Nashville Retools with Fresh Talent for a (Potential) Traditional Country Resurgence
Whether it will actually happen or not remains to be seen, but if country music in the mainstream decides to swing back more towards the traditional side, many of Music Row’s major labels will be ready to take advantage with a new generation of young, fresh, and traditionally-leaning talent already signed to contracts, already getting experience on the road and on big stages, and even finding some success with singles that in previous years few would have never been given a chance.
Chris Stapleton’s recent success may have opened the door to new possibilities in the mainstream that were closed off during the last few years due to the permeation of Bro-Country and a general writing off of traditional-leaning talent, but if any movement is going to take hold, it will be from a new wave of names that many have never heard before, not just one.
On December 3rd, Pandora released a list of artists that according to their data insights will be the ones to watch in 2016. At #18 on that list, which includes emerging talent from all genres, was William Michael Morgan—a Warner Bros. Nashville signee and a staunch traditionalist from Vicksburg, Mississippi whose song “I Met A Girl” has found some traction on country radio, reaching #43 on the charts. Though the chart showing may not be impressive, what is impressive is that Warner Bros. would take a chance on a young traditionalist, and put the effort out to promote him to a format that’s not particularly open to new, traditional artists.
Warner Bros. recently released a new video for Morgan’s “I Met A Girl,” and the song re-entered the radio charts this week. Meanwhile the single itself is selling quite strong for a virtually unknown artist even without radio play, speaking to the grassroots that can build under new traditional talent compared to contemporary radio talent. A very well-received rendition of “I Met A Girl” at the Grand Ole Opry also helped spread the word about Morgan. A new album potentially next year could put Morgan’s career, and his more traditional approach on a firm footing.
Speaking of the Opry, one of the show’s most beloved new performers recently has been the Curb Record’s-signed Mo Pitney. A down-to-earth, likable, traditional-leaning songwriter that has a natural penchant for performance and some well-known champions like Bill Anderson, he could be poised to be like the Randy Travis of a new revival if one begins to brew. With just his voice and an acoustic guitar, Pitney can do what many performers in country can only dream of, and the roots of country are firmly ensconced in his music.
Just like William Michael Morgan, Pitney has been able to etch out a slight foothold at country radio, with his singles grading in the 40’s, but a breakout single has alluded him. Yet Mo continues to gain name recognition, and is poised to do well once he releases his first LP. Of course with Curb Records, the concern is always if and when they may release his record. The labels has become notorious over the last few years for letting too much time pass between releasing new music from their artists, and there’s still no word on when a debut Mo Pitney record might be expected.
One of the advantages to more traditional-leaning artists is they don’t necessarily need country radio to be successful. Kacey Musgraves, and to an extent, Chris Stapleton are excellent examples of that. So are Brandy Clark and Sturgill Simpson—two traditional-leaning stars who are more established in their careers, yet recently signed to non-Nashville wings of major label Atlantic Records. They prove that grassroots support can lead to album sales that sometimes rival, or even surpass the sales of new and established mainstream artists who do enjoy radio play.
Any attention from radio for upstarts like Mo Pitney and William Michael Morgan, especially considering their old school sound, has to be considered a sum positive, or even extra credit. At the same time, if there is a paradigm shift at country radio, artists like Sturgill Simpson and Brandy Clark could benefit since they now have major label backing. And recently, independent label Thirty Tigers has decided to get into the radio business, and this could spell better radio exposure for its roster moving forward.
As a slightly more established artist, and one who has experienced some radio success in the past, the Capitol Nashville-signed Jon Pardi is another name that could be part of a traditional country resurgence. The Dixon, CA native already has a Top 10 hit under his belt with “Up All Night” from 2013, and a slew of other showings inside the Top 40. Earlier this year it looked like Pardi may be parting with Capitol. There just wasn’t a place for a more traditional-sounding 30-year-old on the roster who was unlikely to deliver a super hit.
But as 2015 wore on, the calculus appeared to change. It’s not just that these more traditional-leaning artists are able to sustain their major label contracts; it’s the signs of clear commitments from the labels to trying to keep their careers going that hint that a shift in the winds towards a more traditional sound could be on the horizon. Or at the least, major labels are hedging their bets, and diversifying their talent portfolio with traditionalists just in case.
