Monthly Archives: September 2014

The iHeartRadio Country Festival

Lights flashing, fans screaming, and music blaring; the iHeartRadio Country Festival 2014 was in full swing. It was held at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin. Obviously, Austin was a perfect place to have one of the best country lineups to date. Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, Eric Church, Lady Antebellum, Hunter Hayes, Carrie Underwood, Jake Owen, and Dan + Shay all blew the roof off. My favorite performance was Eric Church. He played a lot of the songs on his newest album, but didn’t forget to play “Springsteen” and “Drink in My Hand.” Without a doubt, the artist that had the biggest reaction from the audience was Luke Bryan. Maybe it was because he performed last, or maybe it was because all the ladies go crazy for him.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was the official charity partner of the event, and this altered my impression of country music. We all know the stereotypes: beer chugging, short shorts, and cut off t-shirts. This concert was different. It shifted the spotlight to an important cause, and the crowd loved it. I have never heard of a rap or hip-hop concert that had a charity sponsorship.

The iHeartRadio Country Festival was the second country festival that I’ve been exposed to. Back home in Minnesota, WE Fest is the festival of choice for country fans. The alcohol-induced crowd camps out for three nights and every day seems mashed together. It holds a similar big name lineup, but also has some small label bands perform as well. In comparison to concerts that differ in genre, country music concerts have always been the most fun! Everyone sings every song. People dance, make friends with strangers, and are all there to support the country music industry.

Looking back, the iHeartRadio Country Festival was the best concert I’ve ever been to. The fact that it was in what we most call “The Live Music Capital of the World” made the concert seem that much more relevant in country music terms. After learning about Austin’s role in Willie Nelson’s career, I now realize how important Austin was to the progression of country music. Now all I can think about is getting tickets for the next festival. Who is going to be in the lineup? Who do you want to see the most? Have you been to a big country music Festival? I’m just hoping that Eric Church comes back for another time around.


Filed under Austin, Live Music, New Country

Country Nights on Spotify

I recently caved in to the pressures from society, and all of my friends, and made myself an account on Spotify. I had never really understood what the big deal was, because I had music on my ITunes and listened to the radio whenever I was in my car. I got my fix of music, both country and other, or so I thought. I went online and decided to take the plunge and create an account just to see what all of the hype was about.

Needless to say, my life has been changed forever. I went for the Premium option since it’s half off for students, and why not spend more money as a broke college student. I didn’t really know what I was doing, as I was new to the Spotify experience, so I just started clicking random things and searching for random music.

Of course, being the fanatic I am, my first search was for anything country. I stumbled upon a playlist titled Country Nights, which contained a mix of country-dance music and many songs that you might hear on your typical country radio station. To say that I listened to this playlist non-stop in all of my free time would be an understatement because I listened to this music even when I should have been studying or paying attention to other things. Imagine my excitement when I realized the true glory of Spotify playlists; they are continuously adding new music.

In the past week, there have been five new songs added to the list: “Burnin’ It Down” and “Tonight Looks Good On You” by Jason Aldean, “Drink It Up” by Kenny Chesney, “Lonely Tonight” by Blake Shelton ft. Ashley Monroe, and “Day Drinking” by Little Big Town.

  1. Burnin’ It Down” by Jason Aldean Like a lot of Jason Aldean’s music, this song has a very pop feel, with the addition of some techno/alternative hints at the beginning of the song and a little bit throughout. It is trying to be a slow, more intimate song, but the background bass and electric sounds are leaning more toward a dance song. The words themselves are kind of country, but, honestly, I don’t think the song really fits Jason Aldean’s personality. Even though Jason has, as of 5 days ago, a fiancé 10 years younger than him, he is typically seen as more of a family man with his 2 young daughters. This song, however, is a very sexual song, which, aside from his photographed affair in 2012, is not typically Jason’s style. Overall, I’d say this is more R&B than country in its makeup.85fcc9e1717888a8ccbb031dab8eb44398e12a85
  1. Tonight Looks Good On You” by Jason Aldean Just like “Burnin’ It Down,” this song has a very techno background feel throughout the song. My feelings about this song are pretty similar to my feelings of “Burnin’ It Down.” I don’t think that this is really a country song, and honestly I think that Jason is pulling a Taylor Swift move and drifting toward pop music. I don’t know if it’s intentional, but I think these songs are definitely showing this dramatic change in his production standard. Only time will tell whether this is a good move or bad move for Jason.
  1. Drink It Up” by Kenny Chesney This song is totally country in my opinion. It has a strong rock influence, but I think that in this case it really adds to the country feel. The drinking theme throughout the song is one that is very frequently used in country music, and the asymmetrical rhythm gives the song more of a rough, redneck feel. Kenny Chesney has come on to many people’s radars recently with the popularity of “American Kids,” but I definitely think that this is one of my favorite songs of his I have heard.
  1. Lonely Tonight” by Blake Shelton ft. Ashley Monroe Before I saw this song appear on the playlist, I had never heard of Ashley Monroe, so I was very skeptical at first. However, as normal, Blake Shelton did not disappoint with his song or his duet partner. This song encompasses everything that I think of when I think of a country love song. The lyrics flow without being overwhelmingly cheesy, and the song tells a story. That, plus the fact that Blake and Ashley’s voices perfectly complement each other, makes this song perfect in my eyes.
  1. Day Drinking” by Little Big Town This song has been playing for a while now on country radio stations, so, having heard it before, I was very excited when I saw it had been added to the playlist. The whistling at the start of the song sets that initial country feel that is portrayed so heavily throughout the song. Like “Drink It Up” by Kenny Chesney, this song plays off of the theme of drinking and having a good time that is so prevalent in so many country songs. This is just a really happy, feel good song, which I think will stay in the country scene for a long time, especially with the catchy beat that will make people want to sing along.

