Somewhere in the last year or so, country music crossed that line from being the last bastion for respect of beautiful women in American popular culture, to hanging out in the gutter with the rest of the vermin, making videos of venereal-infused floozies dry humping flashy vehicles in the classic vein of tasteless, materialistic, shallow-minded rap imagery.
Pending approval by federal regulators, the Disney Corporation has secured a deal to buy the institution of country music for $10.5 billion. The deal apparently would include all of country music’s major labels and their rosters of artists, institutions like the Country Music Hall of Fame and The Grand Ole Opry, award shows, and the naming rights to the now defunct restaurant chain “Kenny Rogers Roasters.”
Love ’em or hate ’em, it’s hard to dispute that the CMA Awards are the most important night in country music every year. The nominations announced last week had a few interesting wrinkles including Kelly Clarkson for Female Vocalist of the Year, so let’s take a in-depth look at what’s coming up on November 1st and make some predictions.
2012, Blake Shelton, Brantley Gilbert, Carrie Underwood, Chief, CMA Awards, Dierks Bentley, Dirt Road Anthem, Eric Churck, Jamey Johnson, Jason Aldea, Jason Isbell, Kelly Clarkson, Kirs Kristofferson, lionel richie, Miranda Lambert, Snoop Dog, Taylor Swift, The Civil Wars, Willie Nelson, Zac Brown Band
Do we really think legions of her fans are going to gateway from her music to Waylon Jennings, or even Alan Jackson, or even Justin Townes Earle? And for as many people she may convert to the pop version of country, may she scare just as many away from the traditional side? What are the ratios here? For all the good she may do enticing young fans to the genre, is she chasing away the older ones?
American Songwriter: People have been calling you an outlaw. Is that an image you’ve tried to create for yourself? Eric Church: Oh god. No! Not at all. Yet a quick check of Eric Church’s website finds a whole page dedicated to “Outlaw” branding, with “a brand new “Outlaw T-Shirt” now available for sale in the online store.
Erich Church wants it both ways. He wants to be considered the “new Outlaw” of country music, but he wants to still use the same pop country machine he criticizes to get success. If Eric Church has such a problem with Blake Shelton, why did he perform his song “Springsteen” at last month’s ACM Awards, that were hosted by, guess who… Blake Shelton.
The war vs. pop influences and progress in country music, and the purity yearned for by the traditional elements of the genre is almost as old as the genre itself. In an attempt to power through the rhetoric, here is a cool-headed attempt to explain some of the differences between the traditional and mainstream mindsets.
Like the most awful of childhood memories, I’ve attempted to suppress my recollections and thoughts of this year’s ACM Awards into the deepest and darkest recesses of my psyche, but like a bad acid reflux condition, the bile keeps rising. Yesterday Fox News contacted me for some quotes on a story entitled: Some country music fans say Ashton Kutcher not offensive, popular country music is.
Well shit, it looks like the Academy of Country Music Awards are this Sunday, so what better to get you prepared than to hold this charade up to the light and see what we’ve got. You should expect Reba McEntire’s skin to be taught, Blake Shelton’s jokes to be flat, Taylor Swift reactions to be be precocious, and let’s all pray to Jesus that the camera doesn’t find Keith Urban’s wife…
If you are truly a fan of country music and have an open heart, you will like 100 Proof. In the Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn mold, 100 Proof revives the lost appreciation for the strong, yet sweet country woman, while staying away from the surface symbolism that erodes the substance from many of the other artists that attempt this difficult feat.
A while back we showcased the 6 Pop Country Archetypes, now it’s time to showcase the song formulas that Music Row employs to appeal to them. these are the other templates that professional songwriters in BMI’s and ASCAP’s cubicle farms slave away at fleshing out in various forms. when you crack the cellophane on a Music Row CD, you can almost be guaranteed you will see most of the formulas used.
Is this a great bluegrass album? Of course not. But a great bluegrass album would also not be a vehicle to introduce a generation of people to Del McCoury, Kris Kristofferson, and bluegrass music in general. Is it the album that Dierks set out to make without commercial consideration or label meddling? I kind of think it is.
