EDM in Country Is Here with Avicii and Bobby Bones
EDM, or Electronic Dance Music, is making a big move into country music with one of the world’s biggest EDM stars in Avicii, and he’s doing it with the help of none other than notorious Clear Channel syndicated DJ Bobby Bones, who’s taking credit for helping to spark the trend.
Saving Country Music has been predicting the impending emergence, if not takeover of EDM-influenced music in the country format for a while now, highlighting how the use of EDM elements like heavily Auto-tuned vocals and drum machine beats are already becoming the norm for many of the hits being recorded by the genre’s biggest male stars. But the advent of Avicii infiltrating the country music market could spell a completely new dilemma, where artists are forced to give into the EDM trends to stay commercially relevant.
Avicii is a Swedish DJ that released his first album True in 2013. His song “Hey Brother” originally released in October of 2013 has been a huge international hit, going #1 in fourteen different countries, reaching #1 on the US Billboard Dance Club Chart, and #24 on the all-encompassing Billboard Hot 100. Now it has a dedicated country radio version that has been picked up by several country stations including major market Washington D.C. station WMZQ.
WMZQ was just in the headlines last week when they decided to switch out their local morning crew for the syndicated Bobby Bones Show—Clear Channel’s flagship country music program that now is broadcast on over 60 radio stations and has a potential reach of 60 million listeners. Bobby Bones first official day on WMZQ was Monday; the same day WMZQ added Avicii’s “Hey Brother” to the station’s rotation.
On Bobby’s Monday morning show, he took credit for the inclusion of “Hey Brother” on country radio. Bobby Bones first asked for one of his sidekicks to read a tweet he sent out in January of 2014. The tweet said, “If Avicii ‘Hey Brother’ becomes a hit in country radio, we will be taking 80% of the credit. Been pimpin’ that song for weeks.”
Then Bobby Bones said,
We started playing that song “Hey Brother” in December of last year. We were like, “This has got to be a country song. How’s this not a country song? Let’s look at how country sounds now.” [Now] they have put out the country radio edit from Avicii. It is now officially a country song, and I’m going to say it’s all because of our listeners all downloading the song like crazy in the places that we are. And they were like, “Welp, let’s give the people what they want.” So here it is, Avicii “Hey Brother”, possibly the first big dance country song … And you guys made it happen, because they go and they track iTunes and they see what cities songs are downloaded most in, and where we are, Avicii “Hey Brother” is crushing people.
Avicii being accepted by country music speaks volumes to the influence of EDM and Bobby Bones on the format. Commanding such a massive country music audience—the biggest in the history of the genre—Bobby Bones now has the unilateral ability to launch an artist or song. And when you consider that Bobby Bones has only resided on country radio for a year, as well as his self-admitted fondness with Avicii and “Hey Brother”, his desires and tastes clearly align just as much outside of country as they do inside. And Clear Channel continues to build their country music empire as part of the current country music arms race, with Bobby Bones slated to join even more radio stations and be used in television opportunities in the future.
Frequent Saving Country Music commenter Noah Eaton explains Avicii’s country music ascent, and how it could potentially impact the genre:
Prior to the release of his full-length debut album “True” last year, Avicii polarized EDM fans at the Ultra Music Festival in Miami last March with the debut of “folktronica” songs that elicited condemning remarks from purists of the genre. Avicii didn’t surrender to criticism and, that June, released “Wake Me Up!”: a “folktronica” single which became a worldwide #1 hit (and peaked at #4 in the United States) that featured Rhythmic/soul vocalist Aloe Blacc. The release was buoyed by widespread hype from many publications including the famed Pete Tong of BBC Radio 1, who declared “Nashville Goes EDM!” and “I can imagine there being line dancing in the video now!” Many indeed echoed Tong’s remarks, and despite Avicii insisting “Wake Me Up!” had much more to owe to folk than country music, many minted “Wake Me Up!” a definitive example of mixing country with EDM.
Now, the release of “Hey Brother” has sinewed perceptions of Avicii bringing country to EDM, and EDM into country. It features Alison Krauss & Union Station member Dan Tyminski, and it has topped the charts in many countries worldwide. Again, the critics have likened it as groundbreaking in bringing line dancing to EDM and so forth.
It is no accident that other artists including Pitbull have co-opted the formula into their own hits and have made killings off of it: most notably “Timber” (Pitbull again selectively borrows some of those elements, though not as obviously, on his newly released single “Wild Wild Love”).