While all of Jon Pardi’s peers appear to be jumping on country’s R&B craze, he released “Heads Over Boots” as the lead single to an upcoming sophomore album. Though the song isn’t exactly shooting up the charts (or super traditional), it’s holding steady, and even climbing, sitting at #35 in airplay at the moment, and was one of the greatest gainers the last week of November. Capitol Nashville is putting big money behind “Head Over Boots,” pushing it aggressively to radio, and wanting Jon Pardi to succeed and stay on the roster.
And it’s not just guys who may be part of an old school resurgence in Nashville. Big Machine’s Valory Music Group has a new artists named Tara Thompson with a more traditional sound looking to make waves soon, and even though they may not be traditional enough for some, Maddie & Tae are more traditional than most, and continue to find favorable and surprising traction for their singles. That Pandora study that William Michael Morgan did so well in cited above? Cam, whose “Burning House” continues to do well, came in at #4 as an artist to watch in 2016.
A traditional country resurgence in the mainstream may just be pie in the sky, but if the pie of choice in the coming months or years becomes the one that’s homemade and home grown, Music Row’s major labels want to make sure they have a piece of it. The only constant in music is change, and traditionally, right when country goes so out-of-bounds and it appears all hope is lost, that’s the moment things begin to swing back to the traditional side. Some would argue it’s already begun now that Chris Stapleton walked away with major hardware at the 2015 CMA Awards and has his own single doing surprisingly well on the radio charts. Meanwhile Sturgill Simpson, and many of the new names listed above could have new albums coming out in 2016, while musical pundits are wondering where a band like Florida Georgia Line goes from here.
We won’t know for sure until it happens, but if country is ready to swing back to its roots, many of country music’s major labels are making sure they don’t get caught flat footed. Meanwhile many talented artists not signed to major labels will be there to ride the wave if it occurs as well. And even if it doesn’t, they will be perfectly content to continue to make the music they believe in regardless if Music Row pays attention.
December 4, 2015 @ 10:03 am
They’ve done nothing with him since they got him but also add Matt mason to that list. He was on Nashville star the year chris young was on it, and winner of cmt next superstar. He’s on warner brothers. Even had to do a Kickstarter to find his last album. My buddy is his manager. I wouldn’t exactly call him traditional country. More of a mix between Eric church and gary Allan. Check out “e” and “reason to ride” my two personal favorites but has a whole catalogue.
December 4, 2015 @ 9:37 pm
Saw him in his hometown of Fairland Indiana a few years back. I’ve been telling all of the country music fans I know about him.
December 5, 2015 @ 12:36 pm
He’s booked a good part of his shows in that area or within a few hours. Plays Columbus and West Virginia quite often. I just know him better than most. He always comes and plays a pre-party at the campgrounds of jamboree in the hills, along with cliff Cody (who was on abc rising star). He’s a real talent. Made it to a few fan club parties at cma fest too.
December 4, 2015 @ 10:04 am
If this swing back towards tradition is true why are the record labels forcing the careers of artists like Joe Nichols, Easton Corbin, Chris Young to move away from their roots and in the opposite direction? Why are they also ignoring their own traditionalists already on staff and not promoting harder to radio the music of artists like Ashley Monroe, Kacey Musgraves and Josh Turner?
I would argue because as the article says, a swing back towards tradition is all pie in the sky.
December 4, 2015 @ 10:55 am
This all is still in the theoretical stage. We don’t know for sure if Joe Nichols, Easton Corbin, and Chris Young are being forced to do anything. Reading some of the comments from these folks, they don’t seem to think there’s any problem with what they’re doing, except maybe Joe Nichols, who’s regularly out there contradicting himself. Josh Turner’s situation is an issue all to itself (https://www.savingcountrymusic.com/hey-mca-nashville-wheres-the-new-josh-turner-album).
As for Ashley Monroe and Kacey Musgraves: I don’t think either of those artists will ever have another single on radio again. They both came up when country radio was at the peak of ignoring women. Now, there’s women all over the place on radio. But once you have a string of singles fail, the fat white 50-something oligarchical radio programmers who run country radio with an iron fist will never even sniff at another one of your singles, especially if you’re a woman. But that’s the thing: these artists don’t need them. Right now Musgraves’ career is going excellent. It’s radio who is missing out by not participating.
