Monthly Archives: September 2015

“Fly”ing to the Top of the Charts: Maddie and Tae’s Big Break

After much discussion in class on how country music typically can be male dominated and slightly degrading towards women, I began to realize that it is important to highlight someone who has chosen to fight back against female stereotypes. I began this hunt by examining the top 20 songs in country music today. The song “Fly” by Maddie and Tae caught my eye because it seemed familiar, so I gave it a listen.

maddie-tae-fly-video-teaser-imageMaddie and Tae’s single “Fly” offers a breathe of fresh air to country music. Amidst the ballads for lost lovers and tunes about trucks, Maddie and Tae offer some variety by showing off their beautiful melodies while uplifting the listeners. The young duet’s unique style shines through the song’s genuine lyrics. Unlike the typical style of country music that tells a story, this song does not specifically speak to one situation. It instead finds a way to reach out to each and every person wherever they are at in life.

So keep on climbing, though the ground might shake 
Just keep on reaching though the limb might break
We’ve come this far, don’t you be scared now
‘Cause you can learn to fly on the way down 

These words can comfort people in different stages of life: from someone who is overcoming heartbreak to someone who is struggling to find the motivation to continue living. This song outshines other top hits today because it chooses to address the human condition rather than the obvious topics that are easy to write about like love and drinking.

Fly is not the only song Maddie and Tae have stunned audiences with over the past few years. This duo debuted their career with Girl in a Country song in 2014 right after they both graduated high school. This all-too-catchy tune shoots daggers right into the heart of many country songs that stereotype women. Many artists today and throughout the decades pin women as sexual objects that are only good for one night. Maddie and Tae nail it when they argue that men think that “all [women are] good for is looking good for [them] and [their] friends on the weekend.” It is truly encouraging to see these women fearlessly tell it like it is and uplift women in doing so.

Maddie and Tae have definitely set the bar for young men and women alike with their unique perspective on life and I personally look forward to seeing what they come up with next to stun the world of country music.

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Filed under Blog Post 3, Country Pop, Women

Montgomery Gentry

It’s so easy to forget that artists are people with real lives and traumas, not just singer/ song-writers that gain life experience solely for the purpose of putting it in a song. Eddie Montgomery is the better half of the musical group ‘Montgomery Gentry’ alongside Troy Gentry. This past week, Eddie Montgomery’s son was involved in a fatal car accident, a horror I can’t even begin to understand. I spent my entire life listening to Montgomery Gentry on the radio in the car and never once did I wonder about either of their families, or the things they might be dealing with. Upon further investigation, I learned that Montgomery had to undergo treatment for prostate cancer, was divorced by his wife (in the same month), AND closed a restaurant he owned all in under a few years. Doesn’t sound like an easy road to walk to me. I couldn’t have told you ANY of that but I sure can spout their album history off from memory, I could probably hit most of their singles as well.

The duo released their first album in 1999, and ‘Lonely and Gone‘ is one of my favorite country songs to date. Their southern rock influence, in tandem with their small-town, proud and loud personalities makes them one of the cooler country music artists in my opinion, aside from Gentry being kind of a dick, I try not to focus on that too much (exhibit A of people blatantly ignoring a musicians personal life and only caring about their music), alongside my personal favorite Toby Keith. Steven Huey of Allmusic referred to them as “multi-platinum country megastars noted for a soulful twang and a big black cowboy hat” and “rowdy redneck rebels who still hold small-town values”, and I really don’t think I could put it better myself. From ‘Daddy Won’t Sell the Farm” to ‘Work Hard, Play Harder’ their sound has been consistent, rambunctious, and in my opinion, it’s been great.

I don’t know if its really a problem that in lieu of scandal or controversy American culture cares more about the song than the artist behind it, I mean to be fair the singers probably appreciate the distance it gives them. Hunter’s death just brought it to my attention. The personal lives of songwriters are the only thing that influences their songs and we care so little about one and so greatly about the latter.  RIP Hunter, and my condolences to Eddie Montgomery.