You can bet your bottom dollar Big Machine, Republic Nashville and other major labels are going to milk this trend for all its worth, and do the converse of what Avicii has done in incorporating generic EDM beats into countless “country” hits to market to as broad a youthful demographic as possible. We’re already seeing this with Jerrod Niemann’s “Drink To That All Night”. But, in my opinion, EDM influences also vaguely rear their head in songs including “Sunny And 75”³ by Joe Nichols (listen to that again and tell me you CAN’T see that easily be remixed for a club), “Compass” by Lady Antebellum and “Get Me Some Of That” by Thomas Rhett to name a few. You can bet countless “country” executives are going to exploit his blueprint for success and abuse it to appeal to “country” radio’s sheepish listening demographic.
As for Avicii’s “Hey Brother” song specifically, at first listen, any familiarities to country music are skin deep, and mostly have to do with thematic similarities and opposed to sonic kinship. The video for the song however panders directly to American country music demographics, heavily drenched in Armed Forces sentimentality with 4th of July sparklers, folded flags, soldiers at attention, and trailer parks, directly slanted to an American and country music audience despite it originating from a Swedish artist.
Whether Avicii and “Hey Brother” will be widely accepted amongst the country music masses is still to be determined. But one thing is for sure, both EDM and Bobby Bones—whose heart and history reside well outside of the country music heartland—are poised to enact deep and sweeping influence on the country music genre in 2014, and well beyond.
March 11, 2014 @ 9:27 am
Saying Avicii is being accepted because one DJ is playing a song most country fans have never heard of and that’s unlikely to do anything at all on the country charts seems a bit premature.
March 11, 2014 @ 9:43 am
Yeah, he’s one DJ, but he’s Clear Channel’s flagship DJ whose show is syndicated on 60 stations nationwide and counting.
March 11, 2014 @ 10:03 am
It’s not just me that’s saying that. Bobby Bones is saying that. And it’s not just one station adding the song, it is multiple ones. Read what Bobby Bones said. They monitor iTunes and other music services for regional trends, and use them to pick radio rotations in those locations. Avicii’s “Hey Brother” is really hot right now in the markets Bobby Bones broadcasts to, and we know if one Clear Channel station adds a song, the rest are probably not far behind. It’s a monoculture—one huge mega radio entity that moves as one.
I really have no idea how big “Hey Brother” will be, we’ll have to see. But if Clear Channel and Bobby Bones have their way, it’ll be the next “Cruise”.
March 11, 2014 @ 11:04 am
Bobby Bones says a lot of things, that doesn’t mean they carry as much weight as he thinks they do. And people may be downloading the song, but that doesn’t say anything about whether those people listen to country radio or consider that song in any way related to country.
March 11, 2014 @ 9:49 am
I would like to first take this moment to heartily thank Trigger for offering me the blessing to be a contributor to this feature! I am most heartened that my contributions, as is true with all of us to varying extents, are valued by this community and can be put to broader use! =)
Also, I feel the need to add an additional point.
Avicii isn’t at fault, in my view. Based on the small handful of interviews I have read and seen of him, he doesn’t strike me as a calculating carpetbagger. He not once described his own breakout hit “Wake Me Up!” as country, and insisted it was much more influenced by folk. He DID say “Hey Brother” was partly influenced by country music, but also didn’t abjectly claim his foray was “country EDM”.
If anything, we should be grateful that, of all candidates, he drafted a member of Alison Krauss and Union Station to feature vocals on this current hit. He or his executives could very well have solicited Luke Bryan, Justin Moore or Thomas Rhett to handle vocals instead. And if my prediction does hold water, and we begin to see a handful of producers on Music Row insist on pouring more egregious four-on-the-floor beats, glitchy production elements and perhaps even icy, minimalist synths or “dubstep” effects into the “country” canteen, thereby further eroding the lyric-driven heart of the radio genre, I still believe Avicii meant well in his intentions (though I do agree the video panders).
March 11, 2014 @ 10:05 am
My only caveat would be the video, that so obviously panders to the country demographic. I really have no problem with the song as an EDM song, but the video makes me very suspicious of the intentions. Toby Keith, eat your heart out.
March 11, 2014 @ 10:00 am
After listening to the song, I have to admit that lyrically, it’s somewhat repetitious but tells a decent story and has good vocals. The problem with the song is the EDM garbage they felt they had to throw in. I’d like to hear what a band like Alabama could do with this storyline.
March 11, 2014 @ 10:18 am
My biggest gripe with the song actually doesn’t have anything to do with the beats or musical production.
It’s, rather, with the production on Tyminski’s vocals. I understand the incentive for them having an echo-effect since, after all, the song is set up like a call hoping for a response (the chorus does strike me as a call-and-response in:)
Call: “What if I’m far from home?”
Response: “Oh brother, I will hear your call!”
Call: “What if i lose it all?”
Response: “Oh brother, I will help you out!”
