The Hodgepodge: The ACM Awards and iHeartRadio Awards Airing on the Same Night

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On April 3rd, the 3rd annual iHeartRadio Awards will air on TBS, TNT, and TruTV. iHeartMedia has a foothold as one of the largest radio outlets in the nation, with stations all across the map. For country music in particular, iHeartMedia is home to The Bobby Bones Show – a show that has grown in popularity and notoriety within the country music circles. The iHeartRadio awards are just another award show, and another national spectacle including the iHeartRadio and iHeartCountry festivals. Those tuning into the iHeartRadio Awards will see an array of musical acts on TV including The Weeknd, Adele, Taylor Swift, Meghan Trainor, Kendrick Lamar, and Ed Sheeran. But one issue with the audience draw comes with the country fans as the 51st Annual ACM Awards will air on CBS on the same night, starting at the same time.

Since 2008, the ACM awards have aired during the first week of April with the exception of 2009 and 2015. So the this year’s ACM award scheduling is pretty consistent with the recent history of the ceremonies. As for the iHeartRadio Awards, with TBS hosting the Men’s NCAA Final Four on April 2nd, there’s a huge potential audience draw for iHeartMedia to advertise the award show during the NCAA basketball semifinals, which last year drew an average audience of 18.9 million viewers between the two games.

It’s not as if the iHeartRadio awards will struggle for viewership as their musical lineup and nominees are the biggest names in pop, rock, and hip hop. At the same time, though, the country audience may not watch and nominees may not even be in LA since they’ll be in Las Vegas for the ACM awards. Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood, Sam Hunt, Zac Brown Band, Garth Brooks, Chris Janson, Brett Eldredge, and Thomas Rhett are all nominated for awards at both ceremonies. Also Carrie Underwood, Thomas Rhett, Luke Bryan, Brett Eldredge, and Sam Hunt are all scheduled to perform at the ACM Awards with Bryan also hosting, so those people will not even consider the iHeartRadio Awards an option. The only country acts nominated only for iHeartRadio awards are Brad Paisley and Blake Shelton. Losing a bulk of the country audience is only a small dent for the iHeartRadio Awards, but a loss that any respectable producer would hate to see.

It could just be a coincidence that the two award shows fell on the same day. The ACM Awards followed their established pattern and the iHeartRadio Awards looked to capitalize off an excellent advertising opportunity, and it just so happened that the selected date was the same. I don’t think it was an intentional decision by either party in an attempt to mess the other up. Regardless of the reason, it’s the iHeartRadio Awards that’ll suffer in the country genre. With a majority of the double nominated artists scheduled to perform at the ACMs, that almost guarantees a good chunk of the targeted country music audience will tune into CBS on April 3rd. Sure passionate Blake Shelton fans will probably opt out of the ACMs for a chance to catch Blake win an iHeartRadio award, but that’s a small percentage of viewership lost compared to those that iHeartRadio loses to the ACMs.

When looking at the media and advertising tactics, iHeartRadio stations have a leg up. Due to the fact that both awards are at the same time, the iHeartRadio stations obviously have a vested interest in solely promoting their award show instead of the ACMs. And TBS would be stupid to advertise a CBS broadcast and drive viewership away from TBS, so there’s a good chance that ACMs probably won’t get some Saturday night advertisement during the games. But ultimately, the trump card the ACMs have to play is the physical appearances from some of country’s biggest stars, and Katy Perry. The ACMs booked Katy Perry in a duet with Dolly Parton, if only as a semi-desperate attempt to poach potential viewership away from the iHeartRadio Awards.

As someone who’s studied media, I’m fascinated by this understated viewership war brewing between the two award shows. Attracting viewers by adding stars like Katy Perry or the lack of advertisement from the a large group of radio stations: they’re all very subtle actions. Neither company is addressing the issue, but you can bet they’re well aware of it and working behind the scenes to secure their viewers. Perhaps that’s why we had early announcements of winners of the New Artist categories. Chris Stapleton, Kelsea Ballerini, and Old Dominion were awarded Best New Artist in the Male, Female, and Group categories – an announcement that came 11 days early. The motivation for such a move could be to create buzz as early as humanly possible for anyone who hasn’t yet committed to watching the ACMs.

The iHeartRadio awards are meaningless and only a ploy by iHeartMedia to get increase profits; they don’t carry historical value like the ACMs do. That is why I would expect most, if not all of the double nominated acts to attend the ACMs in Vegas. The only way I would predict someone choosing iHeartRadio over the ACMs is either by a late performance addition or prior knowledge to winning an award.