Cool Lester Smooth
December 4, 2015 @ 11:43 am
Yeah, Nichols is pretty shameless about saying that his singles are studio-mandated crap that he cuts so they’ll let him pick the rest of the album.
December 4, 2015 @ 10:07 am
Any Thoughts on Kevin Moon?
December 4, 2015 @ 10:46 am
I need to spend some more time with his music.
The premise here is that these are artists who somehow ended up on major labels. There are scores of great traditional artists out there in the independent world, so many that I can’t keep up.
December 4, 2015 @ 12:16 pm
Kevin Moon is a guy who goes under the radar, very good singer.
December 4, 2015 @ 10:08 am
Excited about the Pardi joint..
Do have a question Trig Do you pay attention
to what’s going on in Canada country music wise?
I just feel there is a lot of good stuff coming out. Or is this an apples oranges way.
December 4, 2015 @ 10:43 am
I pay a lot of attention to Canadian country. Maybe not as much as US country, but I love discovering new bands from Canada, Australia, Europe, wherever, and try to stay in touch with what’s happening in the mainstream up there as much as I can. I try to keep one eye on Canada, even if I can’t cover it as much as I’d like to, but I’ve featured scores of Canadian country artists here over the years.
December 4, 2015 @ 10:14 am
I don’t really care, even if they do swing back traditional. The country music industry has lost my respect and I will never support them again. Just like Obama lost my respect forever for Democrats. Never going back.
December 4, 2015 @ 10:19 am
I would love to hear some Pardi on country radio. I loved his first album. He reminds me of myself. I can Identify with his subject matter.
December 4, 2015 @ 10:23 am
Ward Thomas, of course, is another major dark horse to watch. I can see them set the stateside charts ablaze by the third quarter of 2016! =)
Not sure if she really fits in the same category, but Rainey Qualley has been interesting to watch this past year as well. Her current single has a traditionally-influenced stomp to it: like a hybridization of a barnstormer and a deeper Miranda Lambert cut from her first two records. Based on her lead two singles, I’m not quite as excited about her as the names you listed, but she certainly doesn’t hurt either.
Lucy Angel should also be worthy of a peripheral consideration. “Crazy Too” floundered, but that mother and two daughter trio can definitely make subsequent noise, I think, and their previewed sound strikes a nice middle ground between rock and modern country.
December 4, 2015 @ 10:36 am
I wouldn’t consider Ward Thomas traditional country or even traditional country-like. I’m already catching flack for mentioning Maddie & Tae (which I knew I would), but they’re more traditional than Ward Thomas in my opinion. I think if Ward Thomas does come in, they’d inhabit sort of their own space, kind of like Kacey Musgraves did. Maybe traditional-leaning in spots, but moreover, it’s music with a message.
December 4, 2015 @ 11:05 am
“I”™m already catching flack for mentioning Maddie & Tae”
Really? Somebody beat me to it when it was time to complain about these two? haha.
December 4, 2015 @ 11:16 am
For the record, I consider Maddie & Tae to be on the periphery of this theory, though they do belong in the discussion. I did put them in the picture at the top because I wanted to be inclusive and not just have this be a sausage fest.
Cool Lester Smooth
December 4, 2015 @ 11:44 am
They’re pretty emblematic of the industry’s process here, though.
December 4, 2015 @ 12:27 pm
That’s kind of what I had figured, but figured since Maddie & Tae were mentioned that it didn’t hurt to name-drop Ward Thomas as well.
You’re right they are more modern then anything musically. But their songwriting would be a boon to stateside country music as a whole and so I felt like they were worthy of inclusion here.
December 4, 2015 @ 10:33 am
I wonder how much of this is the result of Overton stepping down? It really doesn’t matter in the end.
Judging by history, mainstream “country” always wanders away from its roots, only to be dragged back kicking and screaming when the next wave of real artists (usually not from Nashville) take the public by storm. It is a recurring pattern as surely as rising and falling tides of the sea.
Country will shine again in big media. Whether that’s sooner or later? Time will tell. Several good folks have already received national attention, so there is hope on the horizon.
It will be nice to listen to the radio again.
Thanks for all you do, Trig. Love the site. Long time reader.
December 4, 2015 @ 11:23 am
Thanks for reading Roy.
