Even with all the good country music available in 2015, there was still a ton of bad. As the popularity of bro-country faded, Music Row seemed more and more desperate to keep the mass interested by further moving away from country roots. R&B trends with faux rapping and an abundance of pop culture references resulted in straight pop songs being thrusted to the top of the country charts. Many younger, country newcomers entered the scene to bring more authenticity to Music Row’s reach for the younger demographic. Established acts remodeled themselves in an effort to stay relevant. Overall, 2015 was a year of identity crisis for mainstream country music, and this year’s nominations for Country Perspective’s Worst Album of the Year embody the soulless spirit of Music Row’s desperate attempt to maintain relevancy.
Josh and I selected these finalists and will ultimately decide who wins the glorious honor of Worst Album of 2015. Remember that we do value reader feedback will take your opinions into consideration. Please comment and voice your vote of which of the albums below you believe to be the worst of 2015. These albums were selected because they offer no intrinsic quality to country music. They existed merely to make money for the music business, and did so in the worst possible fashion. These are the albums whose sins are too grand to be ignored.
Worst Album of The Year Nominees (in no particular order)
Immature themes pandering to the generation after Luke’s own combined with an R&B and pop production that isn’t even remotely close to a country sound. That’s what you get with Luke Bryan’s Kill The Lights. R&B grooves and half-assed club music so Luke can “dance” on stage and keep getting ticket sales from women yearning to see him shake his ass.
The first half of this album is so atrocious that it’s on level with some of the worst music I have ever reviewed on Country Perspective. The second half of the album has some decent music, but for most casual fans with taste there’s no chance in hell they make it this far into the album. Bryan at this point in his career has become Gumby for Music Row. He’ll bend and contort into whatever is the latest trend. In his last album he pandered to bro country and now he’s giving his own take on the Sam Hunt, R&B styled “country” music.
When it comes to established acts conforming to trends to appease the label managers, Thomas Rhett may be the worst offender. His sophomore album is a complete sonic shift from his debut. Thomas Rhett isn’t an artist, he’s a puppet being forced to sing and dance whatever songs will get himself and his label money. The sad thing is, they can’t even accomplish this feat without sampling and ripping off music from other artists. There’s nothing original about Tangled Up.
This album is a mess and shouldn’t even be called music. The songs that combine country sounds with funk sounds are just a hodgepodge of noise that would make a deaf person cringe. The actual funk, disco, R&B songs are shitty and Bruno Mars himself wouldn’t even try to record that mess. Mainstream country isn’t exactly moving away from bro-country. Sure, these songs aren’t pop rock corn field parties, but the lyrics are still the same trashy immature sentiments meant to boost bravado and masculinity. Tangled Up is an embarrassment to country music, it’s an embarrassment to funk and it’s an embarrassment to music in general.
Canaan Smith has pretty much fallen off the face of the earth after “Love You Like That” completed its chart run. But we won’t forget about Smith yet as his cliche-ridden terrible album has sustained its run as one of the worst albums of the year. Seriously, let’s revisit these lyrics as a reminder of the quality that Bronco offered country music:
We got that mad love
Haters gonna hate us
Yeah, you and me together
Some kinda crazy
But that’s us
Doin’ our thing
There isn’t much else to say about Bronco, other than it is a giant train wreck with the exception of one song. Canaan Smith took the most clichéd and tiring tropes and combined them with terrible, non-country production and instrumentation to give us an album that is spectacularly bad. What’s worse is that Smith had a hand in writing almost all of these songs.
When Taylor Swift officially left country music, Music Row was left scrambling on who they could get to replace Taylor as country music’s youthful, female idol. That void was filled when Kelsea Ballerini popped on the scene. Sure Kelsea Ballerini achieved charting success unseen by a female debut artist in the past decade, but Ballerini’s offering to country music was the same bro-country dreck sung from the female perspective.
This is pop music. It’s rap and electronic noise try to pass itself as an “evolution” of the country sound. Don’t let yourselves be fooled. Sure you’ll hear various country sounds like banjos shoved in the mix, but that serves no purpose other than to make you think it’s country music. This is a pop album, not a country music album. Kelsea Ballerini can sing well, but she is a pop singer who would be laughed out of the country genre if we lived in a just world. If you ever wondered what it would sound like when you cross Sam Hunt with Taylor Swift, just listen to Kelsea Ballerini’s The First Time.
Old Dominion – Meat and Candy
Old Dominion is that kid at school who watched other students who wore Hollister and listened to generic pop to get popular and cool. Then they saved up money and bought a bunch of Hollister shirts for the next school to only find out that the cool style has changed to man buns and generic R&B. They’re the group that copied everyone else as a desperate cry for attention and recognition. These jokers released an album chock-full of bro-country BS that was old and tired in 2013. Meat and Candy is atrocious music that terribly combines spoken word and singing along with douchey, classless lyrics that are somehow supposed to be charming. Old Dominion is the what you get with you mix the worst parts of Sam Hunt with the worst parts of Florida Georgia Line. We didn’t review Meat and Candy here, but you can bet your last dollar that it would have been graded with a big fat goose egg, just like their debut single.
Michael Ray – Self Titled
Never has an artist’s success and career been more contrived than Michael Ray’s. Look at that album cover. That picture is why he has a country music career: Ray is a pretty boy who will attract women to his concerts. Ray’s debut album is full of clichéd, boring country songs. The lyrics are completely unoriginal with a vocal production that emulates the vocals of several of his male country singer counterparts. When I listen to Michael Ray’s album I only think about how he sounds like everyone else. Ray’s album has also produced not one, but two singles that have infuriated Josh and I. Michael Ray’s contrived country persona is defined through a stupid, clichéd album.