Both shows will probably feature some rapping, most certainly feature pop music (you’re better off watching iHeartRadio if you want to see good rap and pop), and we’ll get some country music at the ACMs since Chris Stapleton will perform, and Tim McGraw will sing “Humble and Kind.” And at the end of the day, I’m sure both award shows will have large viewing numbers to report, at least enough to feel satisfied with the turnout. It’s not like it’s two country award shows battling for which superstar will appear on which. I just find this oversight interesting, as I’m fascinated by the little tactics producers are using to rope in the viewers on the fence.

Upcoming/Recent Country & Americana Releases

  • Margo Price‘s Midwest Farmer’s Daughter will be released tomorrow.
  • Parker Millsap‘s The Very Last Day also gets released tomorrow.
  • On April 1st, Robbie Fulks will release Upland Stories.
  • Hayes Carll will release Lovers & Leavers on April 8.
  • Jon Pardi announced that his second album, California Sunrise, on June 17th.
  • Brandy Clark‘s Big Day in a Small Town has been delayed until June 10.
  • Craig Campbell‘s new single is called “Outskirts of Heaven.”

Throwback Thursday Song

“Lightning” by Eric Church. From Church’s debut album, Sinners Like Me, Church wrote this 5 minute story song after watching The Green Mile. The song details a man’s final hours as he prepares to be executed for committing a murder. Acoustic with a faint steel guitar, it’s a vastly different song compared to his singles, but Church says this is the song that earned him his record deal. Personally, this was my favorite Eric Church song until I heard “Record Year.”

Non-Country Suggestion of the Week

Everybody Wants by The Struts. Hey this is Josh talking here! Derek was looking for a non-country suggestion this week and I will gladly provide it in the form of The Struts. They’re an English rock band out of Derby, Derbyshire and they just made their debut in the United States with the release of their album Everybody Wants. People overseas got this album two years ago, but we’re just getting it here. For those who enjoy late 70s and early 80s rock, you’ll enjoy these guys. They borrow from AC/DC in the lyrics department and in delivery from Queen. It’s very glitzy, gritty and in your face type of rock music. If you’re a fan of rock music, give them a look.

Tweet of the Week

That’s right. Shock jock DJ with a comedy singing act will make his Grand Ole Opry debut tomorrow, and I also don’t get why. Bobby Bones may be less country than Sam Hunt.

An Idiotic iTunes Review

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I decided to look at Old Dominion’s Meat and Candy in lieu of their recent ACM award and found this gem. “Go listen to George Straight if you don’t like this. In today’s society I guess they just can’t please everyone because they are idiots.” Now, with the double use of the pronoun “they,” I think one can reasonably infer that “they” refers to the same noun. In the first instance, I assume “they” refers to the subject of Old Dominion. And since no new subject was established in that sentence, then technically, I think the second use of “they” also refers to Old Dominion. In which case, yes, Old Dominion can’t please everyone because they are idiots.

The Hodgepodge: Artistic Expression vs. Profit

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When it comes to singers and bands, there seems to be a general consensus of either making songs that are radio hits, or album cuts that are more rich in artistic expression. I think you can make the argument for any genre with a radio outlet that there are songs written and recorded for the sheer purpose of making money without any regard for the content of the song. If it’ll sell, it’ll be made. This has been the idea in country music for years from the Nashville sound of the 60s and 70s to bro-country and metro country today, producers and labels cater to the hot trend and nothing else. In the minds of the label executives and producers, making music for profit and making music on the basis of artistic expression seem to be mutually exclusive values.

Dierks Bentley’s new song, “Somewhere On a Beach,” hits all the checklist points of a cater-to-the-radio-trend single. After announcing an album that promises to be a personal one about relationships, a screw-you single is a release way out of left field. It’s not hard to imagine that this Dierks Bentley playing give and take with his label and producers. Dierks wants to release an album with heart and soul. His label says yes, but you must record this song so we can have a guaranteed radio hit from the album. Dierks comprises. Riser was an album full of heart written in the wake of Bentley’s father passing on. Singles like “I Hold On” and “Bourbon in Kentucky” and album cuts like “Here on Earth” were responses to that tragedy. Dierks also had balled singles from “Say You Do” and “Riser” while party songs like “Back Porch” and “Pretty Girls” were left on as mere album fillers. If anything, Riser proved that an album in this decade and era of country music could be filled with soulful radio singles and remain mildly successful, even if “Bourbon in Kentucky” and “Riser” didn’t make the desired chart impact.

