Even though large orchestrations or highly-choreographed choir sections are undoubtedly elements of overproduction, they are still by definition organic. There is still a human element to them, in both the performance and the arrangement. But comparing them to the electronic accoutrements of the day is poppycock.
Usually such a list is only reserved for the worst songs at the halfway pole of a given year, but 2016 has been especially lush with heartbreakily bad efforts, including from some artists who tend to be on the right side of the good music/ bad music divide. So before we really take the gloves off, let’s reflect back on 2016 biggest disappointments in the album category.
Sturgill Simpson sat down with Marc Maron of the WTF podcast recently, and the hour or so interview was released on Thursday (5-12). If you’re a diehard Sturgill Simpson fan, it would be strongly encouraged that you listen. Here are some of the more interesting tidbits from the conversation.
Ripcord is a synthy, shallow, rhythmic-centric gaggle of immediately forgettable efforts that is obsessed with the doings of early adulthood in an unhealthy manner for a 49-year-old perfomrer, and offers absolutely no type of statement or expression either sonically, lyrically, creatively, or otherwise.
During the 48th Annual Grammy Awards pre-telecast Monday afternoon, the rising country star and Kentucky born songwriter walked away with the Grammy for “Best Country Solo Performance” for his fine work on the title track to his debut solo album, Traveller. Stapleton beat out Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Cam, and Lee Ann Womack for the distinction.
So what in the hell are well-versed country and Americana fans who finds themselves in stiff opposition to folks like Luke Bryan and Sam Hunt supposed to feel about ol’ Isbell sharing the stage with these turkeys? I’ll tell you what they should feel, they should shut up and be happy because it’s yet another sign that the good stuff is breaking through, and is getting its deserved due on Nashville’s biggest stages.
If you’re wondering what the Dave Cobb-influenced mainstream country world might sound like after the success of Chris Stapleton, take a good sniff at “My Church.” The arrangement and grainy production quality could very well be that of Lindi Ortega or Nikki Lane, but this is a major label artist looking to gain the attention of the fickle mainstream country music fan.
Camayo, Charles Kelley, Chris Stapleton, Dave Cobb, Hank Williams, iHeartMedia, Jamie Lin Spears, Johnny Cash, Kacey Musgraves, Keith Urban, Kelsea Ballerini, Lindi Ortega, Maren Morris, Mickey Guyton, My Church, Old Dominion, On The Verge, Review, Taylor Swift
Garth Brooks has been told to hold it just one cotton pickin’ minute when it comes to releasing a new version of his signature super hit “Friends in Low Places.” First announced Thursday, September 3rd, the re-recording to mark the 25th Anniversary of the song includes contributions from Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, Keith Urban, and George Strait.
Super secret sources are telling Billboard that Garth Brooks will be issuing an updated version of his 1990 mega hit “Friends in Low Places” to mark the song’s 25th Anniversary, and he will be enlisting a number of high-profile low friends to help him with the new rendition. Included on the new track are reportedly George Strait (yep), Keith Urban (err), Jason Aldean (nope), and Florida Georgia Line (puke).
Well that’s it folks. If we weren’t starring at the moment when any and all vestiges of the roots of country music had been completely eradicated from the mainstream before, then we are certainly doing so right now. It’s no longer a narrative about trying to hold onto the last little pieces of what made country music different from other genres.
Sam Hunt is a Sturgill Simpson fan now, so says Sam Hunt in a tweet he fired off on Wednesday (5-13). Apparently the rising “country” music superstar was vacationing at Weiss Lake in northeastern Alabama this week, and Sturgill Simpson was a significant part of his soundtrack. “Sun burnt, dehydrated, ready for summer, and a Sturgill Simpson fan. Successful lake trip…”
A collective rolling of eyes ensued when the ACM’s announced earlier this month they would pair some of today’s country music spares with legends from the past as part of their “Party For a Cause” concert centered around the ACM’s 50th Anniversary. Punctuating the ridiculousness of the duet roster was the unfortunate marriage of country legend Dwight Yoakam and country/EDM star Sam Hunt.
In the latest sign that a godless Apocalypse is nigh upon us and will reduce the entire effort of humankind from the beginning of time to an infinitesimal blip of virtual nothingness perpetuated in a faraway corner of the universe, Dwight Yoakam has agreed to pair up with country music sham artist Sam Hunt for a duet as part of an ACM Awards television special.
Beneath the surface of Australian country, traditional artists still fight for attention and find it amidst both Australian and international listeners. Roo Arcus is one of those traditional country artists, and one who can quiet American naysayers arguing an Australian can’t birth authentic country songs, and not just from the songs that his life has inspired, but the country lifestyle Roo Arcus leads.
If you’re anything like me, you hate how these stupid television reality show singing competitions are doing their level best to suck independent music fans into their diabolical fold. Either it shows how desperate they are for new viewers, or shows how independent music is truly permeating culture in ways never seen before. If it’s the latter, then I guess we should take it as a positive sign.
The Sturgill Simpson love continues to pour in from different sectors of the music world, and now extends to songwriter and guitarist John Mayer, who is apparently “jealous” of the Kentucky-born country music performer. One of his biggest fans in mainstream country has been Keith Urban, and in a recent interview, when asked about Sturgill, Urban said “He’s the best.”
As the college football consciousness of the country zoomed in on Arlington, TX and the first official National Championship game ever played at the collegiate level Monday night, Zac Brown Band was tapped as the entertainment for ESPN’s College Gameday presentation leading up to the big game. Zac Brown Band played Jason Isbell’s much-appreciated but fairly obscure song for fallen soldiers.
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.
Billy Gilman, Billy Joe Shaver, Brandy Clark, Dolly Parton, Dustin Lynch, Florida Georgia Line, Garth Brooks, Hank Williams, Hank3, I Saw The Light, Jason Aldean, Johnny Cash, Kacey Musgraves, Keith Urban, Luke Bryan, Maddie & Tae, NASH Icon, Sturgill Simpson, Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, Tom Hiddleston, Ty Herndon, Wayne Mills, Willie Nelson, Zac Brown Band
The hope of fans of any independent music artist is that they will be able to achieve a sustainable career, and that their music will find wider appeal amongst the listening public. When an independent artist succeeds, it’s important that we pay attention to what lent to that success so hopefully more worthy artists can achieve similar results, and to ask what that success might mean.
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