Adding to the ongoing discussion about the dearth of female representation in mainstream country today, country superstar Jason Aldean contributed some curious comments to The Washington Post ahead of a show at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, VA on Saturday, September 12th. Speaking to the savvy and emergingly-influential entertainment reporter Emily Yahr, Aldean offered an undoubtedly honest, but unfortunately framed and worded assessment of country’s female stars.
“I feel like a lot of times female singers, to me, when they’re singing and I’ll probably kick myself for saying this a lot of times, it just seems like I can’t distinguish one from the other sometimes if I just listen to them, you know?“ Aldean said. “A lot of times they just sound really similar to me.”
Yes, Jason, you probably will kick yourself for saying that.
The lack of female representation on country radio in recent years has trended so far downward that it now constitutes historic lows, and has caused many inside and out of country music to be concerned females are getting slowly typecast out of the genre as unable to commercially perform. Comments by radio consultant Keith Hill in late May comparing female artists to the tomatoes of a salad and saying point blank, “If you want to make ratings in country radio, take females out,” brought the issue to a fevered pitch. Jason Aldean’s comments come at a time when many people’s antenna are perked, looking out for what is perceived as sexism against country’s female artists.
Jason Aldean did go on to say there were a couple of female country stars he could distinguish from the rest of the crowd, namely the genre’s two remaining superstars, Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood.
“…you have some that come out like a Carrie [Underwood] or Miranda [Lambert] or somebody like that, that really has a different, distinctive sound to their voice, then it’s like, oh, okay, you can tell them apart all of a sudden. They go on to be obviously big stars, but I think it’s because you can distinguish between them … Listening to country radio, you always have these labels that are putting out new acts and it’s like, you already don’t know who this person is. So what is going to make you remember them?”
In fairness, Jason Aldean is not the first to point out the sameness of many of today’s country stars. Just last week, country legend Merle Haggard said of today’s country performers, All I hear is the same band, the same sound, and everybody screaming to the ceiling.” However Merle did not distinguish the performers based on gender. Saving Country Music has also pointed out in the past that lumping female performers together, and presenting them on stage sitting on stools in front of microphones for example, may not be the best way for them to showcase their individuality.
But Jason Aldean’s failure to delineate different female stars appears to be more about his own personal perception. As offensive as some female stars not named Miranda or Carrie may find his words, they are also probably a fair representation of the mindset of today’s plodding country music fan, when in fact country’s mainstream female ranks are the last bastion of diversity left in the genre.