Darius Rucker Calls Out “Let’s Take Country Music Back” Blogs
Well, sometimes it’s good to at least have affirmation that your efforts are being noticed.
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In an interview with Rolling Stone Country‘s Joseph Hudak posted on Thursday (6-25), Darius Rucker had some pretty pointed words, and some pretty wild-assed accusations about what he deems is the problem with some of country music’s lower rung literati.
“I think the people who are sitting in their living room doing those, ‘Let’s take country music back’ blogs and all that stuff, that’s crazy to me,” Rucker says in the interview. “No one’s saying that about rock & roll, and no one sounded like the Beatles since 1960. No one says that about R&B, and no one sounded like the Commodores since 1970. All of those genres of music are supposed to evolve, but to those people country music is supposed to be Hank Williams Sr. and that stuff is great and you can have that. But I think the great thing about listening to country radio is you have all different kinds of country music. It’s the pop country music for some guys, it’s the really country [sound], and even that bro country stuff that’s out. It’s just a little bit of everything, and obviously the fans are loving it.”
Beyond what Darius Rucker is saying, it’s unfortunate that it’s coming from him specifically—someone who has worked in multiple genres, and someone who I would have assumed is a little more informed on these subjects, and would be a little more salient with his points. And let’s just all appreciate that Rucker is a country music carpetbagger himself. This is not his original genre, and generally speaking he might want to be a little more nuanced with his argument.
But apparently Darius Rucker has deemed himself a gate keeper in the genre now, and can call out folks that are just showing a little concern about the lack of quality and diversity in the current wave of mainstream country music, and are worried that it could ultimately lead to troubled times down the road economically. . . you know, kind of like what happened to rock . . . which is why Darius Rucker landed in country in the first place?
So let’s take a deeper look at some of Darius Rucker’s assertions:
“All of those genres of music are supposed to evolve, but to those people country music is supposed to be Hank Williams Sr.”
I can’t believe that in 2015, we still have to challenge this blind misnomer. I task Darius Rucker and anyone else to comb through the vast archives of Saving Country Music—thousands of articles from the originator of the “Take Country Music Back” blogs—and find one instance, one word, ever uttered that says, implies, infers, or alludes that country music shouldn’t evolve, and should sound like Hank Williams Sr. forever. This is the biggest Straw Man ever proposed in the history of country music at this point, that has been continuously knocked down, and frankly I would have expected more from Darius. Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line? He says this crap all the time, only about Johnny Cash. But I’m surprised that Kelley can even tie his shoes. Darius knows better, but he wants his little piece of the current payday, so he parrots the company line.
Let me state this as plainly as I possibly can: Country music must evolve, and I don’t want all new country music to sound like Hank Williams Sr., Johnny Cash, or Waylon Jennings, now or ever. —said by Trigger on 6/25/2015©®â„. Go look at Saving Country Music’s Best Albums of 2015 So Far. There’s a Yelawolf album on there, and progressive albums from artists like Brandi Carlile and Ryan Bingham. These projects are where the true evolution of country music is occurring.
The problem of course is that what Darius Rucker and others have been offering up with some of their latest singles is not evolution in any sense of the word. In fact, it is devolution—going back in time in music to rehash trends from other genres amidst a vacuum of new ideas and true creativity. Which brings us to the second Darius Rucker quote and rebuttal.
“No one’s saying that about rock & roll, and no one sounded like the Beatles since 1960. No one says that about R&B, and no one sounded like the Commodores since 1970.“
Wrong, wrong, and wrong.
First, didn’t Hootie & The Blowfish play some shows with Oasis and other 90’s Britpop bands with a direct sonic lineage back to the Beatles that was so palpable some accused them of being a ripoff? Hell, there’s plenty of bands still using Beatles-eque approaches in popular music today. But let’s not digress on that point.
The principle observance I have is what the prevailing influence on popular country music is right here, right now. And what is that ladies and gentlemen? Ding ding ding! It’s R&B. And don’t take my word for it, go read the quotes from people like Thomas Rhett and Gary Allan. Read quotes from the producers and songwriters of various Music Row projects who are specifically citing 70’s R&B and bands like the Bee Gees as the primary influence for current country music singles.
So not only is Darius Rucker’s claims of “evolution” bogus, but so are his claims that people don’t want to listen to music that sounds like it’s from the past. What about Bruno Mars? What about Adele? Retro styles and approaches are the hot thing in music right now. The idea people don’t want to listen to influences from the past is erroneous.
And how about the idea that in other genres there’s not this much bitching? Well in rock, it’s virtually imploded, so there’s not much left to bitch about. But take a peek at some heavy metal and punk blogs, and the type of vitriol in country music will look like child’s play. Interesting that Rucker didn’t mention hip-hop, where people are regularly murdered over disagreements about what the music should sound like, and what hip-hop is and isn’t. There has also been plenty of written concern about where hip hop is headed. Did Darius read Questlove’s dissertation about how Hip-Hop Failed Black People posted recently?
But yes, country music is different. Where a genre like rock is based around breaking traditions, country music is based on preserving them. Or at least it used to be. And the concern about the direction of country music is not all about taste and opinion. It is a serious concern from witnessing the implosion of rock about the long-term viability of the genre moving forward, so artists like Darius Rucker can continue making a living as opposed to hop scotching to genres like sinking ships until everyone is on the last boat to stay afloat and the diversity in American music is no more.
And finally there’s the Darius quote:
“It’s just a little bit of everything, and obviously the fans are loving it.”
Actually that’s up for debate as well. Country music has recently been experiencing a ratings slide.
Regardless of his pop rock past, Rucker used to be one of the better acts in the mainstream. But now he wants to cash in like everyone else, and is making assertions to attempt to justify his moves that he knows are monetary based—moves that go against the traditional values of country music that he professed a love for when he first arrived in the genre so he would be welcomed with open arms.
Darius Rucker can make whatever music he wants. But it’s unfair to characterize concerned music fans as closed-minded or uninformed just because there is disagreement about approach.
Country music should be proud of the fact that there’s people who are still concerned enough about it that they’re willing to engaged in spirited debate about its past, present, and future.
June 25, 2015 @ 7:11 pm
We just want it to have some soul, Darius – you dumb son-of-a-bitch.
June 26, 2015 @ 10:00 am
This. x Infinity.
June 25, 2015 @ 7:14 pm
but wut did he say about the Confederate flag?
June 25, 2015 @ 9:36 pm
I am by no means here as a Darius Rucker apologist, but I think he has been VERY clear about how he feels about the confederate flag. Rucker, a native of Charleston, South Carolina was very clear in the Hootie and the Blowfish track “Drowning” which says in unapologetic fashion “Why is there a rebel flag hanging from the state house walls?/Tired of hearin’ this shit about heritage not hate/Time to make the world a better place/Why must we hate one another?” A troll you may be, but at least try to be aware.
June 26, 2015 @ 2:01 am
I don’t give a shit what he thinks, but he’s wrong by the way. It is heritage, not hate. For some it’s hate, but for a vast majority it’s heritage. The last comment was a joke about how that topic has spun out of control.
Cool Lester Smooth
June 26, 2015 @ 2:48 am
Yeah, I can’t imagine why people think that a flag representing a country that was formed for the sole purpose of perpetuating the practice of holding human beings as chattel until the end of time could possibly be about anything other than heritage!
June 26, 2015 @ 6:55 am
Guys and Gals, I think Cool Jester is a HuffPo/Media Matters/PMSNBC implant here. He’s wearing that point out here on SCM.
Just pickin’ on ya buddy… 😉
Cool Lester Smooth
June 26, 2015 @ 7:33 am
More of a slightly-right-of-Stewart implant, haha.
I’m on a hair trigger about Civil War stuff.
I’m the same if anyone tries to claim that the Founding Fathers believed in big government, or that the Revolution was about anything other than rich people not wanting to pay the taxes required to fund the services they demanded.
June 26, 2015 @ 7:46 am
So on Amazon you can no longer buy a Confederate flag but you can purchase an Islamic flag, the same flag used by ISIS, the same flag currently flying over an American owned business in France where Islamists just killed 27 people and hung at least one severed head on its fence before they raised their flag over the building on the day of ramadan. You and buy the United States flag which many who bitch about the Confederate flag currently use a item to walk on and or burn, the same flag that the latest killer tied to a Confederate flag is holding in a picture while it burns. It’s outrage for the sake of outrage. It’s all bullshit.
June 26, 2015 @ 8:09 am
‘I’m on a hair trigger about Civil War stuff’
No kidding you’ve commented almost 50 times on that other post.
Cool Lester Smooth
June 26, 2015 @ 8:24 am
Mike, do you have a link to the Amazon website showing the Islamic State flag for sale?
June 26, 2015 @ 8:58 am
touchÃ©…. now gone. good news? the point is, free speech.
….at least it’s equal treatment.
Cool Lester Smooth
June 26, 2015 @ 10:08 am
What Amazon decides to sell has nothing to do with free speech.
Corporations aren’t obligated to sell symbols of hatred just because there’s a demand for them.
If the government forced Amazon to stop selling either of those flags, like several countries in Europe have, that would be a violation of free speech.
June 26, 2015 @ 10:21 am
Why are we having this conversation here Cool Lester? Frankly, I’m not even happy with all the Confederate flag debate on the article that’s more closely tied to the subject. Let’s please stay on point.
Cool Lester Smooth
June 26, 2015 @ 10:44 am
I didn’t bring it up, man, and I have a hard time filtering my responses to incorrect opinions.
June 26, 2015 @ 10:17 am
Oh NO!! Lil Dale out of character? Say it isn’t SO!!
June 26, 2015 @ 10:28 am
No kidding. Disappointed he spelled “shit” correctly!
June 27, 2015 @ 8:56 am
dont yall thank this Lil Dale bits dunn got outta hand?
June 30, 2015 @ 3:40 am
well maybe it is hate for me because he is a black man and part of the reason why the flag is there was because the south wanted to break away to just so that they can hold on to their slaves.
Cool Lester Smooth
June 30, 2015 @ 3:36 pm
American Or Not
July 4, 2015 @ 4:53 pm
So……guess no one here really knows history???? If you think it was about slaves you are 100% wrong. Besides for blacks, whites reds and yellows, browns too. All were slaves at one point so its not just YOUR. history. And there should be no more hyphenated crap names any more ie.. European-American, African-American , Aisian-American and so on. If you are American that is what you are! Color has no place in the nationality!! Also have a cousin that her nationality is African- American and she is white as snow! It doesn’t mean BLACK! So…… The flag was the battle flag not the KKK OR ARIAN NATION flag! Lets just do away with all history and start over! No special treatment for any one and work for what you get! And learn fans own your future so stay out of politics or it will bite you!!
June 27, 2015 @ 7:35 am
It appears that someone has finally jumped the shark.
Dave from Kansas
June 25, 2015 @ 7:14 pm
Well, I’d say you said all there is to say. Good work,sir!
June 25, 2015 @ 7:16 pm
Dude got famous for ripping off REM and has the nerve to say this? People talk about rock being dead or needing saving all the time. How many bands have been credited as saving rock? In my lifetime at least 2 (Nirvana and The Strokes). Maybe if he wasn’t in one of the most famous one shot wonder bands and had to slum it in country because fucking NO ONE bought any other Hootie albums except for the first one (which is currently clogging up the user bins and landfills near you) he wouldn’t be so defensive about his career. Also, dude can’t write a song. They all sound EXACTLY alike even the one that ripped off a verse from Dylan.
June 25, 2015 @ 7:18 pm
I love Black Sabbath. I love metal that shows it’s Sabbath roots. It’s great to step out and try new stuff but it still comes back to the groove and more importantly the riff. This isn’t common to just country fans is what I’m saying. And Pop fans?! They don’t care about the roots because Pop has always sucked and its generally for people who don’t really like music, they just want to hear something that’ll stick in their empty heads.
June 25, 2015 @ 7:24 pm
Also, he mentioned R&B. What about just the B? Does he think blues should move away from it’s roots and still be called the blues? That’s kinda what Sabbath did but you wouldn’t likely hear Hole In The Sky on a blues based radio station.
June 25, 2015 @ 9:01 pm
Perfectly said. \m/ \m/
June 25, 2015 @ 10:08 pm
“Pop has always sucked”
Elton John and many other great singers were considered pop. As I have said before, “pop” is a meaningless term if it is not accompanied by a more detailed adjective.
June 25, 2015 @ 10:10 pm
Just to add, pop music during the rock era contained far more melodic beauty than metal, in my opinion.
