Author Archives: Kayla Miracle

A Semester With Country Music

4 Year Old Me without an appreciation for country music but dressed as though I came up with it.

4 Year Old Me without an appreciation for country music but dressed as though I came up with it.

If you asked me before this semester what my favorite music genre was, country music wouldn’t have even crossed my mind. Growing up in Fort Worth, Texas, I have been surrounded and submerged by country music my whole life. My family thrives on the sound of George Strait and finds inspirational messages in songs by Trace Adkins. I live in a country music world, but still country music wouldn’t have fazed me.

If you ask me today what my favorite music genre was, it would be hard for me to not pick country music. I have grown up with country music and have several favorite country songs, but now I appreciate country music. I understand its differences and likeliness to other genres and love it just the same. This boot-scootin’, jean-wearin’, heart-breakin’ genre is not only about boot-scootin;, jean-wearin’ and heart-breakin’, but so much more.

Here are some ways I experienced country music this semester:

justin and chris

Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton’s “OMG SOSOSO GOOD” performance at the 2015 CMAs.

Watching the CMAs – My oh my, do I love award shows! Award shows really get me goin’ and this year’s CMAs were one of my favorites without a doubt (this is coming to you from someone who watches EVERY award show, EVERY year). As I’ve stated in a previous blog post, I love Justin Timberlake and Justin Timberlake performed with Chris Stapleton so that was just the best. In all seriousness though, the best part of the CMAs was seeing all of these random pairings of performers perform together. The fact that Fall Out Boy was at the CMAs is beside me. The Country Music Association really made a point to prove to viewers that country music can push the envelope and work with other genres to create something really great.

An assortment of my hidden gems.

An assortment of my hidden gems.

Exploring Old Country Records – When I got a record player a couple of years ago, my grandparents gave me all of their old records. After realizing there was no Taylor Swift or Justin Timberlake 33’s hidden in the mound of records, I had cast them aside. I hadn’t even touched the stack of dusty, worn out records again until this semester when we I heard some names in class that I sworn I had seen somewhere else. Johnny Cash, Johnny Horton, Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Dolly Parton, Buck Owens, Johhny Paycheck, Wanda Jackson, Kenny Rogers and many more can be found on 33’s in my drawer of vinyl records. Who knew?! I’ve had the best time getting to play these vintage records on my relatively new record player. The best part has been singing along to songs and having my parents or grandparents question my knowledge of the artist or the song. They might be old, and their covers might be falling apart but the music on them is as rich and new as ever. (AND HEY… I actually like them!!!)

May 2015 Texas Music Magazine

May 2015 Texas Music Magazine’s E-Zine

Reading Texas Music Magazine – Being a journalism major and a fanatic of all things entertainment (including the music scene), Texas Music Magazine is right up my alley and displays work that I hope to someday emulate. I read the most recent edition from May 2015. This edition covers everything from the 50th Academy of Country Music Awards to David Letterman’s influence on music with his final Late Night show to a Q&A with Texas singer/songwriter Tom Russell. Texas Music Magazine definitely strays toward country music but does incorporate other genres where they see fit (for example, they discuss the naming of pop singer Phil Collins as an Honorary Texan). Texas Music Magazine is a must read for anyone interested in country music or the Texas music scene!

What a long semester of country music it has been, and I’ve loved every minute of it! Shoutout to Dusty for making this class so entertaining, while also teaching us everything there is to know about country music!

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Filed under Blog Post 5

The Low Down on Justin Timberlake

jt cmas

JT and New Artist of the Year Chris Stapleton break it down at the 2015 CMAs.

Ex-boy bander Justin Timberlake performed at this year’s CMAs and can now be heard on some country music radio stations. As a listener of all genres of music I think that this could actually be an interesting and achievable endeavor for Justin; however, I know that many of you (with little knowledge of JT) might be nervous about this. Never fear, your resident JT expert is here to save the day and fill you in on what you’ve missed throughout his career. Here is the low down on the “soul of Memphis” as Brad Paisley would say.


Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Justin was raised a southern boy with a very distinct southern voice. The world was first introduced to Justin’s talent when he got a spot alongside, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling and other star kids on The Mickey Mouse Club in 1993. On MMC, Justin got immense amounts of training in singing, dancing and acting (all of which he could already do very well). In 1995, Justin would go on to leave MMC at the age of 14 and later that year form superstar boy band *NSYNC.

***Side note: My favorite part of Justin’s career started this year (also happens to be the year I was born). And in just 3 years, I would be able to mutter the words “I love Justin” while I was toddler dancing around watching him and the rest of the boys on my parents TV (back when MTV played music videos 24/7). ***


LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 1999: *NSYNC, (clockwise L) Chris Kirkpatrick, JC Chasez, Joey Fatone, Lance Bass and Justin Timberlake sit for a portrait in Los Angeles 1999. (Photo by Bob Berg/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Chris Kirkpatrick;Justin Timberlake;Joey Fatone;Lance Bass JC Chasez

*NSYNC: Justin with the curly platinum-blond hair on the right, then Lance, Joey, JC and Chris on the left.

*NSYNC: the boy band to end all boy bands. Justin, Joey, JC, Lance and Chris took on the world from ’95 to ’02. Although Justin had previously been on a TV show, which he gained recognition from, he was thrust into the spotlight when he became the non-official lead singer of this group of talented guys. *NSYNC really created a name for Justin in the pop music scene. The Grammy-nominated group reigned victorious in pop music while attracting screaming girls from all over the world.


In 2002 hearts broke everywhere at the dismemberment of *NSYNC; however, Justin quickly arose from the ashes of boy-bands-who-were and started producing solo albums and acting in major Hollywood films. He has won more awards as a solo artist, including nine Grammy’s, than with his boy band. As his emergence as a solo artist prevailed, he proved that he was not only a pop artist but also could pull some R&B and soulful vibes, as well. This southern boy has proved himself in more areas than many hopeful singers and actors can think of in a lifetime.

jt and brit

The early 2000s power couple, Britney and Justin. (And look at that cowboy hat… Ready for country music, am I right?)


Justin is a man of few flaws (in my eyes) which comes from his pretty squeaky clean image. His portrayal in the media from his *NSYNC days was the cute, blond, curly headed boy dating Britney Spears and making girls cry as he walked by. He was perfect. Today his image remains the same. His very public friendship with Jimmy Fallon makes him funny, his recent marriage to Jessica Biel makes him desirable but unattainable and his overall career in music, movies and TV makes him well rounded and an admirable celebrity.


During the 2015 CMAs, Justin took the stage with New Artist of the Year winner Chris Stapleton to take on Stapleton’s “Tennessee Whiskey” and later his own “Drink You Away” (a very country sounding song, if you ask me). Well, you don’t have to ask me because apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so. The CMA audience liked Justin’s performance so much that “Drink You Away,” a song released in 2013 shot up on the iTunes charts and is now getting airtime on country radio.

So what’s to come of Justin Timberlake in country music? No one can be sure but from what we know of him and his career and his sound, we can be sure that it won’t suck. Nope, not one bit. I think this southern Tennessee boy has covered everything except country, so honestly it’s time.


Filed under Awards, Blog Post 4, Live Music, Movies and TV

5 Best Country Sing-Along Jams

If you’ve never had a hair-flipping, bed-jumping, scream-singing dance party to country music, what have you been doing with your life? 90s and early 2000s women country singers gave so much to the pop-esque country genre. Their independent and take-on-the-world qualities make their music fun, and their love for love makes their music desirable. So grab a hairbrush to sing along because the following five songs are considerably some of the best country hits to dance around to that will make you feel like a professional while you belt them out in your room (with some sick dance moves, I’m sure…)

The Way You Love Me – Faith Hill

Honestly, does it get any better than Faith Hill? I can’t help but listen to her music and assume everything is about Tim McGraw and that makes me so happy I can hardly stand it. This song is the ultimate ode to the perfect man. This song is an accurate representation of how everyone in a relationship wants to feel. I could jump around to this song forever. Also, this video (!!!) is the greatest thing ever.

