Country music radio in 2015 could be best described as regressing, in disarray and disillusioned. It looked like in the latter half of 2014 and very early 2015 that country radio may actually be improving and regaining substance. We even got a positive score for the first time ever for The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music in January. Ever since then things have regressed so much that I’ve lost a lot of hope I had for mainstream country music improving in 2015. Zac Brown Band, Jana Kramer’s “I Got The Boy,” and Carrie Underwood’s “Little Toy Guns” are the only bright spots amongst new material released in 2015. Everything else has been generic, mediocre R&B or down right terrible.
This leads me to Little Big Town’s latest single “Girl Crush.” While many critics praised Little Big Town’s 2014 Pain Killer, I considered it generic, 80s pop rock material. I had no idea what people heard with this album and why it got so much praise. Sure it looks great next to the likes of Sam Hunt, Florida Georgia Line and Jason Aldean. But in the whole scope of things it’s a fairly forgettable album to my ears. Anyway back to “Girl Crush.” This is the one song where I agree with many in that it’s actually a good song. I wouldn’t call it great, but it’s good and is a big improvement over many songs playing on country radio right now.
Karen Fairchild’s smokey voice and the airy instrumentation work well in this song. Of course the main allure of this song is its subject matter. On a casual first listen this appears to be about a woman falling in love with another woman, a rare country song about a homosexual relationship. You’ll realize though upon multiple listens that it is indeed not about a lesbian relationship. Instead it’s about a woman being jealous of another woman who is with the man she loves. It’s a jealous lust towards the other woman, not a lust for the woman herself. Anyone who takes the time to listen can figure this out easily.
When “Girl Crush” entered the top 30 of the Billboard Country Airplay chart on March 14, I was glad to see it. Then the following week it fell right out of the top 30 and has even dropped more since then. What gives? I speculated last week that it could be because country radio finds the song to be too risqué to play on country radio. This is ridiculous for the reasons I spelled out above of course. Then this post drops on For The Country Record. Vickeye Fisher, who runs FTCR, wisely reached out and had a current music director for a country music station in Texas “pull back the curtain” on country radio and what is happening with “Girl Crush.” The music director, identified as TexMex, wrote this in the piece:
When I first came in contact with the song, LBT’s record label sent me a hard copy to listen to. There it was in BIG letters on the front “GIRL CRUSH”… I am not going to lie, at first I thought, probably no chance this makes the air and chuckled to myself. I listened to the first couple lines and again thought to myself, “Wow!! How does LBT think this makes the air?” And then, when you are least expecting it… BAM!! They hit you with the hook. It is a jealousy song, lyrically crafted by an obvious wordsmith and something of a genius. I think LBT knew this would be the reaction of many. What they couldn’t have predicted, and neither did I, was that people would still complain about the song’s “obvious” lesbian meaning. What? Did you listen to the song all the way through? Do you not like songs about women being jealous of a mistress? This is the foundation of female country music subjects most of the time.
To my surprise, after explaining the song to more than a handful of people, every one of them responded with basically the same thing (paraphrased): “You are just promoting the gay agenda on your station and I am changing the channel and never listening to you ever again!!”
As a result, despite TexMex’s pleads to keep it in heavy rotation, the song was pretty much reduced to barely getting any plays. I’m sure this same thing happened at several other radio stations across America. Now we all know why “Girl Crush” has been dropping on the charts: hard hearing country fans and radio bosses who refuse to see that this song for what it is.
Now before I go on to make my greater point let me address a few things here with my argument. This is not about gay rights and where I or anyone else stands on the issue. Here at Country Perspective we do not engage in talks about political issues, as it’s unproductive and not related to the topic always at hand, which is music. Another thing I see many critics and fans pointing out is how “Girl Crush” was intended to be controversial and that this was all planned. Little Big Town has even retweeted on their Twitter account tweets about how the song is being pulled off radio for political reasons. They may very well have planned this whole thing, but none of us can know for sure. However I will point this out: Have you ever known Little Big Town to be controversial or to engage in this kind of territory? I certainly haven’t and that’s why I believe this wasn’t planned. I believe Little Big Town for once actually stumbled upon a song with clever lyrics. So basically I believe Little Big Town didn’t plan for this to happen, but now that is is they’re rolling with it because nobody turns down free publicity. (If you want to see a planned “outrage,” see Brad Paisley’s little leaking stunt on Twitter last year)
Now to my overall point, where I point out how hypocritical and stupid country radio is, along with some of its listeners. Let’s start with the low-hanging fruit that is Florida Georgia Line’s “Sun Daze.” This song enjoyed a nice run in the top ten of the Billboard Country Airplay chart and reached the very top. It’s still recurrent even at this moment. Yet this song contains the following lyric: “I sit you up on a kitchen sink/Stick the pink umbrella in your drink.” For those country fans out there who were too slow to understand “Girl Crush,” I’ll spell this lyric out for you. It’s a guy sticking his penis into a woman’s vagina and screwing her. Not to mention the entire song is about getting hammered and stoned. Where are your complaints country fans? Why didn’t you pull this song off radio for being too risqué, country programmers? All yeah you wouldn’t.
