Most Embarrassing Moments in Country Music History
When looking at the historical timeline of country music, many times it is big events that set the wheels of change in motion, for the good and the bad. Whether it is intrusion of pop or rap into country, or the ill-treatment of country music greats, here are some of the most embarrassing moments in country music history.
Shuttering of the Country Music Mother Church
The Grand Ole Opry needed a bigger home and the move was inevitable, but the result was the complete shuttering Ryman Auditorium, also known as the Country Music Mother Church, for 20 years. Aside from being opened by special permission to shoot videos for folks like Jason & The Scorchers, John Hartford, and for parts of the Coal Miner’s Daughter movie, the venue was abandoned between 1974 and 1994, also allowing the surrounding lower Broadway area to be overrun with strip clubs and dirty bookstores. It wasn’t until Emmylou Harris recorded a live album at the Ryman that a renewed interest in the historic venue was sparked, eventually leading to its restoration and re-opening.
Garth Brooks Goes Flying Over Texas Stadium
In 1993 at the old Texas Stadium in Irving, TX, Garth Brooks does a video shoot and decides to pull a Sandy Duncan and go flying over the crowd suspended with wires. Though it was a one-off demonstration, it illustrated Garth’s influence of turning country into more of a commercial, arena-rock presentation.
Jessica Simpson plays the Grand Ole Opry
You already forgot that reality star Jessica Simpson had a stint trying to be a country performer, didn’t you? Her career lasted weeks, but that was long enough for the Opry to decide to give her an opportunity to be on the sainted Opry stage on September 6th, 2008, while many other more worthy performers still wait indefinitely in the wings for the distinguished Opry opportunity.
Unfinished Hank Williams Songs Turned Into Lost Notebooks Album
Publisher Sony ATV cashed in on a collection of lyric sheets left behind by Hank Williams—some unfinished, and all without music—by doling them out surreptitiously to Bob Dylan, and a bevy of undeserving artists including Jakob Dylan and Sheryl Crow, to finish and record. The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams raised the ire of many, including Hank’s daughter and Williams estate executor Jett Williams who said about the project, “It was like ‘here are some lyrics’ instead of trying to think, “If Hank Williams was sitting here with me and it’s got his musical footprints all over it.” You would think that when you heard the song being sung by the artist, that it would have some kind of (Hank) feel to it, which I’m not feeling it myself.”
DeFord Bailey Fired from the Grand Ole Opry
Harmonica player and Country Music Hall of Famer DeFord Bailey was one of the early stars of the Grand Ole Opry, and was an official member from 1927 to 1941 when a dispute with BMI-ASCAP wouldn’t allow him to perform his most famous songs on the radio. Instead of standing behind one of their founding performers, the Opry fired DeFord. This ended his performance career and DeFord shined shoes for the rest of his life to make a living. DeFord did not play the Opry again until 1974 when he appeared on an “Old Timers’ Show.”
Jason Aldean Performs “Dirt Road Anthem” with Ludacris on CMT Awards
“History has been made baby!” Ludacris declared from the stage in June of 2011 when country music saw its first rap performance on an awards show, and the first live mainstream collaboration with a rap artist. This event and “Dirt Road Anthem” hitting #1 would open the country rap flood gates.
Olivia Newton-John and John Denver Winning CMA Awards
Olivia Newton-John’s CMA for “Female Vocalist of the Year” in 1974, and John Denver’s CMA for “Entertainer of the Year” in 1975 symbolized the historic intrusion of pop into the country format in the mid-70’s. The trend was staved off the next year when Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings ushered in the Outlaw movement in country.
Taylor Swift Wins First CMA for Entertainer of the Year
The date 11/11 was not good luck for country music in 2009, when Taylor Swift took home her first Country Music Association “Entertainer of the Year” award along with three other trophies on the night. Teen pop had now taken center stage in country music.
Induction of Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts, & Darius Rucker Into The Grand Ole Opry
The Grand Ole Opry had already been wanting to appeal to a younger, more youthful crowd, but in recent years they have ratcheted it up another notch, completely ignoring older country stars worthy of induction for pop country’s latest trends.
“Struggle” Turns Waylon Songs Into Rap
It was bad enough when rap infiltrated country music. Now it has gone back in time to overwrite the songs of country greats that have passed on. Waylon Jennings’ grandson-in-law nicknamed “Struggle” (his real name is Will Harness, and his real grandfather is Duane Eddy) took 7 Waylon Jennings songs, and rehashed them into rap songs in an album entitled I Am Struggle released in May of 2013. It was an unprecedented intrusion of rap into country music’s past, perpetrated by one of the few people who could get the blessing of the Waylon estate to do so. (read more)
Stonewall Jackson Stonewalled by the Grand Ole Opry
After having his performances on the Grand Ole Opry cut back so much that he lost his health benefits, Stonewall Jackson sued the Opry claiming age discrimination against Opry General Manager Pete Fisher. Stonewall claimed the Opry breached a long-standing code that if stars performed a set number of dates each year, even when they could make more money playing tour dates, they would always have a place to play at the Opry even in their older age. The lawsuit was eventually settled in court, and though the specific details of it were never revealed, Stonewall was happy with the outcome, and his performance schedule increased afterward.
Garth Brooks Becomes Chris Gains
In 1999, a bored Garth Brooks created a fictional dark pop character from Australia called Chris Gaines and released an album called The Life of Chris Gains. It gained Garth one Top 5 hit, “Lost In You,” but Brooks’ Chris Gaines idea met with very heavy criticism and confusion from fans, and after only a few weeks, Chris Gains rode off into the sunset and Garth Brooks re-appeared before a planned movie The Lamb could go into production.
The Grand Ole Opry’s Refusal to Reinstate Hank Williams
Even though there is a Hank Williams impersonator to greet Opry attendees at the door, the institution has refused to reinstate one of country music’s most legendary icons, and one that made the Opry an internationally-known institution, even in a symbolic gesture. Hank was dismissed from the Opry in 1952 for missing performances and rehearsals due to alcoholism, and was told he could return once he sobered up. Hank never got that opportunity, dying on New Years Eve of that year. A movement called Reinstate Hank looks to reinstate the country star back into the institution.
