Jerrod Niemann Appears to be Finished at Sony Music Nashville

Two years after releasing the infamous “Donkey” as a single to country radio, Jerrod Niemann appears finished at Sony Music Nashville. Niemann has become irrelevant at country radio ever since “Donkey” was a huge flop at radio and commercially. Many Niemann fans have been fearful that his spot at major label Arista Nashville was in jeopardy and now it appears he is no longer on the label. Suspicion first came up when he recently released a new single “Yellow Brick Road,” an old song that was on a record of the same name he released in 2013 under the label Aria Tree Records. The song was written in 2006 by Niemann, Billy Joe Walker and Ray Termini.

Sony Music Nashville, which Arista Nashville is an imprint under, has yet to publicly announce anything or issue any official statements regarding the status of Niemann. Nothing has been announced from Niemann himself either. He is also still listed on Sony Music Nashville’s official site as an artist. Country Perspective has reached out to Sony Music Nashville and has yet to receive a response. If we do receive official word or something is announced, this story will be updated.

In the meantime we can only speculate. If this is indeed true, it is not a big surprise at all. Niemann’s latest single “Blue Bandanna” failed to crack the top thirty at country radio, despite being a return to his original sound. Niemann’s reputation and appeal has been tainted ever since he released the aforementioned “Donkey” to country radio. It was the follow-up to his smash EDM-laden hit “Drink To That All Night,” which reached #1 on the country chart and #34 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was easily the biggest hit of Niemann’s career and the first country song to be heavily influenced by EDM to have big success. However, many country fans saw it as a “sell out” move by Niemann and a betrayal of his original sound. Niemann of course defended the song fervently in interviews.

But this was just the beginning of the end for Niemann, as him and label quickly put out a remix of the song featuring Pitbull, which I thoroughly tore apart. It did pretty much nothing on the charts, as Niemann and company hoped to replicate the success Florida Georgia Line saw when they remixed “Cruise” with Nelly and shot to superstardom. In a panic move, Arista Nashville decided to follow this up with “Donkey.” It relied on EDM even more heavily and the lyrics were at best childish and stupid. For those unaware or don’t remember, it won Country Perspective’s 2014 Worst Song of the Year award. Derek rightly gave this song the thrashing it deserved:

Why, you may ask, is it so bad? Well to start, Niemann’s voice here is way too distorted to make anyone believe it came from an actual human. This distorted robot provides us with an awful spoken-word rap about wrecking his truck and being left penniless. So in order to get to the party in town, Niemann hops on his trusty steed to ride him in. Just read the lyrics to the chorus. “Gonna ride that donkey donkey, down to the honky tonky, it’s gonna get funky funky.” I can’t believe that anyone with a pulse could actually think that these lyrics were worthy to be heard, let alone even put on paper. I have to imagine that everyone from the writers to the producers, even Niemann himself, were drunk through the entire process of creating this poor excuse for music. That’s the only possible explanation that I could accept for this song.

I myself remember remarking on numerous occasions how this single is probably the death nail of Niemann’s mainstream country career and may never recover. While bro country fans’ standards may be low, even they rejected this poor excuse of a song. I hate to say I told you so, but I did. And I’m not taking pleasure in seeing Niemann’s career bomb. It’s never good to see someone lose a job or a contract. No, this is just a simple reminder to any artist who is thinking of selling out or betraying their core fans what happens when you listen to a label executive. While selling out may get you fame and fortune in the short run, it will probably come back to bite you in the ass in the long run.

(By the way I would post the music video, but they took it down. I guess they realized how stupid it looked.)

12 thoughts on “Jerrod Niemann Appears to be Finished at Sony Music Nashville

  1. Raymond January 6, 2016 / 1:44 pm

    Jerrod Niemann getting dropped from his label will hopefully make a couple of country artists open their eyes (Eli Young Band, The Band Perry, Billy Currington, Easton Corbin, Danielle Bradbery) and stop now I think since all these artists besides Easton are making new music as we speak maybe one of their careers will remain fine this also goes for like Thompson Square, the fact they’ve as well spent quite a few months off the radio they might make it as well.

    I think the problem is that while we might bash acts like Chris Lane, Kelsea Ballerini, Sam Hunt. They’re all newcomers so there sound is the sound to expect since they’ve just started out. The other acts I mentioned above with the exception of Danielle Bradbery, are all well established artists. Yes you’ll have fans who will love the song no matter what but if something sticks why change it The Band Perry had a decent sound going and they completely blew it up.

    Now there is one artist who changed his sound that still is very commercial relevant Keith Urban and that’s why he’s been established for so long I don’t even think a Donkey would ruin his career.