Filed under Blog Post 2, News, Rockabilly, Southern Rock

Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time”: A Music Video Review

sam-hunt-instagramDebuting his first full-length studio album Montevallo in late 2014, Sam Hunt is fairly new to the country music scene. Upon first listening, I found him to be fairly similar to the rest of the up and coming bro-country singers; he didn’t appear to have an incredibly distinct sound or look (though I can’t deny that he’s completely gorgeous), and his lyrics seemed to discuss nothing more than beautiful women. This was also my first impression of his song “Take Your Time” (2015)—I thought it was simply about trying to pick up a girl in a bar. However, after watching the music video for this song, I now have a deeper understanding of the song itself and a heightened respect for Sam Hunt as an artist.

The “Take Your Time” video is a completely unexpected presentation of the song as it tackles the difficult and raw topic of domestic violence. The video starts off happily by showing a woman, her husband/boyfriend, and their baby shopping together and enjoying kisses on the forehead. However, the story quickly turns dark as the man’s alcoholic tendencies and anger issues are exposed. Sam, watching these events unfold as a bystander, tries to find the best way to intervene. At the end of the video, he finally fights the man off while the woman and her baby escape in a beaten up pickup truck.

Sam’s lyrics “I don’t wanna steal your freedom / I don’t wanna change your mind / I don’t have to make you love me / I just wanna take your time” discusses his hesitancy in intervening in what appears to be an unsafe and troubling relationship. Sam is put in a difficult position as he struggles to find the courage to trust his instincts and take action. He isn’t trying to get the girl to fall for him, but instead is truly concerned about her well-being and wants her to “take [the] time” to get help.

I am completely impressed with Sam’s use of this video to promote social change and make a statement about something so real and under-discussed. Bringing issues to light is one of the first steps in creating change, and this song is the perfect example of how musicians possess the power to fight for causes that they care about. I’m excited to see where the rest of Sam’s career takes him, and am hopeful that he will continue to use his talent and passion to make a difference—ultimately encouraging others to follow in his footsteps.


Filed under Blog Post 2, Bro Country, Music Videos, Reviews, Song Analysis

How Sara Evans Helped Me Get Over My First Breakup

So picture this: I’m 14 years old, I’ve been in high school for 6 months, and am awkward as can be. I still hadn’t quite figured out how the whole public school thing worked and I missed the 43 people I’d gone to school with for the past 10 years. Dressing myself was still a struggle because I’d only ever worn a uniform, and I was only so good at making new friends. I blame all of this on private school, but that’s beside the point.

Lets rewind to October 2010, my second month of high school. Enter the boy…we’ll call him Charlie. Charlie asked me to homecoming after I only knew him for two weeks and it was a HUGE deal. A boy? Liked me? It was crazy! The homecoming date progressed into a five-month relationship- this was monumentally long considering it was basically a middle school level relationship.

Unfortunately for my freshman year self and fortunately my future self, the relationship ended. At the time, it felt like the sky was falling. How could I possibly recover from being broken up with? I wallowed in self-pity for way to long, going over and over the heartbreak of the breakup.

That is, until one morning while I was getting ready for school and listening to Today’s Country Radio on Pandora, Sara Evans’ “A Little Bit Stronger” came on. This is the song that changed it all. Her country twang and singing style was different from most other female country singers so it caught my attention. This song in particular was exactly what I needed to hear. I guess you could say it “spoke” to me. The line “Even on my weakest days, I get a little bit stronger” ,in particular, got me out of bed and pepped up that day.

For about a month after that, I listened to that song every morning, day, and night. I would belt out the song along with her, I’m pretty sure the entire neighborhood could hear me singing “I’m better off without baby” at the top of my lungs. I credit this song as the inspiration for my high school comeback. From here on it got better. I figured out how to dress myself and made amazing friends, but I couldn’t have done it without Sara.

