The Most Notorious “Gone Country” Moments
Here are some of the most notorious “gone country” moments over the years.
Even the traditionally pliable, easily-wooed pop country fan saw through this one. When Jessica Simpson told the world she wanted to go back to her roots, she unfortunately didn’t mean skipping her weekly peroxide treatments. Though curiosity factor and a catchy single in “Come On Over” garnered her some minor attention, her first (and only) country album, 2008’s Do You Know only sold a grand total of 173,000 copies, and Simpson quickly scrapped her “gone country” charade. Simpson’s low point was reached when fans at the Country Thunder Festival in Wisconsin notoriously booed Simpson virtually off the stage.
When the pop world got tired of her teen icon bit, her boobs were no longer buxom enough for Playboy, and after she was the very first contestant to get booted from, get this, “Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wresting,” 80’s flash-in-the-pan Tiffany turned to country music to try and stop the circling of the drain known as her entertainment career. Remember her 2011 country debut Rose Tattoo and its lead single “Feel The Music”? Yeah, me neither. How did Tiffany promote her first country release? By going on tour with another 80’s teen idol, Debbie Gibson, in a retrospective dubbed “Journey Through The 80’s” that featured the two rehashing 80’s pop songs as well as performing Broadway show tunes. Now if that ain’t country…
Alright, so the punchline here is that the bald-headed goofball who regularly runs himself out of breath during highlight reel on Fox’s NFL broadcast actually did have a career in country music. But you know what, the 4-time Super Bowl winner and Football Hall of Famer wasn’t half bad when he belted out his version of Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” Believe it or not, the song peaked at #17 on the country charts in 1976. Two Bradshaw country albums in 1980 had not nearly the success though, and Bradshaw eventually dropped back 20 yards and punted on his dream of being a big time country star.
Worst “gone country” story ever? Lionel is in strong contention for not even offering up original material, but simply taking the track list from his “Greatest Hits” album and rehashing it into pseudo-country songs with the help of a cavalcade of pop country puppets…and Willie Nelson. Country music rolled out the red carpet for Lionel like no other pop gone country performer before, with the ACM’s giving Lionel his own prime time special. The result? Richie’s “gone country” album Tuskegee was the best selling album in all of country for the first half of 2012, despite not one song on the album being anything the public hadn’t heard before, and without the album producing even one single with any significant radio play. And for this, yes, we did use the most unflattering picture of Lionel we could find.
Can you get any more pompus than superimposing yourself on the set of The Johnny Cash Show, sharing the stage with the Man In Black? Well that’s what Everlast, the front man for the 90’s rap group House of Pain did back in 2008 when he remixed Johnny’s “Folsom Prison Blues” with House of Pain’s only hit “Jump Around.” This wasn’t Everlast’s first run at country rap. In 2004 he released an album called White Trash Beautiful that had a country-rap feel; his first on the rap label Def Jam. The album was panned by critics, was a commercial flop, and Def Jam dropped him.
When the whole late 90’s angst “children of divorce” bit had run its course, singer Aaron Lewis of the depresso rock band Staind shed the eyebrow ring and started playing solo acoustic shows and calling them country after his rock radio support dried up, and despite the songs sounding no different from his acoustic rock solo work. His lead country single “Country Boy” was laughable at best, with self-aggrandizing lyrics and a silly self-righteous video. His second single, the formulaic “Endless Summer” had the dubious distinction of being the first song to name drop Jason Aldean.
Things did improve slightly on Lewis’s first LP, The Road.
Sheryl Crow is like a bad rash that spreads everywhere and won’t go away. It was only a matter of time before she brought her bland mix of genero pop and lame rock to the country airwaves, despite there being little to no difference sonically between her pre and post “gone country” material. It’s not that Sheryl Crow’s music is terrible. It’s the everywhere nature of her persona always being shoehorned into every televised music event, album compilation, awards show, etc. etc., regardless of genre or context. We get it. It’s Sheryl Crow. Enough already.
Kid Rock has been accused of “going country” many times from incorporating country elements into his songs, including with Sheryl Crow on their successful 2002 duet “Picture.” But Kid Rock has always flatly denied wanting to be part of the genre itself.