George Jones “Choices” & Other CMA Performances Cut Short
At the 1999 CMA Awards, George Jones was asked to perform an abbreviated version of his song “Choices.” George refused and boycotted the show, and in response Alan Jackson, while preforming his song “Pop A Top,” cut his own song short, and launched into George’s “Choices.” (read more)
This was actually the second time an artist boycotted the CMA’s. In a much less publicized event, Waylon Jennings refused to perform an abbreviated version of “Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line.” Waylon recalls, “They told me not to get smart. Either I did it or I got out. They said, ‘We don’t need you.’ I decided that was true and left.”
June 24, 2013 @ 11:55 am
Now I’m depressed!
June 24, 2013 @ 12:01 pm
I’m not sure the Lost Notebooks album qualifies as “embarrassing.” It was an interesting project and it produced some a few good cuts when it was all said and done. It was indeed deeply flawed. But I just don’t see it as the musical atrocity that some have made it out to be (Sheryl Crow’s contribution aside).
June 24, 2013 @ 12:37 pm
The reason both the “Lost Notebooks” and “I Am Struggle” projects are mentioned is because I believe they are leading country down a slippery slope where an industry bankrupt of ideas and hurting for money will go back and pilfer the catalogs of past greats to create revenue. Songwriting rights are a huge revenue stream, and an asset publishing houses that are always looking to re-use them because the capital has already been spent on them. Artists who are no longer around to speak for themselves are being exploited by commercial interests. Does this mean the music is bad? Not necessarily. But it does broach an ethical issue that I believe we need to discuss openly.
June 24, 2013 @ 5:25 pm
What I think they should do is just scan all of Hank’s notebooks and release them for everyone to see. That way those of us who don’t like the album can still see the genius that Hank left behind in those pages. I know they did it for Kurt Cobain and Eminem so why not Hank Williams?
June 24, 2013 @ 12:01 pm
Excellent list….my one addition would be Luke Bryan getting EOY at ACM’s this past year. I love the Alan Jackson, George Jones story. Class.
June 24, 2013 @ 12:04 pm
How about this one? Right smack in the middle of her “Hee Haw” days!
April 6, 2019 @ 6:34 pm
How about in the future you describe the story instead of a link without context ’cause in the future the video with no setup explaining word you are on about could be no longer available for future generations to enjoy.
June 24, 2013 @ 12:07 pm
Great list and I agree with all. The death of the Dixie Chicks could be on here as well.
June 24, 2013 @ 12:30 pm
The Dixie Chicks incident was on this list initially, and I will agree with you, it should be on here. However, every time it gets mentioned, we get bombarded with reactionary political arguments that solve nothing. Hopefully we all understand that this was an embarrassing moment for country from the standpoint of the music, regardless of the politics involved, and so we don’t need to reiterate it any more.
June 24, 2013 @ 6:08 pm
I still think its bullshit that the Dixie Chicks got treated badly from there comment about Bush. I still dont think why people think he’s so great. And about them saying he’s from Texas…considering he’s from Connecticut. I seen the Will Ferrell bid on about Bush…very funny. And I don’t get Jason Aldean. His voice is freakn annoying and he’s the biggest douche bag of em all…in my opinion. If my friends saw that I said that about Aldean they’d get pretty pissed off. I asked my friends who listens to ‘country’ and asked them if they ever heard of Hank Williams…and of course they said no.They haven’t even heard a single song of his and they put him down right away. My favorite songs of his are Honky Tonkin and Honky Tonk Blues.
June 24, 2013 @ 12:10 pm
I guess it shows my age that I see “Pop A Top” as Jim Ed Brown’s song. Class by Jackson though.
June 24, 2013 @ 12:21 pm
Yeah, I would definitely include the blacklisting of the Dixie Chicks.
June 24, 2013 @ 12:31 pm
I think it is taken as a given it was an embarrassing moment, but I didn’t want this article to descend into political back-and-forth hell like all the others ones I post mentioning the incident do.
June 24, 2013 @ 12:31 pm
hee haw taping down roni stonemans banjo strings cuz she played better than any of the men on that show and their egos couldnt handle it
June 24, 2013 @ 12:31 pm
Alabama’s collaboration with Nsync “God Must Have Spent a Little More Time on You” Remember their CMA performance?
This is when I stopped listening to Alabama!
June 24, 2013 @ 2:01 pm
Oh wow. I had no idea that this happened. Personally, I always thought Alabama was sort of lame and “If You’re Gonna Play In Texas” one of the lamest, most pointless country songs I have ever heard. Playing with those guys only cheapens what little cred they had. It is something like Joe Diffie cashing in with the Jawga Boyz. Of course, we could always bring this up:
Nothing says country like a cologne salesman singing with a boy band in the Bahamas.
June 24, 2013 @ 3:34 pm
I couldn’t get through the whole clip. I’m guessing that was 2001 cause that was the year McGraw won the CMA Entertainer of the Year. He was 34/ 35 years old then. A lot of country music artist emerging or on top of their game participate in embarrassing collaborations at the request of their labels that still wielded power back then. But make no mistake, this was a bad decision. Who knew Youtube would have been invented?!
Alabama however knowingly re-recorded a sappy love song made famous by a boy band 2 years prior and asked Nsync to sing back-ip harmonies! Randy, Jeff and gang were in their 50’s! The song reached #3 thanks to Nsyc girl country music fans. But, that would be their last top ten hit and the band would dissolve two years later.
June 24, 2013 @ 8:08 pm
There are a lot of examples over the years of country artists collaborating with pop artists. It’s pretty common and has been happening since the beginning of the genre, so that is why I didn’t include any of them here. Alabama/NSYNC is a pretty awful combination though….
