On NBC’s ‘The Voice’ Monday night (10-28), a contestant named Jake Hoot performed Jason Isbell’s “Cover Me Up” as part of the singing show. Taylor Swift, who was acting as a coach on the episode, even remarked “I love Jason Isbell,” when Jake Hoot said he was covering “Cover Me Up.” It’s more evidence the song has become a standard.
But what Kalie Shorr has also done in Open Book is what every true artist wishes to do whenever the make a record, which is capture raw emotions in bold strokes that resonate deeply with an audience and connect us with our shared humanity. But just like the career of Kalie Shorr, the question is, “Who is the audience?”
If you’re a country music fan and are disappointed that your favorite artist didn’t get enough screen time in the Ken Burns film on country music, well guess what, your favorite genre did, and by the most revered documentary filmmaker of our time, and before rock n’ roll, pop, the blues, soul music, or hip-hop.
Alan Jackson, Allen Reynolds, Bill Monroe, Billy Ray Cyrus, Bluebird Cafe, Brooks & Dunn, Chris Stapleton, Clint Black, Conway Twitty, Dayton Duncan, Dierks Bentley, Dixie Chicks, Don Williams, Dwight Yoakam, Emmylou Harris, Garth Brooks, George Jones, George Strait, Glen Campbell, Jamey Johnson, Johnny Cash, Kathy Mattea, Keith Whitley, Ken Burns, Lil Nas X, Little Big Town, Lucinda Williams, Lyle Lovett, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Miranda Lambert, Nanci Griffith, Randy Travis, Reba McEntire, Rick Rubin, Ricky Skaggs, Rosanne Cash, Ryman Auditorium, Steve Earle, Sturgill Simpson, Taylor Swift, The Judds, Toby Keith, Travis Tritt, Trisha Yearwood, Vince Gill
“What is this?!? Taylor Swift ain’t country, and the Dixie Chicks are commies!” Yeah yeah. Roll off it. We can be adults here and discuss a Taylor Swift song if it’s deemed interesting or necessary. And in the case of “Soon You’ll Get Better,” there are a few interesting country music tie-in’s worth discussing.
The Country Music Antichrist Scott Borchetta is hellbent on world domination ladies and gentlemen, and in the process expect him to pull country music in the pop direction more than ever before. In an interview, he downplayed Luke Combs and Kane Brown, while touting Thomas Rhett as the only true 20-something headliner.
Scooter Brown of the country and Southern Rock outfit the Scooter Brown Band appreciates your passion, Swifties. But he is not the droid you’re looking for. So please stop sending him wishes that his penis fall off and his kids go blind, because he’s got no business with that dude Taylor Swift is beefing with at the moment.
You’re a music fan. And sure, you know a little something about labels and producers and how all this stuff is necessary to get the music to you. But it so quickly gets bogged down in minutia and detail, does the sale of one huge music company to another really affect you, or affect the music in some significant way that you should care?
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.
Ahead of the release of a new album entitled Western Stars on June 14th, Bruce Springsteen has made available the song “Hello Sunshine.” Despite the sunny disposition of the title, it is a moody, introspective, and dare you say country-sounding tune that is enjoyable on its own, and gets you excited.
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
Jason Aldean will receive the Dick Award for the Decade from the ACMs come April—“Dick” being for Dick Clark, who this decade award was just renamed after, and who luckily is dead so he doesn’t have to see his name besmirched by being associated with the likes of Jason Aldean.
There is no way to sugar coat it for Scott Borchetta, Big Machine Records, and the two one-way streets just west of downtown Nashville known as Music Row where the heart of the country music industry resides. Taylor Swift leaving is huge. But she also leaves behind a legacy of how women can still succeed in country.
Despite the reporting of multiple websites to the contrary, Taylor Swift is indeed registered to vote in the State of Tennessee in the upcoming midterm elections, Saving Country Music is able to independently confirm. “I can absolutely confirm that she’s registered,” says Tennessee Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins.
Isn’t celebrity pop culture influencing voter habits how we got here in the first place? If you’re waiting for marching orders from your favorite pop star to figure out who to vote for, you’re uniquely unqualified to be voting in the first place, just as most pop stars are uniquely unqualified to be attempting to advise the public.
Kane Brown and Luke Combs couldn’t be more different. But they are both a new style of country star who made their ascent into mainstream stardom 100% during the streaming era, and due to the streaming era specifically. Last week, both artists announced their own arena tours.
Just like Lady Antebellum, Sugarland should have been relegated to the graveyard of failed country music franchises, if for no other reason than the respective members were actually much better in their off season solo projects than the sum of their parts ever were together. But in an industry that is empty of new ideas and interested in squeezing money from whatever crevice possible, no franchise is off the table for resurrection.
We’re supposed to be avoiding discussion of Taylor Swift in country music. That wasn’t just the hope of traditional country fans who were glad to see her finally come out a few years ago and say that she wanted to be considered pop and pop only henceforth. That was the wish of Taylor Swift herself and the entire point of her “I’ve gone pop” declaration.
Carrie Underwood co-produced her entire new record out in September. This takes Carrie Underwood—a top tier country performer—into virtually uncharted territory in the mainstream, at least in the near term. This move by Carrie Underwood is incredibly audacious for country, mainstream or otherwise, from a man or a woman.
It should be a very interesting next few months as “New Year’s Day” will now be one of the most-watched and talked-about singles on country radio in some time, with ramifications that could go far beyond the appeal or success of “New Year’s Day” itself, and help set the rules of engagement in country radio for years to come.
Taylor Swift is coming back to country, or at least to country radio. Officially announced on Thursday (11-16), her song “New Years Day,” which is the final track from her sixth studio album Reputation, is being serviced to country radio by her label Big Machine, hoping to rekindle Swift’s history and success with the format.
You can love Garth Brooks, and still be against him lip syncing at the CMA Awards. You can hate Miranda Lambert, and still agree with her that lip syncing is “bullshit.” You can also appreciate that Garth Brooks immediately fessed up to lip syncing at the 2017 CMA Awards. But what we can’t do is somehow make lip syncing socially acceptable.
Jason Isbell is not country. He is decidedly Americana. But Jason Isbell deserves his nomination for Album of the Year by the CMAs just as much as anyone has ever deserved that distinction. When songwriting is as good as Jason Isbell’s, it transcends genre. Every genre wants to call it their own.
There will be one point of interest for some country fans at the 2017 VMA Awards on MTV. One of those “authentic, hardscrabble, Texas country” guys from the new band Midland will be up for no less than four VMA awards during the 2017 presentation. How, you say?