Darius Rucker, aka Hootie from Hootie & The Blowfish blew the rock scene for greener country pastures in 2008. However bland Hootie’s country music might be, he’s done a fair job over the years keeping his nose clean and not releasing anything too offensive. Some folks were up in arms when he was inducted to the Grand Ole Opry, but that is more on the Opry than Rucker.
Bing Crosby was actually the first pop star to go country. In 1944 he released a version of Al Dexter’s “Pistol Packin’ Mama,” and because Billboard had just launched a dedicated country chart, it became country music’s very first #1.
Bon Jovi became the first rock band to top the country charts with their song “Who Says You Can’t Go Home,” featuring Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland. That enticed the hair-era band to cut the album Lost Highway in Nashville. It included guest appearances by Big & Rich and Leann Rimes.
Metallica‘s song “Mama Said” off their 1996 album Load featured steel guitar and a cowboy-hatted James Hetfield in the song’s video. Hefield also covered Waylon Jennings’ “Don’t Y’all Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Got Out of Hand” for the 2003 tribute album I’ve Always Been Crazy.
Mike D of the Beastie Boys, under the persona “Country Mike” released a country record in 2000 called Country Mike’s Greatest Hits, but he only made it available to friends and family. Bootlegs of the album are available, and copies of the record on vinyl bring top dollar on eBay.
Kevin Bacon, along with his brother Michael Bacon, have a band called The Bacon Brothers that play country rock. Since the brothers have been playing music with each other since they were kids, it’s hard to characterize them as “going country” even though Kevin is primarily known as an actor. The brothers also work together for music on TV shows and soundtracks.
Lady Gaga released “Born This Way (The Country Road Version)” in March of 2011, making tabloid writers run to their laptops to declare The Fame Monster was “going country,” but it was more a ploy to continue to drive sales for that one particular song.
Jewel, Kelly Clarkson, Smash Mouth’s Steve Harwell, Kevin Costner, Olivia Newton-John and Michelle Branch are some other non-country stars that have “gone country.”
July 15, 2013 @ 12:09 pm
Don’t forget Barbi Benton!!
Almost Out of Gas
July 15, 2013 @ 12:59 pm
Haha, I got to come clean here. I had her first album and it was aweful, terrible…. until the POSTER dropped out on the floor from hiding inside the cover. I’m a bad person!
July 15, 2013 @ 1:34 pm
Well, she was one of Hugh’s girlfriends!
July 15, 2013 @ 12:12 pm
Fun list. I’ve long liked Everlast. Eat at Whitey’s is one of my favorite albums, and there is even some good stuff off the album that Folsom Prison Blues was on.
He can be as shitty as anybody else at times, though.
November 5, 2013 @ 12:01 pm
Hey, I dig some of Everlast’s stuff too. I am about Everlast and Kid Rock’s age and as someone who grew up on rap, I find it interesting that the white rappers get drawn into southern rock/country as well. Not sure what the sociology is on that, but that’s kind of why I never bash either one of them.
July 15, 2013 @ 12:14 pm
How could you forget the atrocious debut of Kristen Chenoweth? And Uncle Kracker is still trying to be a country act.
Also Re: Aaron Lewis: his last single “Forever” was pretty epic. Was it just me who fell for that one?
July 15, 2013 @ 12:24 pm
July 16, 2013 @ 9:38 am
I have that record. It’s really pretty entertaining, and pays respectful homage to the music it spoofs.
July 15, 2013 @ 12:31 pm
Sometimes I like seeing artists go country. See Hank3, Joe Buck, Austin Lucas, etc. I know… not really what you were talking about in the article, but I think it’s worth noting that it can be done right.
July 15, 2013 @ 12:55 pm
I agree it can be done right. Most of the examples above were folks that had already established careers in other genres or fields and then moved into country. The ones you listed are small time folks still getting their feet under them as artists and figuring their way.
July 15, 2013 @ 1:36 pm
True, Hank 3 played in Superjoint Ritual which is a pretty damn big band as far as metal is concerned and then jumped over onto country when he had to pay child support and realized theres no money in punk/metal and knew he already had a guaranteed paycheck with his lucrative name in country music.