Randy Goodman, who replaced Gary Overton, specifically said he wanted to focus on new talent during his tenure. In fact I was going to include his quotes here, but this article was already getting too long. But I think this factors into this theory. I think we see more artists like Morgan and Pitney get signed in the coming months and years.
December 4, 2015 @ 11:24 am
I agree with you Roy.
December 4, 2015 @ 10:43 am
don’t know much of these artists but i saw right through john pardi’s bullshit the first time i heard him. thats one guy who clearly can’t wait to be a radio darling sellout. i personally can’t wait until we quit comparing radio and commercial success to career and personal success. i would like to think there’s a slew of artists out there that don’t endure commercial anonymity in hopes to one day be “discovered” by radio and hit it big. theres a personal pride and sense of duty that comes with real artistry that 99% of the artists on country radio have no awareness of. Nashville and country radio can pander to the market all they want but i won’t be a part of it. fuck country radio
December 4, 2015 @ 11:21 am
All of that goes without saying, though I’m glad you said it. This particular topic, this particular exercise it specifically taking a look at the mainstream, and radio to some extent, because none of this stuff exists in a bubble. If traditional-leaning country really takes off in the mainstream, I think this bodes very well for everyone. I agree commercial success should not be the marker of success overall, but these independent artists do need to find the support to put together sustainable careers, or they’ll go away.
I have to respectfully disagree with your assessment of Jon Pardi though. All indications are that he was under pressure to record and release a sellout radio hit, and he refused. If he’s looking to be a radio darling, it’s yet to happen for him. I’m not saying he’s Country Music Jesus, but he’s a hell of a lot better than most major label acts.
December 4, 2015 @ 12:06 pm
Fair enough assessment and I agree with the point that a more traditional leaning standard on mainstream media would be a more positive thing all around. As far as Pardi is concerned all I can really say is people seem to like him so that’s cool with me. We’ll see how his future pans out and I would take absolutely no joy in my gut feeling being accurate. Shit if he already told his handlers to pound sand in regards to a sellout single then we’re already buddies
December 5, 2015 @ 8:31 am
The album cover alone turns me off Pardi before I’ve heard a note! I’m going to check him out but his label isn’t doing him any favors with the packaging, especially if traditionalists are a target market.
December 7, 2015 @ 7:46 pm
Agreed on that one. Terrible album pic. He looks like first class jackass (if you’re the type that judges based on appearances that is..)
December 7, 2015 @ 8:22 pm
Jackie, you know what they say, you only have one chance to make a first impression. Quite a few DJs I know thin the herd of CDs by dumping the ones they can’t stand to look at.
December 4, 2015 @ 10:48 am
At least let these artists get a chance at the spotlight. There is some great young talent ready to emerge. Artists such as JP Harris, Cale Tyson, Kelsey Waldon and Margo Price. Third man records just released Margo’s much anticipated first single yesterday.
December 4, 2015 @ 4:23 pm
Yeah, I expect Margo Price will make a splash in 2016. She’s definitely talented, and being signed to Jack White’s record label will definitely give her a PR boost. I just watched the music video you linked, and it was quite frenetic. Apparently, Margo and her friends like to drink beer and smoke the reefer. Damn musicians!
Also, I would love to see Kelsey Waldon get more exposure too.
Carolina Wild Man
December 4, 2015 @ 10:51 am
Is this stuff going to be music that is unenthusiastic with no depth that is presented as a more traditional offering? That’s what it kind of sounds like to me.
December 4, 2015 @ 11:08 am
Of the names above the one I find has the most depth and enthusiasm is Mo Pitney.
Carolina Wild Man
December 4, 2015 @ 11:49 am
Yeah, if these guys get their shot at taking over mainstream radio it will be a relief to the ears that have endured FGL, Aldean, and Bryan. I don’t think it will be much more than that though because Isbell, Sturgill, red dirt artists, and the likes will probably still be where they are. Thank god for spotify and aux cords.
Bigfoot is Real (AKA Progressive Fascist Rat)
December 4, 2015 @ 11:33 am
@ Carolina Wild Man, I think the answer is sadly, “Yes.”.
@ Fuzzy, I agree about Mo Pitney but while he is a solid guitarist and has a voice to die for, he wears thin pretty quickly. I think the fact that Bill Anderson is “championing” him says alot and not in a good way.