June 26, 2015 @ 7:25 am
Spot on man. My first love is metal, and I’ve been a metal head for most of my 45 years of life. The true metal fans despised what happened to metal in the 80s with hair bands. Then we suffered through the grunge revolution of the early 90s and puked at numetal mess that coalesced at the end of the 90s and early 2000s. Real metal fans know the definitive elements of heavy metal. You have those particular elements of foundational bands like Black Sabbath in all their DNA. So yeah, Rucker is dreaming in his statement that no other genre functions like that. Think about throwback bands such as The Sword that are going back to the basic sounds of metal. This guy does not know what he is talking about and is just rationalizing his own involvement in the move to kill real country.
June 26, 2015 @ 8:06 am
It”™s great to step out and try new stuff but it still comes back to the groove and more importantly the riff.
Yep. Metal has changed a pretty good bit between, say, 1970 and now ”” I mean, there’s a world of difference between Paranoid, Master of Puppets, and Symphony X’s Iconoclast, but I never heard anyone claim that the latter wasn’t a metal album, and they’d rightly have been laughed off the planet if they’d tried. And I’m pretty sure I never heard anyone claim that even Symphony X wasn’t metal, or that Accept was stuck in 1982 with their last three albums. Country is the only genre, it seems, where having some semblance of a signature sound with certain instruments and beats is seen as holding the genre back instead of keeping it grounded in its identity.
June 25, 2015 @ 7:22 pm
Honestly, this is why I found SCM in the first place. I just wanted to find some folks who hated the state of the genre as much as me. But a year ago I was actively hoping for Trig’s rants, waiting for some bro to make another Old Farts or similar comment. Now I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even care anymore, Rucker can say whatever he wants, I only use my cd player anymore and the industry can kiss my ass, I don’t care what they want to tell me about country music, I finished listening and I finished arguing.
June 25, 2015 @ 7:59 pm
I’m with you mr two shirts. I read this site for amusement and to learn about new artists I never heard of before. I lost my patience with the direction of mainstream country a looong time ago, about the time I first heard br549 and the derailers. That opened up the “underworld” of good country music to me. I soon found out about the Texas stuff, then got into xm radio and soon country radio was a distant memory for me. Mr Rucker and the rest of the clown show that is mainstream country can go pound salt for all I care.
June 25, 2015 @ 8:56 pm
I concur. An experience listening to a mainstream country station a few days ago ended any engagement I had in trying to save country music. It is over. Too much drift, cross-pollination and pissing on the roots of the music has taken place for anything to ever bring it back. I feel sort of like Reagan: I did not leave country music, country music left me.
Trigger, I think you have a rebellion on your hands. There are more and more voices giving Nashville the heave-ho. We appreciate what you do in terms of highlighting great stuff and the occasional ridicule of the mainstream turds, but it may be the “country” edifice is too rotten to be saved.
June 26, 2015 @ 12:15 pm
You need yourself an iPod Classic, my friend. I have 803 albums and counting in mine, and it’s only just half full. I rip uncompressed files from my CDs, but I eventually had to downgrade to a standard AAC file size for my player because it couldn’t hold all of my music anymore. However, most folks don’t understand nor care about file formats and their differences, anyway, so that shouldn’t make a difference to you. The only problem is that the Classic was discontinued a few years ago because Apple didn’t want to manufacture the 160 gigabyte hard drives any longer.
Question, since I couldn’t respond below: what’s your problem with Greatest Hits albums? A lot of times they’re good samplers, particularly in country music since artists are traditionally on an album-a-year schedule and only the majors are still in print. I think Johnny Paycheck only has six of his classic albums in print, out of around 30 from his whole career. Many of those tracks are only available on compilations, unless you want to hunt down beat up vinyl copies (and as much as I love dropping a needle, it’s not exactly my favorite format to begin with).
June 26, 2015 @ 1:10 pm
Acca: I think my collection is too large for a reasonably priced ipod, and I don’t have a vinyl to digital transfer-doohicky right now. (I can copy records to cassettes though.)
My problem with greatest hits albums is that they don’t represent an artist’s best work, in my opinion. For instance, “Where Have all the Hobos Gone” from “My Love Affair With Trains” is one of my favorite Haggard songs. “On Our Bed of Roses” from the “Cold Hard Truth” album is a favorite Jones song. Ever spun a record called “The 12-string Guitar of Glen Campbell?” A greatest hits record doesn’t excite me as much as a concept album or a side-project that has a definite disadvantage in sales and commercial performance.
Ever listened to the elusive Dave Kirby solo record? I have a copy, on vinyl, excellent shape. I don’t care much for vinyl as a format either, but it’s cheaper to buy a bunch of used tapes, cds, or records at a yard sale than to buy full price reissues. Besides, so many great albums HAVEN’T been reissued. Willie Nelson and Roger Miller’s “Old Friends” duet album may well only be on vinyl now…
June 26, 2015 @ 3:06 pm
Well, if it makes you feel better, the Classic hasn’t been reasonably priced since Apple cut it off last year 😛 . All kidding aside, I understand what you mean.
I think that it’s more an injustice that compilations are the only way to get certain tracks for certain artists easily than it is that they exist at all. However, despite their drawbacks, I’m glad they exist. For my purposes, it’s simply a way to dip my toe in the water of an artist. And unless they’re particularly whimsy or inconsistent, I’ll have enough of an idea of whether I like their style or not to continue digging. With that, I always try to get a career-spanning comp., at least 2 discs if possible. As a younger music fan, that’s the best I can do with what I have. I use my money more for artists that I know I like pretty much everything by, but I still like to be acquainted with many artists I’ve missed out on.
For instance, my introduction to Willie Nelson was with The Essential Willie Nelson 2 disc set. Only after I realized I loved his music did I go on to collect more albums by him: Shotgun Willie, Phases and Stages, Red Headed Stranger, Waylon & Willie, Pancho & Lefty, etc. Conversely, if I were to have just started with one of these albums and NOT liked it, I might have missed out on some of his later gems. I have neither the money nor time to collect a discography outright without an inkling of an idea whether I’ll like the music, particularly not of older country artists like Nelson that have released 100+ studio albums.
Then there’s the fact that some artists play better on compilations than whole studio works, whatever the reason may be. Blake Shelton is a good example of this: his first compilation, Loaded, has some GREAT tunes and is a killer playlist of his pre-bro material. After he got huge and insulted older country fans, I started seeing his albums in the Walmart bargain bin for $5.00. I collected them all on impulse after having enjoyed the comp., and just to put some perspective behind his fame. With the exception of Pure BS, which is the gem of his catalogue, that part of my collection is dead weight that I hardly ever use. Not that Shelton is in the same league, but I have Merle Haggard’s 40 #1 Hits and I’m satisfied with the selection, as I am with George Strait’s 50 Number Ones.
That might sound like sacrilege to some and stupidity to others, but it’s the best I can manage at this point in my life. It also has a bit to do with how I consume music: I tend to listen while I’m working, or otherwise using my hands. For whatever reason, that helps me to focus more often than not, as it doesn’t allow my mind to wander. In fact, the most stagnant of my listening habits is smoking a fine cigar while listening, which I have to do outside the house. I can’t very well lug my (currently broken) turntable to work or outside to listen to some forgotten gems that the suits haven’t seen fit to reissue on a more malleable format. It’s also worth noting for my own sake that, despite being a part of the earbud and ADD generations (I’m in my early 20s), I swore up and down for the longest time that I would NEVER own an MP3 player. However, it became a necessity once the sheer number of albums I obtained became ridiculous to carry around and also led to some unsightly damage. I still buy physical whenever possible/affordable, but I always rip CD-quality files into my computer and listen that way, whilst sliding the disc into its new home on my shelf.
Plus, there’s a very important caveat to note about most country music albums: they’re basically just collections of songs. Concept albums tend to be rare in country, and a lot of times albums don’t have many gems outside of the popular songs (a favorite example of mine is most of Hank Jr.’s 1982-present albums). And I think the sheer amount of releases and country’s tendency to be geared towards radio hits is what has left so many older albums out in the cold. I mentioned Johnny Paycheck before: just the other day I was scouring the internet for a copy of his excellent 1980 live album New York Town, after having ordered a few double features of his work that were put out by European record labels. If I had started with, say, Take This Job and Shove It instead of his comp. The Soul & The Edge (which he chose the track listing for), I can’t say with any certainty I would have continued looking for new material from him. Not that his most popular album was bad, it’s just not my favorite of his outside of the title track and “Colorado Kool-Aid.” As such, I would have missed out on 11 Months and 29 Days and Mr. Hag Told My Story, the two that cemented my fandom of him. I don’t tend to continue collecting given albums unless more than two songs leap out and grab me. I enjoyed the entirety of his comp and thus went looking for more, and wasn’t really disappointed, even if Job didn’t really live up to my expectations.
I know this is a long ramble, so I’ll wrap this up with a final point: we seem to be on different pages. You’re speaking of gems by artists that you seem to like beforehand, whereas I’m speaking of exploring and getting to know an artist outright. Paycheck is a great example of an artist with a lot of great work that hasn’t been reissued, and that’s a crying shame. You get no argument from me on that. It’s also worth noting that I do extensive research before choosing a compilation, and try to go with one that has the most diverse collection of material and one that covers the most years, depending on the number of albums. If it’s less than about seven studio releases, I’m typically fine with a single disc comp (Creedence, The Doors, Buddy Holly, Patsy Cline, etc.). Plus, hit songs are typically hits for a reason, at least with classic music, so it’s not all bad to start with such collections. I don’t just grab the cheapest option out of the bin, I go for the one that does the most justice to the artist, and to be fair, sometimes those are hard to find. I’m having trouble finding a good one for Ernest Tubb that covers all of his big songs but also a decent chunk of his career. With the exception of one that’s out-of-print, every other budget multi-disc comp. leaves off essential tracks like “Waltz Across Texas.”
I know that compilations are the nadir of the country music market, as pretty much every classic performer has more comps to their name than studio albums filling up the bargain bins with 10 song setlists, but that’s the consequence of country’s reliance on radio play and singles. We’re not as big on remasters and reissues as, say, classic rock.
June 25, 2015 @ 7:26 pm
Got to give him credit he hit the trifecta of lame justifications.
1)thinks people want all music to sound like Hank Sr.
2)the music is just evolving. Don’t you believe in evolution, you Luddite?
3)the people just want a little bit of everything. Like 40 year old R & B, 30 year old rock and 20 year old
EDM. C’mon get with the times and stop living in the past you losers.
He’s giving Brad Paisley a run for leading company man of 2015.
June 25, 2015 @ 7:29 pm
Yep, and this is who was inducted into the Opry after barely wetting his tootsies in the country genre and saying he would love to record as Hootie again. Trouble is, Darius, when I turn on a station and I have to listen to several songs before I can figure out it’s a *country* station, there’s a problem. I actually do like Darius, and liked him as Hootie, but I don’t want to hear Hootie songs on my country radio. I want to hear something that *sounds* country. As an Opry member, Darius, you should be talking about the strong lyrics and voices that country *used* to have. Evolution is one thing, watered-down drivel is something totally different.
June 25, 2015 @ 7:42 pm
“The biggest complaint I have about a lot of the kids who sing today is that I can’t understand what they’re saying. If I could only understand some of the words, I might be more interested in what they’re doing, but I can’t — there’s no enunciation, no clarity of diction.” — Frank Sinatra
If evolution is having to look lyrics up on line because a record is overproduced/instruments override the vocals/nothing is clear/lyrics make no sense, sorry, but I don’t buy it. If evolution is copying other genres or just being a bunch of noise, sorry, but I don’t buy it. Evolution is one thing; being totally lazy with lyrics, music and delivery is something else.
June 26, 2015 @ 4:49 am
Affirmative Action induction.
June 26, 2015 @ 5:51 pm
You are a one racist jackass dude. When it comes to being successful in the music industry regardless of genre I think it’s fair to say that Blacks are the last race that need affirmative action. Darius had 4 number ones off his debut country album and continues getting number ones and top 10 hits. Hell I think he just had another one a few months ago with “Homegrown Honey” infact. A lot of other people in country music his age group or older like Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, etc couldn’t get another smash on country radio if they prayed for it! With “King George” being the exception. So obviously “Darius Rucker” did deserve to be inducted.
