Monthly Archives: October 2015

What if We Put Rap Lyrics to Country Music?

Over the years rap music has been one of those genres my parents tried to keep out of the house as long as possible. Even when I was in early high school I got into Christian rap which they immediately assumed was typical, inappropriate secular rap music (it took some convincing that the rappers in fact were NOT singing about drugs and alcohol). Rap music seems to cover a whole slew of controversies and in turn receives much of the backlash and hate for doing so. Meanwhile in country music a lot of the topics discussed are very similar yet do not take as much heat. Here are just a few comparisons between the two that might explain why this is. (side note: a lot of this is speculation from my experience with each of the genres so y’all may have differing opinions that I would love to hear.)

Sound. Country music generally has more upbeat melodies that you can dance to or just plain relax to. Popular songs such as “Friends in Low Places” and “The Boot-Scootin’ Boogie” make people want to get on their feet and dance. In contrast rap tends to have a harsher sound–not to say it sounds bad, just different. Many times the tone rappers have in their music can be a little angry or intense, like Eminem (sorry Slim Shady–still love you). This being said negative topics can more easily be associated with rap music even though both genres generally talk about the same things.

Singers Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj strike a pose

Look. Appearances matter–especially for musicians. What a musician wears for their performances and music videos says something about their self-expression and how they want people to view them. Although there can be an occasional country music star such as Dolly Parton who appears flashy on stage, for the most part they are more humble and down-to-earth in their appearance. Rap and Hip-Hop music is more edgy and usually pushes the boundaries of what is appropriate to wear on stage and in music videos.

Word Choice. The way lyrics are stated vary from genre to genre. Rap music tends to be more blunt. Artists will typically throw in clever puns that allude to illicit substances or sexual innuendos. Country music tends to romanticize lyrics–whether they really are romantic or not. One such song is “Your Man” by Josh Turner (locking the doors and turning the lights down low is a nice way to say they are about to ~get it on~). In the end, however, country music tends to not be nearly as vulgar in language as rap, which contributes to its positive reputation.

Beyond the Music. Could it be that aside from all of these technical reasons there is a deeper, underlying social issue? Race can be a very touchy subject but sometimes that can be the reason for a lot of stereotyping and hate. Rap does not receive a lot of hate–but more like criticism because of the touchy subjects it covers. Again a lot of this is from my perspective on rap music versus country music as a whole. I would like to hear what y’all think about the difference between rap and country in listeners’ ears. Looking back at the title: what if we put rap lyrics to country music? How would it be different? How would people take it?


Filed under Blog Post 4, Politics, Reflection

Andy Hersey: Overlooked Country Talent From Arizona

Organ pipe cactus and saguaros at Ajo Mountain Drive with Diaz Spire in distance at sunset, Sonoran Desert, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.I grew up out in the deserts of Arizona, only a short one hour drive from the border of Mexico. Instead of lakes and beautiful hill country landscapes to explore, we had looming mountains and dusty, cacti filled lands. While Austin is certainly my favorite place I’ve yet to call home, I will say there are, surprisingly, many things I miss about Arizona. The lands dotted with Native American reservations, old deserted mining towns, and beauty of the Grand Canyon and unique outdoor opportunities gives Arizona a special charm that other states can’t offer.

Country music often accompanied my family on our many road trips between our desert home and our cabin in the beautiful, Northern Arizona Mountains. While my dad never strayed from imprinting Johnny Cash, Toby Keith, Willie Nelson, and the likes into my brain from an early age, there were some country artists specific to the Sonoran lands we lived in that joined us on the road trips every time. Andy Hersey being one artist that really stuck with me even long after I’d last heard his voice playing through the car speakers.

andyherseyAndy Hersey only ever released two albums, Compañero Blanco in 2002, and Between God and Country in 2007. The songs from his first album were probably repeated over one hundred times in our car on the road between Tucson and Prescott. My dad had really taken a liking to Andy Hersey when he was introduced to his music after seeing him perform with another Sonoran-cowboy-rock-sounding band, Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers. My family had trucked down to Rocky Point, Mexico, back when it was safe enough to hop in the car for a weekend trip across the border, and rent a little beach house to go see Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers play on the sandy shores. These Arizona-based country-rock bands all had something in common that my dad loved: they sang songs that incorporated the Mexican influences in Arizona with being somewhat of an urban cowboy. It was a nice mix of Americana style with Mexico references. Arizona folk loved that, since Mexico was a big part of everyone’s lives, living so close to it and what not. Just like Texans love when Country artists relate to the great lands of Texas, Arizonans loved a good band that sang of those desert lands. Andy Hersey, with a voice similar to Uncle Lucius, pulled off that Arizona desert charm well.

