the CMA Entertainer of the Year…
Florida Georgia Line
In the continued bastardization and exploitation of the term “country music,” the second-largest media conglomerate in the world, The Disney Corporation, has announced they’re getting into the country radio business to brainwash your children and tweens into believing Kelsea Ballerini has anything remotely to do with “country.”
If you’re going to release a country music song that is likely to completely alienate the core of your fan base and cut against the grain of all of the long-standing principles of your career, it better be commercially successful. Otherwise you’ve angered the constituency that helped create your success in the first place, and you haven’t even added any new members to your fandom.
We hypothesize often that the lyrics of popular country songs and other popular hits are slowly becoming more simplified and dumbed down, but now there is a study that puts data behind this hypothesis. Andrew Powell-Morse of Seat Smart recently took 225 different songs compiled in 4 separate genre datasets from 2005 to 2014, and analyzed them according to Readability Score.
Well well well. So Florida Georgia Line has decided to go on the offensive when it comes to the significant criticism the duo is fielding as the face and premier franchise of Bro-Country. The faltering of the trend has put the Big Machine cash cow on unsure footing it seems, and they’re out to do something about it. In an interview with Dan Rather that will air Tuesday evening (5-12) on AXS TV….
Cumulus Media’s VP Admits Country Can’t Be Delineated from Pop — Wants to Bring Taylor Swift Back to Country
“You don’t know these artists. You’re just listening to just a few hooks of their songs,” John Dickey says. “You tell me what they are. Florida Georgia Line – country, rock or pop? We can do Brantley Gilbert, Eric Church or Sam Hunt. You’re telling me Sam Hunt’s song is country? Today Country is successful because it’s co-oping other audiences into the format.
That’s right, as further evidence that we will point back at the last week of April 2015 as the moment when mainstream country music made the critical turning point of becoming so devoid of anything that is actually country that there was no turning back, rapper Nelly has made it known he intends to release a country music EP called Heartland.
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.
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.