Country Is Now Pop: Sam Hunt’s “Leave The Night On”
Forget Taylor Swift, and her first win for the CMA’s prestigious Entertainer of the Year award in 2009. Forget Swift’s huge pop blockbusters of 2012 like “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “I Knew You Were Trouble”. Forget Jason Aldean taking the country rap song “Dirt Road Anthem” and making it into the best selling song in all of country music in 2011. And forget Florida Georgia Line breaking the all-time record in country music for weeks at #1 with the song “Cruise”. All of these indelible moments on the timeline that slowly but surely is narrating the downfall of country are simply the stepping stones, the precursors to what is symbolized by the song written and released by up-and-coming “country” star Sam Hunt called “Leave The Night On”.
Don’t worry about how the song sounds to you. Whether at first listen you like it or not is somewhat irrelevant. Don’t worry so much about measuring it against the others songs doing well at country radio right now, or even the worst songs, or the best songs of the past few years. Don’t worry about measuring it against the other songs that have gone on to define clear lines of demarcation during country music’s downward spiral. Whether “Leave The Night On” is immediately objectionable to your music palette is of no concern. If fact, its innocuousness—its innocent, disguising, and typical nature is arguably what makes it so dangerous.
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’?” Yes, that is exactly what I’m telling you.
Forget your hurt feelings of, “Hell country has sounded like pop for years,” or even your misappropriated wisdom of “country has always been influenced by pop.” Of course country has always been influenced by pop. But when country becomes pop, which it ostensibly does with “Leave The Night On”, this is a completely different matter. It is the implementation of a completely new rules regime defining what country music is, or what it is no longer.
Never before have we had a song that so recognizably belongs in the pop format get released to country radio by a non-established country artist. And yes I know, he’s signed to MCA Nashville, not MCA, and he’s written some songs for other country artists in the immediate past. No matter, “Leave The Night On” is a test; a canary sent down the country music shaft to see if truly any song can be released to the lucrative country format, and fly.
Country music is now the most dominant genre of American music. Not hip-hop, not rock, and not even pop. It is country that rules the roost. It is country that dominates radio and televised award shows, and that stamps more tickets at live events every year than anything else in music. Country music isn’t turning into pop. Country music now is pop by definition, because it is the most popular genre that exists. And what used to be known as “pop” is now nothing more than a derivative of country—a less country-sounding subgenre of pop, which is country.
A world where “Leave The Night On” can be successful on country radio is one where country will be unable to define itself or its borders, or control its destiny. It is one where country is open to intrusive infections of hyper-trends and performance histrionics from artists. It is one were everything is malleable and arbitrary, and is simply defined by what is popular today, with contempt for whatever came before.
And even worse, “Leave The Night On” will be a smash hit; a blockbuster of 2014. It has already seen one of the most astounding rises up the country charts from an unproven, unknown artist we’ve virtually ever seen. If Sam Hunt can release a single like “Leave The Night On” and have it be successful on country radio, then anyone can. And even more troubling, anyone will.
Welcome to the mono-genre.
July 7, 2014 @ 8:57 am
It’s got the worst of all worlds nestled in there. I remember when I was trying to use my own guitar loops while making them not sound like loops….I guess it doesn’t matter….
July 7, 2014 @ 8:59 am
Yep, I got nothing. Which is probably bad. Hope you’re wrong, Trig, but I doubt it.
July 7, 2014 @ 9:10 am
I know your busy. But would mind sending Waylon, Cash, and Jones back to us? We could really use them right now.
July 7, 2014 @ 9:47 am
To make it a fair, we’ll trade you Kanye West, Justin Bieber, BeyoncÃ©, Katy Perry, Chris Brown, every artist who considers themselves “hick hop” or “bro country”, and every artist who has ever called his betters “Old Farts”.
And while we still feel this trade greatly benefits US, we hope that you see that we desperately need this trade to happen.
Hell, we’ll even throw in David Allen Coe since he obviously doesn’t care for his audience anymore.
July 7, 2014 @ 1:25 pm
Let’s keep it classy and not make subtle wishes for the deaths of artists whose music we don’t like…
July 7, 2014 @ 9:17 am
Thanks for saying everything that I feel. It makes me so sad that the radio people will make this a country hit even though there is nothing country about it and yet true COUNTRY arttist-like Kelli Pickler Scotty McCreery Chris Young and so many true country artist struggle to get their music played. Makes me just want to quit listening to the radio because most of what is on there is not Country even the crap Miranda/Carrie just released is NOT country yet another hit THanks to FGL being successful guess everyone wants to do that junk now
July 25, 2014 @ 7:36 am
Scotty McCreery and Chris Young aren’t struggling for airplay…the two country stations in my town play both of them several times a day
July 7, 2014 @ 9:24 am
Its meteoric rise on the charts was thanks to Clear Channel’s “On the Verge” program. So, thanks, powers that be.
July 7, 2014 @ 9:33 am
“And even worse, “Leave The Night On” will be a smash hit; a blockbuster of 2014. It has already seen one of the most astounding rises up the country charts from an unproven, unknown artist we”™ve virtually ever seen. If Sam Hunt can release a single like “Leave The Night On” and have it be successful on country radio, then anyone can. And even more troubling, anyone will.”
Except its splash onto the chart is utterly dishonest and artificial, too.
It has been shoved down the throats of millions of listeners via Clear Channel/iheart Radio”™s “On The Verge” program (“Leave The Light On” debuted out of nowhere in the Top Thirty of the Country Airplay chart and amassed nearly as many spins in its opening week as Kenny Chesney”™s latest lead single: “American Kids”). Craig Campbell’s now-declining breakout single “Keep Them Kisses Comin'” was a beneficiary of the same service.
I genuinely think “On The Verge” is an admirable idea that is nonetheless terribly executed for two key reasons.
Firstly, the favoritism surrounding it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. What makes THIS, or Craig Campbell more deserving of his already struggling single at the time more deserving of this enviable form of exposure than, say, Brandy Clark”™s “Stripes” or, even among mainstream releases, something like Kelleigh Bannen’s recent release “Famous”? And what makes Sam Hunt so special to the degree his first-week airplay nearly rivalled the radio debut of Kenny Chesney”™s “American Kids”?
Granted I”™m no fan of top-tier artists regularly storming with each of their lead releases right out of the gate either”¦”¦”¦.but at least you can expect that. That’s a trend we’ve been witnessing for years now, and sort of begrudgingly came to accept. And at least you know these particular artists have worked hard to get where they are now.
Sam Hunt has NOT earned that right. Craig Campbell has NOT earned that right. And even if we were to reward both these entertainers with such a boost right out of the gate, then at the very least “On The Verge” ought to consistently reward those who are truly buzzworthy.
Which gets to my second point why “On The Verge” is so damaging.
What happens when one artist solicits all this airplay? It comes at the expense of the airplay others would otherwise receive. Thus, spins that would have gone to other charting entertainers are redistributed to this sole personality”¦”¦”¦..and that can negatively affect chart momentum for multiple up-and-coming artists.
That same week “Leave The Night On” had its hot-shot chart debut, an alarming number of songs beneath the Top Twenty reported a net decline in spins and eye-popping backward bullets. For instance, Jon Pardi’s “What I Can’t Put Down” fell SIX chart positions despite picking up a net increase in audience that week. How is it healthy for the format when many of these songs, which are driven traditionally by listener feedback, are completely disregarded in favor of a novel approach to simply force every station to play the song because Clear Channel finalized a deal with the label to play the song at the top of every hour in its first day or two of release? It”™s not. It is disruptive to the natural flow of chart movement and momentum, and it hurts much more than it helps other newer artists aspiring for visibility.
I’m about to tackle the song itself in a secondary post, but I just had to make clear the way this impacted the chart is just as phony as how it is being marketed.
July 7, 2014 @ 10:55 am
Just like the awards shows’ “New Artist” categories, “On The Verge” quickly became a tool of the greatest ills of the music industry when it was meant to even the playing field a bit. Though Sam Hunt is hypothetically a new artist, all his rise proves is there’s no legitimate farm system in country music, and it’s resulting in gentrification of the format.
July 25, 2014 @ 8:31 am
that’s why I amazed The Civil Wars even got a nomination… they get no airplay at all, at least around here
July 7, 2014 @ 11:32 am
I haven’t listened to country radio in years and am unfamiliar with On the Verge. But I find it awfully ironic it shares its name with a Collin Raye song. ;p
July 7, 2014 @ 9:36 am
In times like this, I thank the Lord for the legends like George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Conway Twitty and all the others, while at the same time thanking him for guys like Sturgill Simpson and Jason Eady. Country music is alive and well, you just have to find it.
Anyway, I think this song will be a big hit just like all pop “country” songs have been. However, within the next year or so, I believe the turn back to the traditional side will occur (it always has). This current pop/rap nonsense will all be like “Urban Cowboy” thirty years from now and true country music will survive. Keep the faith.
July 7, 2014 @ 9:43 am
I hope you’re right. But, even if the “turn back to the traditional style” doesn’t happen on the radio as we know it there will still be all the lesser known acts that we hold so dear. It’s a shame that the lesser known musicians don’t get a bigger slice of the pie though.