Best lyric to sing-along to: “You’re the million reasons why there’s love reflecting in my eyes”

Man! I Feel Like a Woman! – Shania Twain

Girls, this is our anthem. This song is best sung when you’re driving around with all your best girlfriends. (I can’t help but think of the scene in the Britney Spears movie Crossroads when Brit and friends belt this out on their road trip.) This might be the most poppy you can go and still be country. Shania really made herself known with this one. Girls just want to have fun and listen to Shania Twain and wear men’s shirts and short skirts.

Best lyric to sing-along to: “The best thing about a-bein’ a woman is the prerogative to have a little fun”

Suds In The Bucket – Sara Evans

This goes out to all the girls who have thought about the perfect boy that would make them drop everything to go be with him. This story about a small town teenage girl going off to be with her love regardless of the life she’s leaving behind is something that is straight from the movies. “You can’t stop love,” Sara sings and we all want to feel just that. The instrumental in this song provides for some necessary two-stepping and twirling around in cowboy boots.

Best lyric to sing-along to: “A little pony-tailed girl grown up to be a woman and she’s gone in a blink of an eye / She left the suds in the bucket and the clothes hangin’ out on the line”

Bye Bye – Jo Dee Messina

Although we love to jam out to happy, lovey songs, some of the best dance songs are the upbeat break-up ones. This one is a prime example. What’s better than screaming bye bye to the one who broke your heart? Sure, the dancing and the screaming is going to make you insanely tired but you’ll inevitably burn a lot of calories while doing so. Jo Dee sings about a man who just couldn’t make up his mind so she does it for him. You go girl. Keep doin’ you, we’re all taking notes.

Best lyric to sing-along to: “I’ve lost the game I guess / I did my best to win the part / Now I’m leaving here with what’s left of my heart”

Kerosene – Miranda Lambert

This is a complete and polar opposite song from many on this list (which is good because everybody enjoys a little variety) and is so necessary for anyone who is thinking of the perfect revenge to get on the worst of the worst who didn’t know how to treat you. Cheating is never ok, ok? Miranda totally gets revenge by setting this boy’s house on fire. “Life ain’t hard but it’s too long living like some country song,” she sings and decides to give up on love. One would deem this an appropriate statement after having your heart broken. So, don’t dance to hard to this one. (And don’t set any houses on fire…)

Best lyric to sing-along to: “Now I don’t hate the one who left / You can’t hate someone who’s dead / He’s out there holding on to someone / I’m holding up my smoking gun”

This mini-playlist is guaranteed to get you in the best mood and will provide the best dance party you’ve ever had. I’ll just go ahead and say you’re welcome — YOU’RE WELCOME.


Filed under Blog Post 3, Country Pop, Lists, Music Videos

Taylor Swift: Country Artist, Pop Artist, Superstar, My Idol

Taylor Swift is a household name (even for those who live under the pop culture rock). Swift, a phenomenon in the world of music, has impacted both the country and pop genres; but also, most prevalently, my life.


My first photo with Taylor at her Speak Now World Tour in 2011.

My love for Taylor Swift began when I was merely ten years old. Growing up in Fort Worth, Texas means that you’re subject to many country radio stations; thus, it was hard for me to listen to something other than country music when traveling in the car with my family. I remember the first time I heard “Tim McGraw,” Taylor’s first single, echoing through the speakers of my moms suburban – it was magical. I was finally listening to my kind of artist, singing about younger issues and I was hooked. Being used to listening to George Strait and Brooks and Dunn on country radio did not prepare me for this moment. There was a teenage country girl artist who I could idolize as I did Britney Spears (pre-2007 head shave, of course).

Taylor’s arrival to the country scene is what made her so immensely popular; she appealed to a completely different audience, bringing so many new ears to the country music genre. A much younger demographic was drawn to this new genre of music which is something that country music wasn’t ready for and that country music listeners are still hesitant to accept.

