Take a look around the mainstream media outlets. In almost every single sector you have some outlet or outlets willing to criticize the status quo. For instance, Bill Simmons called out the NFL this past season for their all-around mismanagement. A few years ago Dan LeBatard sold off his Baseball Hall of Fame vote to make a point about what a joke the voting process is and how it needs to be fixed. In the political field there’s always someone calling out the other side.
Like I said almost every sector of mainstream journalism there’s someone willing to criticize. The key word is almost. You know what sector of mainstream journalism there isn’t a critical voice? Country music. And man does it need it.
Of course that’s difficult when there are only a few mainstream country outlets. There’s Rolling Stone Country, Taste of Country and The Boot. Sure there’s coverage by regular media outlets that cover everything, along with CMT and GAC, but the three I listed above are pretty much the main country outlets. Rolling Stone Country occasionally post something critical of country music, like their recent interview with Love and Theft. But the other two? They suck at being critical.
You know why they suck in this aspect? They suck because they don’t have a critical voice at all. They never criticize anything happening in country music. It’s always positive and happy, with every single song being special in it’s own unique way. They kiss every single artist’s ass and write all kinds of nice little features about how great of a person they are. Just look at all of those Luke Bryan articles about how he took in a relative to live with him. You would think he pulled the pope out of quicksand by the amount of praise he received.
Why do they this? Well money. They have to keep all of the advertisers happy because god forbid something mean gets said about an artist or their music. God forbid you actually critique something. Instead I compare it to five-year olds in kindergarten. The five-year olds are Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line and all of the other mainstream artists. The teachers are Taste of Country and The Boot. By simply existing, they’ll award the artist a little sticker and a pat on the head. Hell at least an actual kindergarten teacher punishes the student when they misbehave. Taste of Country and The Boot just look the other way and continue to praise them (which would make them the worst kindergarten teachers ever).
As a result of this validation, these artists will continue to believe the music they’re making is great when it may not be all that great. Any artist worth a lick knows there is always room to improve. In my opinion, a big reason country music has gone down hill is the lack of critical voices in the mainstream. In essence, I blame Taste of Country and The Boot partly for mainstream country music being so down in quality in recent years. Of course they would refute this because they don’t think for themselves, they let the advertisers and record labels do this for them because they’re spineless sell-outs.
Then there’s the issue of independent country artists getting covered once they sign with a major label or getting any fame. The Boot and Taste of Country just started posting Sturgill Simpson news in recent months. This is infuriating on several levels. First of all the record labels whose control these corporate country sites also control the radio. This is the same radio that won’t play Simpson’s music because basically it’s real music. It’s not cookie-cutter, advertiser-friendly, cockamamie bullshit. So he’s good enough to fill content on your site, but not good enough for your radio stations? What a joke.
The bottom line: The Boot and Taste of Country are nothing but glorified press release sites for major labels and artists. They’re the journalistic equivalent of paparazzi magazines. They offer no valid commentary on country music. They are an impediment to the progress of country music and country music journalism. Of course my scathing takedown does not matter. They will not change. My blog is unlikely to ever be as big as them. I would love for Country Perspective to have the influence to change it and maybe someday it will. It’s highly unlikely, but never say never. You know who can change it though? The country music fan reading this post. Maybe you’re a disgruntled country music fans who’s tired of corporate country blogs. My advice: don’t read their stuff. Tell your friends and family the same. Don’t validate their bullshit like everyone in mainstream country music does.
The feeling that mainstream country music is improving is because of the fans. Slowly, but surely over the past year more fans that unhappy with the recent direction of country music are speaking louder and voicing their displeasure. Bro country isn’t as popular as a result. The artists and labels notice this and have reacted. Sturgill Simpson said it himself that he can’t save country music, but the country music fan can. You have a voice. Don’t be afraid to use it. Support the artists you like. Hell if you’re as passionate as me, go start your own country music blog. Above all be honest. You will already be one step ahead of the corporate country blogs (and more credible).
Upcoming/Recent Country Music Releases
- Reba announced her new album will be released on April 14. It will be called Love Somebody and it will contain 12 tracks, with two bonus tracks included in the Target edition of the album. You can see the track list for the album, along with other details about it by clicking here. One track on the album is written by Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally. Then there’s another co-written by Sam Hunt. This album should be interesting.
- Will Hoge finally announced his new album will be released on April 7 and it will be named Small Town Dreams. In case you missed it, be sure to check out Derek’s post on it from last Friday.
- Kristian Bush’s new album Southern Gravity will also be out on April 7. It’s his debut solo album and I’m actually intrigued to hear it. I enjoyed his single “Trailer Hitch” and hopefully his album is in the same vein.
- Eli Young Band announced they’re releasing a new EP on March 10 titled Turn It On. The EP’s title track will be released as a single that same week.
Throwback Thursday Song
Hank Williams – “Move It On Over” This was the legendary singer’s first big hit, peaking at #4 on the country chart. It also had a great influence on rock-and-roll music, with many citing it as the inspiration behind “Rock Around The Clock,” the first major hit single in rock-and-roll. That’s why Hank is not only in the Country Music Hall of Fame, but also the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
My Non-Country Suggestion of the Week
I finally sat down and listened to Blackberry Smoke’s new album Holding All The Roses. And I definitely recommend checking it out. It’s a pretty fun rock album from start to finish. I won’t be officially reviewing it on the site since Derek and myself both felt it was more of a rock album than country album and there are a lot of country releases that have come out that are of higher priority. But if I had to rate this album, I would give it a 9/10. It’s definitely one of my favorite rock albums released in 2015 so far. If I had to pick my favorite they would be “Rock and Roll Again,” “Woman In The Moon” and “Wish in One Hand.” I mean how could you not like a song with the line, “wish in one hand, shit in the other”? Holding All The Roses gets a high recommendation from me.
Tweet of the Week
Yep! Grady Smith speaking the truth again.
Two Cole Swindell Reviews That Will Make You Face Palm
You know I could have went back to the Sam Hunt well again because it isn’t running dry anytime soon. But I’m a man of variety. Mocking the same fans over and over would just be bland. Speaking of bland, I remembered Cole Swindell. And his fans are certainly full of hot takes on country music. I posted two reviews this week because there are a lot of reviews along this line on Cole Swindell’s self-titled debut album review page and I want to feature as many of these ridiculous posts as possible.
To the second reviewer: When do I get my El Camino?
That’s it for the Hodgepodge this week! Be sure to sound off in the comments!