One of the biggest stories over the last year in country music and really over the last few years, has been the treatment of female country artists in mainstream country music and country radio. It came to a head with Tomato Gate in 2015 and woke up many people to the ongoing problem. While there wasn’t any huge “revolution” where an angry mob formed and went on the offensive against country radio, it most certainly created a sense of urgency in female country artists to make sure their voice is heard and treated with the same respect as male country artists. It certainly caught the attention of Breelan Angel, an up and coming country artist from Texas. Tomato Gate was clear inspiration behind her new single being pushed to Texas radio, “Rhinestone World.”
“If there was ever a song I ultimately wanted to dedicate to women around the world, this is the song. The theme of this song is to be you no matter what anyone else is telling you to do,” Angel said. “In the music business especially, there is a standard for what we should look like, act like, be like and some are okay with that, while most women I meet, are not.”
Recorded live from The Living Room, Angel picks up her guitar and simply belts out what she sees as the truth with “Rhinestone World.” She sings about how the country industry and country radio wants her hair to be higher, her skirt to be higher and to flirt with people in the front row. It’s pretty easy to believe, especially after the story that just came out about Katie Armiger saying she has went through this very thing with her former label. Angel goes on to sing about how they’ll then take credit for you becoming an overnight success, which again is hitting it right on the nose. The real kicker line comes in the chorus, when Angel sings, “They’ll stick a for sale sign in the yard of your soul.”
It gets even better when she cites many of the great female country artists like Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette went through the same problems (calling Dolly a “dumb blonde,” telling Tammy to “dream on” and suggesting Loretta not sing about “the pill”). Keep in mind this is just Angel playing her guitar to back these excellent and sharp lyrics. “Rhinestone World” is literally three cords and the truth. And that my friends is country music at it’s very core. This is even more honest and in your face than Kacey Musgraves’ “Good ‘Ol Boys Club,” what I thought would be the most critical callout song against the industry and country radio.
It takes absolute guts and tenacity for Breelan Angel to record a song like “Rhinestone World.” And yet it shouldn’t because the industry shouldn’t be like this. Sadly that’s the world we live in. But it’s also a world with an artist like Breelan Angel. Country music needs more honest and forthright music like this song. Many artists in Angel’s position wouldn’t dare to look at a song like this one because they’re so hellbent on being famous and the next big thing. Angel shows she is not worried about these things and is just being herself. The country protest song is an overdone trope, but I assure you this song is anything but. I’ll be surprised if we hear a better protest country song in 2016 than “Rhinestone World.”