December 4, 2015 @ 11:39 am
Bill Anderson, in my mind, is best enjoyed in small amounts also. It’s not that he’s bad, he’s just a bit of a one trick pony as a vocalist. He’s an excellent songwriter though.
December 4, 2015 @ 4:27 pm
Hey, what the heck’s wrong with Whisperin’ Bill?
That guy knows a thing or two about “bright lights and country music.”
December 4, 2015 @ 11:53 am
Do they have to be under 30? Is that a prerequisite?
December 4, 2015 @ 12:10 pm
I don’t think there’s any age prerequisite. Sturgill broke out at 36. Willie didn’t break out until his 40’s. The broader point I was trying to make is that in previous years, artists like Moe Pitney and William Michael Morgan would have never been signed to major labels. Brandy Clark and Sturgill were both in their mid/late 30’s when they signed to Atlantic.
December 4, 2015 @ 12:19 pm
Ok. I know that historically, many country artists didn’t make it until they were older, but I was under the impression that music had changed and they needed to be relatively young. My follow-up is: If age is not a factor, the why are they scouring the earth looking for these types of cats, when they could just promote guys like Chris Knight and Jason Boland, or even Whitey Morgan, Ryan Bingham, Turnpike Troubadours?
December 4, 2015 @ 3:20 pm
Every artists career has a trajectory. You could map it on a grid if you wanted. 90% of artists either spend their entire careers growing, or they peak within the first few years and never get bigger. The reason Sturgill Simpson was able to blow up is because nobody knew about him. And still nobody knows about him when considering the bigger population. That means he has the ability to get even bigger. That’s how Chris Stapleton blew up. When he won big at the CMA Awards, nobody had heard about him and he had tremendous upside potential. And these guys were in their late 30’s.
Whitey Morgan is actually an interesting test case because he’s been performing a slow build for over a decade. I wrote about this a while ago (https://www.savingcountrymusic.com/how-whitey-morgan-is-fulfilling-the-promise-of-underground-country).
Meanwhile acts like Hank3, Shooter Jennings, Chris Knight, Jason Boland, Cody Canada, they’ve plateaued. The people who know about them, know about them, and those people have already formed an opinion around their music. It doesn’t mean these artists can’t be successful, or even continue to grow ever so slightly. But they are what they are, because there’s no more unknown quantities with them. That’s the reason the industry doesn’t want to work with them. If they were going to blow up, they already would have. So it’s better odds to start from scratch with a new artist and hope they become the next Sturgill Simpson. As much as I hate to say it, Chris Knight is never going to blow up like Sturgill, Stapleton, or Isbell did. That’s just the way it is. If he was going to blow up, he would have when Randy Travis and Blake Shelton were cutting his songs.
The Turnpike Troubadours are also and interesting and unique case study. I think at one point they really had a big opportunity to blow up like Sturgill did. But maybe it was taking too long to release albums, or maybe the lack of a truly unique sound, but I just don’t get the sense that they they’re every going to find the favor of a big label.
And something that’s probably worth its own discussion is what if Thirty Tiger continues to grow, and ends up becoming a de facto major label on their own, and takes their entire roster with them?
December 4, 2015 @ 4:39 pm
Trigger, you might not have time to answer this, but what do you think it would take for Whitey Morgan to break out to that next level of popularity?
Obviously, there is a wave of outlaw country-style music rising in popularity right now, and I would bet that he benefits from the word of mouth associated with that to some extent, but clearly he has a fraction of the name recognition Sturgill has at this point. It seems like he has room to grow, though.
December 4, 2015 @ 5:19 pm
I agree Whitey has room to grow. Where so many “underground” artists have completely plateaued, Whitey has continued to build. But I don’t think it will happen overnight for him. I think he will continue to build slowly. If he partnered with a legitimate label, this may help him as well. Not a major label or anything, but if he could get somewhere where maybe he could be recognized by the Americana organization, then this may be to his benefit.
Going back to the whole unknown quantity theory, Whitey didn’t release a legitimate album for five years. And then when he did, it was a really great one. If he had released a series of just okay albums over the last few years, I’m not sure we would be witnessing the same kind of growth with him.
December 5, 2015 @ 8:10 pm
Chris Knight’s debut cd (only major label cd) was on Decca Records back in 1998 and he was dropped the following year. He made next 2 cd’s on Dualtone Records. He was on his own label after that.
