Category Archives: News

Hall of Fame’s Class of 2015

In class, I mentioned that the Country Music Hall of Fame would be announcing its 2015 inductees soon. Turns out, the announcement arrived at the end of March. I thought y’all might want to learn a little more about the new members.

Most years, the Hall of Fame honors people in three categories: (1) a “veteran” artist who has been around for 45+ years, (2) a “modern” artist who has been around for 25+ years, and (3) either a songwriter, musician, or someone else involved in the music business. As usual, I am getting my information from Trigger over at Saving Country Music, who shares additional information about who has been honored in the past and how the decisions are made.

This year’s “veteran” inductee is the Browns, a family trio that had a number of crossover hits in the 1950s and early 1960s. Their best known song is probably “The Three Bells,” which was adapted from a French song (“Les Trois Cloches”) and was a #1 hit on the country and pop charts and — most surprisingly for a country song — a top 10 R&B hit as well. The group’s success coincided with the heyday of the Nashville Sound, which explains the crossover appeal and lush orchestration — and also probably the reason it has taken the group so long to be canonized. If you watch the video, you’ll understand why people criticize the Nashville Sound for not sounding authentically country.

After the group disbanded in the 1960s, the male singer, Jim Ed Brown, enjoyed some success as a solo artist. His best known song is “Pop A Top,” which Alan Jackson covered in 1999. Jim Ed has continued to perform at the Grand Ole Opry, and in January of this year he made waves for releasing his first studio album in 40 years (called In Style Again). That same month he underwent a series of treatments for cancer, and it could be a combination of the new album and frail health that led the Hall of Fame to choose to recognize the Browns with its highest honor after ignoring the group for so long.

The “modern” inductee is the Oak Ridge Boys, whose Christmas music I am familiar with but who otherwise are pretty unknown to me. Trigger points out the irony that the Oak Ridge Boys actually formed in the 1940s, which makes their induction as a “modern” act kind of suspect. Anyway, they got their start as a gospel quartet before enjoying a series of country hits — including many #1s — in the 1970s and 1980s. One of their best known hits is 1981’s “Elvira,” which hit #1 country and #5 pop.

The musician being inducted is the late Grady Martin, who played guitar on Marty Robbins’s “El Paso,” Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” and handfuls of other Rockabilly, Nashville Sound, and Classic Country recordings.

Of course, as soon as the inductees were announced, discontented fans took to social media to say who really “should” have been recognized instead of these three. Since it’s pretty hard to get into the Country Music Hall of Fame, there are a number of people who have been eligible for a while who still aren’t in, and every year there are younger stars who are newly eligible.

Some eligible performers who haven’t yet been invited to join include the Maddox Brothers and Rose, Ralph Stanley, Hank Williams, Jr., Charlie Daniels, June Carter Cash, Lynn Anderson, Tanya Tucker, David Allen Coe, Johnny Paycheck, Ricky Skaggs, Rosanne Cash, Dwight Yoakum, Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, Brooks and Dunn, Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, and Kenny Chesney.

What do you think about the new inductees? Are you familiar with any of them? Who do you hope makes it in, in the next couple of years? I would love to know!

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Filed under Awards, Classic Country, Countrypolitan, Nashville Sound, News

Too Lesbian for Country Radio?

As I checked Facebook for the millionth time today, I saw two topics that really interested me. The first was that The Walking Dead now has a spinoff show called Fear the Walking Dead set to premiere sometime in the summer, while The Walking Dead is in between seasons. The second topic of interest was about the Little Big Town song “Girl Crush”.

People in Idaho, and I imagine elsewhere, were demanding “Girl Crush” not be played on the radio, because “the lyrics promote the gay agenda”. As I read the article, I couldn’t help but think of the close-mindedness of my fellow country music listeners. And the second thought in my head? Were these people even listening to the lyrics? I can understand if people were using their selective hearing and thought it was about a lesbian romance. However, if you actually listen to the song you should be able to tell that it is about a jealous woman who wishes, essentially, that she was the woman her ex now loves. “I want to drown myself in a bottle of her perfume” is not because the narrator of the song wants to be with said woman, but because the ex likes this woman and perhaps if the narrator smelled like this woman the ex might like her more. That’s why the lyrics, “yeah ‘cuz maybe then you’d want me just as much” make sense. If the song were about lesbians, that line would not make sense.  I, myself, enjoy the way Charlie Worsham words his opinion on the situation:

girl crushExcuse me if this sounds rant-y, but it is 2015. Why do people have to complain every time they hear something they do not like? Why are people so easy to offend? Let’s look at more components to this little ordeal. The song was written by three women Lori McKenna, Liz Rose and Hillary Lindsey. I can’t think of any other song out right now that has this much girl power backing it. Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild said this back in December, “there are not many women on the radio and not many ballads with that kind of lyrical content. I’m excited.” Is this song facing backlash just because it is “about pushing the gay agenda” or is it just too “sexy” for some people.