The Hillbilly Muslim
June 24, 2013 @ 12:46 pm
Last night after showing an awesome interview for the book by Neil Hamilton “Outlaws Still At Large” Shooter Jennings played some Kayne West afterwards. That deserves an embarrassing moment in country music.
June 24, 2013 @ 12:51 pm
The Lost Notebooks recordings were overall good. The way the project was handled and some of the artists on it were kind of embarrassing but I don’t think it was bad enough to be on the All Time Worst list.
June 24, 2013 @ 1:05 pm
Including it is not a commentary on the music itself, if is a commentary of taking someone’s music who is not longer around to speak for themselves and doing what you want with it for commercial purposes. It doesn’t mean this can’t result in good music, but I think it will result in this practice happening more often. And specifically with the “Lost Notebooks,” the Williams estate, which is supposed to oversee Hank’s interest in his absence, did not think that project was a good idea either. But unfortunately they did not have any control over it in this instance, Sony ATV did.
June 26, 2013 @ 5:38 pm
By that logic shouldnt Hank Jr. be on this list for doing the same thing? He has at least two albums of lyrics his dad had finished and he (and Curb) did the music to. Sr. wasnt around to okay it, but he gets a pass cause he is blood? If that is the case, then Struggle has to come off the list as he is blood (close enough) to Waylon. You cant have it both ways.
June 26, 2013 @ 8:22 pm
Apples and oranges. Like Jett Williams said, the artists didn’t approach the songs with the spirit of trying to interpret them in Hank’s likeness, when this is exactly what Hank Jr. did. And the Struggle project takes it to a whole other level, where he omits the original verses and interjects his own his own rapping, then overlays a beat which kills the original mood.
And yes, Struggle has no blood relation to Waylon. Why isn’t he out there telling everyone he’s the grandson of Duane Eddy?
June 27, 2013 @ 5:19 am
Because he grew up as Waylon’s grandson. He spent his life with him, going on tour with him, going to Waylon’s every weekend of his life. He grew up as his grandson, just as I did with my blood grandfather. He has every right to do what he did (whether or not I find it bad music or not) as Hank Jr/III has of Sr’s stuff, probably more so cause he actually knew the man much more than Jr knew his dad or III ever heard of his grandfather.
June 29, 2013 @ 7:16 am
To keep pulling Struggle into the frey seems such a stretch….. 99.9% of the population has never heard of him, he is not even able to support his own career by touring due to being in jail. Seriously, contemplate the most embarrassing moments of “all time” and put in a totally unknown name, with an album that has zero impact on Waylon’s legacy (and who would probably have helped him record new music were he alive today), without a single charted hit and a person who has every right to use his Grandfathers music as he sees fit… with the blessings of the estate, be it by blood or not it is obvious they have his back on this.
yet the writter of this article idolizes an act who has actually changed his name to coat-tail off the Williams name…. (bringing far worse tarnish to that name IMO) this just reeks of an alternate agenda lurking behind the words and is so transparent….. how very thin skinned can one be? As an example: The pulling of Hank Jr from Monday Night Football for being right and speaking his mind ranks less for making an “all time” list than a kid named Struggle for making basically unheard music (i.e – if a tree falls in the forest and there is nobody there to hear it)….. really? Do you seriously think anybody is buying what you are peddling here? Many here see right through this.
June 29, 2013 @ 3:29 pm
Nobody is disputing the fact that Waylon was a proper acting grandfather to Struggle, and I have gone out of my way to say that myself, so if making that point is supposed to be some rebuttal to something, it is moot.
Comparing someone covering an already-established song maybe with a slightly different modern interpretation (which happens all the time, and has been happening since the 30’s and was the very foundation of Acuff-Rose publishing), and taking an already-established song and completely eradicating the versus to add lines like, “I got my hand on my nuts, can you feel me?” are two completely different things.
I understand how some may not have a problem with what Struggle is doing, or even may enjoy it. But to act like my opinion that this could take country music down a slippery slope is somehow diseased because it is EXACTLY the same thing that Hank Jr. and Hank3 have done is just downright insulting to the intelligence of anyone that case is being made to. There is NO similarity, if not only from a common sense aspect, then from a legal aspect of how the rights of songs are managed.
June 29, 2013 @ 3:57 pm
“Paul’s Boutique” by the Beastie Boys was a commercial flop with positively no successful singles that went under the radar of many for years until it began to resurface in hip-hop circles until now it is considered one, if not the most influential album in the history of hip-hop. Nobody here is saying Struggle’s album is well known. The concern that has been forwarded is the slippery slope that it could lead country music down in regards to how legendary songs are sampled and used by hip-hop artists. I actually think this is one of the most embarrassing points on this list, and I am excited at the prospect of coming back and referencing it as the march of idea-less hacks continue to pilfer classic country’s catalog for ideas.
“the writter of this article idolizes an act who has actually changed his name to coat-tail off the Williams name’
Let me put this as simply as I possible can: The idea that ANY of my opposition to Struggle’s Waylon project, Shooter Jennings, or anything else has to do with the “idolization” of Hank3 at this point when half a dozen articles that directly refute this charge have been posted on this site, dozens of comments have been posted doing the same, and direct emails to Shooter Jennings and others to explain in breathless detail the position this site takes to Hank3, is nothing less than psychotic, and diseased.
Hank3 has NOTHING to do with this Struggle situation in any way, and your insinuation that Hank3 “changed” his name shows just how ignorant you are about the history of that family, and the use of the name “Hank.”
Any further comments on this matter that do not directly reflect the content of this article will be deleted per the comment rules.
June 6, 2018 @ 11:57 am
The album Red, Hot & Blue has tracks that don’t exactly sound like what Cole Porter wrote (I Get A Kick Out Of You, Don’t Fence Me In, Well, Did You Evah, and a few others); why do songs have to be played exactly as they were originally done by Williams Sr.? This sound quite reductionist, obdurate, and hidebound to me.