December 4, 2015 @ 11:54 am
Drake White on Dot Records
December 4, 2015 @ 12:07 pm
Trisha Yearwood seems to agree. “Asked what she thinks “the future holds for country music,” Yearwood noted “the cool thing about country music is that it always changes,” and she predicted the current country-pop sounds “will probably go back to a little more grassroots, a little more singer-songwriter vibe.”
I hope she’s right. It’s taken longer than I expected for the pop bubble to burst, but maybe it will be more of a deflate. The big stars aren’t going away any time soon, but I’m seeing more 2nd-tier bro/pop stuff fizzle. Eventually it’s gonna sink in that most every country hit of the last 3 years has the same 5 words (gonna wanna beer tonight girl) and the same 3 chords. (It’s amazing to me, how quickly people get bored with their short attention spans, that this samey shit has thrived for so long. But then, some reality shows are in their 20somethingth season, so what do I know.)
Music does always change, and there’s no way to go but up right now, creativity-wise. I hope the success of “Burning House” and “Tennesee Whiskey” indicates that people are hungry for something new. But it might be a slow build. Bro-pop seems tough to shake, like a viral infection.
December 4, 2015 @ 12:45 pm
I would have to say that the POP Country artists are not having the same
December 4, 2015 @ 12:52 pm
The same fandom and adoration as before. Not happening so much now.
December 4, 2015 @ 2:07 pm
Chet fillipo did an extensive article on it about how country has usually about a 7 year cycle where it gets back to its roots
December 4, 2015 @ 1:11 pm
You know what fascinates me, how I Met a Girl goes from a Sam Hunt song that would be ripped to shreds by any traditionalist to a song thats all of a sudden well received in William Michael Morgan’s hands singing it in a traditional version.
December 4, 2015 @ 3:03 pm
Sam Hunt, just like Luke Bryan and dozens of other songwriters, came to Nashville with good ideas and strong chops. And then they got integrated into the system. Luke Bryan came to Nashville to be a songwriter, not a performer. Now he doesn’t even write any of his own material. “I Met a Girl” is not a great song by any stretch. But it’s not bad, and that in itself is a massive leap forward.
December 4, 2015 @ 8:21 pm
I knew that was going to be your answer lol. The thing that I just can’t help but think about, which Zack here is kind of alluding to, is how many “not bad” or in fact good songs that people hate simply because of who sings them or because they’re not recorded and performed in a traditional country way. Its a thin line that I think just gets absolutely trampled on. Which is fine but I think its amusing.
December 4, 2015 @ 4:49 pm
Sam’s delivery is what really ruins the song. At least William sings in his version. Sam freakin’ raps it, and badly I might add.
December 4, 2015 @ 5:10 pm
I Met A Girl reminds me of a mid-late 90’s hit. This was a time period I really despised until this time period came along. Now I’m half assed happy to hear an old Tim McGraw, Clay Walker, Kenny Chesney-ish song on the radio…Gulp, can’t believe I wrote that.
My point being that the unbelievable shittiness of this era has changed everyone’s spectrum of bad. I dunno if it can get worse, God I hope it can’t. Songs like I Met A Girl aren’t great, but at least they have some sort of semblance of country music that we can recognize. I’d much rather have Whitey Morgan than John Pardi, but we have to remember how radio makes its money.
December 5, 2015 @ 10:12 am
You said well. Morgan’s “I Met a Girl” isn’t that good but compared to other radio crap, it sounds good. I understand your comment on McGraw, Chesney, etc., I never really liked them either but at this point at least they sound country.
IMO, a lot of it is due to the lack of artists writing their own stuff. Everyone is just singing assembly line songs. I don’t care if some of it is written by the supposed good people like Brandy Clark, most of it is assembly line material.
No surprise that some of the better artists recently like Isbell and Simpson write their own stuff. Those songs are written to mean something.
December 4, 2015 @ 4:59 pm
Personally, I unapologetically like “I Met A Girl.” It seems slightly cheesy on the surface, but there’s something smooth and subtle about it that just really hits the spot, and the production is completely organic compared to most mainstream country singles. It gets better every time I listen to it.
I guess I’m forced to give Sam Hunt his due, in this instance. Still, I absolutely can’t stomach Sam’s version. His talk-singing shtick is the cheesiest thing in the universe.