Thank God for Texas.
July 7, 2014 @ 1:42 pm
With all due respect, I believe those days are over. There is no longer a pendulum because Clear Channel & Cumulus own EVERYTHING; radio stations were still independently owned for the most part in the 1980s and early 90s.
July 7, 2014 @ 2:43 pm
Clear Channel and Cumulus own a large share of country radio, but far from everything. Here in the South Bay Area, our country station KRTY is still locally owned. That, however, does not stop its playlist from being dominated by bro country, especially in the evening hours.
July 7, 2014 @ 2:53 pm
That’s disappointing, but not surprising. The radio market operates much differently that it did in the past. Decades ago, most radio stations were independently owned, now they’re not. I’d say the bottom line is that CC and Cumulus dictate to a large degree what the mainstream radio market is in the first place.
July 8, 2014 @ 12:36 pm
True, but if smaller radio companies felt that they could out-compete the large conglomerates by playing traditional country, they would go for it. The fact that even these small local stations are playing bro-country in heavy rotation shows how genuinely popular bro-country has become. The stations may have lost a significant number of traditional fans, but they have gained an even greater number of pop fans. That’s the sad reality of it.
July 7, 2014 @ 9:43 am
No idea who Sam Hunt is, but anyone who calls California “Cali” has lost my vote.
July 7, 2014 @ 1:48 pm
He must not be from around here.
July 7, 2014 @ 5:40 pm
“B-b-but………..I like blue jeans, drivin’ down back roads and crankin’ my music up loud. Plus, Train has a few songs that are country-ish. So there!” 😉
July 7, 2014 @ 9:44 am
This is either that start of the end of the genre as we know it… or the start of its Limp Bizkit phase.
The problem with pandering to truly young people is that their tastes change dramatically in a few years. Limp Bizkit was cool when you were a sophomore in high school, but it made you look like a tool by the time you got to college. Now it seems like the punchline to a joke.
July 7, 2014 @ 12:26 pm
Now I’m suddenly imagining Trace Adkins doing his version of “Nookie”.
It’s not exactly far from “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk”, and about the same level of maturity as “Brown Chicken Brown Cow” puppet show.
July 7, 2014 @ 1:51 pm
Yeah Limp Bizkit… they were they Whiz Khalifa of their day. Woo… thankfully I never liked them. Not that I don’t have a tarnished musical legacy mind you. Just you know.. it’s Limp Bizkit.
Hey maybe country will do a tribute album to them and they can FGL do a cover of their cover of George Michael’s Faith.
July 7, 2014 @ 9:45 am
So why is this rising up the charts? It’s not real catchy and lacks a hook. I don’t see this as a good live song either. At least with FGL I could understand why young people were drawn to some of their songs. This however, seems very bland.
July 7, 2014 @ 10:05 am
That’s because Trigger embedded the acoustic mixtape version of the song.
The actual radio version of the song is linked below in my response. And trust me: it’s catchy as hell! =P
July 7, 2014 @ 10:50 am
For why this is rising up the charts, see the comments above from Carrie and Noah about Clear Channel’s “On The Verge” feature.
July 7, 2014 @ 6:52 pm
Ranger , you are reading my mind . This is the most bland sounding ,hookless , generic thing I’ve heard in a while ( next to most of David Nail’s stuff ) . Just dreadful . I almost feel sorry for the people being fed this by the powers that be .
My only reaction to these kinds of scams by the industry is “Thank goodness we have unlimited options to this crap ” . We have amazing indie artists , amazing tried and true legends , amazing classic artists , REAL songwriters getting cuts by REAL artists , incredibly progressive Americana and Bluegrass/Newgrass/Jamgrass and REAL label-less singers with tons of heart and character in their chops who can deliver emotion in spades . These options are all quite easy to find and to support by purchaseing theri music or attending their show. Musicianship , songwriting and terrific vocalists abound for those who’ve learned to turn the radio off and take a few moments to tap into the REAL talent and artistry …the acts that want no part of this watered-down here-today-gone-tomorrow trite commercial ‘country’ music.
July 7, 2014 @ 9:55 am
Splash!!!! Something bad just hit the toilet.
1 high strung acoustic instrument in the mix does not make this country music!
July 7, 2014 @ 10:03 am
Now…………….my actual opinion on “Leave The Night On” (the radio version is actually not which you’ve embedded in this note, and I’ve included the link to above)
I”™ll admit this: for a pop song, this is actually not half-bad and I can even see myself nodding my head to and humming on a bright day where I”™d rather not think so much and just soak in the scenery. It is driven by a most propulsive thud of a beat with faint EDM sensibilities, until exploding to a soaring faux-rock arena/festival chorus with jangly digital guitar. And though much of the percussion is synthetic, there is still some nice energetic drumming that, to its credit, gives it a convincing air of escapism and vim that, after all, makes for effective pop music.
Vocally, Hunt doesn’t even try to inflect any iota of twang on us. And, oddly enough, I kind of appreciate that he doesn’t ingenuously try and manufacture a drawl like Tyler Hubbard of Florida-Georgia Line. He actually has a respectable voice for the kind of music he makes: lacking any noteworthy range or texture, but certainly not grating to the ears. You can easily tell he’s much more influenced by Rhythmic music than country music, though, because of the way he crams so many lyrics into the chorus and utters them in rapid-fire succession. If I had to pin down his closest approximation to other relevant artists at the moment, I’d say he is somewhere between Ed Sheeran and 5 Seconds to Summer.
Lyrically…………..he does pander to the laundry list song template (“killin’ in your Levis”, “buzzin’ like a streetlight”, “this DJ’s on a roll”, “rolling down the windows”)……………..but what really astounds me is how he doesn’t even try necessarily to co-opt and regurgitate country stereotypes here. Instead of name-dropping Hank or Haggard, for instance, he instead cites Train and their song “Drops of Jupiter” (the T-shirt he is wearing in the picture you provide is Train’s trademark logo). Also, much like Dan + Shay did in their debut single “19 You + Me”, he cites “Cali” as the geographic location of choice here. And while I’m certainly not among the crowd that equates the country genre at large with Southern pride or pertaining only to Southern states and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Midwestern states……………in this particular context it just sounds awkward and out of place. All in all, though, I’ll credit Sam Hunt for providing more imagery than, say, a run-of-the-mill bro-country release and steering clear of the misogyny and sheer stupidity that resembles the worst songs of that sub-genre. Lyrically, this has all been said before umpteen times over………..but it’s pretty inoffensive.
For a pop song, this is actually fairly decent.
This just doesn”™t have ANY place whatsoever on country airwaves. Let it join Train on the Adult Top 40 format: where it belongs.
July 7, 2014 @ 10:53 am
I switched out the videos, though when listening to the two versions, I could only imagine it was the acoustic version they released to country radio. If that is not the case, then it makes this business even more sinister.
I’ll probably do a review of the song itself once flirts with #1 in a few weeks.
July 7, 2014 @ 1:42 pm
That should be fun.
Coincidentally, the band that’s both referenced in the song and whose logo is depicted on Hunt’s T-shirt, Train, just came out with their latest single last month (“Angel In Blue Jeans”)……………and surely enough that’s slightly more “country” than this! =P
July 7, 2014 @ 3:03 pm
Great points by both you and Trigger. Funny you mention Jon Pardi, there is an artist who would actually make sense to be an “On the Verge” artist, maybe a bit lyrically immature but still has a good country sound. “What I Can’t Put Down” can at least appeal to younger fans without damaging the integrity of country music. Its a shame to see it fall due to this song.
Just because country is now the biggest genre does not mean all these new young fans came here just to hear crap, Clear channel might be surprised to find that not all of the new fans began liking country just to say they enjoy country while actually listening to pop-EDM garbage. The whole industry just literally has no idea how to progress the genre right now without turning it into a completely different genre.
July 7, 2014 @ 4:39 pm
Another thing I’ll say about Jon Pardi is that…………while his vocal is too similar to Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line to the point it instantly gets on my nerves after a short while……………..I really think their instrumentation choices reflect more of modern corporate country-pop done right.
Seriously: if Florida Georgia Line were to adopt this sort of production and instrumentation selections (and mature lyrically somewhat)…………….I still wouldn’t necessarily like them, but I’d warm up to them somewhat. As Trigger has repeatedly said: we should not only be rooting for new and independent quality artists to get the exposure and respect they deserve, but we should also be rooting for all established artists to get better. And I wish this no less for Florida Georgia Line; who, at this time, still annoy me beyond compare (though, if “Dirt” is anywhere nearly resembling a step toward maturity when released tomorrow, I’ll give credit where it is due).
Anyway, I think Jon Pardi is a fitting case example of how modern country-pop can sound pretty decent; in addition to efforts by Charlie Worsham, Jana Kramer and Eric Paslay. Seriously; if you’re looking for pedal steel on current corporate country radio, Jon Pardi is about the closest you’re going to come to hearing this. I couldn’t stand “Up All Night” lyrically (nor vocally), but the production of that moderate hit was a saving grace of sorts. The same rings true with “What I Can’t Put Down”, with the lyrics being an improvement over “Up All Night” also.