However, my antennae also picked up a lot of Auto-Tune. And when that’s combined with the echo effects, it is just too much: not just for a song being solicited to “country” radio obviously, but even for Pop radio. It makes his vocals sound too much like they’re robotized then echoed through a tunnel.
trailer park fattie
March 11, 2014 @ 10:03 am
cotton eye joe
March 11, 2014 @ 10:13 am
There are a lot of EDM “country” songs that have come before “Hey Brother”, including “Cotton Eye Joe” by Rednex, Jerrod Niemann’s “Drink To That All Night” that Bobby Bones didn’t mention (though it has struggled to reach the top of the charts). But where “Hey Brother” is different is because it is from an artist outside of country, co-opting the country format, and it also very well may be a very big chart success.
March 11, 2014 @ 10:21 am
How in the blue fuck is this being played on a “country” station. I mean, it was pretty good up until the 1:30 mark, and I could see thinking it’s a “country” song until then. But, fuck, c’mon.
Noah, you must be happy. Avicii is finally relevant to the discussion. 😉
March 11, 2014 @ 10:23 am
I’m happy for Avicii! 😉 Not so much for what’s supposedly left of “country” radio! -__-
March 11, 2014 @ 10:24 am
I’m old enough to remember when Whisperin’ Bill Anderson decided it would be a good idea to write and record a Disco tune for country radio. “I Can’t Wait Any Longer” was hit, but it fell fall short of starting a “country disco” trend and was in fact his last top 10 hit. We can only hope that this tend sufferes the same fate, but with so many movers and shakers in the industry pushing hard for a mono-genre it may be too much to ask.
March 11, 2014 @ 10:27 am
All this cross-over shit gets me thinking. Remember back in ’06 when DAC and Pantera put out “Rebel Meets Rebel”? If that happened today would it get airplay?
March 11, 2014 @ 10:43 am
So at what point do we get to say “this isn’t country music” without self-righteous pricks like Keith Urban bringing up countrypolitan and the Nashville Sound for the 1,482nd time?
March 11, 2014 @ 10:47 am
Perhaps when Keith Urban repeats that talking point for the 2,964th time? 😉
March 11, 2014 @ 10:54 am
Ha ha ha.
Keith Urban has gotten a lot of mileage out of that one talking point.
March 11, 2014 @ 10:52 am
I have never seen one person have such a hard on for Bobby Bones. Constantly looking for any opportunity to take a shot at him. I love it. The guy is going to continue to rise and you are going to continue to look like a fool. Every time he adds a station he just laughs. You need to wake up and realize things have changed. The world has changed. Your genre has changed.
March 11, 2014 @ 11:17 am
“You need to wake up and realize things have changed. The world has changed. Your genre has changed. “
Trust me when I say there is nobody who is more aware that things have changed in both the world and country music than me. I not not only expect Bobby Bones to get bigger, I have been predicting that for months, and made a continued prediction that he will get even bigger in this very article. The idea that this somehow impinges on either my philosophies or my position is misguided. The bigger Bobby Bones gets, the more he proves me right. Upon keeping up with my obsession, you seem to have failed to recognize that in a strange way, I have a lot of respect for Bobby Bones.
But I will never give up the fight for country music, no matter how hopeless it is, if only to let the rest of the world know that dissent is being levied against what’s happening. I’ll be working my little slingshot till they pry it out of my cold, dead hands.
March 11, 2014 @ 11:08 am
Dan Tyminski also did the main vocal for “Man of Constant Sorrow.” Surprised that lil’ tidbit wasn’t included.
March 11, 2014 @ 11:34 am
My first reaction is that it’s a long way from “O Brother” to “Hey Brother” for Dan Tyminski. I consider Dan Tyminski a roots music hero for his rendition of “Man of Constant Sorrow from the “O Brother, Where Art Thou” movie/soundtrack. I remember seeing the preview to that movie in a theater. When George Clooney/Dan Tyminski started singing that old timey song (which I knew from a Garcia/Grisman album), I just couldn’t believe it. And then the soundtrack, which featured numerous music artists that I loved, was so wildly successful. And now this. Musically, I don’t think it’s awful. It’s just that mixing traditional music with EDM is anathema to me personally. It’s oil and water for me, even more so than rap.
March 11, 2014 @ 2:26 pm
I don’t think it IS a long way – as soon as I heard the Avicci song I recognised his voice!
March 11, 2014 @ 11:42 am
I’m a huge fan of real country/americana/non-corporate Nashville crap as well as EDM. It will be interesting to see how the whole EDM/Country thing plays out. There are a lot of country songs that can be made into good EDM songs (given the subject, with different vocals, instruments, etc.). Southern draws in the vocals don’t mix well with the EDM music. I, along with some other people “off the row”, have been experimenting with this for some time now and unless it’s a total remake it doesn’t work.
