After going through the first four tiers of mainstream country music artists, we’ve now reached the end of the rankings. We’ve hit rock bottom, where the absolute worst of the worst reside in the F ranking. If you missed the first four parts, you can find them in the corresponding links:
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 five of this series, the artists I feel are worthy of a F grade.
When it comes to mainstream country music, you can’t get any worse than these artists. When people complain about mainstream country music being terrible, they’re probably pointing a finger at one of these artists. Many of these artists have been the absolute worst offenders when it comes to partaking in bro country. They’re the poster boys of the sub-genre that has slowly torn country music apart and will most likely lead to country music splitting in two in 2015. These artists have put out some of the absolute worst music in the past few years. I think you get the point. Let’s stand up and jeer for the worst of the worst.
Florida Georgia Line – The Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne of country music, except when this duo does something funny it’s unintentional. Florida Georgia Line has only put out two albums in their career and out of all of this music I have found only one decent song (“Dirt”). The rest all pretty much sound the same. Partying, drinking, having sex and pissing all over country music. Their album Anything Goes is the only album that has received a 0 on Country Perspective. Keep in mind not even Chase Rice nor Sam Hunt received a 0 on their new albums this year. Let that sink in. What pisses me off even more about this group is they showed us they’re capable of making a good song, yet still put out a bunch of garbage. I said it once and I’ll say it again: Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley are the Nickelback of country music.
Luke Bryan – One of the fathers of bro country music. He catapulted the sub-genre into mainstream with his smash hit, “That’s My Kind of Night.” Ever since then it’s been nothing but terrible bro country song after another coming from Bryan. Really it was what started the war between bro country and anti-bro country factions. Zac Brown correctly called it out for being terrible and ever since then the battle has raged between traditional and modern. In the same genre of Waylon and Willie, Bryan goes up on stage during concerts and shakes his ass for his teenage fans. Keep in mind he’s married and has kids. It’s a disgusting sight to see. He’s also given the worst country music writer in Nashville, Dallas Davidson, a platform to be recognized and noticed by choosing his songs on his albums. That’s just plain wrong.
Jason Aldean – Once upon a time Aldean could make decent country music and had some respect for the genre. Then he introduced rap into mainstream country music with his big hit “Dirt Road Anthem.” It’s been downhill since for Aldean. He then cheated on his wife and left her for an American Idol reject. Not exactly a likable guy in my book. But the latter doesn’t even account for why he’s here. It’s all about the music he’s released in the last five years. Other than “Fly Over States,” it’s been all crap. His smash single “Burnin’ It Down” has been at the top of the charts on both iTunes and Billboard. It has also possibly introduced us to the next trend in country music: shitty R&B influenced pop country. You thought hick hop and bro country were bad, this could be even worse. I don’t think I can respect Jason Aldean ever again.
Cole Swindell – The generic Luke Bryan! For those who don’t remember or haven’t heard the story, Swindell was selling merchandise for Bryan a few years ago and is now making country music. It’s nice to know people, isn’t it Cole? His debut album is one of the most boring country albums I have ever heard. I think the best way I could describe Swindell’s music is with a comparison. I would consider Sturgill Simpson’s music to be like having prime rib with a baked potato and fine wine. I would consider Cole Swindell’s music to be like eating plain, white Wonder bread and washing it down with water. Get the picture?
Sam Hunt – He has not released a single country song. There is absolutely nothing country about Hunt or his music. It’s been nothing but pop music with some country themes. If he actually categorized his music correctly, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.
Chase Rice – Another artist whose bread and butter has been bro country. He defends it loud and proud, usually in an obnoxious manner that annoys me. Anytime he’s pressed about bro country, he defends it by saying that’s just what he knows and plays it off as nothing. I’m sure that is all he knows. Other than one out of nowhere great song, the rest of his Ignite the Night album was horrendous and offensive to anyone who appreciates good music. Really “Jack Daniels and Jesus” is what saved his album from being the first ever album to receive a 0 and maybe Country Perspective’s award for Worst Country Album of 2014.
Brantley Gilbert – His new album Just As I Am actually received an average grade from me. One of the first surprising reviews I did on the site. Gilbert actually had a few decent album cuts. But what puts Gilbert for me in the F rankings are his radio singles and him helping introduce rap into country music. “Bottoms Up” and “Small Town Throwdown” will both be candidates for Worst Country Song of 2014. There is nothing good about these songs. To top it all of “Bottoms Up” is kind of hypocritical coming from Gilbert considering he’s been sober the last few years and no longer drinks alcohol. Yet here is glamorizing it to young and impressionable country fans. That’s a shame. As I mentioned too, Gilbert helped introduce rap into country music by co-writing “Dirt Road Anthem.”
Jerrod Niemann – Remember this guy? If you don’t remember him I don’t blame you because after a hot start to 2014 he has dropped off the face of the planet. At the beginning of 2014, country music was abuzz with Niemann’s polarizing new album High Noon and the first single from it, “Drink to That All Night.” His incorporation of auto-tune and electronic beats into the hit single captured pop country fans attentions and caused traditional country fans like myself to throw up our arms in protest. It was a stark departure from his previous material. In other words he sold out hard, as he realized he was becoming irrelevant due to bro country. Niemann and his group tried to capitalize on this newfound buzz about him by doing a remix of “Drink to That All Night” with Pitbull of all people. This ultimately bombed, so they followed this up with “Donkey,” one of the worst country songs ever. This bombed even harder. This single bombed so hard that it’s pretty much torpedoed Niemann’s career. Yikes!
Big Smo & Colt Ford – The only hick hop artists with mainstream status. Repeat after me: Hip hop and country do not mix well together and never will. Keep them apart in their own genres, please.
Thomas Rhett – The son of Rhett Akins has pretty much been a disgrace to country music his entire career. Not a single song of his is good. “Get Me Some of That” was quietly one of the worst songs of 2013. Not just in country music, but in all music.
RaeLynn – The only female country artist in the mainstream to receive a F ranking. This is an accomplishment in itself. While other female artists are making great country music (Musgraves, Monroe, Presley) or even making decent music (Bannen and Lambert), RaeLynn is making songs like “God Made Girls.” This amount of pandering towards male artists and bro country is vomit-inducing. She annoyed me with her voice on The Voice and she has annoyed me even more after the show. The amount of twang in her voice makes Miranda Lambert sound like she’s from Boston. It’s ridiculous.
That wraps up my ranking of mainstream country music. I’ll do an updated set of rankings in about six months, as I’m sure there will be some changes. Be sure to weigh in with your thoughts on the rankings in the comments below.