July 7, 2014 @ 5:55 pm
Couldn’t agree more and was happy to see his name mentioned here, I have been rooting for Jon Pardi for a few years now. “Up All Night” may have done him a disservice when it came to gaining traditional country fans, but it was released as a single at the perfect time to break him into the mainstream (hopefully “Chasin Them Better Days” is the next single).
Personally, I don’t mind his voice, but can understand people getting tired of it. I had never noticed the similarities between his and Tyler Hubbard’s. It would take some time, but if FGL changed their tune maybe I could come around. But I would still invest more in Pardi to mature a bit lyrically and stick it out through whatever storm is coming to become a well respected artist. He puts on a great live show, I am a sucker for fiddle and pedal steel. Not to mention, I’ve met him and his band after a few shows and they were as nice as could be, which always helps you want to see somebody gain success.
I love talking about these younger artists who are actually “on the verge”. Its similar to debating Johnny Manziel’s NFL career, nobody knows if he’ll be great or a bust. Guys like Pardi, Worsham, Paslay show a strong glimmer of hope in mainstream country, we just pray they don’t get beat down by corporate Nashville. The tides might turn soon, or their could just be a full division of the genre; and these could be the artists who give us a reason to turn the radio on again.
July 8, 2014 @ 7:49 am
Noah, I decided to give “Dirt” a listen this morning and I must say it made me feel optimistic. Is it good? No, but it is definitely a step away from pop (or what we’ve known pop to be for the last 15 years) and back towards country for Florida Georgia line (although they have a long way to go). I assume its brian kelly mumbling the word “dirt” in the background (idk what else he is contributing)? I found that to be the most annoying part of the song.
If this was just fluff within an album never to be heard by radio then it would be meaningless, but its a single. Where Taylor swift is trying to break down genre barriers, FGL sounds like they are still desperately trying to be considered country. Like I said, its not a good song, but I see it as a good sign.
July 8, 2014 @ 6:45 pm
Perhaps it’s only because my expectations for Florida Georgia Line were akin to a bar set so low a worm couldn’t limbo it…………but “Dirt” only sounded half-bad to my ears.
First, I’ll get my obvious gripes out of the way. Hubbard’s excessively Auto-Tuned, exaggerated drawl for a vocal remains intact, and that got annoying as ever. The chorus is overproduced as always. And while I’ll talk about the lyrics more in a moment and why they’re not THAT bad………….it’s still sad that what was hyped by some as a “Song of the Year” contender amounted to little more than yet another list-song………..albeit eschewing the bro-country strain of it. It’s still lazy songwriting, even if it’s not nearly as stupid as its predecessors.
However, there were admittedly sprinkles of imagery in the lyrics I did like. “Elm shade red rust clay” kind of caught my attention for one. And while it’s unmistakably a lazier form of songwriting because it’s in the form of a list, I still felt like Clawson and Tompkins did a fine enough job illustrating numerous connection with the soil that we build all kinds of foundations upon.
And, despite some overproduction, I’m relieved to hear they even feel the incentive to embed any sort of recognizable token country instrumentation into the mix; following some crossover appeal and Sam Hunt’s new “country” single being completely devoid of any connection to the genre.
So, if you were to ask me if “Dirt” is worthy of the “Song of the Year” hype a few mainstream keister-kissing publications and/or reviewers stated, I would burst out in uncontrollable laughter and go on and on about how you crack me up. But is “Dirt” an abject failure? No, it isn’t.
July 8, 2014 @ 3:55 pm
I personally think Jon Pardi’s album is decent. It is WAY better than 90 percent of mainstream country. It has more pedal steel and fiddle on it than pretty much everything out there. It is one of the few mainstream albums out there right now that has a distinct country sound to it. “Up All Night” is probably the most pop sounding song on the album. I actually like his sound.
July 7, 2014 @ 10:51 am
I doubt this thing is going to be a hit, even after hearing the other version, and even if Clear Channel wants to push it as hard as it can. For one, the chorus is largely unmemorable due to it’s length, and as we’ve seen with past country hits, brevity in the chorus counts. That’s the reason why Taylor Swift in her album Speak Now almost couldn’t spark a #1 hit.
So many things are currently happening in the genre in 2014, with the anti-bro-country sentiment being cashed in, the return of Garth Brooks, and the forthcoming genre split by NASH Icons that honestly predicting what will happen to the genre is anyone’s guess right now.
Let’s just hope for the best
July 7, 2014 @ 11:19 am
Your cause for concern is warranted. I reviewed this song last week and I couldn’t believe how blatantly pop it sounded. It isn’t country at all. Even Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan throw in the token banjo in the background of their songs. “Leave The Night On” could pass for a Jason Mraz song easily. It blows my mind how some nobody like Hunt just shoots up the charts like this. As Noah says above, “On The Verge” is dangerous to country music. This song is so bland and vanilla it makes a boring song like Bryan’s “Roller Coaster” sound like a Sturgill Simpson song. I’m convinced subhumans wrote “Leave The Night On.”
July 7, 2014 @ 1:46 pm
It sounds much closer to 5 Seconds to Summer or Ed Sheeran than Jason Mraz to my ears! Recent efforts by Jason Mraz sound completely subdued and mellow! 😉
July 7, 2014 @ 11:25 am
This is why labels in music really do matter. I actually like this, as a POP song. But if I buy it, since it’s under the label “country” for some inexplicable reason, I’m contributing to the murder of country music. :/ Why can’t they just put this on pop radio?! It sounds a helluva lot better than all that EDM crap they play.
I think people hear this music, and it’s catchy so they buy it, and they’re totally unconcerned with whether it’s pop or country or whatever. Which is fine, EXCEPT for the part where it’s killing airplay of actual country music. I don’t know if this is the “new normal,” as this article indicates, or a sign that things have gone too far if this SOUNDS normal on country radio. I still think there’s a breaking point coming.
July 7, 2014 @ 1:58 pm
I agree and it creates a society where people can say I LOVE country music and you suddenly think you have a kinship only to discover they can’t handle Jean Shepherds yodel on “Second Fiddle To An Old Guitar” or anything Rose Maddox put her stamp on.
And kinship aside it makes people think they are more accepting and diverse than they really are. I know this is true because my teachers have told that despite polls and the web say. Kids while, more accepting of people in general are actually more adverse to things outside their comfort zone, (i.e. food, music, movies, ideas, stores). The sheep army is amassing.
July 7, 2014 @ 11:32 am
Is this Savage Garden?
July 7, 2014 @ 2:29 pm
I would rather listen to Savage Garden!
July 7, 2014 @ 11:42 am
Interesting title. Period.
Oh, it WAS easy to tune out while reading the posts until my stomach started to clench and then I remembered why and stopped the video!
July 7, 2014 @ 12:14 pm
Sigh. I hope you’re wrong about this, Trigger ”” but I fear that you’re not, with what’s gone on in country music as of late. Question now is…what now? I realize the instinct among a lot of us (and it’s mine right now) is to retreat further into our non-mainstream stuff and I know what you’ve said about that, but is this sort of thing really bound to snuff everything else out if it’s not strangled in its crib? I don’t know, I just don’t know…
As for the song, well, from what I heard I pretty much agree with everything Noah said. Decent pop song if that’s your bag, but country? No. Non. Nein. Not in the slightest. This dude makes Hunter Hayes sound like Reckless Kelly. I made it about a minute and a half before I had to go cleanse my ears and my soul with Jason Boland and the Stragglers.
July 7, 2014 @ 12:20 pm
oh dear. this sounds like a 90s boy band – utter trash
July 7, 2014 @ 6:57 pm
That’s the comparison I was looking for Clare . Thank you ….dead on !
July 7, 2014 @ 12:21 pm
Well, I can always count on this site to inform me what songs my country cover band will be learning next lol. I went ahead and made a chord chart with the lyrics and uploaded it to countytabs. I’m sure it will get tons of views.
July 7, 2014 @ 12:52 pm
Had an idea for a post, Trigger.
What’s your ideal scenario for country music? Is it the return of an era or a sound? What’s the vision here?
I hear a lot about what it isn’t, but I want to hear what it is, outside of artists you like and such.
Love the site. Just a thought.
July 7, 2014 @ 1:00 pm
I have something along these lines planned in conjunction with the NASH Icons story. Maybe we’ll go a little deeper.
July 7, 2014 @ 1:01 pm
Correction: Taylor Swift’s first EOTY win was in 2009, not 2007. 2007 was when she won the Horizon Award (what Best New Artist was called back then).
motel 6 jingle
July 7, 2014 @ 1:18 pm
at least it pulls no punches, unlike chesney and owens who pretend to be country and put out beachin; or american kids 🙂
July 7, 2014 @ 1:21 pm
When I first found this website I thought that I had found others like myself who enjoyed Traditional country music.I thought this was gonna be the place to find more traditional sounding new artists that I haven’t heard of through reviews or word of mouth from other folks posting.Listen I get a chuckle out of reading the rants just like anyone else but wouldn’t you be doing more to Save Country Music if you were exposing more artists performing Traditional Country music.We all know the radio isn’t gonna play it,You can’t expect a record company to pick up and back anyone doing Traditional stuff.It’s gonna take all of us fans support of existing and new artists for any form of traditional country music to survive.I personally search You tube and other sites on a regular basis,there is a ton of great music out there all be it may not be professionally recorded all the time.But those are the guys I wanna support and see what they have in store in the future.If they can’t get it going most of these artists will either dwindle off and give up on music,I can’t tell you how many great songs are out there that I have read or listened to from songwriters who have no where to go with them.