Not sure how Bobby Bones can take credit for sparking the trend. Lenny B, out of Nashville, remade the Rascal Flatt’s What Hurts The Most into a EDM track back in ’06 or ’07. It didn’t really do well because it had a male vocalist. However, the german group Cascada got wind of it, produced their own version and it was a huge hit.
As corporate country moves more into pop, there is definite potential for EDM to heavily influence it. But not with “country boys” singing about drinking beer and driving trucks.
March 11, 2014 @ 2:58 pm
That is what Jerrod Niemann tried to do with “I Can Drink To That All Night” and that song is now up to #11 in the charts. I thought that song was dead, but it just keeps climbing as the EDM influence rises in relevancy. I can totally seeing laundry list songs and EDM being tried together, and en masse.
March 12, 2014 @ 7:34 am
True, I can see the laundry list stuff and EDM being tried together and becoming popular among the Bobby Bones target audience. The point I was making was it will never work in the EDM community.
March 11, 2014 @ 11:46 am
Being a performer/songwriter I generally like to hear a few more real instruments. However, I would 10x rather listen to Avicii’s EDM songs than Luke Bryan or FGL pop garbage. Avicii’s songs are no doubt party songs but at least they somewhat have a story, AND they’re not about trucks!!!!!!
March 11, 2014 @ 1:21 pm
That ties back to a point both Trigger and I make, however.
Especially should “Hey Brother” succeed on some metric with country radio or the scene, the inevitable result is going to be an influx of demand among major label executives to capitalize on this “EDM country” bandwagon and demand their artists sink their teeth into these flavors: except diluting it further by merely shoehorning four-on-the-floor beats, icy synths and even “dubstep” wobbles into the tried-true-and-tired templates and tropes about country living, endless summer and girls making guys go crazy.
We may see Scott Borchetta encourage Florida-Georgia Line to incorporate dubstep elements into a song or two off their sophomore album, for instance. Or we may see a Jason Aldean song that begins in typical boilerplate fashion but then makes an abrupt dive into a baffling, generic four-on-the-floor shuffling beat with a token banjo thrown in there for good measure. Or Jake Owen going house music. And so forth.
I can easily see Luke Bryan jumping on that sort of bandwagon: stringing country stereotypes with club scene nomenclature:
“Throw your hands in the air,
if you like the country breeze blowing through your hair,
the DJ’s got this honky tonk pumpin’,
I got the body paint on and the tailgate bumpin'”
-__- -__- -__-
March 11, 2014 @ 11:48 am
Honestly, it’s not a horrible song…as long as it stays on pop radio. It is one of the farthest things from country. It could probably pass as alternative or folk pop, but why do people think that country music should change for them? Why can’t you just make music and let it be the genre it is?
March 11, 2014 @ 1:31 pm
Our contention is not with the song itself, but the fact music executives are paying lip service to trends and will stop at nothing to funnel them down the throats of as broad a listening demographic as possible without any respect for genre contrasts.
Another wrinkle to this developing story is the rise of DJs in Nashville who are enjoying prominence on syndicated radio programming, who are re-mixing country songs round the clock on country radio. You have Dee Jay Silver, who has become so popular he is opening for Jason Aldean at many of his shows: who emerged after a re-mix of “She’s Country” found its way to Aldean. You have DJ Du: who has opened for Carrie Underwood and has also performed at the American Country Music Awards. You have DJ Hish re-mixing Merle Haggard. And those are just a few examples.
Forget the idea of mixing country and EDM elements in itself for one moment. How about completely re-mixing the contents of a standard country playlist with hip-hop and EDM influences? That’s exactly what Dee Jay Silver, DJ DU and others are becoming known for on their respective stations. And should they grow clout much like DJ Bobby Bones, they WILL become synonymous with the corporate country sound to this generation.
March 11, 2014 @ 11:48 am
It’s a trip. It’s got a funky beat. And I can bug out to it.
TX Music Jim
March 11, 2014 @ 11:55 am
Something I hate just as much as rap and hip hop, EDM. More proof clear channel
and cumulus are evil. There is no hope for country radio except for the small pockets of individually owned stations that play good music. I’m lucky to have a lot of them in Texas. Sad just sad. Good news is mainstream country radio is no longer needed. We have the internet and satellite and the handful of independent stations to take up the slack. Clear channel and cumulus shame on you both.
March 11, 2014 @ 12:21 pm
The thing that keeps me from getting too worked up is that Avicii probably had more to lose from this than gain at first glance. People were pissed and confused after the Ultra Music Fest last year. This guy was a big, big, huge star in EDM, like a quarter-mill-a-night star.
I think some of this was actually his response to people accusing him of “selling out” to American pop music. Like, you want American music, here you go, eat your heart out.
For the life of me, I can’t figure out why “Timber” is considered in any way country. It has a harmonic loop. That’s it. Are we that desperate?
