Newsweek Calls Out the ACM’s / Pop Country
Tonight (Sunday) the joke that is the Academy of Country Music awards will be going down in Las Vegas.
Place your bets that this show will SUCK, and I guarantee it will pay off in spades.
I was going to write at length of why the ACM’s are a sham of the highest order, but then I found out that none other than Newsweek Magazine had beat me to the punch. Yes, Newsweek. Thanks to Jim who tipped me off about this.
You should read the whole ACM Newsweek article, but here’s a taste:
“Here’s what I hear on the radio today when I’m driving my Jeep through the streets of Washington, D.C.: songs like “Watching You,” which tells the gritty tale of a little boy making a mess of his McDonald’s Happy Meal after his daddy hits the brakes too hard (“His fries went a-flyin’ and his orange drink covered his lap”). It makes me turn bright red with shame every time it comes on, which is often, because it was Billboard’s No. 1 country song of the year in 2007. The group Lonestar had a hit not too long ago with these hard-core lyrics: “There’s a carrot top who can barely walk, with a sippy cup of milk.” It had another big song called “Mr. Mom.”
“I could go on, but you can see where I’m going with this. Country music just ain’t what it used to be. That might be good or bad, depending on your outlook, but it’s bad. When CBS airs the 44th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards this Sunday from Las Vegas, the parade of hot bodies onstage will rival the Miss America contest. If past concert appearances are any indication, the nominees for vocalist of the year will be dressed in skintight, revealing tops, some with long, flowing blond hair and deep golden tans.”
He also made this very good point, a point I’ve made in the past:
“Then the 1990s brought us Garth Brooks, more commonly known as just Garth, who I originally thought was all hat and no cattle, surely the final nail in the honky-tonk coffin. His pop-sounding megahits and his wacky flying over arena stages on a wire in his way-too-tight Wranglers made my skin crawl. Almost two decades later, and by today’s Rascal Flatts-ian standards, I consider him almost a modern-day Hank Williams.”
If major media outlets have the rocks to publish articles like this people, this is a sign of hope. I’m telling you, the revolution has begun. People are fed up. They are starting to see the facade that Nashville has created, and are starting to look for where REAL country has gone. Even if there is a majority in the general population that disagree with the assertions of this article, at least it is starting a debate. People are staring to figure out country music is not supposed to be this way. They are staring to ask questions, and look for alternatives.
And we are not the only ones that recognize this. Nashville recognizes this too, trust me.
I also found another interesting note about the ACM’s on this CMT blog.
Long story short, the ACM has a rule that says an album cannot be considered for “Album of the Year” unless it has sold 300,000 copies. Well this year they made an exception for Jamey Johnson’s That Lonesome Song. Last week I wrote THIS BLOG wondering if Jamey Johnson was the real deal, or pop country’s patsy. I did not answer that question, at least for myself, but this development asks more questions:
Did the ACM make an exception for Jamey Johnson because they wanted to acknowledge his creative talent, or purposely prop him up because they are hearing the calls for more variety in the genre from places like Newsweek? Or could it be something simple like the album was a late bloomer in the calendar year? Make no mistake, Jamey won’t win, but this is an interesting development nonetheless.
But just remember, if you dare to watch the ACM’s tonight, keep a paper bag on your knee, and don’t stop telling yourself . . .
THAT’S NOT COUNTRY!
Fists in the air people.
April 7, 2009 @ 10:05 am
I think that there is a problem here that is not being addressed: and that is that most people who like “country music” don’t really like country music. They think they like country music. They like the pop country. They think Rascal Flats is the real deal. Or they’re like the guy who came up to me years ago when I worked at Best Buy and asked (I swear) “Do you have any Kid Rock?? You know, country music??” This guy actually thought that Kid Rock is country. I couldn’t even respond. All I could do is point in a general direction.