The song is currently ranked 17th on the Country Billboard charts. I would think it would be ranked lower had it actually been about lesbian lovers just due to how conservative the country music audience tends to be, but who knows. On the reverse of this argument, I do understand why the radio stations are complying with these demands for the song to not be played. The radio needs to have listeners to make money. If one song keeps the audience from listening, you can bet that the radio will stop playing it. I just think if we keep complying with people to get offended like this, when they really shouldn’t be, it will be harder for people to accept one another and be more open minded. If you think this song is about lesbians and it angers you, I just hope you will  listen to the song again with an open heart and open ears. And if this song was about a lesbian romance, how is that bad?

What do you think about “Girl Crush”? Why do you think this song is receiving so much hate? Leave your thoughts in the comments.


Filed under New Country, News, Song Analysis

Country Radio Needs to Change

Gary Overton, Sony CEO

Gary Overton, Sony CEO

As I worked on my album analysis for Aaron Watson’s album The Underdog, which grabbed the No. 1 spot on the US Country Billboard Chart, I came across an interesting article, “Sony Nashville CEO talks importance of country radio.” Gary Overton, Sony CEO, said in the interview that he can be quoted several times a day saying, “If you’re not on country radio, you don’t exist.” This statement angered many people including independent country fans and artists. Many independent artists have much support from fans, but find themselves ignored by mainstream country radio.

Country radio is not capable of embracing individual country artists. Individual country artists are unique and have an authenticity that cannot be found with the current mainstream artists. I can tell that country fans want something different and country radio should adapt – playing both mainstream and independent artists.

the underdog

Aaron Watson’s No. 1 Album, “The Underdog”

Aaron Watson is an independent Texas Country artist who has been in the industry for 15 years, has produced 12 albums and performed over 2,000 shows. However, he has been rejected by mainstream radio despite having the No. 1 US Billboard Country album. His response to Overton’s comment was, “My name is Aaron Watson. I am not played on country radio. And I have the #1 record in country music this week. I do exist.”

Charlie Robinson, a Nashville artist turned independent, also offered his opinion on the matter, stating “I have a job today but as soon as Florida Georgia Line goes out of style, and believe me they will, you [Gary Overton] will not exist.” Of course, Florida Georgia Line felt compelled to comment on Twitter that they have lost all respect for Charlie Robinson.

Many factors contribute to the success of artists, but radio play is not the most important. In fact, Overton’s own artist Garth Brooks had to deal with the issue of mainstream radio when they rejected his comeback single “People Loving People” and its follow up “Mom.” However, due to his loyal fan base, Garth Brooks has experienced no difficulty in selling out shows. Dedication and perseverance are two important qualities that country fans look for in artists. Independent artists certainly contain those characteristics.

There is no denying that radio play contributes to the commercial success of an artist, but it doesn’t determine whether they exist or their level of talent. I’m sure that many independent artists would benefit greatly if the mainstream radio stations accepted them. However, I don’t base an artist’s success or talent on how much airplay they get. I base it on the music and what I think about their songs after they end.


Filed under News, Reflection, Texas

Garth Needs Country Music, and it Needs Him

Garth Brooks kicked off his 2014-2015 World Tour with Trisha Yearwood, marking the first time in 17 years he has been on the road. He admirably took a break from touring to be with his family, however now that the youngest of his four daughters has graduated high school, he is ready to take the stage by storm once again. He needs this tour as much as country music needs him.

Garth Brooks During his 2014 Tour

Garth Brooks During his 2014 Tour

While this will be his first time touring in almost two decades, he has not been idle. Brooks came out of his official retirement in 2009 when he worked a deal with Steve Wynn of Wynn Las Vegas, scheduling performances in Las Vegas for several years leading up to this world tour announcement. Garth Brooks’ comeback announcement has created a huge buzz in the country music industry, bringing forth many questions while doing so. What will the new Garth sound like? Will he be able to step back in the swing of things after taking such a long leave? And finally, what does this mean for country music?