The Hillbilly Muslim
June 24, 2013 @ 12:51 pm
Dam I didnt know this about Alan Jackson, I am going to buy his album now. That is so cool of him. Usually I stay away from popular 90s country singer.
TX Music Jim
June 24, 2013 @ 1:10 pm
I was at the Texas Stadium Garth show and while I still really like the first two Garth Records, I thought for a minute I had stumbled into a Kiss concert. That being said giving crowds an entertaining show, as long as the songs and music are there and it is not simply just theatrics, is not really a bad thing; in my mind. So calling it embarssing I would not. Regarding Chris Gaines being embarassing I could not agree more.
June 25, 2013 @ 6:42 am
I was there too. I believe it was the second night that I went. I was like 12 years old at the time and was more into Asleep at the Wheel than Garth, but I remember wanting to go because it was going to be made into a video and my aunt had free tickets. I remember thinking that he was a lot like Madonna with the stage antics he was pulling off.
That was like the first stadium concert I ever saw, and it was one of the last. It really didn’t matter what music was being played because there was so many theatrics to watch.
TX Music Jim
June 26, 2013 @ 9:25 am
Not a fan of the stadium show either mostly because the sound tends to be lacking and the huge hassle factor of getting in and out of the gig. It would take a lot to get me to a stadium show these days. These days the largest venue I go to on a regular basis is Billy Bobs Texas in Fort Worth much prefer smaller club shows these days.
June 24, 2013 @ 1:14 pm
Nice list I give Alan Jackson Kudos for what he did. No other artist had the balls.
June 24, 2013 @ 2:48 pm
I had forgotten all about Jessica Simpson and Chris Gains…hopefully I can re-forget that soon…
June 24, 2013 @ 4:50 pm
Alas, I remember the Chris Gaines thing all too well (though I still think it’s kinda funny that that movie never got made). :p
As for the list itself, one of the first things I thought of was more a pretty big sin of omission than a disastrous act — last fall’s CMA awards failing to pay tribute to, or even make mention of, Kitty Wells (after her death last summer). For the community that once considered her the Queen of Country Music to simply forget about her like that, it just goes to show the genre’s increasing ignorance of its history.
June 24, 2013 @ 8:11 pm
The CMA and ACM’s failing to pay tribute to fallen greats is an annual occurrence and probably deserves its own list. Last year it was Kitty Wells. Next year it will be George Jones, Slim Whitman, and whoever else passes between now and then.
June 30, 2013 @ 11:41 am
Along the same lines, I think it’s embarrassing that the CMA awards show broadcasts no longer include tributes to new CMHOF inductees. I recall years ago watching televised tributes to artists such as Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard (which can be found on You Tube) but in more recent years, they didn’t want to spend precious air time to honor folks such as Kris Kristofferson and Emmylou Harris,
June 24, 2013 @ 4:36 pm
Even though I love Dolly Parton and Mary Chapin Carpenter…..How about the embarrassing song “Romeo” with Billy Ray Cyrus.
June 24, 2013 @ 4:53 pm
I (born in 1993) didn’t know about the Ryman being closed. No wonder I “feel things” when I go in there. I don’t care for the newer Opry – both the show and the building, but for some reason I love the Ryman.
February 1, 2016 @ 1:53 pm
The Ryman never actually closed completely after the Opry moved – though it was closed from 1992-1994 when they removed the benches and installed that stupid wall in there. You could tour it for $2 between 1974 and 1994 (though I think the price went up by the time they closed for renovations in 1994) – I actually sang for tour groups for a brief period in the summer of 1984. An experience I will never forget!
June 24, 2013 @ 4:57 pm
One of the most embarrassing moments in the history of country music is by far the revamping of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart to include crossover airplay and digital sales for rap/pop re-mixes of songs that were initially marketed as “country” last year.
Every single week it is painful seeing the weekly Billboard press releases blabber about how “Cruise” is the Billboard Hot Country Song’s longest-running #1 hit by a duo since Buck Owens’ “Love’s Gonna Live Here” spent sixteen weeks at top in 1963-1964. Now come Thursday, Billboard is going to announce they have set a new record for the chart!
Even worse, should “Cruise” hold on long enough to spend a 22nd week atop the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, Billboard is going to announce that they’ve set a new all-time record for most weeks at #1: topping “I’m Movin’ On” by Hank Snow and his Rainbow Ranch Boys, Eddy Arnold’s “I’ll Hold You In My Heart (Till I Can Hold You In My Arms)” and Webb Pierce’s “In The Jailhouse Now”: which all are tied at 21 weeks on top! -__-
And just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, because most of the weekly digital downloads for “Cruise” in all but four of its weeks on top of that chart have come from the Nelly re-mix, Billboard is going to credit Nelly in having the longest-running #1 country song of all time! (punches screen) >=(
June 24, 2013 @ 8:14 pm
I agree, and I almost included it here. But the Billboard thing is an embarrassment for all genres really, and is effecting the entire music world. Also that tragedy is ongoing, so its full story has yet to be told.
June 24, 2013 @ 5:02 pm
I don’t know if I agree with you on all of these. I mean, Chris Gaines, Jason Aldean and Ludacris, Hank Williams and the Opry, “Choices”, and that shit with Struggle are beyond embarrassing. And don’t even get me started on Jessica Simpson.
But I really wouldn’t call the Lost Notebooks Project embarrassing. I think was handled in the completely wrong way. But I think it would have been a good idea. It would have been a beautiful tribute to Hank if there were the right people on it. I agree with the undeserving artist part. Why the hell would you put Sheryl Crow or Norah Jones on a Hank Williams project? That is definitely embarrassing. But there are a few extremely good songs done by Holly Williams, Merle Haggard, and Vince Gill and Rodney Crowell.
