Rankings Mainstream Country Artists: F

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:

Grade A

Grade B 

Grade C

Grade D

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.

Grade F

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 "Dirt"

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.

Source: Wikimedia, Dlindner0; License

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.

6 thoughts on “Rankings Mainstream Country Artists: F

  1. Lorenzo December 8, 2014 / 3:34 pm

    I’d have replaced Rae Lynn with Lady antebellum but I couldn’t agree more for the rest. Really, this list is perfect. when I think about the worst of country I think about these guys together! Great job Josh!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh Schott December 8, 2014 / 3:38 pm

      Thanks Lorenzo! Appreciate the kind words.

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  2. Kevin Davis December 8, 2014 / 4:41 pm

    What frustrates me the most about “Dirt Road Anthem” is that I really like the chorus! I could do without the George Jones reference (and all such references from bro-country artists). I think the chorus is what attracted most people to “Dirt Road Anthem,” and thereby forgiving his terrible attempt at rapping. Maybe I’m being generous.

    RE: Chase Rice. “I’m sure that is all he knows.” Bingo! That’s precisely the problem. We have imbeciles, with no genuine life experiences, producing our “art.” This is a sure sign of a civilization’s decadence.

    Since you mentioned the potential splitting of the country format, it is interesting to me that the two (very awful) country stations in Charlotte have been playing older songs in their regular rotations, as well as more of the better newer material. And by “older,” I mean late 90’s at the earliest. But still, that’s something. For example, this afternoon I heard “Where the Green Grass Grows,” one of my favorite early Tim McGraw songs. I regularly hear “Suds in the Bucket” (Sara Evans), a real gem. I’ve recently heard, two or three times, some Travis Tritt (“It’s a Great Day to be Alive”). I’ve heard lots of Josh Turner’s solid material lately. And for whatever reason, Dierk’s “I Hold On” (a fantastic song and video) has been getting a lot of play lately. This is just anecdotal, of course, but I have been enjoying mainstream country radio far more than usual, for this past month or two. I don’t know if this is a sign of anything, but it seems that country radio is more cognizant of its more traditional fan base than earlier in the year. Back in June and July, it was almost unbearable whenever I listened to the radio. Personally, I am not sure if I want the format to split. I still believe (however meagerly) that the “gateway drug” theory is true — not with “Burnin’ It Down” or “Ready Set Go” but with the more harmless stuff, like Justin Moore and Randy Houser.

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  3. Cobra December 8, 2014 / 5:33 pm

    Jerrod Niemann is such a shame because his first album showed some real potential. “Lover, Lover” was decent; I really liked “What Do You Want” and “Bakersfield” and there were a couple of others that had a certain flair to them. But his output as of late has just been so…well, I’m just going to go ahead and say it, it’s been shit. He’s like a student capable of solid B work who just stops trying and deserves every bad grade he gets.

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  4. NoahHibiscusEaton December 9, 2014 / 3:16 am

    Anyone here can refer to my comments in the D-grade installment of this series with regards to my argument on why Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan are more fitting of a D-grade than a F-grade, and there’s no need to copy and paste it all here again.

    What I will reiterate, though, is that the way I choose to juxtapose the pretty bad from the exceptionally bad is by how much energy, charisma and enthusiasm the entertainers in question possess. Because in my view, the only worse than an entertainer who panders to the lowest common denominator, writes generally awful lyrics, utilizes ear-bleeding production and contributes to the monogenre effect, but nonetheless sounds energetic and charismatic doing so……………..is an entertainer who panders to the lowest common denominator, writes generally awful lyrics, utilizes ear-bleeding production and contributes to the monogenre effect AND doesn’t sound like they care or are enjoying themselves. That, to me, makes the likes of Aaron Lewis and Chase Rice notably worse than the still-bad Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan. Not to mention the fact that, to their credit, Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan’s songwriting team have a knack at technical songwriting (note I said TECHNICAL songwriting, not songwriting period! 😉 )………………whereas Aaron Lewis and Chase Rice do not.