Did every country fan in 2013 really want to listen to 15 remakes of “Cruise”? Were producers naive to think that they, too, could have a country/rap crossover hit? Or did label executives see an ignorant fan base and take advantage of the listeners’ blind acceptance of music on the radio? Whatever the reason for the sudden rise of bro-country and its lingering effects, artistic expression in mainstream country music was a victim.

The approach to country music for the past couple of years has been radio hits. That’s why we get albums with 90% radio ready hits: some bro country, some slow jam inspired ballads, club-like jams, etc. They’re not albums in the artistic sense; they’re collections of songs. Committees are brought into the music lab to write, mold, listen, create, and conjure up the perfect song for radio to go on the perfect album. This album will sustain the artist through a long tour with at least four singles ready for whatever radio trend they predicted to arise.

But country music was built on artistic expression. Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Waylon, Cash, Yoakam, all our country music heroes are icons because these are the artists who dug deep, allowed themselves to be vulnerable, and put their hearts and souls into the music. These guys have the reputation of fighting the establishment because they’re not just singers, they’re artists. They have a voice, a purpose, and story to tell. Most singers on the radio today are just that: singers. They’re not artists with a story to tell. They are merely singers whose sole purpose is to make money.

Every now and then, these producers realize that they need to remind these radio listeners that country singers are artists. They try to convey a facade of artistry with a committee written ballad. The result of which are contrived songs like “Confession” and “You Should Be Here.” These songs are labels trying to convince fans that Florida Georgia Line and Cole Swindell aren’t just party animals, but also “deep” artists. This is the problem though, when you create a persona through several singles than try to backtrack and reset the image. They want these singers to seem deep, but they can’t compromise any chance of losing traction on radio in the process. So throwaway lines about cold ones and cold beers are thrown in to remind the fans that it’s still a party.

The artistic expression of mainstream country is lost. Maybe it wasn’t the best option for Bentley to go back-to-back with ballads as singles, but was “Riser” such a bomb that Bentley’s label had to back track to a generic, soulless song? Or are label executives just afraid to let their singers dig deep and actually be artists? And the real victim of it all is the general radio fan of country music. These are fans who probably don’t know that there are singers like Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell, and Tami Neilson out there making some of the best music today. Instead, these fans are subjected to party anthems, classless revenge sex songs, and half-assed ballads. And because of this, songs like “You Should Be Here” and “Die a Happy Man” are praised as deep, thoughtful, expressive ballads. And that’s exactly what will happen when you put three people in a room to conjure up a hit ballad. However, true artistic songs are ignored. Songs which are true expressions of the artists’ heart. Song which required the writer to be vulnerable and dig deep within him or herself, sometimes in the most painful places, to find the words. Those are the real, powerful songs country music needs. You don’t get a song like “Cover Me Up” from a committee writing session.

Upcoming/Recent Country Music Releases

  • Aubrie Sellers, daughter of Lee Ann Womack, will release her debut album New City Blues on January 29. Sellers recently released the music video of her single “Sit Here and Cry.”
  • Tomorrow, The Cactus Blossoms, will release their album You’re Dreaming. 
  • Bluegrass and Americana artist Sierra Hull will release her new album, Weighted Mind, on January 29. 
  • “Humble and Kind” is officially Tim McGraw‘s next single.
  • Another 90s rock act has gone country. Sister Hazel will release a country album called Lighter in the Dark on February 19.

Throwback Thursday Song

“Reno” by Nic Cowan. Nic Cowan (now officially named Niko Moon) is a Georgia based singer/songwriter who has collaborated with Zac Brown on many songs for the band’s albums. The narrator meets a singer and a painter and is mesmerized by their creative passion. In light of today’s post on artistic expression, this song seemed appropriate. “What is it that drives you to create? She said ‘I never had a choice to make. It chose me long before I wrote a song. It’s what I feel, boy.'” That first chorus says it all.

Non-Country Suggestion of the Week


Daughter Not To Disappear. This English indie folk trio released their second album last week. Lead singer Elena Tonra’s voice is quiet, yet haunting as she sings her songs of loneliness, love gone wrong, and even a mother dealing with Alzheimer’s. The album is hindered by a production monotony among several of the songs, but poignancy of the music and lyrics are worth giving this album a listen.

Tweet of the Week

I certainly hope that “if” becomes a “when” because an Isbell – Simpson collaborative album would be incredible!