July 15, 2013 @ 2:36 pm
Hank3 played in Superjoint Ritual after he had already signed with Curb Records and put out “Risin’ Outlaw.” One of the reasons he did it was to kill time as the courts hashed out the release of “This Ain’t Country” and “Straight to Hell.”
July 16, 2013 @ 1:49 pm
Woops my bad. I don’t follow his stuff too closely and that was the impression I got.
July 15, 2013 @ 12:33 pm
Terry Bradshaw…seriously? I did not know that. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but he’s not just not half bad, he’s pretty good. Compared to Jessica Simpson and Tiffany he’s like Merle Haggard
July 15, 2013 @ 12:42 pm
A few of Lionel’s songs, especially the ballads, with the Commodores had bits of country influence, so his turn at recutting his tunes with a country slant wasn’t surprising to me at all. I’d read that he had done the album because his record company wanted him to go the Rod Stewart route and do an album of standards instead, but he refused and handed them the country album instead.
July 16, 2013 @ 7:14 am
Richie went country years before this album was released. “Stuck on You” was a moderate country hit, and his duet with Alabama on “Deep River Woman” was top 10. Both were more country than anything Jason Aldean has ever thought about recording.
July 15, 2013 @ 12:57 pm
The Metallica bit interests me, however at odds it is with their image and the image of the genre they profess to be a part of. Oh, and The Bacon Brothers is pure comedic gold. Is their backing band called the BLTs or the Biscuits?
July 15, 2013 @ 1:29 pm
I guess Metallica have been in no man’s land since being rejected by serious metal fans in the early ’90s (after courting the mainstream with their self-titled), so trying different things makes sense for them. Of course, country fandom is as purist as metal fandom (rightly so!), so it was hardly going to work out.
July 16, 2013 @ 7:17 am
Friends in Low Places has been a part of Metallica’s live show since the early 1990s.
I remember when Garth Brooks exploded all over the place in about 1990 or so, Lars Ulrich was being interviewed about the time of some awards show and said” I just want to know one thing: Who is Garth Brooks?”
July 18, 2013 @ 6:21 pm
Never was a fan of “Mama Said,” but I also pretty much hated Load and Re-Load in their entirety. I actually really like Hetfield’s cover of “Outlaw Bit,” though there’s nothing at all country about it.
December 18, 2015 @ 1:22 am
Lololol. No, sausage.
July 15, 2013 @ 1:21 pm
I have to admit that Terry Bradshaw song wasn’t bad. Reminds me of a time a few months back when I was listening to one of those classic country music channels on Comcast and a John Schneider (yes, Bo Duke) song came on that sounded great. I’d always seen his records on display in Cooter’s Museum in Nashville but I never expected the music to be any good.
I think Lenny Kravitz might be a future honorable mention for this too, since his appearances at the CMT Awards and CMA fest last month seriously paralleled what Lionel Richie did a few months prior to to releasing his gone country album. I think he showed up for either the CMA’s or the ACM’s as a special end of the awards show performer.
July 15, 2013 @ 2:39 pm
Lenny may have given his future in country the double bird when he gave the double bird to the CMA Fest crowd when they couldn’t get into his 12-year-old love anthem. I agree that may have been the precursor to a country career, and Lenny blew it.
July 16, 2013 @ 7:49 am
It’s old than that. It’s the title track of his first album, which came out in 1989. First Lenny Kravitz song I ever heard.
July 15, 2013 @ 1:38 pm
Charlie Rich and Conway Twitty got their starts in Rockabilly and then went country later to find much success as far as I recall.
July 15, 2013 @ 2:04 pm
Here’s couple of really good country albums that seemed to be “labor of love” efforts:
Van Morrison – Pay the Devil
John Prine – In Spite of Ourselves
July 16, 2013 @ 9:36 am
Van Morrison did a country album much earlier in his career, “Tupleo Honey”, which is REALLY good.
July 15, 2013 @ 2:15 pm
To be fair, Bing Crosby owned a HUGE ranch in Nevada, where he spent a lot of his time. He was such a fixture around Elko (Home of the Western Folklife Center and the Elko Cowboy Poetry Gathering, which is a hub for western music), in his ranch clothes, that the mayor presented him with a Levi’s Tuxedo jacket to match his jeans. Bing was hassled at a hotel for showing up in boots, jeans, and a cowboy hat. (The mayor even sewed a special certificate inside the jacket that told hotels to admit Bing Crosby on his orders) Gene Autry and many others of that era were heavily inspired by Bing’s singing voice.
