While in the independent realm of country music, 2017 went down as a record year for quality projects, the mainstream was downright abysmal pretty much across the board for both songs and albums. There actually were quite a few pretty good songs, but most struggled to gain traction in the charts.
Carly Pearce gives one true hope for the future of women on country radio as her debut single “Every Little Thing” hits #1 on the radio charts this week. And the success Aaron Watson continues to have with his song “Outta Style” doesn’t stop, which was unthinkable from a truly independent artist in previous years.
The playlist is the most current and up-to-date resource of Saving Country Music’s top recommendations of songs, albums and artists. Jon Pardi has just released the song “She Ain’t In It” as the latest single from his album California Sunrise, and it leads the newest editions to Saving Country Music’s Top 25 Streaming Playlist.
What Jon Pardi has done over the last year is prove that an artist can stick to a more traditional style, and not only sustain, but turn in career marks, even in this difficult environment for traditional artists in the mainstream, and a stacked field for artists looking to be launched. “She Ain’t In It” is a classic country crooning heartbreak song…
With all the talk about the cheeky machismo of Midland lately, including many assigning the trio savior status for finally returning a semblance of traditional country back to the mainstream of country, folks seem have forgotten that William Michael Morgan did that very thing with a single called “I Met A Girl” in 2016.
In wanton disrespect of the Labor Day holiday (aren’t journalists laborers too?), the Country Music Association announced their nominations for the 2017 CMA Awards on Monday (9-4) morning, with Miranda Lambert leading all nominees with five total nominations.
To show the great reverence that the ACM Awards take with these New Artists distinctions, and to shower incredible appreciation for the musical contributions of these fine performers, the ACM’s, with distinct honor, announced the winners of these awards on a random late Tuesday morning on freaking Twitter.
They’ve decided to divide opening duties among a total of 26 separate openers across the 65 total tour dates, as opposed to taking the usual stance with openers, which is to drag the same two or three lightweight mainstream up-and-comers around with them for six months. Even more surprising are the names selected to open.
If 90% of mainstream country music is garbage, then it stands to reason that 10% of it is at least decent, if not good or great. That calculus hasn’t really changed much recently, even as mainstream country has improved. What has changed is that 10% is actually finding traction on radio, at awards shows, and is making fierce inroads into the 90%’s monopoly.
Though Stapleton may fall short of the touring numbers of names like Luke Bryan, or may not have the airplay of Florida Georgia Line, the incredible performance of his debut album ‘Traveller’ has put him in unprecedented territory, while still putting up a decent showing in touring and track sales too.
Strait played his first show at Gruene Hall on Saturday, February 21st, 1976—five years before releasing his first record, and only a few months removed from being honorably discharged from the Army. For his first gig, they charged $0.25 at the door, and according to Strait from the Gruene Hall stage Wednesday night, he made $7.00 total.
One of the reasons we feel so surprised at Americana’s success and so many have been so slow to recognize it is because it has been a slow and steady process. Because of Americana’s model of sustainability, the revolution has been plodding, yet purposeful. And now it’s success is palpable, and measurable by industry-standard metrics.
Jon Pardi might be one of the performers we love to point at as being a party to repatriating mainstream country music with more palatable material as part of a new wave of traditional-leaning young talent, but as his new single proves, the effort to save country music is sometimes an imperfect one.
In January of 2016, Saving Country Music published an article explaining how 2016 Could Be 1975 All Over Again in country music—how an upsurge in more traditional and substantive talent and music could really take hold in country, from the independent realm to the mainstream. And that is exactly what we’ve seen as 2016 has progressed.
With absolutely no hyperbole intended, William Michael Morgan earning a #1 on country radio for his debut single “I Met A Girl” is a historic moment in country music. It’s a point in time when an undeniably traditional country song from an undeniably traditional country artist has topped the chart after a long vacancy for a traditionalist at the top spot.
Sturgill Simpson is currently in the running and being voted on by members of the Country Music Association for three of the 50th Anniversary presentation’s biggest prizes. Also surprising since she’s not on a major label, Margo Price has made the top 20 females being considered for Female Vocalist of the Year.
Released way back on September 14th, 2015, “Head Over Boots” has traced a slow but steady build until this week it was officially named the #1 song on country radio. Yet beyond some other singles that have recently been awarded this distinction, the numbers behind “Head Over Boots” speak to a true groundswell of appeal and interest.
Finally we get some forward movement on one of the most anticipated mainstream traditional albums in a good while. Curb Records-signed singer and songwriter Mo Pitney will release his debut album ‘Behind This Guitar’ featuring 10 of 12 co-written songs by Pitney himself, and contributions from folks we though the rest of Nashville had forgotten.
Once again the success of California Sunrise demonstrates that traditional country fans are more likely to vote with their dollars and support their favorite artists compared to many mainstream performers. Jon Pardi has also been helped with the continued success of the album’s first single “Head Over Boots.”
If country music is ever to be saved, it’s not going to be by the hands of just one artist. Chris Stapleton can win all the awards he wants, but without a more broad movement represented by multiple artists doing well, and real inroads into country radio, progress remains mostly symbolic. That is where someone like Jon Pardi comes in.