As my one-sided relationship with Sara Evans progressed, I discovered I identify with her a lot. She’s got opinions about country music that I can’t say I disagree with, mainly that there needs to be more equality in the genre, which is seemingly dominated by male artists. I loved a quote I found from her saying that she’s “excited to hear any song that’s not about drinking, or beer, or trucks, or partying, or jeans…” which can be found in this Rolling Stone Article here. I find her music refreshing, it’s different from most other songs on country radio stations right now. Not saying that every song about beer and trucks are horrible, but her music offers a nice reprieve from the common themes.

Lucky for me, these opinions of hers have led her to write songs that speak to people. Songs that tell a story and lift people up. And that help a teenage girl get over her first breakup and conquer the world of public high school.


Filed under Blog Post 2, Country Pop, Reflection, Song Analysis, Women

Carrie Underwood: Still at the Top of Her Game

Seven-time Grammy winner Carrie Underwood isn’t bowing out anytime soon. The country music queen and former American Idol winner is the most successful Idol finalist of all-time. Actually, Carrie Underwood is one of the most successful artists of all-time, period. It is hard to believe that it has been ten years since her outstanding powerhouse career took off. She has been a one-of-a-kind influence on country music, leaving a certain impact that not even Taylor Swift could. As an avid long-time fan, nothing makes me happier than to hear that Carrie Underwood isn’t slowing down.

carriedollyCarrie’s unbelievable vocals and numerous record-breaking albums and singles have been groundbreaking in the country music industry and beyond. She has been one of the first female country singers to maintain such a tremendously successful career because she appeals to even to people who normally don’t like female country singers. She is an influence and an inspiration to artists of all ages and of different genres. Underwood remains dedicated to continued success. At only 32, she already has a Greatest Hits album that chronicles her numerous chart-topping singles.

Carrie welcomed her first child in late February 2015, and the new mom has no plans to slow down anytime soon. Her fifth album, titled Storyteller will be released in October. Many people have the assumption, and not without precedence, that country female singers almost disappear and lose momentum once they begin a family. Carrie Underwood is indicating that she is planning on doing anything but.

The first single off of the new album “Smoke Break”, is already a major success. Many notable critics have been raving about the lyrics, Underwood’s vocals, and the sound of the song in general. Carrie Underwood is fantastic at sticking with what works, exploring trends, but never straying too far away from the type of sound that has made her successful and that country music embraces.

Carrie Underwood's latest album will be released on October 23rd.

Carrie has been very vocal about the sound of Storyteller, and “Smoke Break” gives a good indication of what is yet to come when the full album is released. She is striving to release a more “laidback” album compared to Blow Away, which was released in 2013. Senior year of high school I got to see her Blown Away Tour, and it was one of the best, most entertaining and well-done tours I have ever seen. Fans of Carrie’s early albums will certainly be happy with the more relaxed tunes. At the same time, Underwood continues to explore with country rock as she has on previous albums to great approval.

Besides the outstanding vocals and sound, “Smoke Break” skyrocketed to the top of the charts because of the message and reliability of the lyrics to everyday Americans. The same message has also created some controversy, with a group people upset because they feel Carrie Underwood is somehow promoting smoking. Many critics and reporters have defended the song and its message. Smoke Break is a “filler for any vice” someone might have when they need to get away, and just take a break. In fact, many outlets have praised this latest single as an exceptional “Blue Collar Anthem”.

One of the last seasons of American Idol I watched was when Carrie Underwood won. As a lover of country music and a big fan of Carrie, I have followed her career since my middle school days. I can still remember my dad taking me to get her album Carnival Ride. I am constantly shocked by how good she is and how much better she continues to get as time goes on, even when it seems impossible. Her good friend, collaborator, and country superstar in his own right, Brad Paisley sums it up best when told TIME Magazine, “not only has she earned her place, she’s also raised the bar: she’s a prolific songwriter, a trendsetter.”


Filed under Blog Post 2