Also, Dean Martin recorded A TON of country songs, and his version of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” is really great.
July 15, 2013 @ 2:41 pm
Yeah, I wasn’t really knocking on Bing Crosby as much as sharing and interesting fact. A lot of those crooners do some really good jobs on country standards. Let’s not forget Ray Charles, even though their version may not necessarily be country. A good song can transcend genre.
July 15, 2013 @ 2:53 pm
Thanks for bringing up Ray Charles. Would you consider him the best instance of a non-country artist crossing over into country?
July 16, 2013 @ 9:34 am
Good point Trigger. I think that should be a thing, Bing Crosby was more legitimately country than Luke Bryan and the rest of the sparkly jeans brigade.
July 16, 2013 @ 9:35 am
I mean, like a meme.
July 16, 2013 @ 7:28 am
Another point, when the Billboard started publishing the “Hot Country” charts, it was more regional then genre-based. Several WWII-era pop crooners had limited success on the country charts in those days.
And Dean Martin recorded a lot of country music. He brought some of the truly great Country tunes to “urban” listeners who couldn’t take the “twang” of the original recordings, but was able to do so without sucking the soul out of the music.
July 15, 2013 @ 2:18 pm
How about The Reverend Horton Heat, Mike Ness, Swingin’ Utters…And, my all-time favorite ever: WEEN 12 Golden Country Greats.
The WEEN album is actually a very well done composition of original songs with some outstanding Nashville session players featured.
July 15, 2013 @ 2:45 pm
List list is more about folks who were established in other areas of entertainment and then came to country to revitalize their careers. As Jack Williams said above, I would describe these as “labors of love.” The Rev has always had some country stuff worked in. As far as Ween goes, I totally agree with you, and included them on the SCM “Greatest Albums of All Time” list. I’ve been threatening to do a review of that album for years.
July 15, 2013 @ 2:36 pm
Evan Dando did not make the list? The Lemonheads were all over the place in the early ’90’s alternative boom and then a few years ago he resurfaced playing country rock after having discovered Gram Parsons.
What about U2’s iteration as the Dalton Brothers? I think that was obviously a tongue-in-cheek thing but it was at a time when they were delving deep into America’s musical traditions. I always thought “Trip Through Your Wires” had a strong country element, both sonically and thematically:
July 15, 2013 @ 3:12 pm
I didn’t know that Aaron Lewis had a pre-country foray into music, but I like his 2 country CDs a lot.
I think that he sings with a lot of heart and soul.
Since we are throwing out the names of singers who have performed country music, but who are associated with other genres, I would add Jimmy Buffett to the list.
He was hired by MCA in around 1973 to fill the singer-songwriter slot that Jim Croce had maintained, and he developed his own Calypso Carribean sound.
But, before that, he had cut 2 albums with Barnaby Records, Down to Earth (which sold 324 copies (one of which hangs matted and framed on my wall)) followed by High Cumberland Jubilee (which Barnaby didn’t even bother releasing until Jimmy had cut some hits with MCA and someone at Barnaby realized they still had one of his albums in the can.
Like David Allan Coe, Jimmy Buffett is best known for a few rather mindless, but humorous, tunes (Cheeseburger in Paradise and Margaritaville for Jimmy Buffett) and DAC’s cover of Steve Goodman’s You Never Even Called Me by My Name), but he is a cerebral songwriter who can really artistically convey some deep feelings and astute observations.
July 16, 2013 @ 8:20 am
“Savannah Fare You Well” is one of my favorites. He can certainly still do country very well on occasion.
July 16, 2013 @ 8:59 am
Did’t Buffet start out in Nashville? I think he was a songwriter. He wrote “Railroad Lady” for Lefty Frizzell, if my memory serves (which it usually doesn’t).
July 16, 2013 @ 9:31 am
Jimmy Buffet started out as a pretty country-ish performer, basing his persona on Jerry Jeff Walker. I’d also check out the movie Rancho Deluxe, which is an awesome movie and has a VERY country soundtrack by Jimmy Buffet, who performs in the movie, before he got into the whole beach bum thing.