July 7, 2014 @ 1:51 pm
There are endorsements of independent traditional country music artists all over this site. I found out about Sturgill Simpson et. al. through this site.
You have to have articles like the above because 1) it’s good to know what’s going on and 2) it’s a good way to get frustrated traditional country fans like yourself who are pissed off at what mainstream country radio has become to discover this website.
July 7, 2014 @ 2:22 pm
My point is if I look at the main page of this site, right now I see two maybe three articles about a new or traditional artist.But I see ten articles about everything else under the sun.I think people become real bored with the whole trashing scene rather quickly.I know I do,I just think if you educate people and put good music in front of them you may just turn them onto some music they have never heard of.I share songs regularly online, you would be surprised how many people have never heard of artists that I would think of as a fairly big names.Such as Jason Boland or Sturgill Simpson or any of the other top names of Americana or Texas Country.Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and musical tastes,I didn’t mean any harm with my comment just trying to add a outsiders view.The silly article may have gotten me here but I would rather spend my time searching and listening to good country music rather than being depressed about the crap that’s on the radio lol.Have a good one I’m off to find some music..
July 7, 2014 @ 3:26 pm
First off, I appreciate your concern. And trust me, it is one that is constantly going through my own head. I am constantly trying to figure out ways how to get more music in front of more people, and though I’ll spare you my entire diatribe about how criticizing bad music actually accomplishes this more than “supporting” good music, let me just say as others alluded to that there’s a plan in place here, and I have plenty of evidence that the plan is working, at least to the degree it can for the reach of a website like this.
My one beef with what you said is, “I think people become real bored with the whole trashing scene rather quickly.’
With all due respect, I only see one article out of the 13 on the home page where any “trashing” transpires. And this article isn’t trashing anything, this is a think piece. I actually though about posting a rant about this song, but then decided the issue was too important to waste it on immature humor.
As far as you seeing only two or three articles supporting traditional or new artists, I would disagree there too. For example, the stories about YouTube and the Ben Folds/ Harold Bradley fight, these are very important issue-based stories that directly affect independent and traditional artists, as well as the preservation of country music’s historic places. No, they’re not directly promoting music, but their promoting ideals that help promote the music by proxy. In fact in both of those instances, the fact that sites like Saving Country Music spoke out and raised awareness is the reasons these issues worked out favorably from and independent or traditional mindset.
Meanwhile I’ve posted stories about Corb Lund, Jim Lauderdale, and The Loudermilks, David Allan Coe, and Jamey Johnson, all of which fall into your traditional and independent sphere.
I make no harder decision every day than what to spend my time covering. I do my best to cover as much ground as I can, while still being fair to each story, and not succumbing to the soundbyte, drive-by mentality most media has devolved into. If you don’t like stories about issues or news, then by all means, avoid them. But I have posted more reviews this year so far than I have any other year in the seven years I’ve been going at this, and post about as many albums and songs as it is possible for one human to listen to in a given week. Nonetheless, I try to push myself harder every day, and hopefully in the future I can figure out how to get even more exposure to worthy music.
July 7, 2014 @ 4:01 pm
I enjoy the wide variety of articles and like being educated on the whole industry but I
can agree with Jimmy on wanting to find good new music. Trigger, you do turn people on to good music, but you are only one man and cannot have ears everywhere. Have you considered creating an open forum so that we can all keep open dialogue about new music and offer listening suggestions? I realize that is not a simple task (and I am betting you’ve already considered it) but I am sure a lot of us would enjoy it and it would not take away from the total industry coverage that you are offering on a daily basis.
July 7, 2014 @ 2:09 pm
I’ve made similar comments in the past, and trust me when I say this:
Saving Country Music is run by an individual. He posts what he wants when he wants, and suggestions usually don’t get much consideration especially when they are critical. I’ve gone so far as to question the admin’s motives many times.
In his defense, there are a lot of reviews on the main page and in the archives of lesser known artists. You just have to look around the site a bit.
I gotta say this though, I get real sick of seeing pop country stars plastered all over the main page of this site. But, the sad thing is that the pop country stories get like 1000% more comments than the reviews of underground artists.
July 7, 2014 @ 3:32 pm
I see a lot of people tired of seeing certain names on the site like Eric Church, Taylor Swift, etc. etc. But many times, these stories are actually more about issues as opposed to the artists. I would say that is the case with this article. Really, this is about pushing the boundary of what country music is. I just happened to use a song and an artist as the illustration.
Also, this problem might just as much have to do with the site’s layout as anything. There’s plans to address this in the future, where people can find what they’re looking for, and avoid what they don’t want to see easier.
July 7, 2014 @ 4:11 pm
As I said earlier I meant no offense,I was looking at this as a outsider clicking on this page for the first time.When I first clicked on this website I expected to find tons of new music.Instead I kind of got bombarded with the same names and faces that prime time radio and even youtube wanna push on you all the time.It may be a site layout deal like you said.I hold no grudge towards anyone who wants to try and help country music in any shape or form.I simply think and it’s just my opinion that my time is better spent listening to and promoting the music that I wanna help instead of reading a article or listening to music I have no interest in.Like I said just my opinion when I click on the site nothing more.
July 7, 2014 @ 2:10 pm
I see your angle but that is kind of like preaching to the choir and he does feature new acts and reviews here, he has a lot on his plate. As for me I appreciate this side of the story. I don’t follow mainstream top 40 and this site has more me more engaged on the other side and trying to engage the other team, especially young in listening to old stuff, not through preaching but just by playing it. You can’t take muisc anywhere new without listening to what came before and also can’t take music anywhere new if you don’t what is currently trending.
I don’t I know might just have be content with listening to Jim Lauderdale on my own but now I am actively shoving it in the ears of anyone I can to wake people and say “Listen, you can like top 40 without guilt, that does not bother me but please understand it is not country and it isn’t really even good.”
So many people confuse sales with talent and confuse people calling out bad music as a attack on your listening tastes or your identity. I have always believed you can like what you want but you cannot just tell me it great simply because you like it. I had a thing for Paula Abdul. I still like her stuff but I let down my pride and picked up humility and can say it isn’t really good, it is passable pop and I still like it but I know she is not Patti LaBelle.
July 7, 2014 @ 2:13 pm
Everyone should do themselves a favor and give these guys a listen. If you like it, buy their music, then do some google searching about the band. Their story is textbook outlaw country. I’m pretty sure they aren’t around anymore, but they made some damn good music.
July 7, 2014 @ 1:28 pm
The thing is, this isn’t that bad of a pop song. If I was flipping through the stations and this was on the local pop station, I would probably stop and listen. Maybe even sing along to a couple lines. Because that’s what I listen to pop music for. It’s just something fun to listen to.
But this is not a country song. This guy clearly doesn’t give a shit about country music or tradition. So my question is WHY? Why do these people need to be on country radio so bad? Why do they feel the need to take away the spotlight from people who have real country roots? Are these people really that dumb to think that this is country music, or is it really just about fame and fortune to them? Country music is where the money’s at, so let’s all jump on the bandwagon? There is nothing country about this song whatsoever. I agree it’s worse than anything we thought was pop before.
When people ask me what kind of music I listen to I don’t even like saying country anymore. I don’t want to answer the question “Do you like Sam Hunt?” It’s sad that country music is turning into something that you can’t even recognize anymore. Soon so called “country” fans won’t even know who George Jones is. People will say that they grew up on Luke Bryan and it really sucks.
July 7, 2014 @ 2:02 pm
It’s because, like Trigger said, “country” is the most popular American genre (and has been most recent years). Rock (as a mainstream genre) has fallen into irrelevancy, while Adult Top 40 has basically become a decaffeinated version of pop radio. So what do these disenfranchised entertainers do? They realize “country” is the closest thing to a cash cow in American mainstream music, and so are sprinting where the money’s at.
It’s all about marketing, and getting their slice of the pie.
Unfortunately, this reinforces a mutating view of “country music” as having nothing to do with its rich instrumental and storytelling tradition, but more to do with a way of life. Now, I’m not even sure that’s the case. Now I think many mainstream artists and listeners view “country music” as nothing more than “a state of mind”. Like anyone can be “country” if they think driving through the countryside is fun, or like partying in small towns at night.
July 7, 2014 @ 2:05 pm
Fortunately, adult contemporary radio here in the Bay Area still plays 80s and 90s soft rock (shout out to KOIT, KBAY, and KFOG).
July 7, 2014 @ 2:16 pm
Yeah, but even they have a pretty played out set list. And Classic Rock radio is like the same 10 dudes and maybe one Heart song a day. Radio is in dire need of a rebirth. Back to the days when you tuned into a DJ because he played shit you liked, they had more freedom to play whatever they wanted or wanted to expose you to.