June 26, 2015 @ 6:31 pm
LMAO Always about being a racist when you speak the truth! He no more deserves to be a member of the Grand Ole Opry as I do!! He is just another one that’s jumped on the band wagon in the name of making a buck!! By the way I’m not a racist, just a realist!
June 26, 2015 @ 9:07 pm
The racial component is NOT the fact that you disagree about him being inducted. There are plenty of people me and others disagree with being inducted into the opry and Rock and Roll hall of fame(Which Dariius will also be eligible for in a few years if “Hootie” gets nominated). But your “Affirmative action smear” clearly had racist intent and was unnecessary. Obviously if Darius Ruckers songs were flopping in country radio he would have never had been inducted regardless of his race. That’s the real Truth! I know you can’t seriously be this stupid in real life.
June 27, 2015 @ 7:27 am
This story does not have a racial component, and I would appreciate everyone refraining from bringing up race or the Confederate flag in this thread henceforth. Otherwise, comments will be deleted.
June 29, 2015 @ 8:31 am
You’re right, JT.
And there will be some brainwashed, reactionary, PC dweeb attack you for being a racist. The reality is, your comment is an accurate indictment of the inductors, not the inductee. It was blatantly obvious to me as well, that the Opry inducted Rucker in an attempt to be “racially diverse”.
And as soon as an open homosexual comes along and has 1 mainstream hit, they’ll be inducted immediately as well. Count on it.
June 29, 2015 @ 9:29 am
I see there is at least one more realist on this comment section! Thank You!
June 25, 2015 @ 7:30 pm
Big words from a rocker who jumped genres. I guess he just couldn’t managed to evolve in his original format.
June 26, 2015 @ 12:50 pm
Artist coming to country after they’re done with rock is not a recent phenomenon. Waylon Jennings tried rock before he settled into country, Conwway Twitty, just to name a few.
June 27, 2015 @ 7:21 am
I know man and it’s a good point. It’s just tough hearing people who jumped ship on one format speaking about how country needs to evolve. I’m having a difficult time trying to word it correctly, but when they say things like that, something just doesn’t seem right.
June 25, 2015 @ 7:31 pm
I would love to know what the other Hootie members think of Darius’ country career. Few people know that he took a stab at R&B before country. He even had a track with Snoop Dog on it but the album was weak and failed miserably. When Darius first came to Nashville and was making the rounds in songwriting circles he was telling everyone how much he loved Buck Owens, Radney Foster, and Jim Lauderdale. As soon as he hooked up with Frank Rogers and Chris Dubois they beat that shit out of his head and got him on the assembly line just like they did Sheryl Crow. Not that Darius would have been capable of making music as good as his original country heroes. “Wagon Wheel” is the only song that sounds like a country record made by the singer from Hootie & The Blowfish. It makes sense. Everything else he has done sounds like a song and track that you could put any singer in Nashville on. Same old linear production and same old mediocre songwriting with cliche’ lyrics. He doesn’t know shit about evolving but he’s damn good at surviving.
June 25, 2015 @ 8:00 pm
“He doesn”™t know shit about evolving but he”™s damn good at surviving.”
June 26, 2015 @ 8:07 am
Frank Rogers and Chris Dubois
The same people more or less responsible for Brad Paisley. That explains a lot.
June 25, 2015 @ 7:35 pm
Aaaaand…..my respect level for Darius Rucker just dropped several points.
John Wayne Twitty
June 25, 2015 @ 7:45 pm
I actually had to dig a hole to get my respect for him even lower, but I concur
June 27, 2015 @ 11:48 am
Darius Rucker is a very respectful person. He is an all around good guy. So how did you happen to developed such poor respect for him that you now have to “dig a hole” in order to get lower? Please, elaborate.
John Wayne Twitty
June 27, 2015 @ 1:31 pm
Oh poor baby, you know him personally? And you must not understand satire. But if you must know, I can’t stand his “country” music and I hate what he was helped do to country music, something I love.
June 27, 2015 @ 2:48 pm
No I don’t understand the satire, so please do tell, Mr. John Wayne Twitter. As for your other question, no I don’t know him personally, do you? I do know that unlike most country singers whom we have the highest regards for, like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Merle Haggard,well he doesn’t appear to live a debauched life. He is not a drug addict, a drunk or an adulterer. When he does present himself in interviews he appears to command respect. So that’s how I know him, you?
Cool Lester Smooth
June 27, 2015 @ 3:16 pm
sonas, who cares whether he’s a good person? We’re only talking about whether he’s good at music.
I love his deep, distinctive voice, but his songs in the country genre have consistently been generic garbage that even he can’t rescue. It’s quite fair to criticize him for not using his vast potential as a vocalist to record stuff that doesn’t suck.
John Wayne Twitty
June 27, 2015 @ 3:23 pm
Exactly, Cool Lester.
June 29, 2015 @ 2:05 pm
John Wayne Twitty
June 29, 2015 @ 5:24 pm
June 25, 2015 @ 7:41 pm
And slightly off topic but I’ve forgot all about Rolling Stone Country. The few times I checked it out I saw very little that made it stand out and I have since found zero reason to visit it. Wonder how it’s doing as I think I saw that Rolling Stone laid a bunch of people off a while back.
June 25, 2015 @ 8:08 pm
Rolling Stone did have some cutbacks recently. I’m not sure if they affected Rolling Stone Country though. CMT also let go most of their writing staff.
June 25, 2015 @ 8:59 pm
I thought Party Down South was a reality show. It had writers?! Or was this before the show actually went into production?
June 25, 2015 @ 9:20 pm
No, CMT had a few staff journalists and bloggers, but most of them were let go a couple of months ago, and CMT Edge ostensibly died. They still have a couple of writers left, but it’s pretty much a skeleton crew.
June 25, 2015 @ 9:03 pm
They do have a few decent articles every now and then but it’s usually only when they talk about Sturgill Simpson or Chris Stapleton.
John Wayne Twitty
June 25, 2015 @ 7:44 pm
Hootie and the Blowfish had 2 good albums and Rucker has had zero good songs. He managed to ruin Wagon Wheel, which I never thought possible until he mangled it like a school bus running over a stop sign.
Shut up, Hootie.
June 25, 2015 @ 11:49 pm
Zero good songs? You are crazy. Absolutely crazy.
John Wayne Twitty
June 26, 2015 @ 5:00 am
There isn’t a solo song of his I would ever voluntarily listen to. His voice sounds terrible to me and the songs are filler quality at best. Listen to him if you want.
June 26, 2015 @ 12:10 pm
I would hope that you would draw the line at lying. His voice is beautiful.
Cool Lester Smooth
June 26, 2015 @ 12:15 pm
Yeah, it’s a shame his songs are so generic, because he really does have an amazing voice.
John Wayne Twitty
June 26, 2015 @ 3:51 pm
“I would hope that you would draw the line at lying. His voice is beautiful.”
I can’t stand it now. When he was with Hootie, he sounded good. Now, he sounds like he’s trying to sing in a key that he can’t quite reach.
June 25, 2015 @ 7:51 pm
Chuckling at your Tyler Hubbard line. Personally, I just think Rucker is trying to defend his disgrace of a single “Homegrown Honey” and the fact that he feels threatened at his attempt devolution into a 19-year-old kegger-attender. But that’s just me.
June 25, 2015 @ 7:54 pm
I know for a fact people nowadays don’t like what rock n roll and hip hop/ rap has turned into, it doesn’t seem like it gets brought up as much as what country has turned into though. Artists like American Aquarium, turnpike troubadours, Jason isbell and Sturgill is what country music should evolve into though IMO, it’s too bad people nowadays dont have respect for the genre and only wanna listen to FGL singing the same song over and over again. And to voice my opinion on what Darius said about the radios playing lots of different genres of country, I don’t know many people at all who wanna listen to a Waylon Jennings song, and then listen to a chase rice song right after it.
June 25, 2015 @ 11:50 pm
I can go from listening to Merle to FGL, Conway to Chase Rice, etc…you get my point. But then again, I’m very open minded.
June 26, 2015 @ 7:36 am
I can listen to Coltrane, Van Halen, Thelonious Monk, and then Loretta Lynn, then switch over to Colm Wilkinson and Reno and Smiley, but I can’t tolerate Chase Rice.
June 26, 2015 @ 7:53 am
Oh hell yeah I’ll listen too Waylon and then blast some van halen, Pantera and even dream theatre no problem. I guess I just meant from a strictly country point of view. But hey I’m sure a lot of people are more open minded then me when it comes to country.
Cool Lester Smooth
June 26, 2015 @ 12:22 pm
Yeah, I can go from Isbell to Nas to Steve Earle to A Tribe Called Quest, but Ready Set Roll makes me physically ill.
June 26, 2015 @ 1:14 pm
Hahaha Amen! I bought my first few country records today after quite a kick on classic rock, (Queen, Aerosmith, John Mellencamp) so today marks the first country records in about two weeks I’ve bought.
June 26, 2015 @ 7:02 pm
Couldn’t agree more.
June 26, 2015 @ 8:47 pm
At the very least, I totally get where many younger bro-leaning country/”country” vocalists and songwriters are coming from when they cite they’re of the “shuffling generation”. And I don’t doubt their sincerity when they say they have both rock, hip-hop, country and perhaps other styles of music on their playlists all at once.
I just think their choice of name-drops lyrically serve no other purpose than to rhyme. I’ll believe you if you say you like listening to both Tim McGraw, Eminem and Taylor Swift, but I’m going to be inclined to believe you’re full of beetle dung if you say you always love cranking up Waylon Jennings, Lil Wayne and AC/DC back to back to back.
But I absolutely get the joy of shuffling music styles. Just respect distinction. On SoundCloud, I’ve formed about two-dozen different playlists and differentiate them by style with the exception of three that are purposefully random. I have three distinct playlists dedicated to country across different eras, and then I have one dedicated to all different styles of traditional music elsewhere around the globe from cumbia to bal-musettes to salegy to gamelan and so forth, and then another dedicated to JPop, Bitwave and other ridiculously sweet and hyper happy hardcore music, and so on. And depending on my mood, I’ll wade through more than half of them in a single day.
But that’s one thing, and then trying to pretend gamelan music is alternative rock or batucada is country is a whole other thing that doesn’t sit right with me.
June 25, 2015 @ 8:21 pm
Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line? He says this crap all the time, only about Johnny Cash.
So does Keith Urban, but Urban’s favorite thing to mention is the countrypolitan thing.
Maybe if he wasn”™t in one of the most famous one shot wonder bands and had to slum it in country because fucking NO ONE bought any other Hootie albums except for the first one (which is currently clogging up the user bins and landfills near you) he wouldn”™t be so defensive about his career.
Very, very well said. I can personally vouch for the Hootie albums filing up the used bins at the music store. 10 million-plus copies of Cracked Rear View sold, and its singles were all over the radio in 1995. Barely two years later, the used-cd stores had so many of them that they stopped buying them back. (I know, because I was trying to sell mine.) And as recently as 2013 I remember seeing multiple copies of that disc at Half Price Books.
I would love to know what Radney Foster has to say about this.
June 25, 2015 @ 8:36 pm
Radney won’t say shit because he’s all about the dollar and the expensive French wine he keeps in his home cellar, fly fishing trips, and other yuppie shit. He wrote some good songs in the day but if you met the real guy you’d think you were hanging out with a corporate lawyer.
June 25, 2015 @ 11:02 pm
Reminds me of an old exchange on “The Simpsons” where Bart and Chief Wiggum join forces to stop firework smugglers by getting them to say something incriminating on a tape player:
Bart: (glancing at tape) “…….Hootie & the Blowfish?”
Wiggum: “Yeah. It’s cheaper than blank tape!”
June 26, 2015 @ 7:58 am
When I first heard “Hold My Hand”, I loved it. That song was a roots rock sugar rush. Bought the album toot sweet (If I can invoke a little…French). Got tired of it real quick. Tried to trade it in numerous times. I remarked on that once to a used CD store owner when I got rejected yet again. He said “Yep. Eeeeeverbody bought it. Eeeeeverbody wants to get rid of it. ” Finally, was happy to get 99 cents for it.
Another one that gives it a run for its money in the user CD stores is R.E.M.’s Monster. I kept that one, though. It’s got at least a couple of songs that I still would want to here.
June 26, 2015 @ 8:28 am
I really liked “Hold My Hand” and “Let Her Cry.” The rest of it didn’t grow on me, for whatever reason. I’d consider re-visiting it at some point, though.