The open-ended nature of these questions creates excitement along with some anxiety. I am incredibly excited for the comeback of Garth Brooks, as he is one of my favorite country artists. At the same time, I have some nervousness because I want the Garth Brooks I know and love from the 1990s to bring that uniqueness to 2015. The last thing I want to hear is his music becoming too modern, and sounding like the stereotypical pop country of Keith Urban or Jason Aldean. Personally, I believe country music has started to move too far away from its roots, and I feel that today’s country music needs to move closer to its roots. A shift closer to Brooks’ early music is essential to the longevity of the country music industry.

Basically, I hope Garth’s comeback is defined by him continuing to be the same man that everyone loved in the 1990’s, making music that is authentic to him and not what is popular in the country music industry today. I genuinely believe, and I know I am making an incredibly bold statement, that Garth Brooks can change the way the country music industry is moving. If Garth Brooks can come back making music like what he did in his earlier years, he may change what is considered “popular” country music today. His recent album “Man against the Machine” had songs similar to his old music, as well as songs with a more modern sound. Unfortunately, the album did not have any real hits. This may lead some to believe that he is done, however I do not think this the case. He needs to stay committed and only produce HIS music.

As much as I believe country music can benefit from Garth Brooks, the industry can help him, maybe more than he can help the industry. Recently in an interview, he admitted that he felt “lost” sometimes without touring. He said he missed the people, that industry, and mostly, his self-worth, saying he has a lot to say and share with people. He acknowledged that his new music may not set records but he also communicated that if a few folks receive his message, this new tour is worth it.

It will be exciting to see whether Garth Brooks can make a historic comeback after taking such a long break from the music industry. Hopefully, he can get back to making music similar to “Friends in Low Places” and “Unanswered Prayers”. Only time will tell if his comeback can actually change the direction country music is headed, and while it is an uphill battle, I have faith in Garth Brooks. A few things are certain… there will be significance to Garth’s music and it will be an interesting storyline to follow.

Garth Brooks at the 1992 CMA’s


Filed under New Country, News, Reflection

Country Music at the Grammys

One of the biggest nights for the music industry took place on Sunday. The 57th annual Grammy Awards took place in Los Angeles and there were countless big name artists present. Hosted by L.L Cool J, the show featured many live performance as well as a star studded audience. I, being a award show junkie, sat down and was ready for a great night. Unfortunately, what I noticed this year is the underrepresentation of country artists. There are four categories that are specifically tailored to the country genre. However, only one was announced live on the air. I found this quite disappointing seeing as I am a huge fan of country music and most of the artists I love weren’t even present.

The winners of the night were not necessarily my picks but the competition was pretty tough. Miranda Lambert was the only country artist to receive her award for Best Country Album on air. Carrie Underwood won in the category of Best Country Solo Performance for her song “Something in the Water” while The Band Perry took the Grammy for Best Group Performance. In the final category of Best Country Song, the Grammy went to Glen Campbell for “I’m Not Going to Miss You.” I really wish they would have presented these awards live and give these artists, as well as the nominees, the recognition they deserved. A list of all the winners  can be found at

The first country performance of the night was by Miranda Lambert. She performed her song “Little Red Wagon” which I had not heard before. I have seen many of her previous performances, but this one was definitely edgier. She was dressed in black leather from head to toe, and the added pyrotechnics created an energetic atmosphere. The song itself was shocking since I thought it sounded like it was influenced by rock music. Her performance was great but I think it was more of a crossover into contemporary music rather than her typical “twangy” sound.

eric_church_463034182Eric Church also performed “Give Me Back my Hometown” at the show. It was a typical performance for him. He stood center stage strumming his guitar, all the while sporting his famous sunglasses. Once he concluded, the focus shifted to Brandy Clark who then performed “Hold My Hand” with Dwight Yoakum. Seeing Dwight was a surprise since I had no reason beforehand to expect his presence at the show. Nonetheless, this duo sounded fantastic.

While I love awards shows representing all genres of music, I am grateful for the ones that deal strictly with country music. I love seeing all my favorites artists enjoying themselves on a night of music, awards, and glamour. However, the Grammys were quite entertaining as a whole. Congratulations to all the winners, but especially to those artists representing country music.


Filed under Awards, News