Dave Morey (my hero) and 10@10 is a great example of how radio can expand horizons and be inventive and fun avoid the same played out Santana and Train. I think pod casts are also a great avenue for this as are college radio station. San Antonio has one of the best jazz station in the country period, and it is college radio. Also in the Bay Area we have KFJC out of San Mateo that spins some pretty varied music from film scores to surf rock.
July 7, 2014 @ 2:38 pm
I live very close to KFJC’s headquarters, and my radio gets a clear signal from the station. Unfortunately, the few times that I have tuned in, it has featured talk much more often than music. Maybe I am listening at the wrong hours…
July 8, 2014 @ 4:49 pm
Last time I checked in KFJC had Surf Rock on Saturday Nights. And Sountrack music on I think Saturday maybe Sunday Mornings, called The Norman Bates Memorial Soundtrack Show.
July 7, 2014 @ 2:56 pm
Two questions, Noah: why is rock considered to be dead by you industry-minded types? I myself have made such comments on other articles, but I was referring more to the spirit than the sales numbers. The latter I have no idea about.
Second: as for “country” implying a lifestyle as opposed to rich storytelling and musicianship, I think that’s where we get all of these laundry list songs. (Ex. I’m not saying there aren’t people out there that love trucks, but the idea that this automobile is a cornerstone of the culture baffles and irritates me. It’s a tool needed for living in otherwise difficult places, not a shrine to be worshiped.) However, this next question applies to Trigger as well: if an artist was born in the city, say New York or even outside of the U.S. but maintained a traditional sound and the storytelling tradition, would you consider them “authentic” and deserving of a residence within the genre? Say someone like Sturgill Simpson was born in Jersey and had no twang, didn’t put one on but still honored the roots of the music? Or perhaps was born in England, etc.?
July 7, 2014 @ 3:24 pm
“Rock (as a mainstream genre) has fallen into irrelevancy…”
That’s what I said. I was careful enough in my phrasing not to state it was outright dead, nor suggesting rock in general (i.e. outside of the mainstream as well) doesn’t matter anymore.
Do I deny that the spirit of rock and roll altogether has been extinguished. Of course not. But let’s not mince words here. Besides sales figures, when was the last time you heard (on either Mainstream Top 40 or even Alternative radio in its current inception) anything specifically resembling an organic (i.e. non-synthetic, non-digital, or non-Pro-Tools influenced instrumentation)?
It has gotten to the point where, among listeners who weren’t raised during a time rock ‘n roll was at one of numerous peaks………………that when they hear what, on the surface, resembles crunching rock guitar blasts………….. it’s really just digitally-constructed effects and synthesizers masquerading as such. Granted they’ll have cultural exposure to classic rock in some way, shape or form anyhow…………but it’s much more challenging for them to discern organic instrumentation from inorganic instrumentation.
Even the spirit of rock and roll is so highly contrived in mainstream music in recent years. It just seems all style and no substance. Take Avril Lavigne’s “Rock ‘N Roll”, for instance. Or Daughtry’s “Long Live Rock ‘N Roll”. Or Lil Wayne’s now-infamous “rock” album “Rebirth”. And all of these efforts flopped hard commercially.
So, yes: in the proper context, I stand firmly behind my assertion that rock is an irrelevant genre in mainstream music at this time.
July 7, 2014 @ 3:41 pm
I have supported many New York-based artists specifically like Moot Davis, The Defibulators, and Galea Bad Housewife. Canada has great country music from Corb Lund, The Deep Dark Woods, Lindi Ortega, and on and on. There’s some great European bands too.
I always say that being from the South or West is always a ribbon in the cap of any country performer and can definitely help your street cred. BUt it’s not required. What is required is good music.
July 7, 2014 @ 4:21 pm
I get that. I suppose I was misinterpreting your criticism concerning authenticity with a lot of the new crop of performers as something that was required as opposed to lauded. Now that I’ve given it more thought with your comment in mind, it occurred to me that you mainly pointed such inconsistencies out with artists and songs that were laundry list and pandered to REAL country folk. Sometimes my own lack of appreciation for subtext irritates me.
July 7, 2014 @ 4:17 pm
Forgive me, I was mincing your opinion a bit with my own. In my own personal opinion, the spirit of rock & roll is dead (i.e. few songs built on riffs and melody as you imply as well as the songs seeming a bit lifeless to my ears). And to be quite honest, the only radio stations that I can leave tuned in to for more than a few songs at a time are country stations, pop or otherwise. I’m very picky with my music and I know what I like. You’ll hear some hard words from me if we get to talking about alternative music, rock or otherwise, because I find that scene to be a lot of B.S., personally. Just like these new country stars who are more concerned with appealing to their fanbases and mock authenticity, most of the alternative music I’ve been exposed to seems to be more concerned with subverting mainstream trends than actually making something that’s worth a damn (essentially it’s like a whole genre of music from albums like The Outsiders by Eric Church). This reasoning is why I specifically have no love for the idea of grunge as a genre or Nirvana/Pearl Jam. They were too concerned with their image and differentiating it from hair metal and everything else to make anything that stimulated the ear, for the most part. I own Ten and Rearviewmirror by Pearl Jam, but even the former hits downright boring spots that are hard for me to slog through when I listen to the album in its entirety. All in all, these two bands (along with the majority of their forebears and followers) were more concerned with the angst surrounding the music than the music itself. Ironic, since hair metal is considered to be more about the image. Hell, at least the guys from Motley Crue, Poison, etc. can write a decent riff and hook. With all of this in mind, I’m obviously not an alternative fan and never will be. To me it’s all fluff and attitude but no substance (however, I DO love me some Alice In Chains and Soundgarden isn’t bad either, but they’re a bit more metal than the other bands on the scene). As for classic rock, I really only like hard rock music so I’m not a big fan of the mix of hard rock and soft rock on classic stations, particularly since it’s the same fifteen songs played every hour with little variation.
You never answered me on the country question, by the way.
July 7, 2014 @ 5:26 pm
My apologies. I got the impression your latter question was more directed at Trigger solely, and the former question was directed at the both of us.
Before I answer your latter question, let me say that I understand where you’re coming from regarding “alternative rock” and Pearl Jam/Nirvana. Actually, I think “alternative” has always been such a problematic genre team I’ve never been able to take seriously. Especially now, when you have all these “indie” acts rising up the Mainstream Top 40 chart at nearly the same time they’re rising up the “Alternative” chart. How I can take the idea a format is “alternative” seriously when so many of the exact same songs topping that format are not only also topping or nearly topping the pop chart, but are doing so without ever genuinely crossing over in the first place?
I never cared for Nirvana at all, but I have and still like Pearl Jam well enough. However, I will say that I actually like Eddie Vedder’s more understated side projects and covers better as a whole than what he has done with the band. I mean, Eddie Vedder has openly admitted since even before Pearl Jam was formed that he is drawn to surfing and the music surrounding that community. And it shows on the “Into The Wild” soundtrack, as well as his acoustic renderings of countless songs across many genres, his ukulele album and softer moments on Pearl Jam albums.
I actually think Eddie Vedder’s voice has only sounded better with age, and he best makes justice of it when provided an intimate, understated setting. And while I was never a fan of Kurt Cobain’s voice at all, who knows: had he lived longer, he might have surprised us as well and spilled out more of the side of him influenced by Johnny Cash.
But as promised, onto your latter question.
I mean, there has been plenty of compelling legends that emerged from California (or “Cali” according to Hunt! 😉 ): most notably the Bakersfield community. We have grown so blindsided by how the likes of the Peach Pickers, Rodney Clawson, Ashley Gorey and others have tended to equate country with Southern pride and culture (Georgia especially! 😉 )………..that we take for granted how California has contributed as much to the genre as any Southern state.
Merle Haggard himself was driven by numerous influences, but a chief one was the Bakersfield sound. Freddie Hart’s career didn’t originate with the Bakersfield Sound, but it peaked when he affiliated himself closely with Buck Owens. You had Jean Shepard effortlessly embrace many different flavors of country music, and Bakersfield was definitely one of them. And, of course, they know as well as we do that being “country” has nothing to do with which state you’re from, but rather having to do with the structure and essence of a song. More often than not, you’ll hear genuine lovers of country music citing the telling of a story, an uncomplicated chord progression, a simple, direct chorus and melody as what makes a song authentically “country”.
Thus, by that logic, you can be born and raised in the heart of New York City…………and you can still potentially develop a sincere understanding and respect for country music because you acknowledge the simple craft and heart of song composition.
July 7, 2014 @ 5:37 pm
And, at least to me, I’d add that I view country music at its heart as consisting of some sort of refrain or other means of conveying an emotional connection or response: either through the choice of instrumentation and/or additional vocals.
I actually like how Gary Allen delineates country music from rock and roll in interviews. He says that rock and roll is about what you do on the weekends, while country music is about who you are and what you do on weekdays. Obviously I’m no absolutist and I believe there are shades of grey between the two, but all in all I get where he’s coming from when he makes this assertion. You’re just not as likely to hear songs about overcoming adversity and hardship, family, faith and nostalgia in a (purist) rock setting.