Alison Krauss, Bob Dylan, Chris Thile, Del McCoury, Dierks Bentley, Jamey Johnson, Jason Isbell, Kris Kristofferson, Miranda Lambert, Old Crow Medicine Show, Sam Bush, The Punch Brothers, U2, Up On The Ridge
Once again I sit down to review an album originating on Music Row, which means some will have an immediate negative reactionary response about why their little Saving Country Music is selling out for a pop country star, while others will come to sing the praises of how Miranda Lambert is the one to save country music.
My overall grade of the 2011 CMA Awards would be “not terrible.” Jason Aldean could have swept the awards, and ushered in a new era in country music where a country rap song was the reigning Song of the Year. But Taylor’s Entertainer of the Year victory at least means that at least a little authenticity is still alive in the “country” genre. Or at least for another year.
2011, Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Brantley Gilbert, CMA Awards, Colt Ford, Eric Church, Hank Williams, Jason Aldean, Jr., Justin Bieber, Lady Antebellum, Lionel Ritchie, Little Jimmy Dickens, Luke Bryan, Martina McBride, Miranda Lambert, Scotty McCreery, Sugarland, Taylor Swift, The Band Perry
Just like how Taylor Swift’s big 2009 sweep of the awards caused a dramatic pop-oriented shift in the genre, an Aldean sweep could cause a shift to Aldean’s calling cards of checklist songs and country rap. And a win for the song “Dirt Road Anthem” would all but make the formation of the mono-genre complete.
The fact that this album even exists seems like a miracle in this day where superstar franchises like Miranda are micro-managed. Side projects, or just generally allowing artists to do what they want, is traditionally not allowed in any shape or form. However Hell on Heels slipped through the cracks for whatever reason, and for mainstream fare, it is not bad at all.
I thought we had moved on from the “new Outlaw” era, to pop country stars trying to be the next Taylor Swift. Well apparently not. Now Miranda Lambert’s hubby Blake Shelton wants in on the fun, releasing a song called “Kiss My Country Ass”, an unapologetic, unveiled attempt at the Music Row “Laundry List” songwriting formula, that takes it to another level by rehashing David Allan Coe’s “If That Ain’t Country” and introducing “Outlaw” Blake to the spoon-fed masses.
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
Jimmy Carter (no, not the peanut-farming ex-prez) on 96.9 “The Kat” from North Carolina in his “Wednesday Dirt Alert” segment called the recently-released Academy of Country Music awards nominations “super-political” and asserts that he was specifically told that Carrie Underwood got snubbed for nominations from her label so that fellow label-mate Miranda Lambert would get some much needed press.
The latest new low is this “duet” by Colt Ford with the aforementioned Kevin Fowler called “Hip Hop in a Honky Tonk.” You can probably guess the premise. 2011 might be the year that the two 2 supergenres of hip hop and country merge into a monogenre as the lost and creatively bankrupt music industry continues to contract, offering no contrast, no creativity, and no choice. What could be a finer example than this.
Aaron Lewis, Charlie Rich, Colt Ford, George Strait, Hank Williams, Hank Williams Jr., Hip Hop In A Honky Tonk, Jamey Johnson, Jason Aldean, John Denver, Kevin Fowler, Miranda Lambert, Staind, Sugarland, Taylor Swift, Trace Adkins
Please indulge me for a minute here because I need to blow off some steam. Yes I’m glad that The Kennedy Center honored Merle Haggard and I guess you should be grateful for what you are given and not look a gift horse in the mouth. But in my opinion, the Kennedy Center’s presentation to Merle was horrifically mild and uninspired. Merle Haggard is an American treasure and deserves better.
Tonight the Poet of the Common Man, Merle Haggard will be honored with a Kennedy Center Honors award for his contributions to American music. Well, actually he received the award on December 5th, but the ceremony itself from December 5th in Washington DC will air tonight on CBS (as they say, check local listings for times).
When Amazon.com offered up 50 country MP3 albums for only $5 in August, September, and October I was hoping that was a promotion that would continue on a monthly basis, but unfortunately November came with no new set. We are in luck now though, because Amazon has just put up 75 country albums that will be available for $5 all the way till the end of January, and there’s some real gooduns.
After the 2010 CMA’s some wanted to hang a “Mission Accomplished” banner for saving country music because folks like Brad Paisley and Miranda Lambert walked away with big awards while the usual cast of pop country performers got the razz. Little they know this is all theater to keep us purists from not getting to restless, and setting up Taylor Swift to sweep the awards in 2011.