July 16, 2013 @ 1:19 pm
The 70’s and 80’s Buffett was gold (most of it anyway). Not so much after that when he went to a 30 piece band.Hell of a songwriter back in the day.Great storyteller.Gotta tip your hat to him in the way he’s always done whatever he’s wanted to,and still found a way to get ridiculously rich!
December 18, 2015 @ 1:32 am
If you want to see a hilarious take on Jimmy Buffett, you should watch the “Yacht Rock” series on YouTube, his character is featured in the one of the episodes (he’s not really yacht rock, but I like his stuff anyway). Love yacht rock (the sub genre of music), and Yacht Rock, the spoof of the artists in it (though I could never consider my beloved Steely Dan yacht rock either, are you kidding, two New York Jews who hated California while they lived there?)
July 15, 2013 @ 3:26 pm
How about Elvis Costello & the Attractions’ ‘Almost Blue’ (1981)?
Here’s one of the singles from it — “A Good Year for the Roses”:
July 15, 2013 @ 6:00 pm
Costello appears on “Living for a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran” with Jamey Johnson doing “She’ll be Back” as well.
July 15, 2013 @ 3:40 pm
Conway Twitty and Jerry Lee Lewis had the most success and I believe if Elvis didn’t pass away he was going to be a country entertainer permanently. I was a kid when he died and he already had a country album out and was getting serious radio play.
July 16, 2013 @ 7:36 am
Elvis really started out as a country artist. He wasn’t viewed primarily as a pop star until the movie era; in fact I seem to remember that after having a string of country hits in the 1950s, he had nothing on the country charts during the 1960s then picked up where he left off about 1970. And yes, given the direction that “top 40” radio was going in the late 1970s it’s more than likely he would have been considered strictly a country artist for the remainder of his career had he lived.
Conway Twitty wanted to be a country singer but didn’t believe he was good enough which is why he first emerged as a pop star.
July 15, 2013 @ 3:43 pm
Man, that can’t be Terry Bradshaws voice. No way. But if it is, it isn’t half bad.
July 15, 2013 @ 6:34 pm
Yup, I’ve heard that. 🙂
He’s also covered “Ring of Fire” (on the 2007 June Carter tribute ‘Anchored in Love’) and “Sleepless Nights” (on the 1999 Gram Parsons tribute ‘Return of the Grievous Angel’) — I thought those were pretty decent recordings.
July 15, 2013 @ 6:37 pm
Elvis Costello, I mean. (in response to Spoony)
July 15, 2013 @ 6:56 pm
I remember an interview with that guy from 3 Doors Down from around the time their “superman” song was a hit when he said he liked almost all music EXCEPT for country! Also, I like Metallica’s “Mama Said”. I’d like to see Hetfield, Pepper Keenan, and Zakk Wylde get together for a countrified southern rock album. Check out Black Label Society’s “Spoke In The Wheel”.
July 15, 2013 @ 7:28 pm
Wouldn’t it be fun to find that interview.
July 15, 2013 @ 8:41 pm
Seems like it was from mtv… I know it happened cause i saw it more than once.
July 15, 2013 @ 10:32 pm
A girl from The Voice also went “country.” Jessica Simpson’s album was more country than this song.
July 16, 2013 @ 5:32 am
I don’t understand the hate for Darius Rucker. I think most of his stuff Is pretty decent. Especially when comparing it to other stuff on mainstream country radio. I’d take him over Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean any day.
July 16, 2013 @ 6:52 am
And I would rather have a bad case of the flu than a terminal disease.
I think Darius Rucker seems like a pretty good guy. His “country” music is pretty run of the mill bland pop country, though. I got his first album for my wife shortly after it came out. Thought the first song or two weren’t bad (I think Sam Bush played on a song), but then I bored real fast. I was a little surprised that he went so formulaic pop country . Even Hootie and the Blowfish had “some” soul. Back then, at least he was name dropping Nanci Griffith and referring to Bob Dylan lyrics from Idiot Wind.