December 9, 2015 @ 10:31 pm
I liked it a lot, and I didn’t expect to at all. At the risk of sounding gooey, it actually touched me.
December 4, 2015 @ 2:57 pm
Tara Thompson was a really pleasant surprise at a recent radio promo show. very traditional, but I’m not seeing the marketing one would expect from a new signee to Big Machine. Her web presence isn’t very big.
December 4, 2015 @ 6:16 pm
I have loved Jon Pardi since day 1, he is what REAL modern country music should all sound like. William Michael Morgan and Mo Pitney are EXCELLENT examples of true modern country music as well. I will be out to buy their albums the hour they are released. I watch the charts very closely to monitor where “Head Over Boots” is at, i’m still afraid that it’s not going to get out of the top 30 though…anytime I see the play count rise above 100, I get excited. Jon Pardi is one of the few artists that could save country music and he needs to be all over radio in order to push this real country music on these dumbass programmers to maybe get them thinking just a little bit.
December 4, 2015 @ 8:31 pm
I understand how record executives think that putting out strictly rap, R&B, pop, and rock music and labeling it country can attract more listeners that will buy their music, and that’s why they constantly have to focus on chasing the new trend to keep up with those listeners. It seems like at least for the time being record executives have been less successful at finding a new trend to chase. I’m not sure if it’s a good plan or not, but I have kind of put most of my faith in the success of Chris Stapleton as whether or not a new trend of more traditional country will start. He is in my opinion the best bet mainstream country has to change things around for the time being. Judging by his slow rise on the charts, however; I am not sure how much of a chance mainstream country has of following a traditional trend. It seems like there is a feeling of uncertainty now with these record executives, and they are just putting these artists like Morgan and Pitney on the backburner so they will be ready if things do happen to change. Even then I have to think that a more traditional trend would be just that, a trend, and would not last for too long, but at least everything would be alright for a while.
December 5, 2015 @ 9:21 am
I really didn’t like any Pardi singles until “What I Can’t Put Down” but I’m glad I picked up “Write You a Song” on a hunch at a random Midwest Shopko store.
There’s something about Mo Pitney that I just don’t trust. I don’t know what it is but I’m hesitant. William Michael Morgan has a chance but he’s also shy of 25 with plenty of time to be subjected to the pressure of the suits.
I hope they all stand together and stick to their roots.
Also, would people be as hesitant to support Maddie and Tae if they weren’t a couple of good looking kids who look like they could be castoffs from a bro country music video? They’ve really given us nothing to doubt from a musical perspective and it’s time to stop letting what they look like affect whether or not we believe in them. They’re releasing good music with traditional leanings. It’s time for all of us to get behind them, in my opinion.
December 5, 2015 @ 10:04 am
My problem with them is that they are so very see-through. They walk into Scott Bullshit’s office and play this song, he laughs (because he knows the song will fool traditionalists out of their money) and then they say they “love” Bro-Country?
It’s Scott Borchetta hedging his bets so that when Bro-Country implodes he’ll still be around with artists who people think are traditional. He’s still there, as Bro-Country goes out. He will always be there, and Country Music will never be safe as long as he’s in that position of power, because the next time he sees a penny he’s going to throw our heritage and our traditions under the bus.
The joke is on everybody who buys anything by Maddie and Tae.
December 5, 2015 @ 10:29 am
I’m not going to try and convince you to like Maddie & Tae because I’m only half in on these girls myself. But saying that they said they “love” Bro-Country is giving only part of the story.
“We told some journalists we were joking, meaning we were making jokes about all the stupid things guys say about girls in these songs,” says Maddie Marlow. “Next thing you know, people thought we were saying that we were just kidding . . . We had a media trainer tell us to say we were kidding”™ because they were worried people would be mad at us. I don”™t think anyone thought it would take off like it did””but we didn”™t say anything everyone else wasn”™t thinking.”
December 5, 2015 @ 11:55 am
The whole mess just breathes all weebly-wobbly in my mind.
Also, am I wrong in describing a media trainer as someone who helps a public figure with their speech and movements so as to not do something incorrect or offensive while in the public eye? or do media trainers do something different?