June 26, 2015 @ 9:00 am
I got tired of Hold My Hand, but I hear you. If I heard it today on the radio (if I ever listened to the radio), I wouldn’t change the station. I think Let Her Cry was the best song on the album.
Six String Richie
June 26, 2015 @ 10:13 am
I believe I’ve heard Rucker say “Let Her Cry” was written as a country song but Hootie recorded it as a rock song. I’d love to see him release a country version of it for the album’s 20-year anniversary. It would be better than all other country songs in the Top 40. A country version of “Cracked Rear View” is the kind of marketing ploy that I wouldn’t be surprised at these days.
June 27, 2015 @ 5:45 pm
“This morning I woke up alone, found a note standin’ by the phone, saying maybe, maybe I’ll be back some day. I wanted to look for you. You walked in. I didn’t know just what I should do, so I sat back down and had a beer and felt sorry for myself.”
I always thought that was a damn good line, and pretty damned country, to boot…
June 26, 2015 @ 9:11 am
I hardly consider it their best album anyway. “Musical Chairs” is their best, in my opinion.
“Not Even the Trees” sure got me emotional every time I played it growing up, though. That, “Drowning” and “Time” alone make it a worthwhile keeper.
June 27, 2015 @ 3:24 pm
“Musical Chairs” is Hootie’s best album.
As for Rucker’s comments, is it some sort of a crime for him to criticize a blog that is critical of his music and that of his peers? I see his even mentioning sites like this as a plus because maybe some fans were unaware of it.
That said, I think he has had a couple good country tracks. Most of the recent stuff he has put out is the same old formula of Nashville, though.
I do agree with the notion that Darius is a good guy and has good intentions to make it musically. The machine behind him, though.
And I’m not really one for the personal attacks on him either. If you don’t like his music, that’s one thing. Why not we debate like grown-ups??
June 27, 2015 @ 3:54 pm
Nope, not a crime. He just needs to get called out on his BS. And if you’re right about getting this site some extra exposure, those that find it will read a thoughtful rebuttal of his comments.
He may be a good guy in a lot of ways, but musically, I think he’s just trying to stay relevant in whatever way he can and the pop country genre is probably his best option.
June 26, 2015 @ 8:34 am
It’s kind of like that with books (when people used to buy real books) and DVDs also where people try to trade in some King or Grisham book and find out that everybody is doing the same thing. Could be another thing that us oldsters talk about while the youngsters look on in confused amazement.
You mean you actually bought physical copies of these things?
June 26, 2015 @ 8:37 am
You mean you actually bought physical copies of these things?
“Yeeeeup. And I will till they don’t make ’em anymore.” 😀
June 26, 2015 @ 9:22 am
I pour over yard sale and secondhand store cassettes and records, haha between them and my cds I must have a thousand albums, at ten songs each no mp3 player in the world can hold my collection, and it gets bigger every week. I’m looking into a Jean Shepard anthology tgat must have 100 songs on it right now. I don’t stream or use radio, because if somebody else decides not to play it, I’m just the victim, but when I own it, the airwaves bow before me.
June 26, 2015 @ 10:43 am
Yes, I too try to buy a physical copy but it is becoming more and more the norm to not do that.
Fuzzy, I have a box set for virtually every country great that has ever put one out. About ten or fifteen years ago I went on a quest to get as many as I could find and if I couldn’t find a box I would get the best greatest hits I could fine. It really helped me gain an appreciation for some of the great but not legendary performers like Skeeter Davis for example that are in many ways lost to time.
June 26, 2015 @ 10:49 am
Scotty J. I don’t care as much for greatest hits, I like to discover an Artist’s catalog, so to speak. My favorite Haggard album is the rarely spoken of “My Love Affair with Trains.” I guess I feel like many artists’ best work isn’t their most commercially successful. I’ve been buying a lot of box sets of singles from country greats though, stuff that wasn’t part of albums.
June 26, 2015 @ 10:59 am
There’s a lot to be said for a good box set. I know the George Strait box set from ’95 had a ton of great album cuts on it.
June 26, 2015 @ 11:11 am
Yes most of the good box sets have far more than just the hits for the simple reason that only a handful of acts have three, four, five discs worth of hits so they often have other stuff like a Buck Owens box I have that has several live cuts from his Carnegie Hall concerts.
Fuzzy I agree about greatest hits not always being the best quality but a lot of times it is very, very hard to get the actual albums of some of these good but not great acts from decades ago so you can only get what you can find.
June 25, 2015 @ 8:47 pm
It doesn’t surprise me that Rucker sounds a little snappy and techy right now.
His current single, “Southern Style”, is off to a rather poor start. And when he infamously said a year ago that something is wrong with country music if “Wagon Wheel” didn’t get a Grammy nomination, his single at the time, “Miss You”, performed horrendously.
Generally speaking, I like Darius. He has a wicked sense of humor, does a lot for community causes, is dedicated to his family and provides interesting banter on the Dan Patrick show. But his remarks here are just painfully disingenuous and echo – chambered.
June 25, 2015 @ 8:48 pm
Man I hate today’s country radio most of the songs they are playing are crap. Darius Rucker still make good music except I don’t really care for “Homegrown Honey.”
June 25, 2015 @ 8:59 pm
Darius Rucker is the most bland, vanilla artist in Country music. Guy has mastered the formula of making a crap ton of money by simply recording the blandest songs he can find. Give Rucker credit for actually showing some personality here, more attitude than his purely generic music ever shows.
The problem with Ruckers comments is it shows he simply isn’t a critical thinker. The issue myself and other fans have with Country music now isn’t that it doesn’t sound like Hank Sr. It’s that it lacks any heart or intelligence. Country music to me should be the music for the thinking, working man. Instead the genre has become the genre that seems to embrace people who think Onion articles are real, drive around in Dad’s jacked up truck and take pride in basically being a lazy moron who doesn’t see past Friday night.
I can live with modern Country music having more electric guitar in the mix than it did 30-40-50 years ago. I can’t live with EDM beats and song after song about getting drunk and trying to get laid. Country music basically models itself after the wet dreams of frat boys. That’s sad on so many damn levels.
June 25, 2015 @ 11:52 pm
No, Cole Swindell is. Darius has had some great songs, I don’t understand how you view him as being bland. There are so many other bland artists in the mainstream country genre that it’d be tough for me to think of them off the top of my head. Darius is definitely NOT one of the bland ones, he stands out if you ask me.
June 26, 2015 @ 6:28 am
Other than “Wagon Wheel” what other great songs has he had? The vast majority of his songs are bland production wise, taking very little chances or showing much originality.
Furthermore, pretty much every Darius Rucker song hops amongst the fads of the genre. Either he is cutting songs that fall into the “soccer mom” Country music or he is straddling the line between bro-Country and mainstream Country.
Cole Swindell is vanilla, but he has recorded some truly terrible garbage. I don’t think Rucker has gone as far down that rabbit hole, but I struggle to think of one Darius Rucker song not named “Wagon Wheel”. Darius Rucker is basically this era’s Craig Morgan. A guy who was able to make a lot of friends are Radio and seems to have more hits than you realize, but basically records forgettable radio filler.
June 26, 2015 @ 12:46 am
“Darius Rucker is the most bland, vanilla artist in Country music. Guy has mastered the formula of making a crap ton of money by simply recording the blandest songs he can find. Give Rucker credit for actually showing some personality here, more attitude than his purely generic music ever shows.”
Could not agree more . Rucker has a unique vocal ability/ character and it is completely wasted on forgettable , bland , lifeless trite material . I am even scratching my head over the apparent success of Wagon Wheel . That thing is about 2 and a half minutes too long , repetitive , wordy , too fast and has a one-note melody , for the most part, that I find absolutely grating . BUT it was a shuffle groove which is almost non-existent in ” modern ” country music so I suppose it stood out on that basis alone .
If Darius never recorded another song , I don’t think people would remember anything he’s released as a ” country ” artist . I think he should apply his vocal talents to another genre altogether and stop recording this generic trendy garbage .
June 26, 2015 @ 9:02 pm
Darius Rucker is turning out to be the Rob Thomas of pop country.
June 25, 2015 @ 9:02 pm
Popular country music hasn’t evolved or devolved in recent years as much as it has co-opted style, sound, instrumentation, etc. from other genres.
June 25, 2015 @ 9:04 pm
The reason why there is “Let”™s Take Country Music Back” Blogs, is because people are fed up of the drivel coming out of top 40 radio.
Music is supposed to evolve (for the better) but Country Music is now more backwards than ever.
The majority of these mainstream “Country” singers today, are not in the limelight for the love of the genre, there in it for the $$$
“But I think the great thing about listening to country radio is you have all different kinds of country music”.
Well to me, almost every damn song sounds the same. Darius, the few current mainstream artists who are actually making good country music (Kacey Musgraves, Ashley Monroe, for example) are almost entirely snubbed by Country Radio.
If you are not entirely familiar with the genre right now and you gave Country radio a listen, I don’t think you can tell the difference between a Luke Bryan song or a Jason Aldean song, a Florida Georgia Line song or a Sam Hunt song. Why? Because they are all imitations of each other, the same group of songwriters/producers. Sounds are the same – crappy commercialized “country” pop/rap/rock, they sing about the same crap Tailgates, dirt roads, barefoot girls, red solo cups etc. That isn’t evolution – it’s BS.
Thankfully there are country artists out there who are not poseurs and have soul, meaning and a passion for their music. But to hear them, you’ll have to look elsewhere than the Top 40 country radio.
June 25, 2015 @ 9:07 pm
Back in 1995 I was dating this girl who loved music. She really liked all the Hootie songs that were playing on the radio. She had their CD and loved it. Me, not so much but she was my gal. Tour time she really wanted to go see Hootie so I surprised her with a set of tickets. The day came went. I can’t remember who the opening act was, probably one of the many 90’s one hit wonders during their 15 minutes. Anyways, I remember telling her as we were leaving in the middle of Hootie’s set that they were a better band than Hootie. She agreed. The next week their CD was in her “tell sell” pile.
The TLDR version: He sucked then, he sucks now.
June 25, 2015 @ 9:15 pm
I love this idea that he has about the underground/traditional movement; that every song needs to sound like Hank Sr. and that country shouldn’t evolve. If anything, the traditional brand of country music has evolved more than mainstream music, considering how almost every song on the radio is virtually identical lyrically and sonically.
Mainstream country hasn’t evolved. If mainstream country music evolved from Hank Sr., why is every song layered in piles of electronic beats and auto tuned voices? Evolution would imply that there’s some signs of the original form of traditional country. No, the obligatory 5 second banjo at the beginning of your song doesn’t count; that’s your excuse to keep it labeled under country.
June 25, 2015 @ 9:32 pm
Why does every artist that butt fucks my favorite genre of music say they are helping it evolve.Evolve into what unlistenable BULLSHiT!
Geez gimme a break
John Wayne Twitty
June 26, 2015 @ 5:05 am
Cavemen “evolved” and they’re extinct… Worked well for them, didn’t it?
June 26, 2015 @ 7:38 am
The T-Rex evolved, now it’s a stupid bird that shits out eggs for us to eat every day.
June 26, 2015 @ 11:24 am
Who you calling a “stupid bird”? My brethren all saw the future for what it was and adapted accordingly. At the moment, you’re catering to our every whim so we’ll give you eggs and meat. The chicken uprising is not far off!
June 26, 2015 @ 7:29 pm
Have you always has that icon? Or did you change it just for this joke? I honestly don’t believe the theory of evolution, wouldn’t call myself super “religious” but the science behind evolution is pretty hokey.What do you think happened when the first lizard-thing stepped out of the water on dry land after being a fish-thing for generations? He either had no suitable food source and died, or had no other specimen to mate with and died leaving no future generations. This has nothing at all to do with the topic at hand.
I think my first Willie Nelson album was either the Greatest Hits and some that Will Be or the Half Nelson duets album. I don’t remember. My first George Jones album was “Cold Hard Truth.” My first Waylon Album was “Hanging Tough.” Honestly some artists have so many “greatest hits” albums that all have the same tracks on them it’s insufferable. Roger Miller and Roy Clark are the two worst offenders for having essentially the same songs reissued on albums under different names. Made my Christmas Wish lists a nightmare growing up because I’d get albums that had similar names to the ones I asked for.
June 27, 2015 @ 10:00 am
Yes, I’ve had this icon for a while. And if you look at the times of my comments, this was my first response to you before the others. You’re right that it has nothing to do with the topic at hand, as I didn’t make this joke during our discussion.