So, yes, I’d finally identify as country distinguishing itself from other genres speaking more accurately to the emotional aspects of the human condition. Granted folk music also does an exceptional job doing so as well, in particular, but rock and roll is more concerned with attitude and the visceral traditionally, while other genres like, say, blues music and jazz do in fact touch on emotional experiences…………….but in these cases, rather than tell a story, they instead opt to approach emotional territory from more of a slice-of-life standpoint, or talk succinctly about a specific mood.
July 7, 2014 @ 5:46 pm
In my opinion, folk and country are the same genre. They both rely on acoustic string instrumentation and story-based lyrics. The only difference seems to be in the content of the lyrics, i.e. country focuses more on the personal whereas folk emphasizes the socio-political.
July 7, 2014 @ 6:58 pm
Here is my question for you dudes.
Given a choice, would y’all rather that country music go in the direction that rock has, dwindling in relevance as a mainstream genre / format, maybe shrinking back to the cultural space it occupied decades ago OR would you rather see it continue on as a cultural and monetary juggernaut, even if it meant having to tolerate a lot of genre interlopers like Sam Hunt?
This might seem like a weird comparison, but consider this: people who study religion say one thing that is currently happening in America is a decline in nominal religiousness, where fewer people pretend or claim to be religious (so, people who in the past might have marked down a religious affiliation on a poll, despite rarely bothering to show up for church, might no longer do so.) I’ve even heard at least one religious thinker claim that this is partially a positive development, despite the fact that it leaves religious denominations in a less prestigious cultural position, both because it dispenses with false pretenses, and because it leaves religious communities with a more committed, passionate, and active constituency.
Getting back to music, I’ve heard some claim that a similar process has happened in the rock community recently. In other words, the death of rock as a watered-down mainstream format has lead to a purer, more passionate fan base. Do you think the same thing would happen to the country genre if “country” suddenly and sharply declined as a radio format? Is that something we should root for? Personally, I’m so sick of the state of mainstream country today that a big part of me would like to see the entire house of cards come tumbling down.
(By the way, I don’t intend to opine on the religion thing, it’s just an illustration. Of course, many people see country music as being like a religion.)
July 7, 2014 @ 8:59 pm
(Sorry I keep hopping back a few comments to respond to later ones but I hate how after about four responses the option to do so disappears so I’d like to hear what you have to say should you want to respond again).
Kurt Cobain being influenced by Johnny Cash is news to me. I’d never heard of that one before. As for Vedder and Pearl Jam, I haven’t heard their later stuff so I wouldn’t be able to comment on his voice. However, I’ll admit a personal bias that no doubt plays into my general annoyance with the band: as we’ve talked about before, I’m a Creed fan. As such, I’ve dealt with a LOT of hate for the band and the Pearl Jam connection is one that chaps my ass. I don’t personally think Scott Stapp sounds very much like Eddie Vedder; Stapp’s tone is richer and he is harder to understand while Vedder has a bit more range and tends to be much more over-the-top with his delivery. When it comes to the music, if anyone thinks that Creed sounds like Pearl Jam they aren’t listening to the songs past the cursory similarity in the singers’ voices. And I’ll argue that with anyone. Also, on the subject of Creed, part of the reason I like them is because they offer what most grunge doesn’t: good solid, melody based riff rock. Sure, claiming that Creed might be better than Pearl Jam even by association would erupt into a fist fight in a lot of record stores, but I stand by that assertion. I myself like a good hook and melody and Creed excels at those two elements. Pearl Jam has never sounded like anything but angry garage rock to me that has a habit of having a largely tuneless quality with their postVitalogy material. I also quite like Stapp’s lyrics and impassioned delivery of them as well, particularly since unlike his predecessors, he doesn’t feel the need to inject an f-bomb into every song to make it seem “edgy” (like Pearl Jam). He released a new solo album just last year by the name of Proof of Life. I mentioned it to Trigger a few times because on the iTunes listener ratings, one person rated it unfavorably and said it sounded “like country music,” which absolutely floored me (it sounds nothing like the genre, classic or current). It was then that it occurred to me just how lost our genre and the popular perception of it have become.
You tell me:
“Slow Suicide” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PWcXhE9NTQ
“Proof of Life” (title track) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asxRFgPpoDU
On a side note, I apologize to any regular readers of this site and Trigger as well that so many of my comments as of late have devolved into largely unrelated matters such as grunge, but it’s on my mind and a similar situation to boot.
July 7, 2014 @ 9:58 pm
While I do respect your defence of Creed and, as I’ve said before, also personally believe Creed deserve much more credit than most reviewers are ever willing to begin offering them…………..I can’t help but feel you haven’t necessarily went out of your way to fathom and dissect Pearl Jam’s discography following “Vitalogy”.
It would be disingenuous, for instance, to categorize their two most recent albums as “post-grunge”. They are straight-up modern rock and roll albums, albeit more streamlined and leaner compared to previous records. And they’re replete with their share of more melodic, as well as much more reflective and understated, offerings. Most notably “The End”, “Just Breathe”, “Pendulum”, “Yellow Moon” and “Future Days”.
“Yield” can’t even be considered a post-grunge album. It vacillates between roots-leaning sounds and more standard garage-rock fare. “Low Light”, “In Hiding”, “All Those Yesterdays” and “Pilate” reflect a broadening of the group’s musical identity best of all there.
Look, I understand the pains you take to Creed always being unfairly characterized as a poor man’s Pearl Jam. I don’t believe they are, and I’ve never believed they are. I also get where you’re coming from when you argue Scott Stapp is a stronger vocalist, as well.
However, I can’t help but conclude you’re stating misleading and short-sighted claims about Pearl Jam’s output as well. You’re committing the same logically falsified errors as many of Creed’s detractors have. For instance, you claim Eddie Vedder drops the F-bomb in almost all of their songs: which is flat-out untrue. It honestly strikes me as that kind of argument you’d expect to hear from someone who identifies Pearl Jam most closely from the hit “Jeremy”, or saw they had two album tracks with the word ensconced in the title.
It’s also falsified to argue all they’ve put out is angry garage rock. Listen to “Yield”, as well as their two most recent albums and you’ll see what I mean. Beyond that, even their heaviest albums have more nuance than you make them out to be. You may also be surprised to find that, with “Backspacer” and “Lightning Bolt”, how lean and melodic quite a few tracks are compared to earlier output where they were more inclined to record in the form of jam sessions.
July 8, 2014 @ 12:06 am
Can a group that is counted among the old guard of grunge even make a post-grunge album? As it stands, the latter distinction was always used to describe the artists that carried on after the heyday of the originals, but the debate over authenticity had the “post” added. As for the rest of Pearl Jam’s work, yes I made a sweeping generalization. But I mentioned owning Rearviewmirror, which is a compilation of their material from 1991 to 2003. Yes, compilations are typically frowned upon in most serious music circles, but I bought it when I was first trying to get a feel for the band. I’ve only recently become a serious music fan and have stuck my toe in certain waters via compilations, so shoot me. With that in mind, upon my first listen to that comp I wasn’t impressed. Speak of the devil, I just gave it another listen this past week and was even less amused by it than before (which is odd, since music typically gets better the more times you listen to it unless you just hate it). Again, I submit to the fact that I’ve not given all of their albums a good listen, but I have little inclination to do so after my experience with the compilation. If the “best of” album doesn’t interest me, why would any album tracks? Sure, I’ll argue with anyone that every artist has at least a few album tracks that are as good if not whole tiers above their radio output, but I sincerely doubt I’d feel that way with Pearl Jam. When it comes to their music, it’s more a problem with my feelings surrounding the material and scene it was ensconced than the material itself, which isn’t fair but nonetheless unavoidable.
As for myself making the same types of sweeping generalized criticisms about Pearl Jam as many do about Creed, touchÃ©. How’s that for irony? 🙂 It didn’t even occur to me, mostly because Pearl Jam fans don’t typically have to fight for their right to like the band or for the band to get credit where it’s due. With the f-bomb accusation, I was mainly being facetious and referring mostly to Ten, where it is a fairly accurate assessment (and I’ve talked with friends that feel the same way, so it’s not just me). I may give a listen to Yield, as it seems far enough removed from the other drama that I might enjoy it, assuming it improves on their formula. Believe it or not, I was tempted to pick up a copy of Lightning Bolt when it was first released, but my own bias against the band and the unusually high price (around $15 as opposed to $10 for a normal release) kept me away. I also forgot to mention: call this a generalization as well if you must, but Vedder personally gets on my nerves. My criticism of the angst over musicianship of most alternative music tends to be focused on the frontman of these groups: Cobain, Vedder, etc. The frontman is usually the face and personality of the band as we all know, hence why the Creed spinoff band Alter Bridge can exist with its own identity despite the fact that it features every member of the former except for Stapp.
July 7, 2014 @ 3:42 pm
When people ask me what kind of music I listen to I don”™t even like saying country anymore.
I always qualify my answer in some way; I usually say something like, “Yeah, I like country music ”” mainly Texas country and the older stuff. I’m not too keen on what Nashville’s been peddling the last few years, though.” I know that’s a mouthful, but it is what it is.