Side note – I bought that first Hootie album and grew tired of it really quickly. Tried to trade it in at used CDs stores numerous times without luck. Once, I mentioned that to a store owner after he decided not to buy it from me. He said “Yep. Everybody bought it. Everybody wants to get rid of it.”
July 16, 2013 @ 7:47 am
I’m with you on not understanding the hate. Content wise I get why some people might get bored with his music. Its unoffensive, but also bland.
But in terms of being a crossover artists I don’t think he deserves the flack he gets for that, since 1) he was the first non-country artist to join the genre after mainstream music started collapsing in the mid-2000’s, so jumping to country was an unproven model at that time, and 2) he’s black. Of all the genres an established black musician could try his hand at, county would not be high on that list.
I just don’t buy the notion that he needed to revive his music career and a switch to country was the easiest and in-sincerest way to go about that at the time.
July 16, 2013 @ 8:42 am
“I just don”™t buy the notion that he needed to revive his music career and a switch to country was the easiest and in-sincerest way to go about that at the time.”
Oh, I do think he switched to pop country to revive his career. However, I’ll also say that moving from bland roots rock to bland pop country is not necessarily such a radical transition. But after hearing his first album, it seemed to me that he was more interested in becoming a pop country star than a country artist. And given his admiration for and friendship with Nanci Griffith, I would think he has some idea what the difference is between the two.
July 16, 2013 @ 9:27 am
Ohh I’m with you that switching genres was a career revival attempt. I just don’t think it was the easy/commerical one that should be equated to a Jessica Simpson.
I just don’t see his label head saying “Darius we need a new direction for you, we could either go the John Legend R&B soul route, or how could you like to be a country star, which way do you think would be easier?”
Again consider the time. This was 2008. Before Kelly Clarkson had begun marketing herself that way, before Jessica Simpson and Aaron Lewis, before Kid Rock had his reality show on CMT, and before every American Idol also ran released a “country” single.
Country was not the go-to music career safe zone that it is today, much less for a black guy.
Yes, his music is bland, but I do think that for him at least it’s genuine.
July 16, 2013 @ 2:57 pm
I thought I went out of my way in this article to mention Darius because he’s obviously relevant to the conversation, but not throw him under the bus. I’d never found the occasion to say anything negative about Darius until he was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, and even then that was the Opry’s fault.
July 16, 2013 @ 9:25 am
Darius is the only one on this list I like some and that was mostly his first country album but his songs are bland like Trigger said. Wagon Wheel might be his most non-bland song, and except for Wagon Wheel and maybe a few others he’s gone pop with his newer songs. Why no steel in True Believers like he had on his first album? Joined the gone pop crowd? No hate here, just desire for better, more country songs.
July 17, 2013 @ 6:11 am
Darius Rucker sucks. Straight up doo doo.
July 16, 2013 @ 11:31 am
I’d love to hear that Mike D album.
July 16, 2013 @ 8:01 pm
I don’t like Sheryl Crow or Kid Rock but I seriously love Picture.
July 16, 2013 @ 9:59 pm
July 17, 2013 @ 6:08 am
I say if anyone “goes country” and it’s good then I’m all for it. As long as they don’t portray themselves lyrically as always being “a little bit country”. There is a lot of punk/metal fans and players that have done this successfully and I respect them. Most of them had grown up playing or listening to the music in there lives as well. I liked this article, but it would have been cool to see a good vs bad rather than just an obviously bad list. Very entertaining and worth the read. Thanks.
December 18, 2015 @ 1:37 am
I’ll bet anything you’re too young to remember it but you just gave me the most awful flashback of the Donny And Marie Show (they could sing, but neither one of them was even a little bit rock or country, lol).
December 18, 2015 @ 8:45 am
Yeah I’ll admit, I’ve never even seen an episode of that show. Haha
July 18, 2013 @ 9:16 am
I thought Eddie Spaghetti did a fair job going country
July 18, 2013 @ 10:14 pm
What about Christian Kane ? He sounds like a male version of Shakira on some songs, but I thought he was pretty good for a pop-country singer. LA Song was a fantastic song, compared to some of the songs on this list.
(for those who don’t know him, he used to play Lindsay in Angel, and he’s one of the main actors on Leverage)
July 19, 2013 @ 10:52 pm
The lyrics to Alan Jackson’s hit “Gone Country” are quite descriptive of the state of contemporary “country”, even 15 years after the song was released.
