After looking at the very best, the very good and the very in-between, it’s now time to take a look at the artist hurting country music much more than they’re helping. Let’s just say I wouldn’t miss their music if they stopped making music. If you missed the first three parts of these rankings you can find them in the corresponding links below:
Keep in mind these rankings were entirely compiled by yours truly. It’s only my opinion. The only artists I’m considering in these rankings is mainstream country artists that are on major labels and/or still get radio time. I’m also including legends and acts that are too big to be considered independent artists. The way I determine these rankings is by looking at the overall body of work of the artist, as well as taking into account the most recent offerings from them. So bro country artists that have been churning out hit after hit will be lower on the list. If an artist made bad music in the past, but is now putting out better music lately that will help them. But that bad music won’t be forgotten either. One more thing: attitude and respect for the genre will be considered. The rankings will be determined by grade. Now I’ll take a look at part four of this series, the artists I feel are worthy of a D grade.
These artists aren’t the absolute worst of mainstream country music, but they’re pretty close. They have one or two redeeming qualities that save them from the dreaded F grade. Derek and myself have given these artists a lot of negative reviews probably too. If you’re a fan of these artists, don’t get angry because you think I’m attacking them (I’m not). I’m simply giving my opinion of them. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
Rascal Flatts – These guys have never been country and never will be. Their music is pop music with token fiddles thrown in and then marketed as country to the masses. Their latest album was their saddest offering yet as they desperately try to remain relevant with their own takes on bro country. I will say this though: I don’t get as angry as others do about their music. I just kind of roll my eyes and chuckle. Each of the members of the group seem like nice guys and is really the reason I didn’t put them at an F grade. Being nice isn’t going to make me like their music, but it also prevents me from saying really mean things about them too.
Toby Keith – You know I really thought about putting Mr. ‘Murican at an F grade. I think I get more angry about Toby Keith’s music than anyone else I know. I absolutely despised “Red Solo Cup” a few years ago because it officially confirmed to me that Keith is only still making music for the money and simply does not give two shits about making quality material anymore. Really ever since 9/11 there’s been no other artist that has cashed in and pandered harder to the sweeping American patriotism across the country. Throw in some F-150 trucks and some beer and you have yourself the material for every single Toby Keith song since 2001. What prevented him from an F grade? He made some good music early in his career.
Lady Antebellum – I gave Lady Antebellum a pass for several years, but this year I finally ran out of passes. What caused me to finally sour on this group? “Bartender” is what caused me to sour. It’s such a stupid song and would have easily won worst song of the year several times in pre-bro country years. But since bro country is so terrible this song doesn’t get enough flack for it’s awfulness. Their new album 747 is a straight pop album. They didn’t even try to make it country. I think I might actually enjoy their music if they went pop though because it makes for decent pop music.
Little Big Town – Some people will cry foul with this position for Little Big Town, but I’m going to explain why they absolutely belong in the D category. It feels like it has been 10 years since I’ve enjoyed a Little Big Town song. The only two songs I have ever even liked from this group are “Boondocks” and “Little White Church.” The rest is nothing special to me. I also loathed “Pontoon” more than anyone else I know. Before I discovered the greatness of country music in the independent scenes, I was stuck with what was on radio. You know what got overplayed to the point I wanted to kick my radio? “Pontoon.” Yes I listened to “Tornado” and I don’t think it’s anything special.
Kenny Chesney – I originally had Chesney at a C grade because his music has never annoyed me as much as other country critics. Then I go and listen to his early material. It’s pretty good stuff. Of course the last ten years he has made beach music and raking in the dough. This makes me angry because here’s an artist that is capable of making a great country album and instead puts out mediocre crap. This is just shear laziness. He promised better music in his new album too and he didn’t deliver anything too much different from what he has been doing the last ten years. Get your head out of the sand, Kenny.
Billy Currington, Lee Brice, Randy Houser, Justin Moore, Dustin Lynch, Chris Young, Joe Nichols, Easton Corbin and Josh Thompson – All artists that made good country music in the past and now have sold their souls to the bro country devil all in the name of the almighty dollar. Enjoy your money, boys. You just had to trade your respect to get it.
Darius Rucker – I always cut Hootie a break when he joined country music because he was new and seemed to want to be a part of the genre. Then he covered Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel.” Now believe me I’m appreciative of the positive aspect of this song becoming a big hit for him. This exposed a lot of people to Old Crow Medicine Show and their music, which was just fantastic. They absolutely deserved it. The negative aspects of this becoming a big hit for Rucker? One there are several misinformed people out there who think this is his song. Two some are actually aware of O.C.M.S and still say Rucker’s version is better (what the hell are you hearing?). Three this is pretty much the best we’re going to get from Rucker. How long has he been milking this song? He was still playing it at an awards show earlier this year. Get new material!
Hunter Hayes – Pop country boy who will become an afterthought once puberty hits for him. He belongs in the pop genre.
Scotty McCreery – American Idol teen heart throb who could probably sing a good country song, but chooses instead to put out songs like this one (listen at your own discretion):
But hey he did give me this comic relief during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade a few years ago:
Montgomery Gentry – They used to be a reputable country group who put out decent songs. Then they put out a song called “Titty’s Beer.” Screw you Montgomery Gentry.
Aaron Lewis – I’m not going to beat around the bush. This guy is a douche and just another rocker trying to cash in on country music’s popularity. All he did in his first album was beat his chest about how American he is and then he went and botched the national anthem in the World Series. This guy is a Toby Keith reject with an even worse personality.
Parmalee, Thompson Square, Dan + Shay – If these artists stopped making their bad pop country music, would you notice? They just all sound like everything else you hear on country radio nowadays. These artists are bad, but easy to ignore.
That’s all for part four! The fifth and final part will be coming soon!