I’m a little torn on the Taylor Swift award. I think that its taking it a little far by calling it one of the most embarrassing moments in country. I think there was a time that everyone could at least respect Taylor Swift. I wouldn’t consider any of her music country, but back in 2009 I would at least call it pop-country. It was no different then anything else that was on the radio. If she won it for anything on “Red’, that would be embarrassing. But four years ago she was still a teenager. She was definitely a talented performer, as terrible as she was at singing. She wasn’t full of herself, she was a good role model, and as terrible as her songs were back then, they were a hell of a lot better then the shit she’s putting out now.I specifically remember a time when even you didn’t hate Taylor Swift (I actually stopped reading this blog for awhile). She didn’t win vocalist of the year that year, That would have been plenty embarrassing, since she can’t sing. She is a good entertainer and nobody can deny that. I think that she has definitely embarrassed country music a lot in the last few years, but I honestly think that back in 2009, she was deserving of that award.
June 24, 2013 @ 5:59 pm
I would venture to say that Norah Jones actually had one of the better cuts on the Lost Notebooks project. Saw her as part of the Little Willies recently, and they’re a fun group who do the traditional country songs they cover justice.
June 24, 2013 @ 7:27 pm
From 2006-2009 country radio played many songs that were far more country than any of Swift’s songs, even those on her most country debut album. For example in 2009 Country Boy and Gettin’ You Home hit #1. What else was and still is embarrassing is country radio playing Swift more than Kellie Pickler (and Miranda Lambert too until 2010), acting like Swift is the saviour of country music and radio and therefore everyone should go pop to keep that going. She won EOTY due to sales from heavy promotion and airplay, including remixing songs to maximize pop radio airplay starting in 2007-2008 with her 2nd single Teardrops on My Guitar. I remember trying to find a good station on a road trip to a country concert, landing on a pop station playing the remix, thinking I disliked it and it’s terrible that they remixed it and added pop beats
They very heavily promoted her albums including selling them for around $5 at times. Without all that, no way she wins EOTY. It takes that much airplay and promotion to sell millions of records and sell out large venues. Also note that Big Machine heavily promoted her awards nominations to voters, including placing many ads in the country music and radio publications reminding CMA and ACM members to vote for her. The ads stated things like “For your consideration, Taylor Swift for Entertainer of the Year.” She also campaigned for awards herself on radio and at concerts.
June 25, 2013 @ 1:10 pm
Rethinking this, maybe it was Taylor’s agreeing to remix her songs for pop radio (a move she called a “no brainer”) that was more embarrassing or damaging to country music than winning EOTY. I personally didn’t see the EOTY win as embarrassing, just a result of her getting more promotion and airplay than most other new artists combined and big tween and teen fan base. Making pop songs or remixing songs to pop are sure country music killers and she did more of it than everyone in the history of country music. Since she’s better at pop than country maybe it was a no brainer for her but it sure isn’t helping country music.
There was a shift from the very repeated “Taylor brings new fans to country” to “let’s turn country into pop.” If you bring fans to country then turn the music pop, remix and make your own music pop, sending many fans back to pop radio, that isn’t bringing fans to country, it’s turning country pop and sending people to pop radio. Maybe that’s why her publicists stopped using the “Taylor brings new fans to country” line we saw everywhere during her early years when she was winning CMAs.
June 24, 2013 @ 8:21 pm
I know this might sound strange, but calling Taylor Swifts CMA win an “embarrassment” is not just a commentary on her music. It’s on the idea that she had not earned her stripes to be awarded that distinction at that time. As she mentioned in her acceptance speech, she had opened for all of the other nominees during that year. She wasn’t even a headliner yet. Her 2011 CMA she probably did earn, and I actively rooted for her over the other paltry candidates. Now, she probably deserves no part of the CMA’s.
June 25, 2013 @ 1:17 pm
Also Taylor’s first headlining tour was a pop show. Kellie Pickler was the country artist on that tour and her singing got much better reviews from the critics attending.
June 25, 2013 @ 7:01 pm
It probably has something to do with the whole sympathy stretch she got when Kanye West was rude to her during that one stupid award show.
June 24, 2013 @ 5:04 pm
Kind of like when your favorite artist or singer disappoints you. When Mark Chesnutt did that Aerosmith song, Cmon Mark. Or when George Strait did
‘River of Love” and any album after that (George, you and Dean Dillon made some of the greatest country/honkytonk songs of all time, but man, just give it up, your still the best)
June 25, 2013 @ 12:12 am
I actually love Mark Chesnutts take on “don’t want to miss a thing” its way better than the original, and he did a pretty good job of it.
June 24, 2013 @ 5:51 pm
I think “Embarrassing” might be the wrong word to describe most of these events. I’d say “Disappointing” might be a more apt description. Like when ‘Choices’ happened, I was more disappointed in the CMA rather than embarrassed by any of it.
I have to admit I was unaware of the behind the scenes stuff with the Lost Notebooks. I have the album and really enjoy it so its disappointing to know that it wasn’t done with the full faith and support of the estate.
Now in the theme of these other events I’d like to nominate country radio making the decision to not support Johnny Cash and other older artists in the 90’s, to focus on a female demographic, culminating with Cash’s ‘Middle Finger’ magazine ad.
June 24, 2013 @ 8:23 pm
I will agree “embarrassing” may have not been a great umbrella term, but I tried a few others on for size including “disappointing” and I didn’t think it fit either.
June 24, 2013 @ 6:01 pm
The thing with the Chris Gaines album is that it’s actually not bad if you go in recognizing that it’s pop and was never meant to be treated as a Garth Brooks album.
June 24, 2013 @ 6:07 pm
Add that stupid move to add pop airplay to the Billboard Hot Country chart, making country music and radio more pop and rap as if it wasn’t already bad enough.
I haven’t forgotten Jessica Simpson’s try at country. Oh but she was “going back to her roots”!
She also performed at country festivals and forget lyrics on stage.
