It is an ugly, stupefying, embarrassing black eye that Thomas Rhett and his big bag of nothing is the current reigning ACM Male Vocalist of the Year, with the only salve to put on that sour, pussing wound of a dubious accolade being that the ACM’s ceased to be anything more than an insular circle jerk for the industry many years ago. Thomas Rhett’s coronation only solidifies that. Still, the idea that Rhett is even being attempted to be crowned as one of the top artists in “country” is an abomination of the highest order.
There’s a reason that every time you see something written about Thomas Rhett, his hot wife is in tow. It’s because she’s more interesting just standing there than Thomas Rhett is singing and moving around. She’s pregnant, she’s going over to third-world countries to volunteer and adopt a young girl, then she has a baby of her own. You can’t get away from it. She’s Thomas Rhett’s best salesperson because if you actually settle your mind on Thomas Rhett’s music, you quickly conclude he flat sucks. So they guise it behind People Magazine copy. You don’t buy into Thomas Rhett’s music, you buy into his celebrity lifestyle.
I’m sure Thomas Rhett is an excellent family man and smells fantastic. Nominate him for father of the year all you want, and I won’t submit a gripe. But as a country music artist, he deserves nothing. Luke Bryan is also a good person. I hate his music, but I get why 13 to 17-year-old girls go crazy for him. He’s got the sexy dance moves or whatever. But if Luke Bryan is Gomer Pyle, Thomas Rhett is Opie.
So apparently Thomas Rhett is releasing a new album called Life Changes, and to promote it, he’s going on what The Boot described as a “small club” tour, and what the Thomas Rhett camp dubs as “Live from the B-Stage.” This is the music tour equivalent to spending $1,200 on a pair professionally fashion-curated pre-ripped jeans, or you know, some shirt with holes in it (see above). It’s bid for authenticity from the most inauthentic and manufactured second-generation preordained “country” star our generation has seen.
As country music’s current stars become more prefabricated, become less and less naturally talented, spend less time paying dues and putting in service time early in their careers to justify their ascent, they lean more and more on the artifice of authenticity, knowing they don’t have the real world battle scars to make the words count when they try to identify with the lives of the common man.
First, Thomas Rhett’s “small club” tour only consists of three dates. Yeah sorry, but a long weekend isn’t the equivalent to what true country artists stuck in an Econoline vans playing for beer and tips have to suffer through to bring the music to the people for six week stints. And the capacity of these small clubs? Joe’s in Chicago has local fire marshal cutting it off at 2,000 heads. And notice you can’t get into these shows unless you’re part of some exclusive invite or fan club? This isn’t about bringing the music back to the people in intimate performances, it’s about excluding the common man from the upper crust experience.
There are no “B Level” stages. The idea that artists who play 1,500-2,500-capacity clubs are somehow inferior to Thomas Rhett or anyone else is really an insult, and an aberration of the truth. I understand in the music industry there must be slotting at festivals and venues based on an artist’s estimated draw, but any artist who can book and fill a club with 1,000 people, especially if they haven’t had a career delivered to them on a silver platter and the support of radio or other mass media, deserves a pat on the back, not a backhanded compliment.
If there was anything, or anyone’s career who ever deserved the distinction of being “B-Level,” it would be Thomas Rhett.