The Country Perspective Show, Episode 3: Ranking The A Category Mainstream Country Artists

In the third episode of The Country Perspective Show, I give my thoughts on the Blake Shelton-Miranda Lambert divorce and I discuss Kacey Musgraves going for Americana airplay and what this might mean going forward for some country artists. In the main portion of the show I begin to rank the mainstream country artists, starting with artists I consider at the very top in the A category. And this time I use + and – in my rankings. Be sure to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments below!

Intro & Outro music by audionautix.com.

16 thoughts on “The Country Perspective Show, Episode 3: Ranking The A Category Mainstream Country Artists

  1. Raymond July 27, 2015 / 11:05 am

    Can you give me a quick rundown of who is the A particularly if Kacey Musgraves or Ashley Monroe made it. Also quick thoughts on Miranda-Blake.

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    • Josh Schott July 27, 2015 / 11:09 am

      No, otherwise I’m negating the entire point of the podcast.

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      • Raymond July 27, 2015 / 11:20 am

        Aw man oh well this sucks but eh I think I’ll wait till I can get access didn’t realize how stupid my post was. Now I’m mad cause the ranking thing was something I wanted so badly and now I can’t get access that figures.

        Also Josh why are you so stunned by how Mickey Guyton’s song performed it tested terribly since the 18-35 male demographic hated it and that’s what radio is shooting for right now.

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  2. Kevin Davis July 27, 2015 / 12:51 pm

    The discussion about the Americana genre is indeed fascinating. It looks like this could be the way the format splits — “Americana” inherits the soulful, thoughtful country of past and present, and “country” does whatever. But, are there any Americana radio stations on the FM or AM dial? I am not even aware of any online Americana stations, but that’s probably because I’ve never looked for any. I mostly listen to Gumbo 94.9 online or the fabulous “Ultimate Twang” show from Asheville, NC — but neither showcase newer talent.

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    • Derek Hudgin July 27, 2015 / 12:56 pm

      According to a short web search I’ve done, there’s various AM/FM stations that have played music that reports to the Americana Chart. And apparently for me in central Oklahoma, there’s an AM station out of Cushing that is listed on those participating stations, though I haven’t heard any music from that station when I’ve attempted to listen in.

      This is the link I’ve looked at for radio stations, if anyone’s curious: http://www.americanaradio.org/ama/reporters.asp?he=1

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    • Josh Schott July 27, 2015 / 1:28 pm

      I hope this spurs more Americana stations to pop up and if that happens, then this definitely could be the way the format splits. I hope the Americana Association takes notice of this because this could be something as I said. More than anything I want this to be something.

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  3. Zack July 27, 2015 / 12:55 pm

    Interesting points all around Josh!

    First I’ll touch base on the Kacey Musgraves Americana thing. I think it’s pretty cool that Americana has developed such a vast landscape to include not only more Folk or Folk/Rock artists such as Drew Holcomb, The Lone Bellow, Houndmouth etc, but also the country acts as you mentioned. It certainly will be interesting to see what happens in the coming months. It would be cool to say that Americana is as popular as Pop/Country is right now. I’d love for a radio station that encompassed all of those acts as well. At its core, all Americana really means in today’s world is “non mainstream”.

    Now for the rankings, except for Kacey Musgraves, I agree with every A+. I realize the comment about Kacey may have been directed at someone like me, and don’t get me wrong, I LIKE her music. STDP would have gotten a 7/10 from me and I already gave Pageant Material an 8/10, I just don’t like it as much as others do. I certainly have always admired her impact though, don’t get me wrong. She’s made a huge impact for Country, as you mentioned, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. And you’re right, she hasn’t given us her best music yet, which is a little why I’ve always had a small issue with her. On both albums I felt she was holding back, like there was something else there that just wasn’t being released, similar to how you felt about Ashley Monroe’s “The Blade”.

    When it comes to the Zac Brown Band, I have to agree with the A. I’ve actually been listening to their discography a lot, and it’s amazing at how many good songs they’ve left as album cuts. They’ve always been a bit dry with their single choices IMO, but tracks like “Jolene”, “Cold Hearted”, “Day That I Die”, “Uncaged”,…etc are more of a testament to their talent. When it comes to Jekyll + Hyde, I will admit, it’s grown on me a lot. You’re right, take out stuff like “Beautiful Drug”, “TMC”, “Young & Wild”, “One Day”, (at least, that’s what I would take out), and you have a good album.

    James Johnson I would move to an A+. Yes there’s Honkytonk Badonkadonk, but it’s not as if Chris Stapleton hasn’t written his share of mediocre tunes that aimed for commercial appeal. Charlie Worsham I’ll have to check out. I couldn’t stand “Could It Be” so I never checked it out. If it’s as good as you say it is ill have to give it a listen. I don’t mind Carrie Underwood honestly, granted I’d move her down to A-, but you’re right she’s a relatively solid artist.