I couldn’t believe she quickly got an Opry slot and country festival slot following Kellie Pickler. The worst of it was Sony Nashville pushing her debut single past better country artists at radio including one of the best on their own roster (Kellie). Joe Galante didn’t even want Jessica to make a country record and she insisted on it, then they pulled that crap, then she was dropped. BS like that happens all the time and shows that labels will push a newly signed artist, TV star or pop singer who flopped years ago over far more talented country artists, screwing them over.
Jessica’s 2008 debut single
It’s sad that many songs from Swift, Clarkson, Crow, Pope, Love and Theft, Hunter Hayes, etc. radio plays today are even less country.
June 24, 2013 @ 6:14 pm
the birth of Jason Aldean.
June 25, 2013 @ 4:01 am
Rivaled by the birth of the Florida Georgia Line duo.
June 24, 2013 @ 6:30 pm
I always thought George Jones trying to be “hip” and “with it” in the 90’s with “High Tech Redneck” was sad.
June 25, 2013 @ 6:27 am
You know what we could have gotten instead of High Tech Redneck? Dale Watson mentioned when I saw him in concert the other month that George had put a hold on Country My Ass. George and/or the producer weren’t fond of him singing ass though.
June 25, 2013 @ 5:51 pm
Not one of George’s proudest moments, but the album is actually solid. George stated after that song, he wanted all his future stuff to be hardcore country, and they were. It doesn’t get any better than this, I lived to tell it all, Cold Hard Truth, and the Rock are hardcore country.
June 24, 2013 @ 6:45 pm
I would add to the list the lack of country instruments in “country.” I went to Countrypalooza in Jackson MI yesterday to see Hellbound Glory, but I decided I’d go all day and see if I could find any other decent music. Besides the Willie Nelson impersonator that opened the day there wasn’t much good music. Yeah there was an okay song every here and there, but I only saw 3 fiddles, 1 banjo, and 2 steel guitars all day. It was horrible. Except HBG of course. I shook Leroy Virgil’s hand and thanked him for reviving my ears after a day of shit lol.
June 24, 2013 @ 9:14 pm
while all of this is embarrassing to country music i feel youre just jumping on a bandwagon with the reinstate hank bs .. you know that only living people are members of the opry.. porter wagoner is no longer a member and he was a bigger part than sr.. i guess what im saying is instead of asking for sr.s reinstatement first you have to change the rules to allow dead people to be members.. get that petition going and lets reinstate porter/cash/waylon/jimmy martin/sr. and on and on.. lets not just single out sr. while i love sr. none of us that im aware of were sitting in the crowd at the opry while sr. was drunk/showed up late or didnt show.. that may of pissed us off back then and maybe they had a right in firing him.. like i said a apology is more appropriate than reinstatement unless you are trying to reinstate all the old timers who are gone
June 25, 2013 @ 4:51 pm
Jumping on the bandwagon? I helped build that wagon!
Nobody is asking for a dead guy to become an Opry member, it is a request by the family to show a symbolic gesture to the man who helped take the institution to prominence. The Opry has nothing to lose, and everything to gain by this, and I’ve been hearing some chatter lately that some wheels might be in motion to make this happen.
June 25, 2013 @ 4:58 pm
we’ve all been here for a long time… so youre not asking for reinstatement? just a apology? then why call it the reinstate hank campaign? if the wheels are turning at the opry its only over money and when they do the ceremony and invite carrie underwood to perform you can pat yourself on the back knowing you helped make it happen
June 24, 2013 @ 9:56 pm
Are you sure Deford Bailey was not invited back to the Opry until 1974? According to this, he turned them down prior to that
“Bailey was embittered by the firing and refused to appear on the Opry until 1974 when he was finally lured back for the first of four guest performances. He died in 1982 at the age of 82.”
June 25, 2013 @ 4:57 pm
Thanks. I clarified that portion.
June 25, 2013 @ 12:19 am
what about carrie underwood becoming an opry member? Well I prefer her over keith urban or the rascal flattsand she does have a stunning voice but…….. Blown away was a song for a pop diva
June 25, 2013 @ 3:43 am
Regarding Taylor Swift, I find her CMA Female Vocalist win the more embarrassing event than her Entertainer win on that same year. I guess if you factor in her massive album sales and sold out tour and huge popularity the Entertainer win made sense. But the Vocalist one, boy, oh boy, that really surprised me.
Oh, and I agree with that post above that we might as well add Luke Bryan’s ACM Entertainer win to the embarrassing moments of country music. And if in a year or two Florida Georgia Line gets nominated (and wins, gulp!), let’s add that too, lol.
June 25, 2013 @ 1:32 pm
Yes and the Female Vocalist win is when everyone realized how very based on sales, radio charts and politics the awards are. What’s even more embarrassing or crazy is that Kellie Pickler, a much better vocalist and one of the best, hasn’t been nominated for that award yet. She was nominated for best new artist four times (2 CMAs and 2 ACMs) and deserved to win but lost to those getting far more promotion and airplay.
June 26, 2013 @ 12:07 am
And Kellie’s album, 100 Proof, should have at least been given an Album of the Year nomination. But no, it was totally ignored during the awards season.
June 25, 2013 @ 5:27 am
It’s about appeasing to dumbed down masses, be it for $$ or name dropping recognition. It’s not about catering to individuals who have good taste and realize how the machine force feeds what it wants the public to have.
This product is what “they” label as “Good American Country”
“They” should be ASHAMED…..sellouts.
June 25, 2013 @ 12:34 pm
I can’t believe you didn’t include Ashton Kutcher’s “performace” of a George Strait song on the ACMs a few years back. Or the fact that KISS showed up to the same show in their full shock rock regalia. Or when Hank Jr. likened Barrack Obama to Hitler on live television. The latter made country music fans look like a bunch of ignorant elitists (even moreso than the stereotype already implies).
June 25, 2013 @ 1:45 pm
I think Trigger made a good point that Ashton Kutcher’s Strait song was the most country thing on the CMAs that year.
As for the Hank Jr., taking aside the fact that he didn’t compare Obama to Hitler aside (it was an analogy, albeit a clumsy one); generally speaking, criticizing the president is the opposite of elitism. And since when did country have an “elitist” reputation?
