You know how this drill works. Make sure your tray tables are in their full upright position, make sure all electronic devices are set to airplane mode, and don’t believe a pop country star when they say they’re going back to their roots until you actually hear it.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic will not have a hard and fast end date. It’s not just the risk to the public, but the potential concern for a public relations issue surrounding the polarizing subject of COVID-19 that has the prospects for live music later in 2021 still looking like a mixed bag.
Didn’t we just endure an installment of the ACM Awards just a few short months ago? Well yes we did. But thanks to COVID-19 the last cycle was protracted, and here it has come back around again. Whoopee. Get ready for (mostly) the same parade of names that get nominated every year.
Every year the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville seats a variety of names from throughout the country and roots world in what they call their American Currents exhibit. This is the opportunity for artists that you may not normally see an exhibit for get an opportunity to be featured.
Ashley McBryde, Billy Strings, Casey Beathard, Charley Crockett, Country Music Hall of Fame, Darius Rucker, Eddie Stubbs, Eric Church, Faith Hill, Freddy Fender, Hot Country Knights, Jimmie Allen, John Prine, Luke Combs, Maren Morris, Mickey Guyton, Miranda Lambert, Rissi Palmer, Sister Sadie
As some of the dust begins to settle from the fallout of Morgan Wallen’s inappropriate and offensive use of the N-word, there’s an addendum that needs to be addressed in regards to the accusations of a double standard pervasive in country music.
“Every precaution was taken. I think it’s unfortunate that people are out there crusading to stir up some mud. Because I really don’t think the CMAs were negligent in any way. Every time we darkened the door, we got tested,” says Charley Pride’s longtime manager, bass player, and close friend.
Billboard has published their year-end wrap on country music for 2020 (the music year ends in November), and as you can imagine, it’s a healthy dose of Luke Combs leading many of the metrics, especially from Chris Stapleton and Tyler Childers.
This week, Maddie & Tae’s “Die From A Broken Heart” finally made it to #1 on the country radio charts. It is a major accomplishment, and a long-fought battle for a song that was originally revealed to fans all the way back in the fall of 2018, and not released as a proper single to radio until May 6th, 2019.
Neither Amanda Shires, Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, nor The Highwomen collectively have addressed the issue publicly, or directly. We still don’t know why Mickey Guyton felt she was “disinvited” from the shoot, whether it was the fault of “a giant miscommunication” or otherwise.
In a recent op/ed, Guyton spelled out numerous frustrations she’s experienced, but one of the most shocking revelations of the article was not on the systemic racism she’s suffered from in the country music industry, it was how she was snubbed by her fellow women in the genre.
The song Florida Georgia Line played a snippet of appeared to have the title of “Feels Good.” But apparently Carrie Underwood was not feeling good about any of it. Underwood never replied or even addressed the duo’s proposal publicly, which left many speculating if Carrie had snubbed them.
Like someone with the Coronavirus coughing in your face, here come the 2020 ACM Awards nominations. With Maren Morris and Thomas Rhett leading the pack of nominees with five nominations each, Justin Bieber receiving three nominations, you might as well be getting news from the local doctor where you’re quarantine station is located.
Alright, so we’ve run down the Saving Country Music Album of the Year nominees, and awarded The Winner. And we’ve also populated the 2019 Essential Albums List. Now it’s time to single out the dogs of the last calendar year and let them hear it. Here ladies and gentlemen are your WORST “Country” Albums for 2019.
One sign that mainstream country music continues to improve is the decrease in “country” songs that were worthy of rants in 2019 compared to previous years. However there were a few exceptions in 2019, and songs worthy of taking out back to the woodshed. Our full-throated opposition to these monstrosities misappropriated as “country.”
Eric Church’s latest album Desperate Man will win the CMA Album of the Year in 2019, beating out Thomas Rhett’s Center Point Road, Dan + Shay’s self-titled release, Girl by Maren Morris, and Carrie Underwood’s Cry Pretty. This is the bold prediction Saving Country Music is putting out there right here and now.
Strong songwriting underpins inspired performances delivered by four women with passion for this project and its material in this initial effort by The Highwomen. Instead of writing it all themselves, they took the Nashville approach of utilizing co-writers to refine each effort that began with their original ideas, and it shows in the results.
In many respects, the CMAs did that this year with their 2019 nominations, or at least better than many years. But the Album of the Year nominations were especially easy to pick apart in 2019. The biggest reason to second guess these nominations is that this current awards shows cycle has been exceptional for excellent mainstream albums.
Even ceding the argument that the album concept is dead for many listeners these days (which is not true at all for core, grassroots fans), there still doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of reason to release a large handful of your songs before an album’s street date, aside from that just seems to be what everyone does these days.
As if answering a distress call sent out over the airwaves or via a spotlight beamed over Music City, the Highwomen have assembled in the form of the Grammy-winning Brandi Carlile, fiddlemaster Amanda Shires, songwriting markswoman Natalie Hemby, and superstar Maren Morris. “Redesigning Women” is their first taste.
Amanda Shires, Brandi Carlile, Cam, Dave Cobb, Erin Rae, Hailey Whitters, Jason Isbell, Jimmy Webb, Lily Hiatt, Lori McKenna, Maren Morris, Miranda Lambert, Natalie Hemby, Natalie Stovall, Raelynn, Ray LaMontagne, Tanya Tucker, The Highwomen, Wynonna Judd
Many pop artists want to be included in country these days through collaborations or remixes to skim some of those fans off for themselves. But country music should be careful of continuing to allow this to happen. The music world was much better when pop was too sugary for country, and country was to corny for pop.
This tour will be an all female affair, with Miranda Lambert’s supergroup with Ashley Monroe and Angaleena Presley, a.k.a. The Pistol Annies opening up select tour dates, along with Elle King, Caylee Hammack, Tenille Townes, Maren Morris, and Ashley McBryde. Each date will feature three openers, with a revolving cast for each stop.
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.
Beyonce, Chris Stapleton, Chuck Leavell, Dolly Parton, Don Was, Greg Leisz, Hillary Lindsey, John Mayer, Justin Timberlake, Keith Urban, Kesha, Lady Gaga, Maren Morris, Miley Cyrus, Priscilla Renea, Sara Watkins, Taylor Swift, Walker Hayes
Maren Morris certainly isn’t the first, will most definitely not be the last, and can’t even be described as the worst to ply pop elements in country either in part or predominantly. It is certainly true from any honest and objective perspective that Maren Morris’s second record, GIRL, is one of the most exclusively pop albums to ever be released in country.