I keep hoping that one day it will be safe to turn on country radio again, but I’m convinced that the day that Hank 3 ends up on 95.1 WRNS, thats when that station goes out of business. “Turn that shit off” is a common complaint from all my Toby Keith loving friends when I tried to play “Luchenbach Texas” for them. They like “Beer For My Horses”, but for some reason can’t stand Willie & Waylon.
April 7, 2009 @ 11:23 am
I think this is one of the reasons why people need to be “educated” (for lack of a better word) better about music. Pop has it’s place in the world, and maybe it even has its place at the big country music table. Problem is, everyone else has been forced out at the table, and pop is hoarding all the food.
If all they played on radio was Hank III you might be right. But mix in some Dale Watson, Wayne Hancock, bluegrass from people like .357 String Band, and hell, play some Jamey Johnson or George Strait for the housewives if they want it. At the least expose people to everything “country” has to offer, and let them make their own decisions.
April 7, 2009 @ 12:11 pm
I wish there was a radio station in my area that played good country music like Wayne Hancock and Dale Watson and Hank III. (Or even a station that played any good music period) Its frustrating because there really is a lot of good music out there. So much so that its starting to hurt my wallet a little.
April 7, 2009 @ 1:43 pm
Check out podcasting. They’re free, and cater more to small audiences and specific tastes. There’s some good ones listed under the “podcast” button in the top bar of the website.
April 7, 2009 @ 5:44 pm
Thanks! I will check them out
Saving Country Music » Blog Archive » Not An Expert, Just a Fan.
June 30, 2009 @ 4:05 pm
[…] Newsweek published an article calling out pop country a while back, I declared this was an important moment: a mainstream news outlet shining a big light […]
Saving Country Music » Blog Archive » George Jones Rips Pop Country
November 2, 2009 @ 7:47 pm
[…] listen. This story is spreading all across the dirty internet like a bad rash, and just like the Newsweek article from this Spring, it can only help increase awareness in the mainstream about the movement to Save Country […]
February 28, 2010 @ 3:20 pm
I so agree with what you’re saying. I don’t really have a problem with todays HIT country, but it’s just that they play it all the time. I swear one artist gets at least a five song airplay. In the same day. Most of the time it’s the same song.
It would be refreshing to hear Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, all three Hanks, June Carter Cash, Rosanne Cash, Carlene Carter, Ernest Tubb, Kitty Wells, Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, and George Jones. I could go on forever. I’m 23 years old and greatly appreciate the greats in country music. And I think it should be a requirement among new artists in every genre to know about those who came before. They don’t have to like their style, but they should know and respect the music.
July 14, 2013 @ 1:14 pm
Thanks for your site, which is excellent both in its jeers and its cheers.
As far as my ears can tell, at least 95% of what’s on commercial country radio today has absolutely no connection to what came before. I remember commercial country radio as late as the early-mid 1980s would still play some oldies every once in a while… maybe once or twice a day you’d hear some Ernest Tubb, Jim Reeves, Bob Wills, or Roger Miller. In other words, music that at that point was anywhere from 20 to 40 years old. It gave you a sense of history, of belonging to something bigger, that had been evolving for a long time. I’ve listened to commercial country nonstop the past two months, and have not once heard a tune prior to 1990. Never Merle, never Paycheck, never Tom T. Not once.
I’d feel a lot better if what I heard on country radio today sounded like a recognizable (though, of course, changed and different) descendant of what the music used to be. Instead, it sounds completely alien. Like being occupied by an invading army.
And lyrics: I remember in my teens the distinct feeling that country was about grown men and women. It was often messy, complicated. Love wasn’t perfect, sometimes it was broken and a couple tried to fix it, or sadly gave up on it: people felt torn two ways about a lot of things. Some of it was about work, too, but it didn’t sound like a beer or truck commercial. It was a little like your parents’ door being open just a crack while they were talking some serious stuff. A lot of what I hear now sounds Hallmark card perfect. You know, ‘You’re my best friend, my lover, you’re an amazing cook…’ (That’s when it isn’t about badonkadonk. country girl shake it for me, etc.)