You could pick out almost any song off of Florida Georgia Line’s 2014 album Anything Goes and call it risqué. But country radio kisses their feet like they’re gods. Florida Georgia Line and host of others have been churning out these songs that encourage drinking and smoking for the past few years, yet no complaints. It would take me forever to point out all of these songs, so I’ll point out another song that was highly popular on the radio, but wasn’t considered too risqué to play: Tyler Farr’s 2013 smash hit “Redneck Crazy.” It peaked at #3 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart and got overplayed as hell on my local country stations. Let’s take a look at some of the lyrics from this song. Here’s the chorus:
I’m gonna lean my headlights into your bedroom windows
Throw empty beer cans at both of your shadows
I didn’t come here to start a fight, but I’m up for anything tonight
You know you broke the wrong heart, baby,
And drove me redneck crazy
Or what about these lyrics?
Did you think I’d wish you both the best,
Endless love and happiness?
You know that’s just not the kind of man I am
Yeah, I’m the kind that shows up at your house at 3 A.M.
This is the modern-day version of The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” or as I call it, “The Stalker Song.” That song I can at least laugh at it and mock it for its overall stupidity. But if I hear “Redneck Crazy” it sends me into a rage. It’s a song about a whiny douchebag who can’t get over being dumped and has to resort to breaking or threatening to break numerous laws to make himself feel better. He threatens violence, destroys property, trespasses and stalks a girl in the middle of the night. How is this song not considered too dangerous to play on country radio? For all of the fathers out there reading this, would you want your daughter mixed up with a boy like the one in this song?
The point is this: “Girl Crush” is nowhere near being a “risqué” song and it’s being labeled as such. Meanwhile country radio gleefully plays songs that encourage bad behavior, from excessive drinking to stalking to guys getting girls drunk enough so they can get in their pants. Country radio listeners and programmers are just fine with these type of songs. They’re drawing lines where they shouldn’t and not drawing lines where they should. It’s a damn joke. Rejecting “Girl Crush” shows they’re nothing but hypocrites with a double-standard. This really isn’t a surprise though and I’m sure this controversy will blow over soon. I think the main thing to take away from this is it’s yet another reminder of how country radio is a very crooked and political place. There’s so much more going on than meets the eye and it’s a problem that continues to grow out of control.
Upcoming/Recent Country Music Releases
- Josh Turner is set to release his first new album in three years next Tuesday. Turner or his team have yet to announce a name for the album, which is kind of odd. This album may be pushed back. We’ll have to wait and see.
- Darius Rucker is releasing a new album next Tuesday and it’s titled Southern Style. Based on the track listing confirmed by Windmills, it doesn’t sound good at all. One song is called “Half Full Dixie Cup.” Perhaps a candidate for Country Perspective’s 2015 Worst Album of the Year award?
- In an interview with Radio.com (highly recommended read), Jason Isbell said that they’re shooting for an early July release date on his new album. It would be the first one since his critically-acclaimed 2013 album Southeastern.
- Brett Eldredge is getting ready to release a new album this year. The first single from it is called “Lose My Mind” and will debut on iHeartRadio on April 21, impacting country radio shorty after. No word on an album release date yet, but Windmills has tracked down a number of possible tracks on it.
- Jason Michael Carroll will be releasing a new album on May 5 titled What Color Is Your Sky. It was funded through Kickstarter and will be his first album in four years. He also just released the first single from it, “God Only Knows.”
- Now I want to address two albums that were set to come out this week, but have been delayed. The first is Montgomery Gentry’s new album. The name of it is Folks Like Us, with the album’s title track being the lead single from it (currently at #59 on the top 60 of the Billboard Country Airplay chart). I originally saw it was pushed back to April 21, however a recent interview by the group with Billboard indicates otherwise. From the interview: “Troy and Eddie have finished their upcoming album (which will be their first in four years) and are hoping to have the record in the hands of fans this summer. “As of right now, we’re getting such good response with the single that we’re going to wait and let it breathe at radio for a little while before we release the record — which tentatively is going to be in June sometime.””
- The other album that was set to come out right around now was Easton Corbin’s new album. The name of the album is said to be It’s About To Get Real. I dug around and the only clue I could find for a release date was on his Wikipedia page, where it says the album is set to be released on May 19. However there was no source cited. The only other information I could find about it is an interview he gave with The Roanoker. This is what he said about it in the interview: “It’s natural as artists to grow over the years,” he said. “What you experience changes, and the music follows.”
Throwback Thursday Song
Alan Jackson – “Three Minute Positive Not Too Country Up Tempo Love Song.” This song just feels appropriate to post because it still rings true today. Can we get Jackson back on the radio?
Non-Country Album of the Week
Kendrick Lamar’s new album To Pimp A Butterfly may be my favorite album of 2015 so far. It’s definitely the best hip-hop album, with Lupe Fiasco’s Testuo & Youth just behind it. This is an album that gets better every time you listen to it. The funky beats, the gripping lyrics and even all of the guests on the album work flawlessly. Snoop Dogg actually sounds good! I haven’t said that in a while. If you’re a fan of hip-hop you definitely need to hear this album.
Tweet of the Week
I’m guessing this is Sunny responding to Gary Overton stepping down as the head of Sony Nashville?
An iTunes Review That Will Make You Face Palm
This week’s ridiculous iTunes review was sent in by reader Ben, who found this review under Michael Ray’s new single “Kiss You In The Morning.” Rebekah used real country in CAPS, so that must mean it’s true! Thanks for the great submission, Ben!
That’s it for the Hodgepodge this week! Be sure to sound off in the comments!