But at the same time, many artists who started out under the “country” label have not been much better than the artists who have “gone country”. Truth be told, “gone country” acts such as Sheryl Crow and Lionel Richie annoy me much less than the likes of Taylor Swift, Jason Aldean, and Brantley Gilbert.
July 24, 2013 @ 10:29 am
Although I’m not a fan of Taylor Swift’s music, her attitude on the subject is fairly refreshing. She acknowledges that she’s primarily a pop singer these days and expresses appreciation to country music for allowing her to get her start. Which to me is a lot more mature and honest than the route taken by other artists who used country music as a springboard for a more mainstream pop career such as Garth Brooks who say things like “I don’t really look at music in terms of genre” when called out about abandoning their roots. The fact that country radio is still hung up on her and continues to play her songs isn’t really her fault.
But the guys like Aldean, Gilbert, Bryan, etc. whose goal seems to be to redefine country music to be all about drinking, getting laid, and expressing how much better they are than anyone else because they live in small towns really drive me up a tree. The other day I heard three odes to jacked-up trucks in a row on the way to work. The only other station I could get in that area was the campus station for Maharishi University of Management which teaches transcendental meditation and yogic flying. I switched anyway, it was still a better alternative.
December 18, 2015 @ 1:42 am
I couldn’t say which annoy me the most, they both annoy me so very, very much, making country into some dumping ground for all the wrong reasons when country had a life, a vitality, and a tradition of its own to keep alive. This will be strong words coming from me, but I could almost hate these kinds of people for doing what they’ve done to country music.
On the other hand, I could hear a group like Atlanta Rhythm Section singing really country somehow. And the Allmans had it authentically in their genes, through the likes of Dicky Betts.
July 24, 2013 @ 10:30 am
Why no love for Billy Joe Royal on this list?
September 7, 2015 @ 7:53 am
Does no one remember the Avenged Sevenfold song Dear God?
It was a really good song but it was a gone country moment for sure. Loaded with steel guitar.
November 7, 2015 @ 7:58 pm
The Carpenters dipped their toe into the country pool a couple of times. “Top of the World” was a country hit for Lynn Anderson before the Carpenters released it themselves. And several years later the Carpenters themselves got a top 10 country hit with a Juice Newton composition called “Sweet, Sweet Smile,” which failed to make the pop top 40. Karen and Richard’s success on the pop charts was dwindling by then and the positive response “Sweet, Sweet Smile” got from country audiences led them to consider recording an all-country album (apparently it was not a conscious effort to appeal to country listeners), but A&M execs nixed that idea. They did release a four-song “Country Collection” EP to radio stations which also included “Top of the World” and their version of “Jambalaya” as well as the hit single, but that was as close as they got to releasing an actual “country” album.
Speaking of Dean Martin and other 1950s/1960s MOR artists who flirted with country sounds, another one to add to the list is Connie Francis, she of “Where the Boys Are” and “Who’s Sorry Now” fame. In 1960, at the peak of her career, her #1 pop hit “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool” crossed over to #24 on the country charts. Nine years later she hit the country Top 40 again with “The Wedding Cake,” and her last chart appearance on any Billboard singles chart, in 1982, was on the Country chart. Add to that the fact that she recorded three country albums, including one with none other than Hank Williams, Jr.
Also, regarding Olivia Newton-John… in the early years of her career, she appealed to country and pop listeners at the same time, like John Denver. She recorded her first several albums in England, not Nashville, and never consciously set out to be considered a “country singer,” as she was quick to point out in interviews at the time. It was not, at least not in 1973-74-75, a Darius Rucker, Brad Arnold or Sheryl Crow case of a washed-up pop/rock singer consciously aiming for the country charts, though in later years she did make more conscious efforts to appeal to country fans. She herself admitted in the ’70s that she didn’t understand what country music was all about.
Speaking of Lady Gaga, “You and I” – also from the “Born This Way” album – sounded an awful lot like a late ’90s Shania Twain song to me, specifically the verses on “Honey, I’m Home” – which is to say, not country but arena rock with a tad of country flavor.
By the way, did that Brad Arnold country album ever materialize?