But I agree about the albums with similar names. I’ve seen that with a lot of cheaper compilations, they take the name of hit songs or albums to get more buyers and it makes it that much harder to track down the real thing.
June 25, 2015 @ 10:13 pm
“It”™s just a little bit of everything” No, no it isn’t. It’s a lot of one thing that sucks and just a little bit of country music. Either he doesn’t actually listen to country radio, or this is a good study in how far up one’s own ass one’s head can go. Shame too cause I’ve always liked Darius, Homegrown Honey aside.
June 25, 2015 @ 11:11 pm
“Southern Style” was actually a better album than I thought it’d be after that terrible lead single. I consider it his best since “Learn to Live”, in fact. The instrumentation is pretty solid across the board and Rucker sounds better than he did on the last two albums too. And though lyricism remains his weakest link, “Homegrown Honey” was easily the album’s nadir and the two closing songs are solid. Heck, even a few of the fluffy ditties like “Baby I’m Right” sounded charming.
I still think he’s one of the best mainstream male vocalists in the present. It’s just a shame he usually settles for paint-by-numbers material that doesn’t challenge him and allow his full range of vocal to take flight.
June 25, 2015 @ 10:15 pm
Interesting he should talk about country music evolving ….. he only seems to have 2 songs, the slow one and the slightly faster one, perhaps he could evolve his own sound??
June 27, 2015 @ 6:52 pm
…and it seems like every song he’s making a pot of damn coffee!
June 25, 2015 @ 10:27 pm
June 25, 2015 @ 10:53 pm
i agree. god damn bloggers are a menace. caring about stuff like a bunch of suckers.
June 25, 2015 @ 11:49 pm
Rucker has clearly learned that straw men are the easiest to knock over.
June 26, 2015 @ 12:01 am
Sweet Jesus, this is spot on. Darius was talking straight out of his ass with some of the stuff he said. I speak as someone who liked some of his first country album and only one or two songs since then (“I Got Nothin'”) and who has seen him live (he actually puts on an enjoyable show). He always cites Radney Foster as an influence, and every time he does I ask myself, “Umm, where’s the influence?” One of his album titles is even an homage to Foster’s “Del Rio, TX, 1959.” Darius ain’t as bad as most of them, but he needs to stop with the lofty comparisons, and stop pretending he’s actually one of the ones “keeping it country.” “Homegrown honey honey honey you’re so money money money” is one of the dumbest lyrics I’ve ever heard. Keep fighting the good fight Trigger.
June 26, 2015 @ 12:51 am
“Homegrown honey honey honey you”™re so money money money” is one of the dumbest lyrics I”™ve ever heard. Keep fighting the good fight Trigger.”
Damn …..that’s Rucker ???I HATE that f***** song with a passion and never knew who did it . Jesus- this ‘country’ thing is right off the rails ….
June 26, 2015 @ 1:02 am
Here’s a sample from Joe Nichols’s “Yeah”, which rivals “Homegrown Honey” for dumbness:
So I can say yeah, yeah (yeah, yeah)
Yeah, yeah (yeah, yeah)
Seriously, is there any (sub-)genre with dumber lyrics than bro-country? It’s sad how a genre known for having the most coherent and meaningful lyrics has descended to this.
If there is one consolation, it’s that at least the situation now is better than it was a year ago. The period from mid-2013 to mid-2014 will go down as the lyrical nadir of country music.
Cool Lester Smooth
June 26, 2015 @ 5:21 am
Eh, “Yeah” is actually a deceptively sweet story song.
Also, at least Nichols is open about the fact that he literally records three songs like “Yeah” or “Sunny and 75” as radio cuts so that the studio will let him do what he wants with the rest of his album. That’s almost verbatim from an interview he did with the Boston Globe last year.
June 26, 2015 @ 7:30 pm
In other words, he sucks up to his label rather than standing up and demanding some degree artistic freedom. He is not a new artist; he has been selling in major numbers since the mid-00s and likely has the financial clout to demand a better deal from his label.
Ultimately, artists should be judged disproportionately by the singles that they release to radio, since those songs are what the general public hears.
Cool Lester Smooth
June 27, 2015 @ 9:31 am
This was his first album on the new label. When he released it, he hadn’t had a #1 single since 2009, and before that his previous Top 10 single had been in 2006.
Those two, admittedly silly, singles re-established him as a player on country radio, whereas the excellent “The Shape I’m In” couldn’t crack into the Top 15.
“Sucking up to his label” also exposed a much wider audience to the much better material on his album, as he had his best album sales since 2007 based on having two #1s.
Nichols is a second-tier guy. He can’t make a song a hit just by releasing it as a single. He essentially has to choose between releasing two good songs that won’t get played to the radio and have only his fans buy his album and listen to the other 10 good songs, or releasing three “eh” songs that will go to the top of the charts, and have all of his fans, plus thousands of additional people buy his album and listen to the other 9 good songs, along with checking out his older, better singles.
Releasing poppy radio fare as a lure to trick people into discovering the good stuff is a valid method, IMO, especially for a guy like Nichols, who has always been more of a good gateway artist than some sort of model of “real country music” like Gary Allan.
He really had a great interview with the Globe in February:
June 26, 2015 @ 1:12 am
The only time I listen to the radio is to catch the traffic report on the way home. I find all of my music by searching through blogs, such as this one, reading reviews in magazines such as Vintage Guitar, and recommendations by friends.
You hit the nail on the head about Metal blogs, those guys will rip each others heads off, but that’s par for the genre. Their vitriolic reactions to mindless schlock like Nickleback is well placed. Funny thing is, one of the best progressive metal bands, Mastodon, who is from Atlanta, is heavily influenced by Country and Bluegrass music. Lead guitarist, Brent Hinds, has said that he’s taken a lot of banjo, and flat picking, and sped it up.
I just find that most anything with the word pop attached is going to be as aurally satisfying as a Big Mac is to food.
I suggest that “Hick Hop,” and EDM infected Country will go the way of numetal, and rap metal. IE, dead and gone in a few years. Then we’ll have some new equally debilitating, and mindless pop infestation.
Mainstream music has always been about moving product.
Rant over. Thanks
June 26, 2015 @ 1:58 am
Sadly, the majority of people can’t differentiate between pop whatever genre and its outlying roots.
Todays, pop country Taylor Swift crap is the same as was Diamond Rio/Little Texas crap was in the 90s, etc.
My point, ever decade has a ‘pop’ click to whatever genre of music…it’s called making money, majority, mob-style, democratic thinking sheep buying power record industry thrives on.
In short, you’re all delusional on here.
June 26, 2015 @ 4:43 am
Diamond Rio may sound a bit poppy at times but they are a 1,000x better than anybody out know.. I don’t care too much for little texas so bash them all day. But diamond rio, you leave those good opry loving and respecting boys out of this.
a little tap, tap, tap-a-roo
June 26, 2015 @ 5:12 am
Diamond Rio was one of the BEST country acts in the 90’s. The 3 part harmony, the distinctive lead vocals of Marty Roe, the soaring tenor singing and fine mandolin playing of Gene Johnson, the superb and distinctive guitar playing of Jimmy Olander. Diamond Rio had/has a unique and great sound that’s MILLIONS of times better than what you hear on the radee-i-o today.
June 27, 2015 @ 6:59 pm
Olander was an amazing and distinctive Tele picker, I’ll give you that, and they did have a unique sound, but they did record “Bubba Hyde”, for the love of God.
June 27, 2015 @ 9:14 pm
SNORT. That’s a guilty pleasure song if ever there was one for me.
June 26, 2015 @ 7:34 pm
If you can’t distinguish between bro-country/EDM-country and Taylor Swift/Diamond Rio, then you should take another listen to their songs.
Here’s one from Diamond Rio:
Does this even remotely compare to modern country?
June 26, 2015 @ 7:36 pm
Here’s one from Taylor Swift when she was country:
Heck, this was from 2007. Does this compare at all to modern country?
June 27, 2015 @ 3:28 pm
Yeah, when someone attacks Diamond Rio’s claim of being country, they are out of their mind.
June 26, 2015 @ 4:17 am
I’m wondering if this “evolution” defense of their bad music is actually their thoughts. Or did the label heads tell them to spin that story when someone challenges/criticizes those songs?
Enjoy Every Sandwich
June 26, 2015 @ 5:06 am
“You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”
I’m not just throwing that out because I like quotes from The Princess Bride (although I do!). I really think that the word “evolve” is being used very carelessly when used by apologists for mainstream country music. Singing in a completely different style and throwing in the odd banjo or steel guitar fill is not “evolution”. It’s like insisting that a cat is a dog because you named the cat Fido.
June 26, 2015 @ 5:13 am
Princess Bride quotes are almost always appropriate, in any context!
Cool Lester Smooth
June 26, 2015 @ 5:31 am
June 26, 2015 @ 5:07 am
This coming from a never been washed up wannabe rocker. This clown is about as Country as as a the Spice Girls. You aren’t Country, you will never be Country therefore stop trying to pretend you are Country!
June 26, 2015 @ 5:10 am
And I was feeling so good about country music before this today. Woke up to a commercial saying Clint Black and Sawyer Brown are coming here to Jeff City in September and it put me in a great mood! Freaking love Clint Black! And then I got online and read about this bullshit…
On the bright side, at least he was just attacking straw men and not directly attacking the fans (like with “old farts and jackasses”), right? He’s still a total douchebag though
June 26, 2015 @ 5:43 am
Agreed. At this rate Rucker will have to start a Take Pop Country Back blog.
June 26, 2015 @ 5:59 am
Hootie and the BROfish: “Evolving” Country Music
June 26, 2015 @ 5:43 am
Imagine you hungry and have a taste for a nice, thick, bone-in Ribeye, cooked to a sexy medium rare. You want it so bad you can taste it. You go to your favorite steak house and order said steak. You wait, salivating, daydreaming about that nice char on the outside, those nice grill marks, crisscrossing the lovingly-carved piece of Prime beef. You can smell it in the air all around you. Finally, after waiting what seems an eternity, you see a runner headed to your table, plate held aloft, trailing steam. You adjust your napkin just so, grab fork in one hand, knife in the other, ready to tear into this meal you’ve been wanting all day long. At long last, your plate makes it tableside. The moment has arrived! Finally, you get this great steak you’ve been salivating over. And the server places in front of you a nice, gorgeous plate of………………steamed broccoli. Is anything inherently wrong with the broccoli? Hell no. In fact, you love broccoli. Problem is, you ordered STEAK. Imagine how you would feel if that food runner, your server, the Chef, and the restaurant manager all tried to tell you how wrong you were for holding on to an antiquated notion of what “Steak” should be, and that steak has to evolve, and broccoli is what steak is now. You’d be pissed, right? Probably get up, leave that restaurant, and never come back again! The principal applies to the “evolution of music” argument. It isn’t that anything is inherently wrong with other styles or genres of music. It’s that I’m tired of other genres invading, taking over, and completely changing what Country Music is, at its core. As consumers, we shouldn’t flip to a Country radio station and have to listen to five songs to determine whether we’ve actually found a Country Music station. That’s why, even though it is as simple as “there’s good music, and there’s bad music,” genre boundaries and labels in Music are important.
June 26, 2015 @ 6:06 am
You know what should evolve? Darius’s idea that radio play is the most important thing, and that all personal and musical integrity should be subordinated to that. People can now move plenty of albums and sell out plenty of theaters without any radio play, especially if they have the name recognition of Darius Rucker. Do your own thing and quit worrying about the execs.
I choose to believe there’s still hope for him (as Noah said, I generally like him and think he’s good on the Dan Patrick show). I mean, if you had told me a couple years ago that in 2015 I would love a Tim McGraw song . . .
June 26, 2015 @ 6:40 am
“I think the people who are sitting in their living room doing those, ”˜Let”™s take country music back”™ blogs and all that stuff, that”™s crazy to me,”
We’re moving on up ladies and gentleman, we’ve graduated from our mother’s basement to our own living room!
Up next, WORLD DOMINATION!!
Look out Brosephs and country carpetbaggers, we’re turning up the flame on your sparkly, skinny-jeaned asses!!
June 26, 2015 @ 7:01 am
Trig, thanks for standing up for us “crazy” country music fans. At least that’s what Darius implies people that follow these types of blogs are like.
June 26, 2015 @ 7:28 am
You know, maybe we need to come up with a new term for this stuff instead of “pop country” or “bro country.” I suggest “Corporate Country.” It’s an industry driven homogenized mutant strain of something that sounds vaguely like real country. It pretty much covers all the crap you hear on mainstream Country music radio. Rucker is just a well paid mouthpiece for corporate country and it’s brainwashed worshipers.