If somebody didn’t quite get it after that and asked me if I liked Sam Hunt I’d say something along the same lines that I did about the song itself, i.e., “he’s pretty good as a pop singer if that’s one’s thing, but as a country music singer he’s a total and complete fraud.”
July 7, 2014 @ 2:46 pm
This actually sounds a bit par for the course to me. On the other hand, it’s also VERY pop, as has been stated. Garth, could you please quit stalling already and issue a single? PLEASE????
July 7, 2014 @ 4:15 pm
Garth Brooks: (struggling sounds) “…………….alright, just a second……………..just tryin’ to fit into these old jeans……………..and gotta check on those eighteen cargo ships! This might take a little while!” 😉
July 7, 2014 @ 4:23 pm
Did he make sure his hands-free mic and “flying” wire harness were still small enough as well? 😛 He actually stole the former from Chris LeDoux, by the way. However, I don’t think Chris ever flew out over his audience.
July 7, 2014 @ 4:49 pm
I say this not intending to fat-shame at all (I’m personally not fond of how Farce The Music mocks Gary LeVox’s weight, though I otherwise mostly enjoy their content) or anything………………..but knowing LeVox’s history with hands-free mics, I’m sure Brooks has nothing to worry about there! 😉
July 7, 2014 @ 8:31 pm
Maybe I’m misunderstanding your comment, but Chris LeDoux and Gary LeVox are two completely different people. LeDoux was a rodeo cowboy that sold self-produced albums about the cowboy lifestyle out of the back of his car to pay his bills. He was later signed to a major label after Garth Brooks name-dropped him in a song. Brooks even admitted to essentially stealing LeDoux’s stage show ideas. Sadly the great crooner died in 2005 from cancer. Gary LeVox, as you know, is the frontman of country pop boy band Rascal Flatts. I don’t think you could confuse two people that are more different (assuming you did. The LeVox mention just struck me as out of left field).
July 7, 2014 @ 10:03 pm
I see what you mean, and you’re right it came like a bolt from the blue.
I guess where I was coming from is that many have pointed out how Garth Brooks is significantly bigger now than when he was at the peak of his career, and then you mentioned wondering if the hand-free mic would still be able to fit on his head…………..and for some reason I thought of all the fat jokes Farce The Music resorts to, but almost always aims them at Gary LeVox specifically, so I kind of randomly summed one and one together! =P
July 7, 2014 @ 3:48 pm
Trigger it amazes me how much your articles are well-put together, and with substance, yeah country has gone to shit. Remember back in the 70s-80s when country was going pop and then a mass majority of traditional artists brought it back to its roots? Country music has a disease and keeps getting worse and worse, but then maybe the same thing that happened back then can happen today and we can get rid of this disease and bring country back to its roots, could it happen?
July 7, 2014 @ 4:17 pm
One thing I know is that it won’t happen unless we keep fighting and expressing our displeasure. I really have no idea what the future holds for country music.
July 7, 2014 @ 4:16 pm
Speaking of genres, Trig, I wonder if you’ve seen this article written by Taylor Swift. One of the topics she discussed was genres, foreseeing the genre distinction as becoming more blurred in the future.
July 7, 2014 @ 4:18 pm
Yes, I have seen the article, thanks.
July 7, 2014 @ 6:15 pm
What an interesting article. And the journey through the comments was enlightening as well.
There are so many ways I could go, but I’ll stick, at least tangentially, with the topic.
The following is all my opinion and purely speculation, but I think it may be accurate:
Pop is short for popular. So in the strictest sense of the term, country is pop. And you want to know what was the biggest reason country has lost its traditional bearing? Pop radio stopped playing pop.
The infiltration started sometime in the mid to late 90s when any guitar driven rock songs started being banished from pop radio. That’s when a lot of classic and southern rock fans started migrating towards country.
The KISS-like arena rock shows put on by the likes of Garth and Shania just started the migration. And it’s never stopped. It has taken on a life of its own.
If so-called country music is the most popular form of music in the US, then by definition, it is no longer country music, but pop music.
I don’t know where this leads other than dreaded mono-genre. Some (outside of this site, of course) seem to think this is good thing. Personally, I think it’s horrendous.
July 7, 2014 @ 7:30 pm
I totally agree. It seems like the poor state of other music formats has had a hugely negative impact on mainstream country. As you say, pop radio now mostly refers to a very narrow range of danceable, Auto-tuned music styles. Back in the day, successful pop/rock artists could even be influenced by country music without being marketed as such (The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt most of the time.) And now the rock format is also dwindling. I shudder to realize that nowadays, if Kid Rock were a rising artist putting out music that sounded like his stuff did back in the 90’s, he would be marketed as a country artist. (“Cowbooooy, baaaaby”)
I think there has to be a broad array of different radio stations, each with diverse and inclusive playlists, in order for the genre system to truly work. I wonder if it truly possible to “save country music” in the mainstream sense without also saving pop music, and rock music, and hip-hop, and so on.
July 7, 2014 @ 8:42 pm
AppIlejack wrote: “I wonder if it truly possible to “save country music” in the mainstream sense without also saving pop music, and rock music, and hip-hop, and so on.”
That, my friend, is brilliant. I know that Trig has written about and linked to articles in which the hip-hop community is as disgusted with the intrusion of other genres into their music as is the traditional country community.
July 7, 2014 @ 9:26 pm
Yes, isn’t it interesting that articles criticizing the state of mainstream music from a hip-hop perspective are so similar to those doing the same from the country point of view. That’s the nature of the beast with the “monogenre,” I guess. The funny thing is, a lot of people who’ve been critical of hip-hop’s intrusion into the country genre are actually hip-hop fans.
July 7, 2014 @ 8:26 pm
“And you want to know what was the biggest reason country has lost its traditional bearing? Pop radio stopped playing pop.”
Yes, this is what I’ve been thinking too. Sometime in the 90s traditional “pop” music got overtaken by hip hop (and more recently EDM), and the guitar pop-rock I grew up with (Journey, Foreigner) all but disappeared. “Pop” is kind of a large umbrella but I associate it with catchy, hooky vocal music that is a very different style from hip hop and EDM.
So hip hop and dance music becomes pop, pop becomes country, country becomes an endangered species. And now even country is being infected by EDM. Gawd, that stuff’s like ebola or something.
July 7, 2014 @ 9:04 pm
Good point CheapSeats.
July 7, 2014 @ 7:06 pm
Most SERIOUS music fans , regardless of what genres they listen to , have long since turned off this commercial stuff. It is geared to the uninitiated ,the uninformed ,…its musical wallpaper for the marketable demographic who haven’t taken the time to explore the options and may , in many cases , be too young to understand that there ARE much much better options . Its ‘comfort food ‘…..which is almost always unhealthy and non-nutritional . Personally , I can’t blame a non-music fan for not finding any fault with this commercial fare . Its blissful ignorance , in some ways . If you aren’t interested in listening to GOOD music , then this stuff is good enough .
July 7, 2014 @ 9:31 pm
People have different tastes. There is no such thing as objectively good music or bad music.
As an example, our local country station generally plays bro-country but sometimes sprinkles in traditional country songs. Every week, they take a vote on the listeners’ favorite songs. Guess what: the bro-country songs consistently win. You cannot attribute that to lack of exposure to traditional country.
July 8, 2014 @ 3:58 am
Perhaps, as I’ve suggested, this is because most serious music fans have tuned out.
July 8, 2014 @ 3:39 am
That track is about as country as Nickelback is metal.
I mean for fuck’s sake, is it even slightly possible to have a song that doesn’t have at least one of the “laundry list” items on it? Or a chorus structured the same way as, oh, every other bro-ish chorus out there?
That stuff is as insulting to me as the pop sound it incorporates.
July 8, 2014 @ 4:27 am
Couldn’t we have all said the same thing when Eddie Rabbitt released “I love a riany night”?
July 8, 2014 @ 7:16 am
I think most long- time country music fans would agree there have been more than a few artists/songs along the way that ‘pushed the envelope’ into pop territory . I LOVE A RAINY NIGHT , I’d agree, would be one of them . Darius Rucker is making a living doing it right now …not sure how successfully . I think its just gotten to the point now where ‘ you give ’em an inch , they take the whole chart ‘ . That’s unacceptable , in my opinion . Labels have refined the marketing of product to a younger and younger ( read more impressionable ) demographic and THAT is the threat in the marketing of ANYTHING .
July 8, 2014 @ 1:17 pm
There have been pure pop songs on country radio before, but rarely from artists who weren’t previously established as country. I think Eddie Rabbit in a good example, because he was established as a hit country artist before he crossed over into pop material. For instance, this song was a number one country hit four years before “I Love A Rainy Night:”
“Leave the Night On” is Sam Hunt’s first single ever.
July 8, 2014 @ 6:14 am
Country music has become a fad. Popular music evolves quickly, although it may not seem as though it does, it does. Pop undergoes massive overhauls just about every decade. In the 2000s rap was popular. Now true rap, for the most part, has been confined to the underground. EDM is the new fad, which is already changing, and will eventually give way to something new.