March 11, 2014 @ 1:38 pm
I never even considered “Timber” remotely “country”. I think it was labelled such mainly by association of the familiar dancehall catchphrase: “Swing your partner round and round…” as opposed to any musical semblance to the genre (how often do you hear harmonica on modern country airwaves?)
I can see, in contrast, why “Hey Brother” is influenced in part by country music. And Avicii did indeed restrain himself from categorizing it “EDM country”. He simply stated that it was inspired by country music. Of course, the pandering music video doesn’t help matters for him.
March 12, 2014 @ 8:32 am
Come on, “Timber” is obviously a country song. “Your goin’ down, I’m yellin’ “Timer is a reference to cutting down trees which is usually done in the country. Plus Kei$ha says “Yer” instead of “your.”
So, definitely country. I don’t get why people don’t see that.
March 11, 2014 @ 12:52 pm
March 11, 2014 @ 2:19 pm
You may be interested to hear this song is getting HEAPS of airplay on New Zealand/Australian MTV but they have changed out the video. The version we get here is of Avicii performing at some festival. It’s very obviously some live footage edited together as it’s clearly not the song the crowd are dancing and reacting too. I was quite shocked when I googled Avicii and saw that schmultzy video – also weird cos the dude isn’t even American. Unashamedly manipulative to appeal to the demographic you mentioned. Also, I don’t feel bad at all for liking this song – I mean, it’s the dude that sang “Man of Constant Sorrow” on O’ Brother Where Art Thou? so how can that be a bad thing? To me this is more country than any of the pop-country I hear these days. It’s country with a dance beat. I’m not going to go out and buy it, but I think it’s catchy and there’s MUCH worse things happening to country music than this.
March 11, 2014 @ 2:42 pm
I watched the video too, and it is cornier than corn. The director shoehorned in every possible cliche of wholesome Americana.
March 11, 2014 @ 3:04 pm
I may do a completely separate song review for “Hey Brother” especially if it makes a big appearance on the country charts. As I always say, just because something isn’t country, doesn’t make it bad. Overall I don’t have a problem with the song, but man, that video makes me really wonder what is going on behind-the-scenes. I appreciate that some may find it stirring, but to me it might be the biggest clue to what all of this is about.
March 11, 2014 @ 3:17 pm
Totally! I’ve never seen an American music video that ‘stirring’ *ahem* I think it also speaks volumes that they are NOT releasing that music video into other markets. I wonder which music video they are playing in the UK and Europe? Anyone here know? It looks like a very aggressive attempt to break into the mainstream US market big-time. I wouldn’t be surprised if this song manages to cross over into the mainstream pop-charts. Infact, I reckon that might be the plan here.
March 11, 2014 @ 3:21 pm
“Hey Brother” is already at #17 on the Mainstream Top 40, according to Mediabase’s seven-day rolling chart.
And, considering the fate of almost any given release pitched to Top 40 radio hinges on digital sales as of late, a #13 placement on the iTunes composite chart suggests this still has plenty of room to grow.
March 11, 2014 @ 3:58 pm
Yeah, I listened to the song without watching the video and thought that while the vocals had a country sound, the rest of the music not nearly as much, and wondered how they were expecting to get it to fit into Country music.
”¦ then I watched the video and it all made sense. 90% of what makes that song “country” is in the video.
March 11, 2014 @ 2:33 pm
I think it’s also important to keep this in context: Avicii is a Swedish artist who has garnered huge success in europe and in other non-US markets. We talk on SCM from time to time about how the appreciation and reverence of country music/Americana seems to be bigger in places like europe than it does in the US. Maybe this is just another example of a european loving the genre and paying homage to it?
March 11, 2014 @ 3:21 pm
We’re looking at a Swedish country music invasion of sorts. On top of Avicii, Max Martin and Shellback from Sweden were who co-wrote and produced the three biggest hits on Taylor Swift’s last record.
March 11, 2014 @ 3:33 pm
Dude! You need to hot-foot it over there to find out what this Abba-ricana movement is all about (said like ‘Americana’ with a blocked nose)
March 11, 2014 @ 4:47 pm
If any artist or band is Abba-ricana, it’s got to be First Aid Kit, right?
March 11, 2014 @ 6:03 pm
First Aid Kit blows the doors off of a lot of their American counterparts if you ask me.
March 11, 2014 @ 5:02 pm
You know, if we are going to have a Swedish invasion of country music, couldn’t at least the black metal bands come on board? Maybe have Dark Funeral, Watain, or Bathory put out a black metal country album???
March 11, 2014 @ 5:13 pm
Of course, there is First Aid Kit too.
When it comes to pop, though, Sweden has not contributed anything useful in a long time. In my opinion, the last good pop artist from Sweden was Roxette.
