When you hear certain albums from some of country music’s mainstream performers, it’s patently clear to large portions of the audience that these albums aren’t pop country, they’re just pop, period. But in the pop world when artist dabble in country influences, they tend to be more honest about how the end result is still pop.
How many times can you remake the same movie and it still be good? If it’s a classic story told with passion, is well-acted and directed, and expertly updated for the modern context, the answer would be at least four. “A Star Is Born” is a big moment for Americana music.
A new version of the feature film A Star Is Born is on the way starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, and a host of notable names from the the cool side of country music are included in the movie and soundtrack. But the most surprising takeaway from the track list is the very active participation of Lukas Nelson.
In simple musical skills, the talent of Lukas might even surpass that of his famous sire. Of course songwriting and style are a bit harder to tabulate, but Lukas is no slouch in these departments either. Yet nearly 10 years into the performing game now, and Lukas Nelson still feels like he’s attempting to find his footing.
Dammit, can’t we do anything in American without someone wanting to inject their political vitriol into it and make a moment of unification into a vehicle for polarization? God blessed, we’re inundated with political acrimony 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and in every sector of American life. You can’t get away from it.
Saying that a massive pop star has just released a “country” song has become the Rickroll of 2016. Enterprising entertainers looking to troll popular media and the gullible Millenial journalists who enable them have made this an enterprising endeavor for not just a few pop stars this year.
Yes, it’s very easy, and very popular and seductive to rally behind Kesha in this matter. The press and popular culture love to hate stories about women being kept down or even abused by overbearing men and the companies they run or hide behind. Kesha doesn’t have a particularly compelling reason to lie, though the way major label contracts are constructed, who wouldn’t want out of one . . .
The color yellow was picked to be the primary backdrop for the relaunch. The image of a diamond shaped like a heart was selected as a logo (even though that’s not the way a true heart-shaped diamond is cut), and everyone had visions of a blockbuster #1 single and sold out arena tours dancing in their heads. . . . and since then, “Live Forever” has flopped.
Yes, yes, it’s the age-old complaint that music doesn’t sound as good as it used to, and that the singers of today aren’t nearly as good as the ones we grew up with. Though there is certainly a bit of “old man syndrome” that creeps into this endless debate about the direction of popular music, there is also very specific and irrefutable data that backs up these claims that music isn’t as good.
I don’t have any data to back my assertions up. But I’ll be damned that if in 2014, your average pop star isn’t more likely to outpace your average country star when it comes to substance and depth in their music. The dynamic has flipped, and it leaves one wondering if in the future “country” will be that bad word that infers a lack of artistic merit. Or if we haven’t already arrived there.
Something remarkable happened in music in 2011: sales stabilized. What the music industry is ignoring, as well as virtually everyone else in the SOPA argument, is this dramatic and unexpected stabilization of music sales. Where did it come from and why? When you dig deep into the numbers there are two answers: women and vinyl.
We sit at the crossroads of the great technology paradigm. For all the music problems technology solved for artists and fans, it is now creating new ones, principally an astronomical glut in the sheer volume of music being produced, and then marketed specifically for commercial consumption on a global scale. The enjoyability of music depends on its place as a minority in the collective talents of human society.
This week the music world was agog that Lady Gaga topped the charts with her latest album Born This Way selling over 1 million copies. But I was neither shocked nor appalled that Lady Gaga made #1. What blew my mind was to see the post-contract Hank III release from Curb Records called Hillbilly Joker crest #10 of the Billboard country charts last week.
Ah ha. So everyone wants to tell you that pop megastar Lada Gaga has “gone country”. And everyone wants to know what I think about it. Well to be honest with you, I think it is a brilliant stroke of mad genius. The song is horrendous of course, but that goes without saying. It’s not even meant to be good, so smattering it with criticism is irrelevant. What does matter is that you are talking about it…
I feel the need to iterate to you some observations for last night’s 2011 Grammy Awards, if only to get them off my chest. This is not entirely going to be a bitch fest. Every year they air the Grammy’s, and every year people are left scratching their heads and feeling hopelessness for music, and so it was to be expected that this year would be no different…
Bob Dylan, Bob Seger, Charlie Louvin, Eminem, Esperanza Spalding, Garth Brooks, Grammy, Justin Bieber, Kid Rock, Lady Antebellum, Lady Gaga, Martina McBride, Merle Haggard, Miranda Lambert, Mumford and Sons, Randy Travis, Rihanna, Stevie Nicks, Taylor Swift, The Avett Brothers, The Black Crowes, The Suburbs