Although not all of the recently posted songs are one hundred percent country in my eyes, I love how great this playlist is. I’m really looking forward to seeing what songs are posted in the coming weeks, because I have already discovered some great new music, and I can’t wait to see what’s next!


Filed under Lists, New Country, Song Analysis

Two-Steppin’ in Texas

They say that Austin, Texas is the Live Music Capital of the World, and I certainly can’t disagree. With concerts on every corner and live music in every bar, it’s hard to deny that Austin has earned that name. And although I’ve lived in Austin all my life, I’m sad to disclose that I really never attended any of those concerts or lingered long enough on an impromptu jam session to really appreciate them. However, since I started classes at UT, I’ve been more interested in experiencing the unique scene that is Austin, and that desire has driven me to places that I never expected to go. Now, mind you, I’m not really the kind of person to be that adventurous, so this feat of mine really only stretched as far as to go listen to live country music.

Ever since I was little, country music was the only genre played in my house, so I always had a soft spot for the nostalgic love song and the George Strait twang. I’m not sure why, but my parents never took me to a concert in my youth (disappointing, I know), so I had to venture off on my own to figure out just how great music is when played live.

So for my 20th birthday, accompanied by my best friend and my boyfriend, I visited Midnight Rodeo, a country dance hall in South Austin. Even on their website, they announce, “It sounds just like Texas in here!” And boy, are they right. As soon as I walked in, I knew the night was bound to be special. The atmosphere was absolutely amazing, completely unlike any place I had ever been before. There were boots and cowboy hats everywhere, and if you weren’t wearing boots, you could bet that you’d stick out like a sore thumb.

Midnight Rodeo in all its glory.

Midnight Rodeo in all its glory.

In the beginning of the night a DJ played mostly Nashville country, so we two-stepped to the honkytonk beat and had a great time. Eventually, though, it was time for the live music and soon Texas country artist Roger Creager took the stage. Before that night, I had never heard of Roger Creager before, mostly because I really wasn’t ever a fan of Texas country; it just has a completely different sound than your typical “radio” country. But the longer he played, the more I found myself dancing along and loving it. He played “The Everclear Song” (a popular crowd favorite, as I could tell) and “Love Is Crazy,” which brought all the couples out to the dance floor to enjoy the love ballad. By the end of the night, I was completely in love with Roger Creager’s music and the whole idea of live Texas country music.

My best friend and I with Roger Creager!

My best friend and me with Roger Creager!

The whole experience really opened my eyes to the world of live music, and also the subgenre of Texas country. Now I can’t help but sing along to “The Everclear Song” and linger a little longer when I hear live music being played around town. I’m so thankful for the experience and I’m excited to pass on the love of live country music to others.

Feel free to reply with a comment below about your favorite country music experience or respond to mine!


Filed under Dancing, Live Music, Reflection

The Legends All Together

Country music has always been my main go-to music. Whether I am sad or happy, no matter the time of day, country music is always acceptable. I have gone to plenty of country music concerts from Lady A. to George Strait. As a country music fan, I look forward to the country awards shows, like the ACM’s and CMA’s. Something about hearing the new hits live, witnessing the new artists perform and hoping my favorite artist wins is a thrill in itself. In March 2013, I was privileged with my first live award show experience at the ACM’s, or Academy of Country Music Awards.

We took a girls trip to Vegas for my sister’s 21st birthday. Amidst the fun, quick- paced atmosphere of Vegas, we spent our last night attending the ACM awards. It was one of the most exciting experiences of my life. Seeing my favorite performers in one sitting and being in the same room with the top country artists was an adrenaline rush.

Along with getting to see all of my favorite performers, two of my favorite artists were the host of the award show, Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan. These two together are like stand up comedy. They crack jokes, make fun of one another, and even call out the other famous stars in the crowd.