Hersey sings of Mexico, working the lands, cowboys, and love. His hit, “Compañero Blanco”, speaks of a cowboy and a Mexican ranch hand that shared a special friendship, despite their language barrier. My personal favorite, “(Next Time) A Diamond Won’t Cut It” tells the story of a woman who fell in love with a man that never truly gave her his heart, but rather thought he could buy her things in exchange for his cold heart. Hersey’s songs often tell stories, just like many of our favorite country songs. He incorporates beautifully played acoustic guitar tunes into most of his songs and has a smooth voice that must’ve been overlooked.

I’m sure not many country fans out here in Texas, if any, have even heard of Andy Hersey. Maybe I have a bias for him since I listened to him for years, even though he only produced two albums so far. However, I will stand by my opinion that I believe Hersey’s talent could still make it far in the country music industry. He made a name for himself amongst the Arizona country fans, and if he continues writing the types of songs he has been, and steps outside the Arizona borders more often, I’m sure country fans all over the nation will have a sweet spot for Hersey’s sound.

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Filed under Blog Post 2

Cam: The New Up-And-Coming Country Singer

Some people may think that seeing female artists become popular in country music is a rare sight. However, over the years, more women have been increasing their presence within this genre despite the difficulties of doing so. Everyone can agree that we have seen Dolly Parton, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift, Miranda Lambert, etc. come to fame with their songs hitting number 1 in country music charts. But recently, there has been a new and upcoming female country music singer who is said to have her new single “Burning House” become a number 1 hit as well.

31957468_800_800Camaron Ochs, or more commonly known as Cam, is an American country singer born and raised in San Francisco, California. Country music for Cam has always been a passion of hers as she grew up listening to Patsy Cline, Bonnie Raitt, and Willie Nelson. With this passion for country music, she decided to move to Nashville, Tennessee to begin a career as a singer/songwriter. She released her debut song “My Mistake” in 2014 and it was featured at No. 58 on Billboard’s Country Airplay. But, more recently, Cam has come out with her second (and more popular) single “Burning House” that has reached the top 20 on Country Airplay and is already No. 4 on Billboard’s US Hot Country Songs. Last week her single was No. 7 and is up 3 spots, expected to hit No. 1 soon! “Burning House” has been on the charts for 18 weeks straight, and is looking to continue its streak within the next coming weeks. Part of the reason for its popularity is that it has caught the attention of all teenage girls because of its unique and emotionally intense dream sequence about clinging to a former lover.

This song uses the imagery of a house fire as a metaphor for Cam’s previous dying relationship. Years after the couple had been separated, Cam was invited to a party that her ex would be attending. All night she tried to come up with ways on how to apologize for her actions in the past. She opens with the first verse of the song stating that she “had a dream about a burning house/you were stuck inside/I couldn’t get you out/I laid beside you and pulled you close/And the two of us went up in smoke.” This song was written and based off a dream she had one night about him burning up in a house of flames, and her rushing into the house ready to die alongside him. She continues by stating, “Love isn’t all that it seems I did you wrong,” where she explains how she is the one at fault for how poorly the relationship had ended. This is an uncommon stance for most women when they sing about love and their past relationships because most of the time you hear them singing about revenge on another instead of admitting their own mistakes. Songs like “Before He Cheats,” “Two Black Cadillacs,” and “Gunpowder and Lead” all show a different perspective on how women typically sing about their past relationships. That is exactly why this song by Cam is so unique and relates to so many girls who are experiencing the same thing she is.

Throughout this entire song you can see how Cam wants to make things right between her and her ex again. She is at a loss of how to fix it, and ultimately realizes that its best to hold on until the flames have died. With this song already taking off and becoming increasingly popular, who knows what to expect next from Cam!

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Filed under Blog Post 3, Song Analysis, Women

Kellie Pickler Loves The Camera

Kellie Pickler is back!!! And this time not starring on someone else’s show. Now she has her own.

I know that Idol is now a thing of the past, but it seems to be a reoccurring stepping stone for many artists, but one in particular. Pickler began her career as a contestant on American Idol season 5, catching the attention and hearts of America, country music fans, and obviously the judges with her infectious smile, surprisingly bold voice, and strong country accent.

She went on to be the 5th runner up on season five of American Idol, where the legendary Carrie Underwood out shined her and took the win. Pickler’s American Idol debut did not end with a win, but little did she know that she had already won over the heart of country music fans worldwide. Pickler signed with BNA Records and 19 Recordings as a recording artist in 2006, the same year of her American Idol gig. Another big win for Kellie in 2006 was the release of her debut country album Small Town Girl, which reached Billboard 200 Top 10 at number 9, selling 79,000 copies within the first week.