March 11, 2014 @ 2:45 pm
As if I didn’t already have enough reasons to hate Bobby Bones, now this! I just don’t know Trig whether mainstream country music is even something worth saving any longer…(lol)
March 11, 2014 @ 3:22 pm
I was having that thought this very morning. Then I went to check the Billboard charts, and Dierks Bentley’s “I Hold On” has skyrocketed to #3.
March 12, 2014 @ 9:31 am
There have been some comments about this song that indicate it is light years better than the Aldean-Bryan-Shelton sort. It does exclude some of the laundry list verbiage, but how does it get by with that disco double-time droning kick drum?
At best I would think y’all might consider it cream on the septic tank, I would think.
I will never, Never, NEVER figure you fuckers out. (Keeps it interesting, that way 😉
PS: I like the song.
March 11, 2014 @ 4:26 pm
Kacey Musgraves, The Zac Brown Band, some of Miranda Lambert, some of Little Big Town (They did a CMT Unplugged a couple of years back that really showed off what they can really do, same thing with Dierks). Danielle Bradbury has potential (although she’s short on personality, and has no song writer or instrumental skills yet).
I’m a big Dale Watson fan (love that guy – amazing live and the real deal), but I don’t agree with him that about 10 years ago the term “Country Music” was lost and it can never be redeemed. Things go in cycles, sometimes there are nostalgic trends in music, or maybe everyone is getting a headache from this candy aisle junk food country and a craving is being developed for something more in line with real country. Or maybe Trigger’s theory of a diversified investment in something other than pop country will occur by the record labels.
March 11, 2014 @ 5:28 pm
Here in the UK, Taylor Swift and Avicii are the only “country” artists most people know.
March 11, 2014 @ 7:54 pm
I’ve loved “Hey Brother” since I first heard it. Part of the reason I love it so much has a lot to do with its folksy-blues influence, and I also enjoy “Wake Me Up!”. I wouldn’t consider it country and it’s disappointing that it’s started to get country radio play.
There are many EDM remixes of country songs, played mostly at very “bro-country” type bars with mechanical bulls. None of them are really much good.
March 11, 2014 @ 8:01 pm
Thanks a lot, Generation Y. I don’t even blame the labels at this point. They’re just trying to pad the bottom line, and they’re doing a damn fine job of it by making “country” cool and picking up city and suburban kids that wouldn’t give more traditional -sounding country music the time of day. If millenials that profess to favor “country” music had any demand for substance and didn’t have such disregard for tradition and artistry, we wouldn’t be in this position.
March 12, 2014 @ 9:14 am
I disagree. After all, this article is about an EDM song possibly getting played on country radio, and most of Generation Y doesn’t care about terrestrial radio. They are discovering music online through social media, streaming services, and other sources. That is why the demographic that actually listens country radio is getting more and more narrow.
I also don’t see how millennial kids are responsible for massive media consolidation, Clear Channel’s business practices, the placement of Bobby Bones in the country market, or anything else. The active music listeners who “care about artistry and tradition” have virtually no control over those situations. And as Trigger has said elsewhere, the passive music listeners tend to make do with the choices they’re given, and the corporate music media has failed to give them many choices at all.
I agree with you though that a lot of the audience for the current wave of bad country are not people who are traditionally country fans. I think it’s a bubble market.
March 12, 2014 @ 10:00 am
I see your point in Gen Y not caring about terrestrial radio. However, I would assume that the labels supply radio with the songs that they feel are hits. The new mediums of listening to music would appear to be solid indicators of taste and popularity that the labels can use in determining which songs are supplied as singles to country radio. Younger listeners not only have more money than ever to spend (which is why the labels target them more than other demographics), but also utilize these mediums the most, providing better market insight to the music industry than it has ever had. It would make sense that the labels would lean on that in determining the direction of the songs they choose. I admittedly have no knowledge of how radio song selection really works, so I may be incorrect in my assumptions here.
I agree with you on consolidation – that’s not on the listener. My comments were directed at what active country listeners are willing to accept in terms of content. I also agree that these listeners are at the mercy of the labels and stations, but they could certainly voice their disapproval of the choices by simply not purchasing songs and records, which could compel the labels to re-evaluate the type of music they are putting out. But considering the passive listener, this may understandably be too much to expect. To be fair, I should also state that I am a Gen Y’er myself, so my opinion may be biased from seeing what my peers listen to on a daily basis.