The year we attended, George Strait was ending his “Cowboy Rides Away” tour. He only had a few scheduled, live performances left, and we were able to enjoy one of them. Being long-time fans of George Strait, it was a sentimental experience for my family.

Like most other award shows, there is always the “biggest award” at the end of the show. Along with being a host that year, Luke Bryan won ‘Artist Of The Year.’ It was rewarding to see him accept that award in person and genuinely thank the fans for being country music fans.

To top off the amazing experience we had being a part of the crowd, we unexpectedly ran into one of my all time favorite country artists, Clay Walker! It was a very cool experience to meet and talk with him. He kindly took a picture with us so we could have such a memorable experience documented. When I was little, my dad would play Clay Walker’s music every day on the way to elementary school. To me, he is one of the few country legends.Clay Walker!

We had an unforgettable experience at the ACM awards. Unforgettable enough that we decided to go back this past March. Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan hosted for the second year in a row, and the show was even better the second time around!


Filed under Awards, New Country, Reflection

The Ultimate Summertime Country Songs!

People say that country music is mostly for summertime, and I completely agree with that statement. Summertime is all about relaxing under the sun, drinking cold drinks and having no worries. Students are out of school, the weather is warm, and it’s just time to let loose. All of those resonate with themes of a lot of country songs, which make everyone want to listen to country music even more during summer.

Personally, 90% of my summer playlist consists of country music songs. Even if I didn’t actually make an effort to make a country music playlist, country music is playing everywhere I go during summer- in stores, on the radio, at the beach, just everywhere I can think of. Avoiding country music is almost impossible, especially given that I live in the state of Texas. Including Texas, “the dirty South” in general, became home of country music and people in the south are crazy about country music, and I think it could be that summer lasts just a bit longer in south than it does in other regions,

Before I really began to listen to country music, I always thought country music was just slow and had depressing lyrics; obviously, I was very wrong. I now know that many country singers release their albums in summer or around spring break time when the weather is just getting warm, and those songs are upbeat and have fun-to-listen-to or relatable lyrics. On that note, my list below mostly consists of those songs that were made for summertime and quite honestly, even when it’s not summer, I listen to those songs and they just make me happy in general. So, here we go:


  1. “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” & “Anywhere With You” (2011) – Jake Owen. “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” is first number one hit and this was the fastest-rising single in Jake Owen’s career. The album that these songs were in was released in August of 2011. There is no music video for “Anywhere With You,” but and the music video for “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” was taken at the beach, simply depicting the laid-back summer days hanging out by the water during the day and singing and drinking at night.
  1. “Springsteen” (2012) – Eric Church. This song was what made Eric Church known as a country singer nationwide. It was the first song of Eric Church to enter top twenty in Billboard Country Music, and got him nominated for Grammy Awards. The song is about teenage love and the main verse has a catchy, easy-to-sing-along melody. Even though the song wasn’t specifically made for summertime, verses like “stars in the sky,” and “flip-flops and cut-off jeans,” create summer-like images.


  1. “Beat This Summer” (2013) – Brad Paisley. The title of this song already gives away that it is about summertime. This song has a pretty up-tempo and the light guitar sound, which make the listeners just smile. The lyrics are fun, as the song is about a boy meeting a girl on a summer vacation. The music video is also fun to watch; it takes place on a boardwalk, and a little boy falls in love with a girl.


  1. “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem” (2002) – Kenny Chesney. This is one of my go-to beach songs, and one of the only few “old” country songs that I listen to. (I usually don’t listen to any country songs that came out before 2010.) The guitar sounds remind me of Hawaiian music, which of course, makes me think of the beach. Kenny Chesney’s “twang” (bizarrely) goes really well with the Hawaiian sounds, and the lyrics are just so laid-back, as you can tell from the title, which makes it more perfect for a beach song.
  1. “Knee Deep” (2011) – Zac Brown Band. The beats are simple yet a fun and even maybe a little bit funky, and the lyrics are well written. I like how it is solely beach-themed and it feature Jimmy Buffett. I find every single verse beautiful, but my favorite verses are, “Sunrise there’s a fire in the sky,” “It’s a sweet sweet life living by the salty sea,” and “When you lose yourself, you find the key to paradise.”
  1. “Cruise” (2012) – Florida Georgia Line. This song is probably one of the most famous modern country songs. Florida Georgia Line became very popular with this song, and there were even remix versions of this song, which also became successful. The two brothers (Florida Georgia Line) make great harmony and this song has a repetitive main verse with a catchy melody, which I think were the main reasons why this song was such a big hit. The lyrics and the original music video were about spending summer days in little country towns with a girl. This song is the best-selling country digital song in of all time in the United States and the remix music video featuring Nelly has over 25 millions views.


Filed under Lists, New Country, Song Analysis