June 26, 2015 @ 8:26 am
Hmm I don’t think I’m familiar with the country station in Indiana that plays real country along with the pop and douchebilly garbage. If someone could tell me what it is I’d appreciate it!
June 26, 2015 @ 9:33 am
My first thought was to wonder if he is trying to portray these “bloggers” and the people who follow them as another version of some not fond of Obama right wing populists who wanted to “take their country back.” I do remember him once commenting on some people who thought his music wasn’t real country. He said something like “well, you know what that means.” Oh yes, Darius. If someone doesn’t think your latest music is real country, then they’re clearly racist.
The thing is, if he’s honest with himself, he has to know that what he’s doing now is largely formulaic, forgettable Music Row pop country. Even his best single (“Wagon Wheel”) is basically the equivalent of Uncle Kracker’s version of Dobie Gray’s “Drift Away.” Sure, he had a big hit with it, but it pales when compared to the original. And as bland as Hootie was, I had at least SOME respect for them. Back then, Darius was referring to lyrics from Dylan’s Idiot Wind and name dropping/palling around with Nanci Griffith. I think he does have some notion about what good roots music is.
June 26, 2015 @ 9:44 am
To rephrase a now-infamous prior Obama quote from April 2008 to suit this context:
“They get bitter, they cling to laptops or Cash CDs or antipathy to country singers who aren’t what they like or anti-evolution sentiment or anti-modern everything sentiment as a way to express their frustrations.”
Cool Lester Smooth
June 26, 2015 @ 10:12 am
I think there’s a simple explanation for how formulaic he’s become:
Cash, Rules, Everything, Around, Me
Get the money
Dollar, dollar bill y’all
Six String Richie
June 26, 2015 @ 10:06 am
The funny thing is that he said nobody is saying “let’s bring rock back.” I thought there were lots of people on the internet wishing that riff-based rock would make a comeback to the mainstream. I know I personally am pining for rock to comeback to the mainstream.
June 26, 2015 @ 11:56 am
I’ve personally given up on rock. The only current rock I ever listen to is smaller bands my older brother turns me onto (he’s into rock, I’m into country). Basically, if I don’t get the ok from him on a band I don’t care, but when I do get that ok it’s usually with good reason. Not unlike trigger here at SCM!
Weird thing is, he hates country and everything I ever make him listen to. Except for Sturgill. He absolutely fell in love with high top mountain. That was a weird day for me, but I totally get it.
I’m thinking this mainstream music BS is hitting everything and is either worse in country or just feels worse in country because that’s the genre I like and pay attention to.
June 27, 2015 @ 6:39 pm
Six String Richie, Yes but most of those complaints come from old school classic rock fans IMO. Most rock fans dont care because, there are still many decent artists or half decent artists getting mainstream airplay eg. Jack White, the killers, the strokes, kings of leon, queens of the stone age, arcade fire etc. So there aren’t as many complaints because for every Nickelback, there’s a Muse or the Hives. And there’s more of a balance between good and bad rock music in the mainstream as opposed to country radio.
Similarly, the most popular hip hop artists in mainstream music right now – Kanye West, Jay Z, Kendrick Lamar arent completely talentless and are brilliant lyrically in some songs. For instance, Kendrick Lamar is an amazing writer. Some of today’s country artists could learn a thing or two about how to tell really raw and deep meaningful stories through music by listening to Kendrick Lamar. So again there’s more of a balance between good and bad hip hop on radio.
I would argue its the same thing with pop. There’s simply more diversity in other genres. If all rock music sounded like coldplay, you would see just as many complaints about rock as you’re seeing now in country music.
June 26, 2015 @ 10:24 am
I guess this is Rucker’s version of the old farts & jack-ass comment that we all know so well.Bottom he doesn’t what the checks to stop coming in.
June 26, 2015 @ 10:29 am
I meant he doesn’t want the checks to stop.I’m an idiot.
June 26, 2015 @ 1:56 pm
God, I hope Darius is not reading 95% of these comments.
June 26, 2015 @ 2:49 pm
June 26, 2015 @ 3:06 pm
Really? I take it you’re not reading this crap.
June 26, 2015 @ 3:12 pm
Yes, really. I read it just fine, thanks, and I’m not seeing anything offensive here.
June 26, 2015 @ 3:31 pm
I think Trigger needs to shut this site down for two weeks and take a vacation. How does he imagine that his REAL READERS appreciate watching another human being getting disrespected like this? If you need to be shown exactly where u r crossing the line, then, I don’t know. You see Trigger, if there is no righteous indignation attached to your anger, then you just come off as a jerk.
June 26, 2015 @ 3:50 pm
You have been a valued reader and commenter here for years. But I’m sure what has been going on in the past few weeks that has caused you to lash out at me and other commenters. I think your criticizing of Noah Eaton for writing long comments was a great illustration. The succinct comments where you’re calling people out and expecting them to know why are really off-putting, and frankly I don;t know if they help your case. I’ve been holding my tongue here, but since you are now talking about me specifically, I feel the need to answer.
Let’s understand something here: I did not attack Darius Rucker. I’ve had some positive things to say about him over the years, and I’ve had some negative things to say, like with any artist. The impetus for this particular article was Darius—who has a significantly bigger audience than me—specifically calling me and other bloggers out, and doing it on unfounded grounds as I illustrated above. He threw the first punch, so to speak. I simply defended myself, and what I believe was in a respectful manner.
As for commenters, they can say whatever they want, and you have every right to disagree, but nothing going on here is in any way unusual. There has been a lot of negativity rolling to the site recently from all of the stories about death, and death threats and such being leveled at me personally. The equilibrium is a little off right now, and trust me, nobody is more aware of that than me.
But I fail to see what Pistolero and others have done wrong here. They are just sharing their opinions. I’m sorry if you are offended, but nothing here is out-of-the-ordinary.
June 29, 2015 @ 2:21 pm
Did you read the comment that said his name sounds exactly like yours “Trigger” just without the “,T.” What name is that, Trigger? When Charlie Pride came came on the scene some 50 plus years ago, they had to hide him behind the radio because they knew country music fans would not accept him. not too much has changed
Cool Lester Smooth
June 29, 2015 @ 5:54 pm
Eh, we’re not judging Rucker for the color of his skin, but for the content of the shitty songs he’s chosen to release as singles since going solo.
June 29, 2015 @ 6:40 pm
Calling his songs #@?&(+ is an exaggeration. The underground has songs far worst that somehow mananage to get passing grades on this. site. For example, 90% of Bob Wayne’s stuff, just to name one. Although none of that would matter if I didn’t pick up on the underlying racism in so many of these comments. Take the commenter who said, he bought Rucker’s CD, went to his concert, now have decided that he’s not a good artist. That is crap. people do not buy a CD, then go to an artist concert, and then say the person is not a good artist. We buy a CD because we really really like the album or the artist. We go to their concert because we really really like the album or the artist again. that comment was just a lie, saying something bad about an artist just for the sake of saying something bad. A lot of these comments are out right lies, an out right attempt to pierce DR with a dagger when all he did was stuck you with a splinter. How is it that someone so brutal with a pen, think that they have the leeway to be thin skinned or overly sensitive? No one is going to walk on eggshells when they are referring to SCM because SCM is downright brutal when they’re discussing mainstream artist.
June 30, 2015 @ 9:39 am
Actually Sonas, you’re mistaken. SCM is one of the more “Tasteful” sites out there, compared to “We Hate Pop Country” and “Farce the Music.” SCM isn’t as much fun because those sites are hilarious, but this place is more respectful. Or at least it would be respectful if you weren’t here.
June 30, 2015 @ 10:22 am
the underlying racism in so many of these comments.
Quite simply, this is is unmitigated horseshit. Pretty much everything that has been said about Darius Rucker here has been said over the years about every single other bÃªte noire of SCM and its audience, no matter the color of their skin.
Cool Lester Smooth
June 30, 2015 @ 3:37 pm
Yeah, what white singer undeserving of induction into the Opry hasn’t been accused of being solely an affirmative action induction?!
Oh…wait…no white person has ever been accused of being an “affirmative action” hire, in any situation?
That can’t be right!!!!!
June 30, 2015 @ 4:05 pm
And that was what, one or two comments? Out of how many?
Cool Lester Smooth
June 30, 2015 @ 5:43 pm
So you’re going for the volume defense, rather than claiming they weren’t racist?
That’s the one part of sonas’s point that I can get behind. Lots of mainstream artists in the Opry suck. Only Rucker gets accused of being an “affirmative action” case, though.
It’s silly to defend those fucking idiots, so don’t bother. Just emphasize the point that what Rucker has released to the radio has been far, far beneath his talents, rather than pretending that these “OMG TEH AFFIRMATIVE ACTION!!!!!” people aren’t racist pricks deserving of the scorn sonas is heaping on them.
June 30, 2015 @ 5:53 pm
They ARE worthy of the scorn. We agree on that. It just strikes me that Sonas is calling ALL of us racist who have negative things to say, and given his recent history of trolling I don’t think my conclusion is an unreasonable one to draw.
July 1, 2015 @ 6:09 am
Cool Lester, I think pistolero is exactly right. Sonas’s comments have gotten more shrill by the day and he has categorically called the commenters here racists and liars. Also, you made a similar point to pistolero’s just a little further up, albeit less forcefully (…we”™re not judging Rucker for the color of his skin, but for the content of the shitty songs…). So I’m wondering why you chose to come to Sonas’s defense here.
Cool Lester Smooth
July 1, 2015 @ 7:48 am
It was because in this specific instance, there are a couple guys saying overtly racist shit, and then praising each other for being “brave” enough to say it.
Most of his rants from the last week or so, including in this section have been just that, though.
June 26, 2015 @ 4:59 pm
Despite these comments, I cannot be mad at Darius Rucker. He’s a genuinely nice guy.
June 26, 2015 @ 5:35 pm
“All of those genres of music are supposed to evolve, but to those people country music is supposed to be Hank Williams Sr.”
I like Darius but that is a huge exaggeration. Like most “Let”™s take country music back”™ blogs and all that stuff” writers and readers, I don’t want to hear the Hank Sr. sound at all. I want to hear more modern country/pop/rock, not “country” that has “evolved” into something with no country lyrics or music/instruments that doesn’t remotely resemble country, lazy bad songwriting that rearranges the same lyrics over and over https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FY8SwIvxj8o and the same lazy generic pop music copied over and over https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WySgNm8qH-I Darius should know this since his own music is more country than most radio plays.
“But I think the great thing about listening to country radio is you have all different kinds of country music.”
LOL If only that were true.
“It”™s just a little bit of everything, and obviously the fans are loving it.”
Or not because it’s more like a little bit of everything except country and women.
June 26, 2015 @ 9:15 pm
Darius is obviously towing the company line on many of these comments, and I can’t help but agree with those that say his foray into country has been nothing less than a shameless cash grab. He’s not wanting to say anything that will ruffle feathers too much to the greater listening audience, which is his bread and butter, but he has no problem dumping on more sophisticated country music fans, such as the folks at this site, which is interesting. I think this is the case because he probably feels hardcore country fans make up a small margin of the listening public, and a lot of them won’t listen to his music at all anyways. Ironic, because if he actually had good material to work with, he could be a hell of a talent. Instead, he goes for the easy money of pop country and doesn’t take chances. I’d respect him more as an artist if he actually took some chances; it’s complete tripe that changing genres was a “risk”. It was nothing short of a calculated move, and one that has proven very lucrative for him. I don’t spite the man making a ton of cash off of his “move to country”, but I do take exception to his misinformed opinions about a litany of things, as evidenced above by his comments.
And I’ll repeat what I’ve said up thread; Darius Rucker is/has turned into the Rob Thomas of pop country – someone who creates and sings safe, boring, corporate music, serving up mediocre music to the masses. The guy’s cashing a cheque and trading on his previous success with Hootie and The Blowfish. He should truly be happy he got a second chance like this.
June 27, 2015 @ 5:03 pm
Hey, I like Rob Thomas! 😉
Do I wish he was releasing more challenging music? Sure, to an extent. But I also believe that it would be disingenuous to expect him to create, for instance, another angsty album like “Yourself Or Someone Like You”………………because he’s obviously not in that state of mind in his life. He’s happily married and is absolutely content with where he’s at these days as an entertainer. It would sound contrived trying to revisit that.
