Everywhere we turn, there are signs that the tide is turning in country music for the better. Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson are turning the tables on the awards shows, a new generation of traditionalists like William Michael Morgan and Margo Price are finding surprising traction. But it’s not all rosy.
Every year we wonder if it can get any worse, and while there are positive signs for country music’s future all over the place, the bad stuff somehow continues to only get worse. The only saving grace is that many of the songs highlighted below have become commercial flops, whereas in previous years it would be a virtual Top 10 on the country charts.
When LeAnn Rimes and Hank Williams III fought very public battles with the label, people chalked it up to a couple of artists with declining careers who couldn’t handle being professional. But after high profile and nasty exits by Hank Williams Jr. and then superstar Tim McGraw, the word was out on the streets about Curb Records’ unfair business practices.
As Bro-Country was on the rise, think pieces all across media questioned the sustainability of such shallow music. And it turns out they were right. Florida Georgia Line and others brought throngs of new fans into the country fold, but they weren’t there to stay. Listeners moved on to the next craze, and even when country’s footprint was growing, it wasn’t growing at such a clip that it could sustain all the festivals . . .
The brutal assault against country music producer Dave Brainard that occurred in the early morning hours Sunday, September 27th on Demonbreun Street in Nashville near Music Row, has finally been solved. After over a week of searching for the responsible couple, 30-year-old Dustin Carl Hargrove and Nichole M. Hargrove from Columbia, TN turned themselves into police detectives on Tuesday (10-6).
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.
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.
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.”
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.
American Idol, Big Machine Records, Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Brandy Clark, Brantley Gilbert, Dierks Bentley, Florida Georgia Line, Garth Brooks, IBMA, Jason Aldean, Jerrod Niemann, Kacey Musgraves, Keith Urban, Sam Hunt, Scott Borchetta, Shane McAnally, Sturgill Simpson, Taylor Swift, Zac Brown Band
The downward spiral for mainstream country music continues as evidenced by the following list of some of the most horrible offerings of 2014. With how terrible these selections are, you could consider this not only the worst songs of 2014, but arguably a list of the majority of the worst songs in the history of country music. And with such a crowded field, only the worst of the worst were selected.
Beachin, Billy Ray Cyrus, Bottoms Up, Brantley Gilbert, Burnin' It Down, Chase Rice, Chillin' It, Cole Swindell, Donkey, Florida Georgia Line, Girl In Your Truck Song, Jake Owen, Jason Aldean, Jerrod Niemann, Leave The Night On, Lookin For That Girl, Luke Bryan, Maggie Rose, Sam Hunt, Sun Daze, This Is How We Roll, Tim McGraw, Worst songs 2014
In a nutshell, Sam Hunt and Montevallo are not country, and this goes beyond opinion. So what that a couple of songs feature a banjo or a steel guitar. This arguably makes the offense even worse because it proves they know they’re trying to put one over on consumers. For every element someone presents to claim this album is country, I can present fifteen that prove it patently isn’t.
Bad mouth Jason Aldean’s previous accomplishments all you want, but heretofore his career has been defined by the defiant spirit of interior America’s lost populous—disenfranchised and forgotten in the age of technology as they unflinchingly continue on with their way of life inherited down from generations. Now what do we get? A simple enumeration of his sexual conquests one after another.
Ooooh! Ahhhh! What forever will Taylor Swift announce when she holds her much-anticipated live Yahoo video stream and Q&A on August 18th at 5:00 PM Eastern???? …. Give me a break. The histrionics that mainstream country artists go through to release an album, and the hoops they make their poor fans jump through these days is just a little bit silly, don’t you think?
According to the Sun Chronicle, 18-year-old concertgoer 18-year-old Sean Murphy raped a 17-year-old girl during the concert, while 15 or more concert attendees stood around and watched, many taking pictures and video of the incident. It ended when a woman attending the concert asked the girl if what was happening was consensual, and she said, “No,”
A total of 55 arrests and 46 medical incidents, including 22 people transported to hospitals, marred a Keith Urban concert event in Mansfield, Massachusetts Saturday (7-26) night at the Xfinity Center as part of his “Raise ‘Em Up” tour. Jerrod Niemann and Brett Eldredge also performed at the concert. The incidents resulted in the Mansfield Fire Department having to declare a “Mass Casualty” event.
Oh Jason, this is most unfortunate. Since Jason Aldean has re-entered the single life after getting caught in a douche-soaked nightclub on the Sunset Strip handling up on some American Idol semifinalist castoff, now he thinks he’s Mr. Sexy, taking cues from Jerrod Niemann and entering the EDM space to keep the child support money streaming in.
This is not a review, this is a warning. Sam Hunt’s “Leave The Night On” is a potential swan song for what we define as country music today, more than any song that has come before. I know, you’re saying, “Can you tell me this song is somehow more pop than Taylor Swift, or pushes the limit more than Jerrod Neimann’s EDM monster ‘I Can Drink To That All Night’?” That is exactly what I’m telling you.
When you live by the bit, you die by the bit. And Jerrod Niemann has just been bitten in the ass by a “Donkey.” Early on when you looked at the amount of “adds” the song was getting on radio, it did not paint a very rosy picture for the song. “Donkey” was virtually dead on arrival despite a strong label backing, and this week the song went from #44 to #48 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart.
The middle point of 2014 finds so called “bro-country” in full throat, with its death grips around the neck of the country music genre and threatening to throttle the very life out of it with no prayer for resuscitation. As you can expect, the assailants are the usual suspects of putrid country music specimens selling out to the lowest common denominator for commercial success.
2014, Bad Country Songs, Beachin, Billy Ray Cyrus Achy Breaky Heart 2, Bottoms Up, Brantley Gilbert, Carrie Underwood, Chillin' It, Cole Swindell, Donkey, Florida Georgia Line, Jake Owen, Jerrod Niemann, Lookin For That Girl, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Somethin' Bad, Tim McGraw, Worst country songs
Welp, that’s that. Gauging from the comments made in Rolling Stone’s current country music special edition by the CEO of Big Machine Records aka the Country Music Antichrist Scott Borchetta, we can now put a period at the end of Taylor Swift’s pop country career. Finito. Done. End of story. Taylor Swift’s country run is in the books, and she’s now a pop star exclusively.