March 11, 2014 @ 8:17 pm
As someone who listens to their country primarily through Spotify, Pandora, Sirius XM and word of mouth(and who lives in a thankfully bobby bones free market) I’ve gotta think that the more Trigger talks about Bones, the more press he gets from legitimate country fans. I understand that, given the number of people he reaches, he needs to be discussed, but the more you write articles about songs like “Hey Brother” and include links to the video, the more publicity he gets. Articles like the Lone Star Music Award Nominees list turned me on to some great artists I didn’t know much about. All this article did was make me mad. I say the more you focus on the true artists out there going from bar to to bar doing the right thing, the better.
March 11, 2014 @ 9:01 pm
I see this comment all the time, and other variations on this same general theme. Out of the last 7 articles I have posted, 6 of them have been positive in nature, promoting music I believe is good and worthy of people’s ears, including two album reviews of virtually unknown, hard-working independent bands, a list of 10 independent artists, an article on a country legend, a review of an independent Texas guy, and one on a fairly mainstream artist in Beck.
Of course, barely anybody reads these things. I see comments like this all the time questioning my priorities, but I never see any type of sizable demand for that content that so many people are clamoring for. I am doing my part, but this is a two way street. If readers want to see positive coverage of worthy music, they must interact with it, and not just on my site, but on the internet overall. I am not personally indicting you. You may interact with these articles commonly, as I know others do. But to almost a 10 to 1 margin, readers dramatically prefer negative coverage. Nonetheless, I continued to remain committed to positive music coverage as a majority of this site’s coverage.
Specifically to this issue, “Hey Brother” went number #1 in 14 countries. It has gone quadruple platinum in Australia alone. Me posting this video is going to be such an inconsequential blip on this songs influence, it is silly to even think about in those terms in my opinion. I’m a gadfly at this point, but don’t think I don’t take into consideration the potential influence or unintended consequences of everything I write before I post it. I am not attacking this song or Avicii here, or even really Bobby Bones. I am simply reporting on it in an attempt to make more informed consumers that will in turn hopefully make better decisions. There are hundreds, potentially thousands of people who have read Saving Country Music because of a story similar to this, and then walked away as Sturgill Simpson fans, or fans of independent music of some sort. But without critical coverage of what is transpiring in music, they would have never found this site.
I’m not jumping down your throat. Your concerns are noted, and warranted. But after doing this for six years, I’ve come to understand the best ways to turn more people on to good music, and sometimes that way is to talk about music that is bad, or trends that are disappointing.
March 11, 2014 @ 9:06 pm
No disrespect was meant, and I failed in saying that SCM is also one of the main places(if not the single main place) that I get my new music from. After your Lone Star Music Awards article I went and made a playlist on Spotify of all the best album nominees and bought many of those albums and artist’s songs. I fully understand that the negative and the shock value type articles are what drive views these days, and clearly I’m guilty of keeping that trend going. I love the site, I love the GREAT music you promote and I love the whole concept that SCM stands for. I’ll personally do my best to only comment on the positive articles from now on(I read them all) and to spread that music to friends and family. I didn’t mean to seem so critical with my last post. I’m a huge fan of the site and I can honestly say that you’ve turned me on to many of my now favorite artists. Keep up the good work and many thanks!
March 11, 2014 @ 9:58 pm
I am going to have to disagree here a little bit. I follow EDM probably as close or even more close than country (weird I know), and I don’t see them crossing too much.
Avicii’s an interesting case. Prior to “True” and his Ultra show in 2013, he was crucified for having songs that all sounded similar/poppy and having nearly identical sets. At Ultra, he was initially rejected by fans, but embraced by critics. When “True” came out in the summer, DJs, fans and critics all loved it and praised him. And EDM PEOPLE predicted this would be a new sub genre…. The thing is, almost no one else has done this since. Pitbull kinda did but EDM people (a) hate Pitbull and (b) dont call him EDM. Theres a few other cases but none have gotten much attention
In terms of country music, Avicii’s stuff is viewed as 80/20 EDM/Country (its really 80/20 EDM/folk or bluegrass). I guess “Hey Brother” is officially country too now but really thats the most country Avicii got on his album AND he’s already put stuff out with a completely different non country sound.
Will country try to incorporate EDM now (like you think)? Maybe a few songs, but this difference is the Avicii stuff was praised as artistically new and good music. The Tim McGraw song and others is kinda viewed as crap. Maybe some others will try it, but unless theres a fresh “Country/EDM” song with real meaning and not pure pop, I think it will die out. The “EDM/Country” genre has already kinda left.
I think its really just more country pop, small difference is that pop has EDM influences now (but really isn’t EDM at all)
March 11, 2014 @ 10:04 pm
To clarify that last bit, I dont think country artists will record anything like “Hey Brother” with an entire EDM drop/breakdown; it’ll be more country pop with a tiny bit of electronic elements that are heard in pop music now.
March 11, 2014 @ 10:10 pm
Elizabeth Cook’s “Long Way Home” in real life! Parody to reality! Ain’t it great?