    Gary, well, you know my thoughts on haha! Objectively I’d still give him an A, but I understand the differing opinions.

    I’ll have more thoughts later, I just wanted to get some quick thoughts out right now, great show!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh Schott July 27, 2015 / 1:30 pm

      Thanks! Americana has a real chance here to become a player and I hope they realize this.

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  4. Derek Hudgin July 27, 2015 / 1:01 pm

    Hard to complain with your rankings from my point of view! I’d throw Jamey Johnson up toward an A+ as well. Yeah, he wrote “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” but his personal output has been topnotch country. But i agree with the placements on Ashley Monroe, Will Hoge (long ‘O’ pronunciation, by the way), Zac Brown Band and Gary Allan.

    I hope that Americana picks up some steam and offers a little bit more in the radio station outlet. It’d be really nice to have more supply in that department!

    Great podcast!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh Schott July 27, 2015 / 1:32 pm

      Thanks! Ah I didn’t know that was how Hoge’s name is pronounced. I’ll be sure to remember that for future podcasts. As far as Jamey’s placement, after recording I debated myself on it even. I’m sure he’s going to release some awesome album soon and I’ll definitely put him in the A+ category when I do this again next year.

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  5. Kevin Davis July 27, 2015 / 1:36 pm

    Now that I’ve finished listening to the podcast, I agree with your choices for A ratings — though I agree with Zack about Musgraves, whom I appreciate and respect but not quite A+. I’ll be interested to see where you put Jana Kramer. I’ve been surprisingly impressed by her. But I suspect that her label will be pushing her into Kelsea Ballerini territory soon. Let’s hope she has the maturity to resist.

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  6. Megan Conley July 27, 2015 / 2:17 pm

    Ashley Monroe has another album, set to come out in 2006, that came out in 2009, called “Satisfied.” That was her debut. That said, having listened to all of her material, I’d probably switch her and Carrie Underwood, although Carrie Underwood did admittedly release two brilliant singles to radio in the past year. She is underrated compared to Miranda Lambert, but Ashley Monroe is underrated compared to them both.

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    • Kevin Davis July 27, 2015 / 3:06 pm

      I would love to see ‘Satisfied’ re-released in 2016. That was the album that I first discovered Ashley Monroe, and it was a shame to see her troubles with her label at the time. The album deserved a far wider hearing.

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    • Josh Schott July 27, 2015 / 3:08 pm

      That’s understandable. Regardless we can both agree that they’re fantastic. I’ve never listened to Satisfied, so I’ll have to check it out.

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  7. Lisandro Berry-Gaviria July 27, 2015 / 11:29 pm

    Hey Josh! Sorry that I haven’t been able to comment for a while—I was on a long vacation to a place with no Internet connection, so I couldn’t follow the site (or anything else, for that matter). I like this new feature and I guess I’ll have to check out the other two episodes; and congrats on taking over the Hodgepodge, Derek!
    Now for my thoughts on the topics you covered…firstly, I couldn’t agree more with your opinion on the whole Blake-Miranda thing. I just found out about it and that really sucks, but what’s even worse is, as you said, ToC and The Boot giving them zero privacy about it. Assholes.
    And I’m glad about Kacey Musgraves going for Americana airplay. I think quite a few mainstream fans view her as a good artist who’s “pure country”—after all, she has had a big impact on the country world, as Zack said—so maybe her shifting to Americana will be enough for some of those people to see that Americana is the equivalent of real country music right now.
    And for the rankings…I’d move Musgraves down to an A, just because despite the fact that I like both her albums for the most part (I just now listened to “Pageant Material”) I feel like she does too many “Biscuits”-type songs; I’d move Jamey Johnson up to an A+ because, as Zack also pointed out, Stapleton’s had his fair share of cowriting bad songs and he’s an A+, so I feel like it’d be more consistent to have Johnson at an A+ too (and yeah, I’m expecting his next album to be pretty great too!). I’d also drop Carrie Underwood and Zac Brown Band to A-; Carrie has had a good few songs that I can’t stand, like “Before He Cheats” and “Cowboy Casanova,” and plenty more that lean more on the pop side rather than country, and ZBB…well, “Jekyll + Hyde” was a huge disappointment for me, and to be honest, I don’t think ZBB will “learn their lesson from it” as you said. More likely I think, since the “country” audience is drinking this album up, they’ll probably release a similar one after the “Jekyll + Hyde” era is over. Then maybe they’ll go back to their roots, but I don’t know. Hopefully I’m just being negative here.
    I’ve never heard of Charlie Worsham; I’ll have to take a look into his stuff.
    All the other grades, I agree with you on. Great addition to the site Josh!

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    • Josh Schott July 28, 2015 / 1:13 am

      Glad you’re back Lisandro! And thanks! I’m glad you enjoy the podcast.

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