Also, I don’t think Rob Thomas gets enough credit for his songwriting, as does Matt Serletic for his production. I’ll completely agree that both “North” and “Exile In Mainstream” let me down as Matchbox Twenty albums, but I’ve found much to like about both of Rob Thomas’ solo albums to date. Believe it or not, there were some very interesting songs on each of them. Take “All That I Am”, for instance. Some of the lyrics jumped out at me, and the instrumentation is quite a departure from what you expect to hear in an Adult Top 40 song. Or “I Am An Illusion” with Robert Randolph’s additional brawny brass thrown in the mix. And “Now Comes The Night” proves he can carry a song on his own with virtually no musical accompaniment.
I will admit I don’t like his comeback single “Trust You” in that he tries too hard to springboard off of OneRepublic’s recent success (Ryan Tedder is both a co-writer and producer of that track). And he has had other missteps here and there whether it be relying on “Whoa oh ohs” as occasional lyrical filler or settling for too little when he’s trying to pen more poignant relationship songs and, in effect, underreaching.
But as a whole, I have always respected Rob Thomas, and still do. He’s hardly to blame for the recent devolution of lyricism and artistic identity on Mainstream Top 40 and Adult Top 40 radio.
June 27, 2015 @ 6:38 pm
Noah, while I appreciate the time you took to formulate a rather lengthy response (which is your deal, and I can understand that, as well as admire it, honestly), nowhere did I say that Rob Thomas was to blame for the aptly coined term you have presented here: “devolution of lyricism and artistic identity on Mainstream Top 40 and Adult Top 40 Radio”.
He is, however, the epitome of vanilla, bland, non-threatening “rock” and pop. He has his audience, obviously, and and I feel the moniker of being the “Rob Thomas” of pop country is a fitting one for Darius Rucker, whose pop country pablum is tantamount to the drivel Rob Thomas releases.
While I agree with you that it would indeed be out of character and perhaps a but disingenuous for him to release “angsty” music as you say, I feel like he is not an artist that I take very seriously or whose music I find even a modicum of value in. Standing behind the auspices of “I don’t want to make different music because it may alienate my audience” is a complete and total cop-out. It’s called being afraid to take chances with your art, which Rob is. I would have more respect for the man’s art if he just came out and said that he’s creating radio-friendly, inoffensive, easy-to-digest sonic sound bites. I completely understand that it’s all about selling albums, but be honest about it; he and Rucker are not.
We can debate at length and pontificate in verbose diatribes about Rob Thomas and Darius Rucker, but the fact of the matter is that while neither are (solely) directly responsible with their music for “devolution” and “artistic identity” being lost (because that is a Straw Man argument), they are guilty of releasing mediocre, unassuming music to the masses, and cashing a cheque on the spoils of said mediocrity. They just need to be forthright about it.
June 27, 2015 @ 10:41 pm
Thomas actually has sort of confessed his music as such.
Anyway, I agree with you on his latest remark being a cop-out of sorts to justify not challenging herself more as he ages (though I am curious to hear his tear-in-your beer album down the road).
I think part of what makes both Matchbox Twenty and Rob Thomas’ own work polarizing as it is, is because though you don’t doubt Rob Thomas is singing from some personal space in that he sings as he processes feelings, there often isn’t much of a context or story bridging what he sings. And there runs a risk with always singing about how YOU feel in that your perspective is altogether insular. Then, when you often frame songs to have as wide and general a reach as possible but sung from such an insular place, I can see why he has been critiqued heavily over the years.
Still, there have been more than enough moments over his albums to convince me Rob Thomas is more than just an album-selling shrill.
Or, to put it another way, let’s compile each relevant Adult Top 40-centric act since the mid-90s and arrange them in the form of a totem pole of overall quality.
In my mind, Adele would constitute the top of that totem pole while Alanis Morissette (no longer relevant as a singles artist but definitely as a personality) Sheryl Crow (same story with her) and Hozier (he may be doomed to one-hit wonder status, but he does have a new single climbing at the moment) would follow. In contrast, Maroon 5, The Fray and OneRepublic would constitute the worst (I’m not kidding, Maroon 5 infuriate me to no end in their shallowness, while the other two are utterly faceless). Jason Mraz is also among the worst.
Matchbox Twenty would rank in the middle somewhere along with the Goo Goo Dolls and maybe Sara Bareilles: hovering just above Kelly Clarkson and Five For Fighting, but below Coldplay and Bruno Mars. They’re hardly among the innovators of the genre, but I also hardly view them as the bottom-feeders of mediocrity.
June 27, 2015 @ 11:21 pm
Jewel’s string of fantastic hits in the late 90s definitely should earn her a place on your list.
John Mayer should also rank somewhere near the top of that list, both due to his consistently strong lyrics and the beauty of his music.
Of all the artists you named, Coldplay featured the most interesting sonic style. I was a pretty huge fan when I was younger and I own a significant library of their songs. Their 2002 album was probably their best, and those songs (along with many from their 2005 album) still give me a strong feeling of nostalgia every time I hear them.
Maroon 5’s current songs are terribly generic, but they had some deep singles early in their careers. I still fondly remember “She Will Be Loved” from my early high school days.
June 28, 2015 @ 10:40 am
Excellent points, Noah! You cite some good examples here!
I guess Rob Thomas, to me, and I would presume many other people, takes the path of least resistance, and picks the low-hanging fruit, musically. As we’ve said, there is certainly an audience for his work, I just feel like he’s not taken seriously by a great deal of people.
If in fact he is holding back talent-wise, he really isn’t showing what he’s capable of as an artist, which is unfortunate. And isn’t showing the world what you can do the point of BEING an artist?
June 28, 2015 @ 11:03 am
I like Jewel as a person, but I’ve rarely been impressed with her music.
There was too much of a self-dramatization surrounding her early work that I found kind of off-putting, especially when the lyricism usually was lacking. I thought the instrumentation was at least interesting on “Pieces on You”, but the self-righteous tone turned me off the same way most anything Ani DiFranco has released independently has. Then she started to incrementally gloss up her sound each era for a while, and went to play off more of her sexuality with “0401”, but that came across as forced even while, ironically, I thought the songwriting was better on that album than on her earlier albums. I thought her debut country album was her best album to date, though still having some glaring imperfections.
I just haven’t seen much appeal in Jewel from the beginning. However, I will single out her debut country single “Stronger Woman” as a solid single, and “Who Will Save Your Soul” appeals the most among her earlier stuff.
John Mayer is somewhere slightly above the the middle with me.
I didn’t really like his most recent album “Paradise Valley” because the songwriting struck me as off-putting its fair share and it sounded way too lightweight. In fact, as talented a guitarist as he is, the latter is a criticism I hold to most of his albums musically: they sound way too safe (I’d love to hear a full John Mayer Trio release).
But as a songwriter and vocalist, when he doesn’t come across as overtly passive-aggressive toward exes and the like, he can really hit it out of the park. I think “Continuum” is his best album to date, but he has standout songs on almost all his albums. “Why Georgia” was my favorite off his debut because it’s rare you hear songs about quarter-life crises, “Clarity” was great off of “Heavier Things”, and I for one thought “Waiting On The World To Change” was a solid and convincing attempt at a nuanced socially conscious song that admits late Generation Y/Millennial ennui but also recognizing their passion that I think has aged extraordinarily well.
Coldplay rank not far from the top tier to my ears.
I know many hate Coldplay, but I don’t care. To my ears, they’ve always tried harder than the strong majority of their peers in producing music with intimate hushes that reach for the rafters. I mean, who else in Adult Contemporary and Adult Top 40 has produced a hit written in E flat Mixolydian (“Clocks”) this century so far? Who else has co-opted Krautwerk riffs (“Talk”) for inspiration? Who else has peppered Black Sabbath-esque riffs and lush piano in the same breath? (“Violet Hill”). One can chide them all they want for peddling platitudes and Hallmark-card/nursery rhyme lyrical sentiment, but regardless you have to admire their ambition compared to most anyone else who intend to make sweeping Alternative-fused pop for the masses. And, lyrically, Martin isn’t even as bad as many make him out to be. Of course he has his awful moments like with “The Hardest Part” and “In My Place” especially, but he also has solid moments like with “The Scientist”, “Viva La Vida” and deeper cuts like “Til Kingdom Come”. Heck, as reviled as “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall” was among many fans when first released, I loved and still love that song both because there are some interesting one-liners in the lyrics and because even when some lyrics don’t make sense when you hear them, you can’t deny Martin sings like he unequivocally means it and the soaring, sentimental EDM touches just make it work so well.
Maroon 5’s first two albums at least SOUNDED a little distinctive because they were a band playing off of the funkier side of pop music. In truth, I actually preferred “It Won’t Be Soon Before Long” a little more than “Songs About Jane” because, at least to me, it was kind of uncomfortable hearing Levine frame an entire album around a girl he dated and featuring songs that smacked as catty and douchey…………….whereas with “It Won’t Be Soon Before Long” my attention was less distracted because he painted more broadly.
But that has always been my biggest issue with Maroon 5. I don’t buy Levine’s sincerity one bit on the vast majority of his songs. He either plays up to one of two archetypes: the slick, overly confident mac daddy or the pleading misty-eyed romantic. He comes across as overly confident and kind of sleazy in his delivery with the former, while overly melodramatic and insecure in the latter. There’s no room for nuance in his catalog.
Worse yet, too many of his lyrics just come across as painfully passive-aggressive and ratchet up the douche factor; like with “Payphone”, “One More Night” and “This Summer’s Gonna Hurt…”. And to top it all off, the band sounds practically absent since after releasing “Never Gonna Leave This Bed”. Everything they’ve released since then sounds like an Adam Levine solo project. “Payphone” sounded like it was recorded in the same session as his feature on “Stereo Hearts”. Both “Love Somebody” and “Daylight” sound like recordings he initially wrote with EDM producers, then forwarded them to Ryan Tedder to sanitize enough so they would get mass mainstream airplay. “Maps” sounded like the end result of a session with Bruno Mars and Benny Blanco. And so on.
Of all their songs in “The Voice” era, “Sugar” is the only one I can consider a guilty pleasure of sorts because Max Martin just has a knack at producing a solid earworm of a hook and chorus. And that’s it. I can’t stand or take seriously anything else Maroon 5 have made. “Sunday Morning” and “Misery” are their two only other singles I like.
Cool Lester Smooth
June 28, 2015 @ 1:18 pm
I can’t forgive Mayer for his cover of Free Fallin, personally. I do recognize that he’s very, very talented, but it’s just too chill for me.
I listen to Jack Johnson or Ellis Paul when I’m in that mood.
June 27, 2015 @ 8:20 am
The local “country” station here in Boston used to have a show on Sunday mornings in which they played only traditional country. It was on for about 15 years. One Sunday morning I put it on and they were playing FL/GL line or something. It turns out that that week the DJs were told their show was canceled. They didn’t even get a goodbye show. I only say that to say this. Darius is wrong. It’s not about country radio having variety. You don’t hear the traditional country at all anymore. If you put on a rock station you will here music from the 60s to today. But country radio is just today’s country however that is even defined.
Cool Lester Smooth
June 28, 2015 @ 1:24 pm
If you’re in Boston proper, BC’s 90.3 has a traditional country show on Sunday mornings, and I’m pretty sure Emerson’s 88.9’s Acoustic Sunrise is Sunday morning, as well.
I really like 90.3, actually. There’s just so much variety, and it introduced me to Amanda Shires for the first time.
My presets are 102.5, 98.1 (the country station from Providence), 90.3, 88.9, 91.7 (UMass Boston’s folk station)…and 96.9, because they play at least two of Juicy, Dear Mama, Changes, Let Me Clear My Throat and 99 Problems every morning, and I love me some 90s gangsta rap.
June 28, 2015 @ 1:26 pm
Are you from / do you live in Boston?
Cool Lester Smooth
June 28, 2015 @ 1:29 pm
Yeah, I grew up near BC, in the Newton/Brookline/Wellesley area.
It’s probably why I’m such a dick, haha.
June 28, 2015 @ 1:58 pm
Interesting. I thought you mentioned in a previous thread that you were from Ireland. Maybe I’m remembering wrong.
What do people in the Boston area think of country music in general? Based on what I’ve read, I have always gotten the impression that the Northeast is the most anti-country-music region in America.
Cool Lester Smooth
June 28, 2015 @ 3:00 pm
I’m from Boston, and I’ve lived in Ireland since January, so you’re not misremembering, haha.