Two Simple, But Great iTunes Reviews 

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The effective review of “absolute garbage” was left on Drew Baldridge’s EP. If you don’t know who Drew Baldridge, he’s a pop/dance/disco singer being passed off as country. Do your ears a favor and take this reviewer’s for it.

The eloquent “pure unadulterated garbage” was left under The Raging Idiots’ kids’ music EP (The Raging Kidiots). It’s children’s music so it’s meant to be goofy, but the EP popped up in the country section in iTunes, so why not put it here. Who would want to pass up a chance to make fun of Bobby Bones?

Review – Cam’s “Burning House”

Country newcomer Cam impressed us with her debut single “My Mistake.” The song was a nice blend of pop country with great lyrics, and Cam herself is a captivating vocalist. As a follow-up single, Cam is releasing “Burning House” off her EP. This song, thanks to some help from the one and only Bobby Bones, will get the iHeartRadio On The Verge treatment. It’s the same program that’s helped Sam Hunt become a country star. While some may question the integrity of the program, it has proven to be effective in getting new artists in the spotlight. And say what you want about Bobby Bones, the shock jock has just as many detractors as he has supporters, but for every other bad song he pushes out on his show, there’s a good one. And in the case of Cam’s “Burning House,” Bobby Bones and On The Verge have chosen a very good song to bring into the country radio spotlight.

“Burning House” features a beautifully haunting production. A simple acoustic guitar melody lays the ground for the song, and a piano and some violins chime in as the song progresses. You won’t hear percussion anywhere on this song. The lone acoustic melody on the introduction combined with the opening line of “I had a dream about a burning house” sets the mood perfectly for the sadness to come. The phrase “less is more” couldn’t be more relevant to “Burning House.” The simplicity of the three instruments allows the listener room to breathe and focus on the story.

Cam uses the metaphor of a house burning down to tell a story of a love going down in flames. The relationship is dead and it’s only a matter of time before the flames die and leaving nothing left for the two of them. Cam is at a loss of how to fix it and ultimately realizes that its best to hold on until the flames have died.

I’ve been sleepwalking, been wandering all night trying to take what’s lost and broke and make it right. I’ve been sleepwalking too close to the fire, but it’s the only place that I can hold you tight in this burning house.”

This is the type of story song that’s lost in mainstream country. Too much of radio is too focused on being the soundtrack of good time parties and late night rendezvouses that listening to the lyrics of song has become an afterthought. And what makes “Burning House” a great song may be its Achilles’ heel on radio. Two of the previous stripped-back songs that made waves on country radio, “What We Ain’t Got” and “She Don’t Love You,” stalled at in the teens on the country charts. With that said, for an artist who’s yet to have a top 30 hit, a peak in the teens could be considered a success.

It’ll be interesting to see what On The Verge does for Cam and “Burning House.” I’d love to see this song succeed and at least chart in the upper half of the top 30. Cam’s vocals carry the melancholy tone of the song to new heights. She’s a captivating singer, and that only helps a song like this capture listeners. Unfortunately, for a song like this in today’s radio culture, it’s a game of wait and see. Regardless of how “Burning House” fares, it’s an excellent country song that everyone should hear.

Grade: 10/10

The Hodgepodge: Salad Gate Needs To Be About More Than Female Artists on Country Radio

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Miranda Lambert and other female country artists deserve to be on country radio. But not all female artists.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this past week, the country music industry has been abuzz over comments country radio consultant Keith Hill made in the weekly Country Aircheck. Here are those comments again to refresh your memory:

Many people, including myself, are rightfully in an uproar over these comments. Then again I wasn’t that surprised. As you regular readers know, I take a look at the Billboard Country Airplay chart every week and observe the shenanigans taking place. There aren’t too many female country artists populating the chart right now. It’s been a sausage fest for the last few years. Many country artists, male and female, have also spoke out against Hill’s comments. Miranda Lambert had a pretty straightforward response:

And there were several more tweets expressing distaste in Hill’s comments. Of course Hill doesn’t know better to shut his mouth and went on to make a bigger ass of himself in articles on CMT and The Tennesseean. Not even bro country artists have been dumb enough to say something stupid (yet). But the flames continued to build bigger over the weekend when country radio personality Carson Johnson not only backed Hill up on his comments, but made even dumber comments himself:

Now you probably expect me to tear into these comments, but there’s been more than enough of these articles. Many great articles that do a better job than I could, have already been published and are well worth your time reading. Windmills Country has a great, data-driven post on MJ’s Big Blog. Trigger at Saving Country Music has weighed in with his always intriguing thoughts and ForTheCountryRecord.com has several posts giving analysis on the situation too. So I’ve been sitting and observing all of this stuff happening. No doubt I’m thrilled that this issue is finally being given the attention it deserves, as this problem has been persistent in country music for years. I’m a big champion of female country artists and we feature several talented artists right here on the site. But I see a problem with this movement.