June 25, 2013 @ 2:15 pm
I haven’t read Trigger’s CMA article (sorry, I said ACMs) on Ashton Kutcher in a while, so I’d forgotten what he had said. Either way, regardless of his opinion on the matter, Kutcher’s singing and Hank Jr.’s comments actually WERE embarrassing for me personally (and others I know as well). When Kutcher got up on stage, I was literally wanting the show to end so his bit would be finished. The rest of this stuff is just annoying, not especially humiliating. Plus, I find the assertion that Kutcher’s song was the “most country thing on the CMAs that year” to be inconsequential. Who cares if it’s the “most country” thing there if it sucks? Darius Rucker’s version of “Wagon Wheel” is the most country song on the radio right now and all Trigger does is complain about it.
On the elitist note, a LOT of country music detractors I know think of the genre as elitist. And I was referring to the WAY that Hank Jr. went about making his comments, not what he was saying or meaning. As I remember it (and I haven’t seen the clip since it was aired in 2011), he was speaking in an arrogant manner, as if his assertions were obvious facts. Maybe “elitist” wasn’t the best word to use, but I was feeling that way about the incident and as I mentioned I know many others who feel that way about the genre as a whole, so I figured that it was a common feeling. I apologize for generalizing.
June 25, 2013 @ 5:53 pm
Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban, and Rucker being inducted into the opry may be the worst of all. Luke Bryan will be next.
strait country 81
June 25, 2013 @ 8:18 pm
You Should Add The CMT Awards 20 Second Jones Tribute.
June 26, 2013 @ 7:17 am
I thought when thier was no tribute to Conway Twitty at the CMA’S after he passed was a real tragedy,until George Jones came out and sang a classic Conway song instead of his own!
June 26, 2013 @ 8:21 am
We should add WeeeeeEEEEEEEE Are Never Ever Getting Back Together Again being played on country radio. Sure they punish our ears with many other pop songs but this is the most annoying song ever and Taylor said she made it annoying to piss off an ex when he heard it:
Why on earth would she, her label and radio want to piss off country radio listeners too? Pop on country radio is where I draw the line and I’m not talking about country/pop, just pop. Am I a Taylor hater? No. Do I hate pop? No. Do I hate pop on country radio and country going pop? Yes and it’s gotten way beyond annoying. I guess Taylor can’t possibly understand this because she’s a huge pop fan but a pop song coming on country radio is worse than a Kanye interruption and one play of We Are Never Ever is like 10 Kanye interruptions.
And this, mostly CMA Fest giving some of the most valuable slots in country music to pop and rock acts:
Apparently the big 3 pop labels have too much control and CMA needs to change the rules on how they book acts to get more true country artists.
Due to the huge pop push there’s been a big increase in most embarrassing moments in country music history. What country needs to save it is very popular artists radio plays all the time to take a stand and say “HELL NO I’m not making pop songs!”
June 26, 2013 @ 9:35 am
Throwing out a runner-up, but Keith Urban’s “Banjo” is pretty embarrassing… It being just a guitar that looks like a banjo really. Not quite embarrassing to make this list though.
June 26, 2013 @ 9:40 am
Don’t blame Taylor. She has not embarrassed country music. Its Nashville and county radio and award shows that have decided that she’s “county”. And she never gives country music a bad name.
June 27, 2013 @ 7:57 am
No one’s goal here is to blame, it’s to support and come up with solutions to save and better country music. We Are Never certainly is an embarrassment and dagger to the heart of country music. Country fans literally have to change the station or turn radio off every time it plays. It never should have been released to country radio and the fact that it was proves how little Taylor and her label care about country music, fans and radio listeners and how much more they care about pop and sales. I believe just one huge radio group plays it as the result of a special promotional deal. Taylor and Big Machine had a choice to release any song they wanted and chose that most annoying pure bubblegum pop song. If Taylor disagrees, I welcome a statement from her explaining that she did not approve of Scott releasing We Are Never to country radio. THANK YOU country radio groups and stations that refused to play it because that’s what listeners wanted and those are the stations I listen to.
Getting Billboard to change chart rules to rocket We Are Never and other pop songs to the top of a major country chart was another embarrassment and dagger to the heart of country music.
The larger problem is the effect all of this has on the big picture. It hurts country music because it influences other labels, artists and radio to do the same or play follow the leader, make their music pop and play more pop songs. Entertainer of the Year Blake Shelton said that’s exactly what he did after hearing pop beats and loops on other albums and I wonder where they got that “red, red, red, red” idea from? Now I’m worried that Miranda, an artist we’re counting on to keep it country, will do the same:
“This might sound really cheesy,” she says with a laugh. “But I really love Blake”™s new record. It”™s fun. And I think that”™s one thing that got me thinking about that. He”™s such a fun guy. It”™s like he”™s constantly waiting, on edge, to laugh at every turn.”
Lambert laughs then adds, “And that”™s how his record is. So I”™m kind of inspired by that.”
I love fun country songs but I hope “fun” doesn’t mean pop or rap.
It’s not just Nashville and awards shows that decided Taylor is country. As a child or young teen she decided she’s pop country, looked up to Faith Hill, bugged her parents until they moved to Nashville to help her pursue country and land a record deal, covered country songs, made a pop country album, and her first single was Tim McGraw. Then what happened? She went pop for more airplay and sales, because it fits her talent and demo of teen pop fans, and so she and her label could make as much money as possible. She said she signed with Big Machine because they weren’t controlling. She agreed to remix her songs for pop radio. The label asked her and she thought it was a no brainer. Taylor is one of the highest paid and most powerful artists so she still does what she wants. Scott said she had control of making Red and decided to make it pop. Most of the songs aren’t even pop country and don’t fit country radio. Begin Again is a little pop country but We Are Never and Red are totally pop. I’m glad she’s doing what she wants artistically and making the kind of music she loves but it’s terrible that they are marketing pop songs as “country” and releasing them to country radio so we hear them. More importantly it hurts country music because it influences other labels, artists and radio to do the same or play follow the leader. There’s no way Taylor isn’t aware of this and country going so pop after she did.