Country’s been getting pretty big up in Boston, starting with Taylor making country “okay” to listen to. Then college kids started discovering that Zac Brown is this generation’s (less douchey) Dave Matthews. Then start listening to 102.5 (which is sneakily one of the more influential country stations in the country) and 101.7, and get into bro country, at which point they stop there and use shitty radio country as their barbecue/pool party music of choice, or start to track down some of the throwbacks that 102.5 has in rotation, and build on that to become actual country fans.
Taylor and ZBB are pretty much country’s Eminem in terms of getting suburban white kids from the Northeast into the genre, right down to the fact that some stopped at 50 Cent, Pitbull, Modern Jay-Z and Lil Wayne, while others kept digging and traced back 50 Cent to Biggie, Tribe, Nas and Wu-Tang, and Eminem to Dre to Tupac and NWA.
Also, the Northeast has been huge into NPR-style roots music since O Brother, Where Art Thou, so The Civil Wars and JTE have had no trouble getting a foothold. The Americana genre is basically “country music that UMC white people from the Northeast call something else, so that they’re allowed to like it.”
June 30, 2015 @ 9:27 am
There used to be two country stations where I live. One of them was very traditional minded, doing classic country broadcasts on the weekend. Most days I would call in and get some Louvin Brothers or Hank Snow. (I was carpooling and couldn’t control the radio.) That station got replaced one day with some sort of easy-listening stuff, and the other station has been in a ratings slide for quite a while. I honestly never cared because I don’t listen to the radio by choice…
June 27, 2015 @ 8:41 am
WTF does Darius know about country music? His best song to date in his attempt at cashing in on the country music genre is Wagon Wheel which is only because of the great songwriting behind it in Bob Dylan and Ketch Secor(Old Crow Medicine Show) did that song better than Rucker but since everyone knows who he is they’re all oh it’s a great song. No you bafoons it always was a great song. We don’t need another Hank,Waylon or Cash we need heart and soul and real life in our songs. Life is not all about drinking and partying. That’s all that’s on the radio now.
June 27, 2015 @ 10:18 am
Yeah, and Hootie’s version was terrible. It was so bad that I actually really hate that song now, no matter who’s singing it.
About the only thing he’s ever done that I like is “I only want to be with you.” And at least half the reason I liked that is because I’m a dolphins fan and I loved seeing Marino in the video (and I was also just a kid when that song came out). That song’s pretty much it though. And the dolphins really do make me cry
June 27, 2015 @ 9:12 am
Rucker is a fraud. The epitome of a coattail rider. Went with (what he believes to be) Country to make the almighty dollar. Hootie and the Blow*obs sucked too.
June 27, 2015 @ 11:27 am
In my opinion there truly is a twist of irony to this story. Just last week I joked with a friend that if almost any song from ‘Cracked Rear View’ was released on a ‘country’ station today it would sound more country than the crap they are currently playing, including Darius’ music. Darius is correct, all music evolves, unfortunately corporate radio decided that the pop sounding country (if you can even call it that) was what their target demographics needed to hear, not authentic country, which has been delegated to a handfull of Americana stations arount the country. Thankfully, KNBT comes in loud and clear for most of my commute so I am able to listen to the real evolution of country music.
June 27, 2015 @ 4:45 pm
Aside from “Drowning” (because it is an edgier-sounding rock track) and arguably “Time” (a little closer to Matchbox Twenty’s style of pop-rock)………………I completely believe “Cracked Rear View” more closely resembles country than at least 87% of what’s currently constituting the Top Sixty on the Airplay chart (save Tim McGraw, Mickey Guyton, Jana Kramer and Mo Pitney’s current releases)
Aside from the singles already mentioned above, “Not Even The Trees” is a weeper that hits the emotional core of the genre hard. “Running From An Angel” already has a fiddle intact, so that’s self-explanatory, while the verses fit the tear-in-your-beer trope. “I’m Goin’Home” has production that’s virtually identical to that boilerplate male country entertainer rock template A and B-listers have used for the past fifteen years now, but the lyrics and semi-rootsy delivery are much more intimate and true to the genre than any of their songs. And “Goodbye” is essentially a stripped-down Adult Contemporary piano ballad, but lyrically would also be a better fit than most anything else that floods country playlists now.
Contemporary country/”country” radio is heavily indebted to the Hootie & The Blowfish/Sister Hazel sound.
June 27, 2015 @ 6:44 pm
Contemporary country is perhaps indebted to these two bands (which reminds me: where is Sister Hazel these days?), in the fact that trend-wise, they seem to be stuck in about 1995/96 in terms of co-opting viable ideas. Their particular sound, as well as well as other ill-thought-out attempts at genre crossing hip-hop and country, anyone….having rappers guest on songs and albums? It’s embarrassing.
June 27, 2015 @ 8:55 pm
In fairness, Sister Hazel’s most recent album has been released more recently than Hootie & The Blowfish’s last album. Sister Hazel’s “Heartland Highway” was released in 2010, while “Looking For Lucky” was released in 2005.
From what I’ve read, Sister Hazel still tour regularly. They have just failed to pinch a cultural nerve over time like Hootie & The Blowfish have succeeded doing. It doesn’t help matters that Sister Hazel have made minimal airplay impact over their whole career anyway. They’re only a major one-hit wonder with “All For You”, and only had a minor hit with “Change Your Mind” after that. Which is a shame because I always enjoyed both Newell’s distinctive vocal and their somewhat swampier mainstream-accessible sound.
I guess all these country/”country” acts are co-opting rap and EDM in more recent years because they finally started to get bored of turning to the Hootie/Sister Hazel playbook. They have thought: “Have you always wondered what a Hootie & The Blowfish song would sound like with a trap beat?” And the rest is unfortunate history! 😉
June 27, 2015 @ 9:29 pm
Interesting take on Sister Hazel and Hootie and The Blowfish. Personally, I think that their place in music history can be summarized as being a footnote, and that perhaps we are looking a bit too deep into their effect on music, which, in essence, is pretty minimal. They were a moment in time, a moment which many, many people moved on from following the enormous success of SH and HATB’s albums.
Past that, Darius Rucker, I once again posit, is extremely lucky to have had a career Renaissance and once again be in the public eye. I would also posit that would do well to decline commenting on the state of country music, as he is most certainly not an elder statesman by any means, or even someone who has much credibility regarding that which he speaks of.
I don’t disagree with you, however, that many of these acts are looking for new sounds to bring in and use, though. It’s the poorly-thought-out execution of what they choose to do with the sounds they hear that concerns me, as most attempts sound like garbage.
June 27, 2015 @ 9:12 pm
Whoooops, I meant to say Block, not Newell, in referring to their lead vocalist! =P
June 27, 2015 @ 1:22 pm
Here ya go!
Country Music Watered Down
June 27, 2015 @ 7:30 pm
I actually have always respected Darius and his Blowfish. I thought they were unfairly scoffed at for simply releasing an album that blew up sales-wise. The reason it did was simply because people were fed up with angst-ridden grunge by that point. However, take away it’s huge success and Cracked Rear View was just a well done album. If it had remained an underground hit, it would be better remembered today as a well-crafted collection of roots-inflected pop rock.
He has always championed great artists as well. Cracked Rear View’s title comes from a line in John Hiatt’s “Learning How To Love You” off his amazing Bring The Family album. Darius’ ill-advised lawsuit-causing lifting of Dylan’s “idiot wind” and “tangled up in blue” chord changes for “only wanna be with you” later became ironic even more when he had a hit with “wagon wheel”, of course originally a Dylan chorus. He also praised Foster and Lloyd and recorded with the Fish a not-as-good but reverent version of one of my favorite songs of theirs, “before the heartache rolls in”.
The Blowfish boys played in my neck of the woods before they hit it big. A band I was in at the time was on the same touring circuit as them. We spent a few nights in bars with them drinking and swapping road stories. Nice guys.
All that being said, I think he completely talked out of his ass this time and he’s acting like the frat boys he used to perform for from USC to UNC when he was on his way up. Someone with such apparent good taste in music back then now sounds like a corporate tool. Maybe he bumped his head. Or maybe it just comes down to cash…and not the Johnny kind.
June 28, 2015 @ 9:30 am
Darius is a country music carpetbagger….. Lol. Couldn’t say it better. Darius keep your mouth shut and go rip off more songs. Your music sucks bro
June 28, 2015 @ 11:32 am
I liked Darius as part of Hootie and the Blowfish.
As a country singer, he is a shyster. His music is filled with the stereotypes that embody Bro-County.
Darius went where the money was.
Cool Lester Smooth
June 28, 2015 @ 1:26 pm
Yeah, like someone said upthread, the average Hootie song is far more country than anything he’s recorded solo.
June 28, 2015 @ 1:25 pm
He’s basically saying that you yahoos are clinging to your God and guns…
June 29, 2015 @ 4:35 am
RD – I know that’s a troll to try and stir the pot I’m not falling for. If you know jack shit about a lot of the music we dig then you would know “God and guns” aren’t much of it. Some artist maybe too far out if anything.
But no one can blame a guy like Darius for being smart. He was in a musical traveling clown show band going broke and saw a way to jump into mainstream radio. Playing joke melodies handed to him by a record company (like most of Nashville). Honestly, I say congrats to him and I am happy for the guy. However, that does not take away from our principals and what we appreciate around here…. Real artist writing real music. That’s what we dig. Peace brother
June 30, 2015 @ 1:13 am
I am getting a bit tired of repeating this, but most major artists throughout the history of country music have not written their own songs, but rather made excellent choices of material. George Jones, George Strait, as well as Waylon Jennings in his 1970s prime rarely played any role in writing their own songs.
Having one group of people dedicated to writing songs and another dedicated to vocals results in a better product than requiring the singer and songwriter to be the same person.
June 30, 2015 @ 4:36 am
Eric, thanks for the history lesson. Think we are all aware of song writing in country music. However, you would be a fool to believe the relationship an artist like George Jones had with writers such as Darrell Edwards (probably his biggest) or Roger Miller is ANYWHERE close to the same of how labels like Capitol shove material down the throats of Darius and their poster boy Luke Bryan.
However, since you called this out I’ll challenge you to name songs George Jones did write solo because I can probably name at least 30 and I know there are more. Luke Bryan couldn’t write a nursery rhyme. Darius already proved he couldn’t which brings us back to my point and why he had to jump over to Nashville.
June 30, 2015 @ 9:42 am
Yeah George could write, so could Waylon. But let’s look at the most successful songs of their careers. Most of them were written by other people. The save goes for Dolly, and Willie. A lot of their chart-toppers were penned by other people, even though they themselves write excellent songs. Luke couldn’t write OR SING a nursery rhyme. At least Mr. Rucker has some legitimate musical talent, even if it belongs in another genre.
Cool Lester Smooth
June 30, 2015 @ 10:03 am
Fuzzy, say what you will about Luke Bryan as an artist, but don’t pretend the man can’t sing.
Bryan’s firmly in that Shelton/Rucker category of “Why do you insist on wasting your voice on such shitty songs?!!!!”
June 30, 2015 @ 11:05 am
Cool Lester, the link in this comment goes to a chart listing from lowest to highest the singing ranges of some of the industry’s biggest stars. Luke Bryan, stupid songs or no, resides at the bottom. I think he’s got a decent voice, especially for a song like “I Know You’re Gonna Be There” but to pretend he’s a vocalist deserving of any praise is grasping at straws.
June 30, 2015 @ 1:59 pm
As bad as Luke Bryan’s songs are right now, he actually started out as a songwriter. He was the main writer behind Billy Currington’s “Good Directions”. He also co-wrote the entirety of his first album, most of it with just one other writer.
June 30, 2015 @ 10:09 am
Fuzzy, without a doubt. That goes for a lot of great songs then and still today (yes they still exist).
However, my point was Darius needed a platform like Capitol and Nashville in general to support his abilities. As I clearly stated, I’m happy for him and can’t blame him for making money. However, I do believe he is a complete carpetbagger taking advantage of a current music fad (which we are in). He is not a country music artist IMO. He is a country music puppet.
February 12, 2016 @ 8:56 am
I think that this is some really well put insight on how people feel about the country genre in this day in age.So many country listeners are used to the old twang of this genre however no one wants it to grow and evolve like other genres are so wildly accepted to. It’s a new and different sound for sure many people just have to give it a try. It might not be what we are used to but give it a chance you never know until you try it!