People will become tired of country music. More than likely it will return, more or less, to its roots. This will be the most telling time for country music. How will it look after that? What will Nashville look like once the fad goes away and the money goes elsewhere? It has gotten to the point where it is no longer a battle. The battle has been lost. Now it is a waiting game, and any changes to the musical style presented on the radio will be the result of time.
July 8, 2014 @ 7:19 am
Excellent observation , Wez . I’d go further and suggest that THE RIGHT ARTIST will come along and change the sound of country again . The younger demographic will listen to what they are told to listen to by the marketers. Let’s hope it will a real country artist with something more to say than what’s being said in lyrics currently .
July 8, 2014 @ 7:32 am
I just threw up in my mouth previewing that song. The old “G-D-Em-C” chord pattern with a capo…the go to chords for all shitty up and coming “songwriters”.
July 8, 2014 @ 9:33 am
That song is just flat out terrible, even for pop.
It reminds me of a boy band song from the late 90s. I get that mainstream country music has “evolved” to rap and all kinds of other crap. That is fine with me I just won’t listen to it. What boggles my mind is why it is not a requirement for songs to at least have some substance no matter the genre?
I can appreciate genres like pop even if I don’t listen to them because they actually have a foundation to them and often are better written. Country-pop/Country rap has poor lyrical quality and are anything but timeless or memorable.
Say what you want about Garth Brooks or other artists who were running the scene when I was a kid (the early 2000s), but at least their music told a story and was memorable. Many of those songs I could listen to today and appreciate.
July 8, 2014 @ 9:37 am
Wait.. this isn’t Jesse McCartney?
July 8, 2014 @ 10:12 am
I’ll start by admitting straight away that I really like this song. As much as I love country, I’m also partial to pop, and as a result a pop song such as this (i.e. pop with a slightly more organic production) is right up my street.
Equally, whilst I am disappointed that the song is being played on country rather than pop radio, I do feel like this song has a certain honesty to it that the likes of FGL, Jerrod Niemann, Luke Bryan etc. don’t. When I say that I mean that ‘Leave the Night On’ doesn’t make any transparent references to beer and trucks in order to pander to the bro-country crowd, Hunt doesn’t sing with a faux-southern accent and, crucially, the song isn’t 3.5 minutes of women being objectified and Hunt’s masculinity being artificially inflated. Furthermore, as much as the lyrics are fairly innocuous, they’ve clearly still had some thought put into them as and don’t have the soul-destroying predictability of many of its counterparts.
As a result, I do appreciate that, contrary to the likes of ‘Cruise’, ‘Drink to That All Night’ etc., this song doesn’t make any thinly veiled attempts to appear ‘country’. In many ways that does indeed make it being played on country radio even more ridiculous, but it also means that when you remove it from the context of this discussion on radio airplay, and listen to it as a song, it’s much more endearing than the above. In essence yes this song is pop, but at least it isn’t really pretending to be anything else.*
*(or at least it wouldn’t be if his label weren’t sending it to country radio)
July 8, 2014 @ 10:43 am
whilst I am disappointed that the song is being played on country rather than pop radio, I do feel like this song has a certain honesty to it
But that’s the thing ”” it’s still dishonest at its core because it’s being pushed as a country song. Sure, he’s not singing about girls, trucks, beer, and whatnot, but as has been said before that doesn’t make a song not bad. (See also: Eric Church’s most recent output.)
And as far as his label pushing this as a country song ”” are you saying that Hunt himself isn’t involved in this? He’s just a passive bystander telling his label to market his music however they like? Genre conventions aside, if that’s true it says nothing good about his sense of who he is as an artist.
July 8, 2014 @ 12:10 pm
Funnily enough, I do actually agree with your first point for the most part. When I say that the song has a certain honesty to it, I’m saying that the the instrumentation and the lyrics are in sync with one another (pop instrumentation, pop lyrics), as opposed to, say for example, “Drink to That All Night”, whose instrumentation is some weird fusion of EDM and stadium rock, yet whose lyrics still desperately pander to the bro-country crowd. I do, however, agree that then playing it in a country context is fundamentally dishonest, albeit no more so than most of what populates the iTunes country top 200.
As for your second point, I have no doubt that Hunt is also entirely involved in this. Indeed, I’d go as far as to say that he personally believes the song is ‘country’, if only for his background as a country songwriter. I was, however, talking about the song rather than those who are responsible for its creation and marketing.
Ultimately my point was that if I was driving along and I heard this on the radio (and I live in the UK where stations aren’t quite so clear cut according to genre, so thankfully I wouldn’t hear it on country radio), I wouldn’t turn over, whereas I would for songs such as ‘Drink to That All Night’, because I find all that posturing and pandering bloody insufferable.
July 8, 2014 @ 5:56 pm
Interesting to note this has been kicking around for months as an excellent acoustic song. The new single is god- awful but I’ve had the acoustic version, along with others off Hunt’s mixtape playing for a while. I’m not saying its country, but its quite good pop music with some country influence.
All that being said, get the new single off country radio.
July 9, 2014 @ 1:28 am
Oh, now this is interesting!
“Leave The Night On” has debuted on the latest edition of the Callout America chart (which measures favorability and unfavorability scores for any particular single among all age demographics, as well as the intensity of these reactions)………………and it is faring poorly out of the gate despite strong digital sales and a (albeit phony) strong radio debut.
Among the thirty-five singles listed, it debuted dead-last in the latest issue. According to the statistics, a surprising 48% of listeners gave this a “neutral” rating. And only 6% of listeners had a passionate view on this song either direction.
What does this tell us?
Well, the first point is quite obvious. When you’re a new artist, you just can’t expect listeners to be instantaneously passionate about whatever you toss out right out of the gate. It is something you have to amass through time and effort. So these statistics debunk the whole idea that you can catapult any random release from a new artist onto the airplay chart and it’ll instantly foment a lot of passionate excitement that will immediately translate to bigger sales and spins. On the contrary, intensity traditionally comes with track records.
Secondly, the statistics reveal why we need to stop underestimating the tastes and interests of listeners. Because according to this same research, countless tracks beneath “Leave The Night On” on the airplay chart that were studied revealed SHARPLY higher passion scores that were mostly in the song’s favor. David Nail’s current single “Kiss You Goodnight” was the most glaring example: which half of the sample expressed passion towards of which an overwhelming percentage of that was positive. Yet, “Kiss You Goodnight” has been struggling to gain any airplay traction for weeks on end…………because while listeners genuinely appear to like songs like that, corporate executives are intervening and disrupting the natural rhythm of the charts by paying entire chains of stations to increase the rotation of a specific song.
Almost no one appears to outright hate “Leave The Night On”, but it appears almost no one seems to love it either. It’s just…………there. And I’m beginning to wonder if this leaves there reason to feel optimistic about this hitting some sort of brick wall in terms of chart performance as opposed to steamrolling toward #1.
August 12, 2014 @ 3:11 pm
I dont mind this new pop country and dont beleive it is destroying good old country…
I listen to the old good stuff (hank, willie, jones and so on) but i also listen to the newer stuff as well, good old country aint going nowhere as long as its fans stick around (and they will always be here) i live in idaho and we have a shit ton of country stations
some with just new pop country some with old country and some that play them both im good with that…..
p.s. if you dont enjoy the new stuff stick with the old 🙂
August 12, 2014 @ 3:12 pm
Oh, Jesus, Jove…………no!
Sam Hunt just released a taster EP to precede the release of his full-length debut…………and again, there’s nary a trace of anything remotely true to country here.
But what’s even worse about these new tracks are how they unabashedly hit you over the head from a sonic standpoint. Icy synths underpinning rap-esque spoken word verses? Check. Processed guitars cranked up to eleven on the chorus with Hunt’s angsty snarl struggling to breach the wall of sound? Check. Hip-hop beats and subtle dubstep echoes? Check.
I hope the fact “Leave The Night On” recorded a net decline in total spins over the past week is a sure sign enough listeners are actively drawing the line over what they wish to hear on country/”country” airwaves.
Unfortunately, the digital sales and being backed by a powerful label tell a whole other story, and lead me to believe this is more a hiccup than a sure indicator this is doomed on the airplay chart.
September 2, 2014 @ 3:01 am
Everyone is indeed right, this song is in no way, shape or form, country. However, as a man who absolutely loves country music, I have to say that there is more to country than just the sound. Country is about the people singing it and the people listening to it, people with values, respect, common sense, work ethic, morals, etc. These are things that have been lost on america. In a nation that is falling apart at the rate we are, we need country music. Even though you may not like some of these ‘pop’ country songs, they do serve a purpose. If a song like that can draw someone who doesnt normally listen to country, that introduces them to the other artists on those stations and draws them away from trash like rap. For instance, i have a friend who used to hate country, but after a few ‘poppy’ country songs drew him in, he now loves it all and listens to everything from cash to strait, hank to waylon. I may not love all the new ‘pop country’ that is coming out, but if some young kid pulls up next to me at a stop light, i would rather have him blaring ‘leave the night on’ as opposed to some jungle bunny bullshit rap song about rims bitches and hoes, or drivin a range rover on welfare.