    Jason Aldean is a notable exception in this case in that, as insufferable as he can be especially with half to two-thirds of his single releases………….he nonetheless has always had a better taste than most of his bro-peers when it comes to album tracks. I actually kind of liked the second half of his latest album “Old Boots, New Dirt” (aside from the horrid “Gonna Know We Were Here”) in that you have songs with some notable nuance, somewhat traditional production with hints of blues rock even, and vocal performances on “Don’t Change Gone” and “Too Fast” in particular that are decent. And aside from “Night Train”, I can confidently say I can pick at least two tracks from each of his earlier albums that I genuinel thought had some substance to them (albeit of which Aldean didn’t write any) and interpreted well, especially “Church Pew or Barstool”, “Grown Woman”, “Back In This Cigarette”, “Not Every Man Lives” and “On My Highway”. For that, I consider Aldean a D artist, even though he has utterly no charisma or personality whatsoever.

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    That out of the way, I pretty much agree with the rest of this selection.

    Though I’d actually disqualify Sam Hunt altogether from these rankings for the simple fact he shouldn’t belong in country music in the first place and I’d rather not dignify his presence with a response! Same can be said for Dan + Shay and Hunter Hayes! 😉

    Brantley Gilbert is admittedly a tough one. His vocals absolutely irritate me and his personality is absolutely sour and ugly to me. On the other hand, there are plenty of moments on his latest album “Just As I Am” where Gilbert, dare I say it, actually shows some decent songwriting chops. “Let It Ride” and “My Faith In You” especially shine, while “I’m Gone” and “One Hell Of An Amen” are also pretty respectable. So I guess what I’m saying is………………if it wasn’t for his aggravating vocals, he would be spared from the very bottom as I have done for Aldean because of proof he can write decent songs when he puts his mind to it. But unlike Aldean, who sometimes puts the monotone to his advantage and squeezes out some convincing emotion, Gilbert can’t help but always sound annoying. So he’s still in the F range.

    I still consider Justin Moore an F artist, as is Dustin Lynch. Moore pens insufferable material that shamelessly panders to ideology and political beliefs as Mark of Spectrum Pulse explains better than I can, has an annoying, exaggeratedly twangy vocal and an arrogance to his personality and listlessness to his delivery that rubs me off in all the wrong ways. And Lynch showed hints of promise on his debut single “Cowboys and Angels” and the new album track “Your Daddy’s Boots”, but pretty much every other song he has cut is about tailgate sex that also shamelessly panders to the monogenre.

    I refrained from assigning a grade to RaeLynn because, after all, she has only released one single thus far and, beyond that, is barely even noticed on Blake Shelton’s atrocious “Buzzin'” as a featured vocal. I choose to not assign grades to artists until they’ve released their first full-length album. But let me just say the first impression is quite bleak.

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    • Josh Schott December 9, 2014 / 12:02 pm

      I’ll probably bump Aaron Lewis down next time. I was too generous to him this time. As for Aldean, I’ll probably bump him up to a D- next time. I liked a few of the songs on the latter portion of his new album also and it was really what saved it from being as bad as Florida Georgia Line’s new album.

      Sam Hunt should be disqualified, but since he’s country I have to put him in. I hope he wises up and moves to pop. I would maybe listen to his music if it were properly labeled. I predict Dan + Shay won’t be remembered in five years. Same goes for Hunter Hayes. Once he hits puberty his marketability is gone 🙂

      Gilbert is a tough one and he was actually one of the better albums in mainstream this year. There were some decent album cuts actually and he wrote almost all of the songs on the album. But his voice like you said is so irritating. His radio singles are even more irritating. He also helped usher in rap into country music. I think Gilbert could be so much more than what he is, but he has to be the douche Affliction T-shirt guy for “marketing” purposes.

      Moore and Lynch are pretty close to the bottom of the barrel, but I don’t put them at F because they at least have good voices. You gotta admit they aren’t completely talentless 🙂

      As for RaeLynn, I should have went into greater detail about how I’m more familiar with her than the average country fan. Back when I was still a fan of The Voice and watched it regularly, I remember her vividly the season she was on. I hated her singing from the very first time she opened her mouth, yet jackass Blake kept putting her through to the next round. I also remember the show where they were making cuts to determine who made it to the live rounds how RaeLynn beat out two other clearly more talented female country artists. I mean the other ones completely blew her away. Yet RaeLynn was chosen over them. RaeLynn represents everything that is wrong with the way female country artists are treated. She’s simply in the spot she is in right now because she kissed enough ass and has a pretty enough face. Out of all the artists in mainstream country music, she is last out of all them in my mind. Don’t expect her music to improve. As you can see I’m not very fond of her. Haha!

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