If you know Kellie Pickler at all, you know that she came from a hard home life. Born in North Carolina, her mother left when she was only two years old, and her father was in and out of jail due to drug abuse. Kellie was put in the care of her grandparents when she turned 12 and they raised her into adulthood. She worked at sonic and competed in beauty pageants as a late teenager before her Idol audition. Her story is saddening, but also relatable to so many. Her loving and endearing attitude about her situation and her family was inspiring, and shone through in her singing and song writing.

I can remember specifically jamming to “Don’t You Know You’re Beautiful,” Pickler’s leadoff single on her self-titled second album in 2008. Kellie Pickler was someone girls could look up to, and a person who proved that no matter your situation, you can rise above.

Kellie’s will to rise above and conquer shone through as she won season sixteen of Dancing With The Stars with her partner Derek Hough. America could not get enough of the sweet southern girl who was constantly defying the odds.

After an impressive and still on-going music career the present and future with Kellie is notable. Get ready to see 29 year old Kellie starring in her own docu-comedy TV show “I Love Kellie Pickler” premiering this November 5th! She and her husband Kyle Jacobs are going to be giving viewers an inside look at their every day lives.

So if you remember the sweet, good-humored, relatable girl from American Idol, tune in. And if you don’t remember, and her successes and prevailing spirit didn’t convinced you that her show will be worth watching, I don’t know what will.


Filed under Blog Post 3, Movies and TV

5 Reasons Why The Country Music Lover Would Love Nashville TV Show

ABC’s hit TV show, Nashville has just begun its fourth season and its popularity is only continuing to grow. It has a large fan base and audience, but I believe that any country music listener could easily become a fan of the show. The show features all aspects of country music. TV Guide even says that its plot lines can be told by real country songs. Check out these five reasons why any country music lover would also become a lover of the show, Nashville.

1. The Tunes

Clearly, the biggest thing country music listeners like about country is the music. Nashville surprisingly devotes a significant amount of time each episode to pure music, whether this is through extravagant concert performances of the characters, or footage of them writing/ creating songs. The entire show is centralized around the music, so when watching the viewer is completely immersed in the sounds of country.

All different sounds are included through each character, with the more gentle and innocent sounds of Rayna’s two daughters, the fierce, Miranda Lambert-esque songs of Juliette, and the bro country vibes of Luke, just to name a few.

2. Attractive People

What is there not to love about some good- looking cowboys and country queens? It seems like every star of the show is fortunate in the good looks department, making the country music lover even more in love with these characters and the show.

We’ve got the blonde hunk in Will Lexington, the handsome, high profile city boy in Jeff Fordam, and the tough, chiseled man in Deacon Claybourne. Of course the country queens are all gorgeous, with the timeless, classic beauty in Rayna James, the blonde bombshell in Juliette Barnes, and the natural prettiness of Scarlett O’connor.

3. The business side of things

Not only can we watch the drama unfold between all of the characters, and get to hear some great music along the way, but we also get to see a little bit more into the way that the country music world works. A lot of episodes focus on the production of the music, the process that goes into signing an artist to a record label, as well as the booking and publicity events that consume most of the artists’ lives.

This lets the country music lover get to get more insight into the way that the music we love so much is created and developed.

4. History and Famous People

The truly devoted country music lover probably has a good intellect of the historical aspects of country music, or artists that have been prevalent in the country music world for a while. Nashville constantly references the ever- famous Grand Ole Opry where the most famous of performers have sung.

The show even has many famous country performers guest star on various episodes. These artists include Kellie Pickler, Carrie Underwood, Brantley Gilbert, Luke Bryan, Vince Gill, Kelly Clarkson, Sara Evans, Kip Moore and Trisha Yearwood to name a few. 

5. The Outfits

The fabulosity of the gowns, cowboy boots, and sequined ensembles throughout the show is outrageous. Everything is bigger and better in this show, especially the girls’ hair. The women are always dressed to the nines, and the men even get dolled up from head to toe in their cowboy hats, denim, big belt buckle, and boots. The country boy swagger is taken to a new level in this show. Rayna and Juliette always seem to be in some type of over the top sequined and tight gown or outfit. Even Scarlett has her own intense wardrobe with a more subtle, earthy country girl feel.

The glamour and fame is clearly embodied through many of the characters on the show. However, many aspects of themes central to country music are highlighted constantly in the episodes, such as being a hard worker, valuing family, and being a loyal person despite the insane, complicated business of the country music industry. The show has made great waves for country music, exposing more people to the genre, gathering more fans for it, and even adding some great songs in the mix. I highly recommend the show, no matter what type of country music you may enjoy.


Filed under Blog Post 3, Movies and TV