March 11, 2014 @ 10:40 pm
As far as Bobby Boner and Avicii is concerned, who’s got two thumbs and don’t give a shit, this guy right here! I’m too busy watching watching Ragweeds live and loud at Cain’s ha
March 12, 2014 @ 12:28 am
By the way, up here in Canada, a country version of Wake Me Up by Emerson Drive and Tebey is already enjoying a lot of airplay.
March 12, 2014 @ 8:23 am
Did Bobby just randomly decide to play this song in December or were they test spins for Avicii’s label? Exactly how many sales is “crushing” and did they all come from his spins or some from other formats? I know many people will buy just about anything radio plays but I’m just wondering.
Synthesized music and heavy vocal processing is not country no matter how many times anyone says it is. This “country radio edit” is not country at all no matter how many people buy it. When songs like this play on country radio it’s like a Kanye interruption of my listening and I change the station fast because I listen to country radio for country music, not other genres. I don’t want to hear this or any EDM song on country radio. I like Avicii’s Wake Me Up, I’m not anti-EDM or any genre but I love country, it’s my favorite and what I expect to hear on “country radio.”
It sucks that country radio plays songs like this more than the best, most critically acclaimed country music. Even if this doesn’t break top 40 it might block a country song(s) that deserves top 10 from charting and millions of people from hearing it. Every time I look at the charts I see great country songs getting passed, left stranded and killed by weaker and non-country songs. Bobby tweeted about Chris Stapleton today but radio didn’t play him much. How many times did he play What Are You Listening To? It didn’t make top 40 and I saw weak and bad songs pass it and other great country songs when it was on the chart.
Also when Bobby plays a good bit of a pop song like that dumb annoying “selfie” pop song he made fun of, why not use that valuable time to play and help more country songs? I’d love to hear less talk, less non-country, and more great country music! Bobby has a powerful voice being on over 60 stations and I hope he uses it more wisely to support and promote more actual country music. If I were hosting a country radio show, no way I’d play or get excited about any EDM song. Keep it country!
March 12, 2014 @ 9:25 am
Guys–if we stop commenting on articles with Bobby Bones in the subject, maybe Trigger will stop posting them.
Just an idea. Worth a shot.
March 12, 2014 @ 10:36 am
The amount of comments left on a article is not a reliable metric on the amount of traffic or interest an article has received and holds absolutely no value as far as gauging an article or a website’s reach or influence. It is a completely anecdotal data point, similar to the Facebook “like”. Only visitors and unique visitors can be used as a gauge in what the reach or interest has been in a given article. That’s not to say I don’t value comments personally. I love the fact that Saving Country Music has such an engaging and robust comment culture, and this is something I have attempted to cultivate from the very beginning of this site. But the amount of comments wouldn’t persuade me either way to write or not write about any given subject. I will stop writing Bobby Bones articles when they are not relevant to the topic of Saving Country Music. Even if writing about Bobby Bones so often results in the loss of readers, I would still do it if I though covering the topic was important, which I definitely do in this case.
All that said, I understand and appreciate that some people are tired of seeing his name here, and this feedback has definitely been recognized and heeded, and my plan is to only post about Bobby Bones when it is necessary. Honestly, when I published my first article on him, I had no idea just how quickly he would rise, and just how influential he would become in such a short period.
Six String Richie
March 18, 2014 @ 9:05 am
“Hey Brother” just debuted at #59 on the Billboard’s Country Airplay chart. I wonder if the Hot Country Songs chart will count it as country. If it does, “Hey Brother” could be the number one country song next week thanks to strong sales and streaming.
April 4, 2014 @ 2:55 pm
It may not be authentic country, but it’s more authentically country to my ears than 99.9% of the hit bro-country or Taylor Swift’s autotuned bubblegum pop. It says something about the state of country music when an artist from outside the genre releases a record that (perhaps without intending to be) is arguably more country than what’s on corporate country radio. That goes for Mumford & Sons too. The song structure reminds me literally of a 1940s cowboy song, like “Riders In The Sky.” Frankly I wouldn’t mind if country radio played more “Hey Brother”s and fewer “That’s My Kind Of Night”s, “Bottoms Up”s or “This Is How We Roll”s.
April 24, 2014 @ 1:33 pm
I actually really like some of Avicii’s songs but i would definitely never consider them country
October 18, 2014 @ 1:22 pm
I like EDM, but I don’t see it working in the country genre. Leave it in the dance circles. Even Florida Georgia Line is dabbling into it on their latest album. Nashville and the country stations wouldn’t allow it as the like to stick to the mewl sounding pedal steel and banjo sounds. They’re very strict and conservative with their lineups. A few artists will do it, but it won’t be widespread. Hey Brother sounded too Mumford and Sons to me.