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.
“As far as government politics, hell no!” said original ‘Rolling Stone Country’ Senior Editor Beville Dunkerley in May of 2014, assuring readers the publication would not engage in political discourse as part of its country music coverage. Now that has all changed.
Tim McGraw recently took time from crushing his core-sculpting exercises and scratching items off of Faith Hill’s honey do list to record a new single called “Neon Church.” If someone handed you a lyric sheet for this song, you’d probably nod in approval. It’s the production of “Neon Church” where the battle lines will be drawn.
We were so swept up in praising ourselves for all the gains made in the independent realm of country music in 2017, it wasn’t until here in the dwindling moments of the year that we realized just what a dreadful era 2017 posed in the mainstream.
Look, I see what they were going for here. The problem is what they were going for was just not very good. This album is a concert play; not your typical studio record. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill are on this massive “Soul2Soul” tour together, and when folks have been to the concert, they want to buy Tim and Faith the home game.
Rapper and hip-hop artist Nelly was arrested Saturday morning (10-7) in Auburn, Washington after he was accused of sexual assault by a local woman while on tour with country duo Florida Georgia Line. Nelly, whose real name is Cornell Iral Haynes Jr., was arrested on his tour bus in a Wal-Mart parking lot where the alleged rape occurred.
Music can teach us that we all love, we all face fears, and we all can overcome whatever inward or outward oppression that may be dogging us to flourish and prosper. If a music artist chooses to broach political subjects or to speak out against injustices in their music, them more power to them. But don’t hold silence accountable as complicity.
“I’d Sing About You” is all steel guitar and fiddle set to a country shuffle to move your boots across the dance floor. And though the premise is a little silly, and maybe even a little list-like in its approach, it’s also very sweet and witty in that warm, folksy manner that you want from a good country song.
Music, and country music specifically plays a big role in the series, not just in the soundtrack, but in many of the jokes told, and in the titles of each episode. Many other musical Easter eggs are placed throughout the series for music fans, such as posters on the wall, and albums in the local bar’s juke box.
In the entire 52-year history of the Academy of Country Music Awards, there has never been female winner of the organization’s Songwriter of the Year award, until now. Lori McKenna, who has been on one incredible run with her solo-written song “Humble and Kind,” has broken what appears to be a half century-long barrier.
The new deal brings Carrie Underwood full circle. In 1996, when Carrie Underwood was just 14, she had auditioned for Capitol Records. When the company was forging a contract with the fledgling star, the management at the company changed and the deal fell through.
Well, this Tim McGraw/Faith Hill collaboration looked good on paper. And it still might result in some favorable and lasting contributions to country music. But “Speak To a Girl” feels a bit like a misfire, at least on the creative side. “Speak To a Girl” is not a bad song, but it does a lot of the little things wrong.
Chivalry may be dead, but it’s alive and well in the McGraw/Hill household. In a press release, the couple announced they will release a new single together called “Speak to a Girl” that will be shipping to country radio on March 23rd. It will be the first single off of a joint album with McGraw and Hill.
What’s so strange about the news is Tim McGraw seemed to be doing so well on Big Machine after fleeing Curb Records. There was a lot of symbolism in McGraw moving to Big Machine after a lengthy court battle with Curb, which tried to keep him on the label indefinitely and was ruining his career.
Curb Records is once again cobbling together previously-released material from Hank Williams III in an attempt to make money off of songs many fans already have, only this time it is in a much more conventional manner. Saving Country Music can confirm that Curb Records is planning the release of a Hank Williams III Greatest Hits album.
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.
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.
The next trend in country may not be defined by a style or a sound, but who is involved in it. But if collaborations will be the next big trend, how about putting out just a little bit of effort to make sure that the great talent that is going unrecognized in country music itself gets some love?
Ashley Monroe, Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Brandy Clark, Chris Stapleton, Demi Lovato, Dierks Bentley, Dolly Parton, Elle King, Gwen Stefani, Johnny Bush, Kenny Chesney, Kenny Rogers, Little Big Town, Lori McKenna, Miranda Lambert, Pharrell, Pink, Pitbull, Steve Fromholz, The Pistol Annies, Tim McGraw, Townes Van Zandt, Willie Nelson
One of the big questions for country music in 2016 is if Florida Georgia Line and other Bro-Country acts will be able to extricate themselves from their destiny of being shuffled into the dustbin of history as the Nickelbacks of country, or if they will show up with some more depth to at least delay the inevitable.
Chris Stapleton is absolutely blowing the doors off the competition when it comes to country album sales in 2016, and it’s not even close. His debut Traveller is lapping the competition, while the only album that can keep up is Joey + Rory’s gospel record Hymns which is in 2nd place.
If “Humble and Kind” had no business on country radio (yet it ended up at #1), then “How I’ll Always Be” is a downright coup d’état. It’s not the lyrics of the song that make it a marvel of modern American country radio. It’s the music of “How I’ll Always Be” that makes it so unique and welcome for mainstream country radio.
Written solely by female songwriter Lori McKenna, “Humble and Kind” becomes the first #1 country song written by one person in more than four years. In this era when everything is written by a committee of three or more, and the expressions of female artists are generally stifled, this is quite the feat.