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  2. NoahHibiscusEaton January 6, 2016 / 4:56 pm

    While I do feel sorry for Niemann, he is nonetheless learning the hard way of what cashing all your chips on gratuitous trend-chasing instant gratification gets you. Especially when alienating your original fanbase.

    I do believe in second chances, and can forgive Niemann for “Donkey” if the release of “Yellow Brick Road” is any indication. But all the same, even when you look past “Donkey”, Niemann just never struck me as one likely to have staying power: from his lack of charisma and stage personality, to lack of technical songwriting finessing, to the lack of a distinctive musical stamp.

    *

    There are many acts who would be wise to learn from this episode.

    The most glaring, of course, being The Band Perry and the Eli Young Band (the Zac Brown Band could run the risk of greatly damaging their reputation with more throwaways like “Beautiful Drug”, though their name recognition and musicianship makes it highly unlikely they’ll be impacted the same way).

    Easton Corbin and Billy Currington are already fading into irrelevance by pandering to the lowest common denominator; with both their follow-ups to their latest Top Five hits missing the Top Thirty altogether and their latest albums selling pathetically. Eric Paslay hasn’t exactly broken to mass success the same way, but he’s very much on notice too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raymond January 6, 2016 / 5:06 pm

      You do know Easton Corbin Yup is still being promoted by his label. Not that it really matters all things considered. I think Easton Corbin needs to find a hit and then more importantly he needs to follow that up with another hit otherwise I don’t see him lasting many years.

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      • NoahHibiscusEaton January 7, 2016 / 1:16 pm

        If so, it’s hardly registering a pulse after a minimum of 25 weeks beneath the Top Thirty………..and just isn’t going to go anywhere between its age and terrible call out scores.

        “Baby Be My Love Song” was already a fluke as is, between its abysmal sales (relative to competition and chart duration) and tedious chart run. Its natural radio peak was probably around #16.

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        • Raymond January 7, 2016 / 1:33 pm

          Yeah it’s still getting promoted now how much higher it gets probably not much. I think ultimately this next album era will determine as Easton as somebody to stay or not. Because besides his first two hits he hasn’t established the greatest of momentum as he hasn’t been much of a seller. I’m definitely curious to see where Easton Corbin music direction goes because I do think Yup will be the last single from this album era.

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        • NoahHibiscusEaton January 7, 2016 / 5:27 pm

          Easton Corbin is already in the twilight years of his commercial career phase.

          He can go out more gracefully in his post-mainstream career phase, but he’s not going to get another Top Five hit between his poor album sales, weak single sales relative to virtually all his chart rivals, and never really developing a distinctive fanbase in the first place.

          Easton Corbin rose to prominence, in the first place, off of comparisons to George Strait and the understandable hunger for a neo-traditional rebirth at country radio. It is fitting Corbin was a leading beneficiary at the time. But since then, most have taken a harder look at Corbin and they realize he was really all style and no substance. He was really coasting along off of having an above-average vocal and actually utilizing country instrumentation. But with “About To Get Real” even injecting more synthetic instrumentation and songs that don’t suit Corbin’s vocals well, many have concluded “Been there, heard that!” with him…………..and are relegating him to a corner of their memory while seeking out Mo Pitney and Jon Pardi as the new neo-traditional signs of promise.

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  3. George January 7, 2016 / 9:06 am

    No matter where he goes the legacy of the most dreadful song ever will follow him.

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    • NoahHibiscusEaton January 7, 2016 / 1:22 pm

      I think this will be the case, though it has more to do with Niemann’s lack of charisma and depth than cutting one of the worst singles of all time.

      “Achy Breaky Heart” definitely overshadowed Billy Ray Cyrus’ career, but it nonetheless didn’t imperil it either. “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” didn’t destroy any attempt for Jamey Johnson and Randy Houser to emerge as successful solo artists in their own right. They’re just as heinous as “Donkey” but actually became career hits.

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      • george January 7, 2016 / 11:13 pm

        You make a good point, although compared to “donkey” I think “achy breaky heart” is a work of art.

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  4. southtexaspistolero January 7, 2016 / 2:16 pm

    Yeeeeeeeup. When I talked about the artists being arrogant in regards to their place in the genre, Niemann is damn near at the top of the list.

    Good riddance.

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  5. theknightswhosayni4 January 8, 2016 / 11:57 am

    Lol…”Bite them in the ‘ass'”…..pun intended?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Josh Schott January 8, 2016 / 12:07 pm

      Yes! I was hoping someone would notice.

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