“Better Man” is interesting for many reasons. Unfortunately, most of those reasons have little to do with the music itself. But this track is far from the worst transgressions on country radio, and it is refreshing to hear song that’s not all rosy targeted to the mainstream set. It will perform well as a cozy winter single tiding over Taylor Swift fans.
So are we all supposed to be hating on Taylor Swift again? Is that what the summer of 2016 protocol calls for? Because God forbid that I’m out of fashion here. I mean when I was railing on Taylor Swift for saddling up with Max Martin on 1989 to manufacture derivative pop songs, I was chastised at large because didn’t I know that she stood up to Spotify and Apple?
But even with Ballerini’s success, women are still very much fighting an uphill battle. Yet when asked recently by FOX about the issue of women on country radio, Ballerini didn’t show leadership for her fellow females, she trivialized the issue.
The strange saga of what was once one of country music’s most promising trios and family bands continues. After parting ways with Nashville-based record label Big Machine in early March after the colossal failure of their latest single “Live Forever,” it has been announced that The Band Perry has signed with Interscope Records and is going full pop.
At this point, we shouldn’t even be listening to “Brace For Impact” in my opinion. Even more so than with most artists, Sturgill Simpson’s music is meant to be taken as a cohesive expression, with each song leading into the next on a purposeful timeline. All you have to do is listen to “Brace For Impact” and how it’s abruptly cut off at the end to understand this.
Yes, it’s very easy, and very popular and seductive to rally behind Kesha in this matter. The press and popular culture love to hate stories about women being kept down or even abused by overbearing men and the companies they run or hide behind. Kesha doesn’t have a particularly compelling reason to lie, though the way major label contracts are constructed, who wouldn’t want out of one . . .
The media loves a good feud story, but Taylor Swift’s speech wasn’t just meant for one person. Kanye West may have been the inspiration for Swift’s speech, but it wasn’t the target. The target was young women all across the world who are forced or coerced to having all their accomplishments measured by the men who also happened to be involved.
Though this is not necessarily reflected in the performances, the general consensus is the Grammy Awards this year could be a big night for country music. With Chris Stapleton up for Album of the Year, Little Big Town up for Song of the Year, and other high-profile and important nominations, this is one of the few years country music could come out on top.
Vince Gill is the perfect model of how a country artist should age. Forget trying to run with the young crowd, or continuing to try and tap into whatever made you famous in the past. An artist like Vince Gill has accrued all the personal wealth he and his family will ever need. He’s as decorated with awards as any living country music artist, including a Hall of Fame induction.
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
When former “country” artist Taylor Swift sold 1.287 million copies of her record 1989 on its debut week, it was a feat not matched since 2002. With streaming, the disillusion with the album concept, and the general implosion of the music industry, we all thought we would never see a similar feat ever again. And Adele right now is on pace to sell over double the first week sales of Taylor Swift’s 1989, or roughly 2.5 million copies.
the quality of the music of these do-good artists can sometimes be an entirely different story than the quality of their character. Such an assessment is subjective mind you, both on the musical and personal side. But generally speaking, the generosity of a given celebrity and the standards of their music doesn’t always go hand in hand.
Justin Timberlake has officially gone country. Or at least one of his songs has. As radio programmers all over the country were busy Wednesday morning trying to figure out where to stack their reams of payola, a memorandum buzzed out across the wires: “Justin Timberlake’s ‘Drink You Away’—the same song he played with Chris Stapleton on the CMA Awards—is requesting play on your country station.”
We already knew that Chris Stapleton was an amazing singer, a great songwriter, and an astounding guitar player. Now the rest of the world knows. And where all of this will take country music is something we can only speculate on at the moment, but it certainly is something to be taken as a very good sign, even if you’re just ho hum on Stapleton, or gaze a hairy eyeball at all those pop country songs he wrote for others.
That’s the somewhat anecdotal, but still troubling conclusion of a recent analysis by ‘Billboard.’ Today, the more likely scenario for how a song is written is scheduled meetings in cubicle farms, or collaborations on Skype with individuals who are credited as songwriters, but are better described as producers or programmers. Ideas are thrown out in collaborative form, and then workshopped in a group setting.
What bothers me the most about this song is how so commonplace it has become to see a song like this become a big success on country radio without any measurable clamor or concern about where this might be leading country music in the long-term. Kelsea Ballerini has no idea what country music is. At 22-years-old, she’s lived her entire life likely without hearing one authentic country song on the radio.
The allure of ABC’s hour-long drama Nashville lost its luster for yours truly many seasons ago after the drama got so ridiculous you could see the plot twists coming from a mile away. And the music—though still a decent component—got somewhat sidelined in recent seasons in lieu of keeping the sappy and seductive scenes coming to keep eyes glued on the TV screen.
A new feature recently posted in GQ goes much farther in describing the conflict between Swift and Big Machine. This wasn’t a simple exchange between Swift and Borchetta. There was an outright intervention going on, with numerous high-level executives doing what they could to assuage Swift into not going pop 100%.
“I love country music. I respect country music so much that I would never think that I can sit down and just as easy do a country album. That’s not it. That’s just like some country artist saying, ‘Hell, I’m just gonna do a rap album.'”
I express all of this knowing it’s going to be a minority, unpopular viewpoint. I also express it as someone whose philosophies in music are very much influenced by Ryan Adams’ body of work. If you find Ryan Adams’ ‘1989’ entertaining, then hey, don’t let my corrosive words cloud your judgement. But I can’t share in that joy.