December 5, 2015 @ 1:36 pm
Weebly wobbly means they go back and forth, and then back again. These girls were 18-years-old and signed to the same label as Taylor Swift. I’m not surprised that image consultants got the better of them. What I am surprised by is that they arrested control back and started being themselves. And since then, they haven’t wavered. I think Maddie Marlow has shown more leadership in 2015 than 90% of the rest of the artists in the mainstream.
December 5, 2015 @ 9:00 pm
Leadership? Doing what, exactly?
All I see are two girls whose breakout single represented them as “anti-bro-country.” Yet they’ve never committed to it and have “toned it down” so much that the song loses its worth. “Leadership” would have been “of course we meant it, these are grown adults who should not be acting like this.”
I agree with you that these two “kids” are better than 90 percent of mainstream Country Music, but just because they’re better than Jason Aldean (which isn’t saying very much) doesn’t mean we should entrust them with any control over the future of our genre.
We shouldn’t laud them too much for being themselves, Chase Rice be’s himself all the time, and he sucks. And keep in mind some of our greatest performers weren’t themselves onstage; Marty Robbins and Hank Snow come to mind.
If you asked me, the person who deserves the reigns in Country Music is Daniel Romano. “If I’ve Only One Time Asking” is one of the strongest albums I’ve heard in the past several years, and it has enough new ideas to remain relevant, but is still so steeped in tradition as to be unmistakably Country Music.
December 9, 2015 @ 10:33 pm
I just don’t care for their voices, it’s that simple.
December 5, 2015 @ 10:09 am
Jason Isbell is on the Grand Ole Opry tonight!
December 5, 2015 @ 12:33 pm
I want my country music back where it belongs. I like real country music.
December 5, 2015 @ 7:52 pm
William Michael Morgan just shared this article on Twitter. I guess we know someone else besides Eric Church who reads Saving Country Music.
Btw, off topic (and I apologize for that), but do we know of any other big mainstream names who have been known or at least thought of to read this site?
December 5, 2015 @ 8:08 pm
Well, I know Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton have at least read it at some point because both have publicly responded to things I’ve written, as has Eric Church. Ronnie Dunn has also publicly acknowledged reading the site, so I can officially say a CMA Entertainer of the Year has read SCM. I think folks would be surprised whose eyeballs end up here regularly or upon occasion.
December 5, 2015 @ 8:30 pm
How about Chase Rice?
December 5, 2015 @ 8:56 pm
Ha! We’ll I don’t think the parody account that pops up every once in a while here counts, but I wouldn’t be surprised Chase’s eyeballs have been here before. I really don’t want to come across that I’m bragging or something. You write as many articles about country music as I do, it’s bound to get people’s attention.
Colt Ford also commented on an article of mine one time.
December 5, 2015 @ 9:02 pm
I have to say that SCM is my favorite music site, in large part because of the comments section. Between whoever pretends to be Chase Rice and Blake Shelton to our own master of parody Lil Dale and newcomer Reverse-Trigger, who probably originated Country-Rap-Saving-Country-Music (by the way did you ever clear that up?) and we’ve even had Buck Trent, Ben Jones and Sturgill all here (never at one time though.)
December 6, 2015 @ 6:42 am
I’m going to open a parody Ben Colder account, because who better for whom to name a parody account? Also, he needs to be remembered, for all those classics he recorded 😀
December 6, 2015 @ 7:45 am
I love it when I hear the Wilhelm Scream in film, it’s the only piece of his work that gets any exposure these days. If you haven’t seen it, you must find the film “Uphill All the Way.” It stars Roy Clark, Mel Tillis, Burl Ives, Ben Colder, Gailord Sartain (from Hee-Haw) and Glen Campbell. It maybe isn’t a very good film but it’s a lot of fun.
December 6, 2015 @ 8:00 am
I’ve never seen or heard of the movie, but I’ll give it a look. I’m only familiar with his radio-friendly stuff, but that was enough to make me a fan 🙂
December 6, 2015 @ 11:09 am
Country singers have appeared in lots of delightful movies. “Gordy” was a film about a pig that starred Doug Stone, with cameos by Roy Clark, Buck Trent, Moe Bandy and Jim Stafford. and that’s to say nothing of films with Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton cameos.
December 20, 2015 @ 1:55 pm
Country will swing back to it’s roots when these so called Country Stations in the US & Canada decide to stop listening to the consultants,start listening to the fans,and PLAY real Country music by legends & new stars.
Then,it will swing back to it’s roots.