It’s not about giving country music a name, it’s about supporting, respecting, and keeping it country. I don’t see any other country artists that heavily remixing and going for pop radio or releasing a song as bubblegum pop and irritating as We Are Never to country radio just to keep them on there and promote their album, which without that has far more promotion and sales than many other albums combined. Greedy much? It’s surprising that Taylor thinks she deserves and wants to win more country awards for a pop album with so much pop radio airplay. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
June 27, 2013 @ 9:17 am
I agree with you on Taylor Swift. But We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together is such a good song thought. 22 is a great song in my opinion. But I agree that We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together is not a country song. The reason We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together wants to shown on country music stations is because her 4th album Red focus on pop music like 22 and she wants to make a pop song that works well on country music stations. So she made We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together because the number of country songs like Begin Again are weak in the album, Red. Well, I have to agree that Taylor Swift should make a 5th album outside of Big Machine Records since Big Machine Records doesn’t like Taylor Swift’s pop music like I Knew You Were Trouble. If Taylor Swift can move away from Nashville and move to another record company like Epic Records, then Taylor Swift will evolve her freedom in her music department like playing a country music on a pop music station. Besides, Taylor Swift is a great singer. But she needs to fix her music department by the time she switched over to pop that way, Taylor Swift will have her chance to play her entire collection of country music on pop music stations just for fun. Heck, even Highway Don’t Care fits very nicely on pop music stations despite Highway Don’t Care is not a pop song since Tim McGraw didn’t have any faith on pop music. That’s my opinion.
June 28, 2013 @ 6:15 am
“Besides, Taylor Swift is a great singer.”
I hope this is sarcasm.
June 28, 2013 @ 12:00 pm
Apparently most of Filler’s comment was written on opposites day. The only correct part is We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together is not a country song and maybe 22 is a great pop song.
June 27, 2013 @ 2:54 pm
When I first read your embarrassing country moments article, I shrugged off the inclusion of Garth’s alter ego Chris Gaines. I hardly remember it and thought the lasting damage was minimal. Then it shows up on Spin’s 15 Boldest Publicity Stuns in Music History!
June 28, 2013 @ 6:25 am
That Spin article motivated me to look up “Lost In You” on YouTube. First of all, I’ve never heard it before. Second, holy hell it is awful. Did it reach #5 on the Worst Songs of All Time list? Fifth most played song at T.J. Maxx? Third, I’d like to hear a straight answer from Garth about WHAT THE HELL HE WAS THINKING? I seriously can’t comprehend how there was one morsel of his person that thought this was a good idea. It is so strange to me – like Michael Jackson strange – and Garth has proven to be a sharp, savvy guy with a huge marketing team behind him. This misstep basically sunk the biggest music star in the world.There is a book waiting to be written about this subject.
June 28, 2013 @ 7:33 am
The strangest thing (and what I remember most) is Garth hosting Saturday NIght Live at the time as Garth then ‘transforming’ himself into Chris Gaines (wig and soul patch) as the musical guest.
However, this stunt didn’t sink Garth’s career! His following studio album, Scarecrow, certified 5X Platinum. I think most people at the time thought it was Garth bored with country music and doing something different – a creative outlet.
At least Garth didn’t shove that Chis Gaines crap down our throats as a Garth, legit country album. Today we have Taylor Swift and Co. recording songs not much different than Gaines’ and claiming it as country music.
June 30, 2013 @ 11:27 am
I’m not offended by the decision to have contemporary artists record new songs using lyrics from Hank Williams’s notebooks. If anything, I think the project has inspired younger country music fans and artists to go back and check out Williams’s original recordings and songwriting credits. To me, the this project seems similar to the ones in which current artists such as Billy Bragg, Wilco, Eliza Gilkyson, Slaid Cleaves, and others have gone back and written songs based on lyrics found in the notebooks of Woody Guthrie. The difference is that Guthrie’s heirs encouraged the latter while some of Williams’s heirs opposed the former.
November 8, 2013 @ 10:18 am
I really miss Laura Bell Bundy and her dance routines.
The Least Manly Things, Ever - Modern Thrill
May 2, 2014 @ 9:54 am
[…] across virtually every facet of life, especially the music we listen to. 46.6% of people deem country music to be the most embarrassing genre, subtracting upwards to 5 lad points for those found in […]
September 28, 2014 @ 8:33 am
The Dixie Chicks’ getting blacklisted. Overnight I was embarrassed to identify as a fan of country music.
September 29, 2014 @ 5:33 pm
During the Larry King interview….when fan asked if Garth would consider re-visiting the Chris Gaines concept…
“Yeah when my ribs heal up from the last time. I got the shit kicked out of me for doing that.” – Garth.
(By the way, saw Garth in Atlanta for the late show on Friday night. Unbelievable. I expected a great show and got more. I get some think he ruined country music and some even blame him for the crap music of today. I get it. But damn.. I’ve seen The Eagles to Merle Haggard in concert. And this show the other week…was the best show I’ve ever seen live where walked away feeling like I got every penny spent on my ticket and then some. Damn the atmosphere was on fire.)
December 22, 2015 @ 1:40 pm
Hank jr not in the hall of fame
September 9, 2016 @ 1:57 pm
Elvis and the Opry not on here? It certainly had to be considered. The Louisiana Hayride didn’t mind paying him to do something other than drive a truck 😉 I’m wondering where it fell on the list? I’d have had it at #3 but everyone would’ve made this list differently I suppose…
March 1, 2018 @ 9:00 pm
Three words: Florida Georgia Line.
And we can’t forget the utter embarrassment of Luke Bryan shaking his non-existent ass in his sparkly skinny jeans.
June 26, 2018 @ 8:45 am