Whatever the issues that people have with her (I will never understand), she WAS country at the beginning of her career. Yes this revelation is coming from girl with a life-size cardboard cut-out of Taylor in her room and tickets to see her in concert next month, but also from someone who knows country music and appreciates it for everything that it offers.

Taylor’s dreams of becoming the next Faith Hill would be surpassed but her country roots are what would get her there. In the early days of her career, she opened for multiple country idols, including, Rascal Flatts, George Strait, Tim McGraw and Brad Paisley, just to name a few. Although she was a few decades behind her headliners, her music fit the country music bill. In her first single, Tim McGraw, Taylor describes heartache with a “boy in a Chevy truck that had a tendency of gettin’ stuck on backroads at night.” This song would plant her in the country world, which is exactly where she wanted to grow.

With constant success at country music award shows and sold-out tours, Taylor began to grow beyond country music with successful crossover hits like You Belong With Me on her second album Fearless, to which she won a VMA at the MTV Video Music Awards as the first country music artist to do so. Now, people who didn’t already love the curly, blonde country singer were starting to get more submersed in her music.

This is what I love about her; her music has never changed. All of her songs are the same kind of impactful. Her early sound made her a country artist, her later sound made her a pop artist, and her self made her a superstar. Taylor Swift should be listed under both country and pop, if you ask me. She has pushed the envelope and introduced so many listeners to country and pop music. For a fangirl like me, it’s difficult to remember a time where she wasn’t a world figure but impossible to forget where she started and what that sounded like.

“Taylor’s impact is huge on country music. She’s really helped broaden the perception of what’s intrinsic with a country song but you can present it in so many different ways,” said Keith Urban and I couldn’t agree more. I will forever be grateful for the girl who made me fall in love with country music and taught me what a good song and what good writing looks and sounds like.


Filed under Blog Post 2

Sorry Dad: Father Daughter Relationships Through the Ears of Country Music

Country music often contemplates the relationship of a daughter and her parents, even more often: a daughter and her father. This phenomenon most commonly pokes at the idea that daughters grow up too fast but will always remain “daddy’s little girl.” The tone of these songs typically ranges from sentimental to intimidating (when meant to show who’s boss to the daughters new man.) As a daughter who’s extremely close to her dad, listening to such songs has made me laugh, made me want to go find an extremely bad boy to bring home to dad and, on occasion, made me curl into a bawl and cry about the childhood days being over.

Emotions run wild because of songs like Heartlands’ “I Loved Her First,” Trace Adkins’ “You’re Gonna Miss This,” Rodney Atkins’ “Cleaning This Gun (Come on In Boy)”, and a (probably way too) long list of others. Personally, I can not not sob while listening to the gut wrenching “My Little Girl” by Tim McGraw. This popular hit from the major motion picture, Flicka, was an instant favorite of my dad’s, as well as parents of daughters everywhere. I remember my grandma always referencing the dramatic “Go on take on this whole world, But to me you know you’ll always be, My little girl” lyric to my dad and me being super confused on why that was so important and why that made him so sad about me. It wasn’t until my thirteenth birthday party when my mom forced me to get on stage with my dad to slow dance to this heartbreaking story of a dad losing his daughter to the real world that I realized I, too, would eventually leave my dad.

This is how country music portrays the daddy/daughter relationship: the daughter growing up and leaving with zero intentions of turning back. Where, most commonly, the growing up phase covers the first five years where the daughter is still very much a little girl and then, suddenly, is instantly ready for marriage. This most definitely creates a depressed tone towards country music but also a very real one. This is one of country music’s best assets: the ability to make people feel. It’s impossible to listen to Tim McGraw say “When you were in trouble that crooked little smile could melt my heart of stone. Now look at you, I’ve turned around and you’ve almost grown,” and not feel something, especially as a daughter or a father. The heartbreaking country ballads about being old because I no longer live at home with my dad and am no longer 4 years old will continue to haunt me and make me bawl, I’m sure of it.


Filed under Blog Post 1, Country Symbols, Movies and TV