A quick sidebar and followup on an article Saving Country Music posted on April 2nd, 2018 titled “The Media Has Made a Mockery of Kacey Musgraves and Golden Hour.” In short, the article was a detailed study into the media echo chamber that persisted around the release of Musgraves’ 2018 album where multiple outlets prematurely and irresponsibly proclaimed it the best country record in all of 2018 in late March instead of waiting even half way through the year before making such a bold declaration. Meanwhile in the same breath, some of these outlets were also deriding country music and its fans, and/or declaring that Golden Hour should be taken as an insult to country “purists.”
Also in curious concert with their parroted declarations of Kacey Musgraves’ year-defining mastery in March was the ridiculous definition of country “purists” as being the fans of artists such as Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, and Jason Isbell—all three who would bristle at the idea of being labeled country purists, and would be open to the discussion if their current music is even country at all (Jason Isbell has never referred to his music as country). This just underscored the wanton ignorance of these periodicals about the doings of country music, despite their confidence of declaring the best album in country with nine months to go in the year.
Saving Country Music gave multiple examples of media outlets and their irresponsible, hyperbolic declarations for Kacey Musgraves in places such as Esquire, Billboard, Vulture, and highlighted other rampant misnomers about Kacey Musgraves and her album in GQ, Rolling Stone, and how most of these incorrect proclamations were coming from entertainment journalists who don’t even cover country music, or only cover it from afar, and were simply lumping these fawning accolades on Golden Hour based off of Kacey Musgraves fandom, or her political affiliations, or wanting to fit in with the media fervor surrounding the record.
Specifically the website Vulture—which is a subsidiary of New York Magazine—was highlighted in the Saving Country Music article. Here is the direct quote:
An article in Vulture on Golden Hour also mentions purists, while the URL for the article (and original title) declares it once again the best country album in 2018. The journalist, Craig Jenkins, is a New York-based writer whose recent byline includes stories about Snoop Dogg, Logic, and Cardi B. The article is another hyperbolic proclamation from a journalist who only knows country music from the outside looking in, and is uniquely unqualified to declare any record as the “best” at any time, especially in March. It’s irresponsible, and uninformed. When have you ever seen a country music journalist declare the greatest hip-hop album in a given year nine months before the ball drops in Times Square? Yet hip-hop journalists did this multiple times with Golden Hour.
When writer Craig Jenkins caught wind of the article, he attacked Saving Country Music on Twitter and inspired his 40k followers to do the same, saying that Vulture and himself had never declared Kacey’s Golden Hour the best country record in 2018, and that I was a liar, a “shit,” and a “dumb ass,” while many other blue-checkmarked Twitter warriors joined the fray smearing Saving Country Music for posting falsehoods.
Unfortunately for Craig Jenkins and his 40k Twitter followers, he was flat out wrong. As asserted by Saving Country Music, the original title and URL for the Vulture article did declare (and still do to this day) that Kacey’s Golden Hour was the best record in all of 2018. Anyone can still go to the URL and see it, do a search for the article in Google or other search engines and see the original title, as well as bookmark the page in any browser, which will also show the original title. Even the subheading beneath the title declares Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour the best country album in 2018, and the content of the article clearly fits the original premise of the title and subtitle. At some point, the actual title on the article itself was changed to “On Kacey Musgraves’s Golden Hour, a Star Is Born,” but Saving Country Music never made reference to the amended title.
Here’s how the article is catalogued by Google and every other major search engine, with the URL, original title, and original subtitle clearly declaring Musgraves’ record the best in country in 2018.
After much huffing and puffing on Twitter, Craig Jenkins finally saw the underlying point of concern, but continued to attack, and blamed the editors at Vulture for composing the title, not himself. Fair enough, but the original argument remains—Vulture, like many other outlets, was compromising its journalistic ethics to fawn over Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour to a degree that was unfair to all the other country artists who have and will release records in 2018, and was in a uniquely unqualified position to declare the best record in country music in March as a non-country outlet posting an article written by a journalist whose primary beat is hip-hop.
To this day, Craig Jenkins continues to assert that Saving Country Music lied, and mischaracterized the article in Vulture, but Vulture itself just doubled down, and then tripled down on the fact that the Craig Jenkins article was indeed declaring Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour the best country album in 2018. Vulture just underscored it, hyperlinked to it, and even make sure to eliminate all argument that may ensue about it by demanding, “Don’t fight us on that.” This is what transpired in an article posted on October 5th as part of Vulture‘s coverage of the New Yorker Festival where Kacey Musgraves performed called “Kacey Musgraves, Noted Gay Icon, Is “Pissed’ Country Music Isn’t More LGBTQ-Friendly“.
Hey, you’ll get no fight from Saving Country Music. I believed them in March when Vulture prematurely and irresponsibly declared Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour the best country album in 2018 only three months through the year, and now any and all wiggle room on that position has been completely eliminated by Vulture itself.
Also for the record, when the original brushup with Craig Jenkins ensued, Saving Country Music reached out to Vulture to clarify whether it was Jenkins who wrote the title, or an editor as Craig Jenkins asserted. That inquiry was never responded to. Saving Country Music also pledged that if Jenkins was willing to supply verification from the Vulture editor that the title was not his work, a clarification would be included in the original Saving Country Music article. That request was never fulfilled either. It’s fair to question whether Craig Jenkins wanted to characterize Golden Hour as the best album in country in 2018 in his original article. But it’s indisputable now that Vulture did. If Craig Jenkins has any concern about the characterization of his words, it should be with Vulture, not Saving Country Music.
Regardless of who wrote the original Vulture title and populated the URL, the original assertion remains and is now underscored by this latest article: Vulture and others did a disservice to the public, to country music, and to Kacey Musgraves by setting up unrealistic expectations of her work with irresponsible hyperbole, tried to use her record to create a political and cultural wedge between Musgraves and country fans, and did so with uninformed writers unqualified to make such assertions in the country music realm.
Since March, Kacey Musgraves and Golden Hour has continued to receive positive praise from within the country music community, including being nominated for the CMA Album of the Year, which will be handed out on November 14th. And if Kacey Musgraves wins the award, it will be because the country community itself has taken long stock of the album, balanced it between the other projects released before and subsequently, and have made a cool-minded decision on what album they want to present to the rest of the world as the genre’s best in 2018. Everything else, including Vulture‘s conflating of political issues with Kacey’s music—which is against Kacey’s wishes—is simply uninformed hyperbolic noise.
Again, sorry for the sidebar. But the smearing of Saving Country Music was incorrect, and the record needed to be set straight. Thankfully, Vulture just did that.