People are not looking at the whole picture. This is bigger than not enough female country artists being played. This is about not enough quality country artists being played. This needs to be about all quality artists being left out, not just all female country artists. Why? Not all female country artists deserve to get airplay and quite frankly some people getting involved with this movement don’t need to be involved. For example, Maggie Rose getting involved:

Really? You’re the same artist that recorded “Girl In A Truck Song” in 2014. It was one of the worst songs of the year. It completely pandered to bro country and in my opinion tarnished Rose’s image. So in one year’s time Rose went from bro country supporter to female empowerment? I’m supposed to get behind an artist that was just pandering to radio? This is called bullshit trend riding and seems to be the only thing Rose is willing to do in her career. Speaking of bullshit…

https://twitter.com/mrBobbyBones/status/604378638037970944

Go away, Bobby Bones. I don’t want you involved in this at all. You’re part of the establishment poisoning country radio right now and really you don’t belong in country music period. Take your pandering and shove it up your ass. Kelsea Ballerini doesn’t belong on country radio either. She’s a pop artist. Her music is not high enough in quality to play on country radio. See why I have issues with this movement? People equate female country music to quality, just like the idiots who run country radio equating chart success to quality. Neither are the case.

More female country artists deserved to get played on radio. But so do underplayed male artists who make quality music. Eric Paslay and Jon Pardi put out some of the best albums in mainstream country music in 2014. They barely get any radio play. Pardi’s new EP is wonderful and yet there isn’t a single from it in the top 60 on the airplay chart. Mo Pitney is one the most promising upcoming artists in mainstream country music and where’s his airplay? Multiple Texas country artists such as Aaron Watson, Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers should be on mainstream country radio. Sturgill Simpson had a huge year in 2014 and didn’t even sniff country radio, despite the fact that he outsold several mainstream artists in album sales. He achieved a top ten album without any airplay or major label push. Yet I have to hear that untalented hack Cole Swindell on the radio?

Country music’s biggest problems are what I’ve been saying all year: there aren’t any gatekeepers to vet the quality of the music or even if it’s country at all, the payola going on behind the scenes (specifically On The Verge), and dirty politics. This is what is holding back not just female country artists, but all quality country artists. Luke Bryan no doubt has a huge fan base, but he wouldn’t be near the star he is without the pushes he has gotten from his label and radio. This goes back years and I hope to talk about a little unknown story from before he became a big star in a future Hodgepodge. It’s really interesting. All of the bro country artists (Swindell, Chase Rice, Thomas Rhett, Michael Ray) wouldn’t be nothing without the support of radio and their labels. In a world with justice they remain obscure and never become the stars they are right now. Country radio executives wanted mimbos with hunky looks who were willing to do whatever it took to get to the top and willing to perform brainless, watered-down music filled with cliché hooks. They didn’t have standards and were looking for dollar signs.

If Kacey Musgraves got the same kind of push Cole Swindell has gotten, she would have #1 hits on radio. But she doesn’t conform to what the sexist, clueless pigs at country radio and country labels want out of an artist. You can say the same thing about Mo Pitney. So you shouldn’t be campaigning for more female country artists. You should be campaigning for more quality male and female country artists on the radio. You should be demanding the crap currently populating radio being taken away. However demanding things won’t get you your desired result. You want to make an impact? Boycott country music radio indefinitely. Don’t listen at all. Tell everyone you know not to listen to country radio. Hit them where it hurts and that’s in their bottom line. Listen to your own music library or your CDs. Listen to radio stations that play quality country music. It’s the best way to make a difference. In the summer of 2015 I’m declaring war on mainstream country radio and I hope you join me in doing the same.

Upcoming/Recent Country Music Releases

  • A Thousand Horses will released their major label debut album Southernality next Tuesday. Their lead single “Smoke” has had a lot of success on the airplay charts and will reach #1. It’s also got a lot of hits right here on the site. We’ll definitely be reviewing that one.
  • Montgomery Gentry’s new album Folks Like Us will also come out next Tuesday. It was originally supposed to come out in the early spring, but it was pushed back until now. I’m really not sure what to expect with this album, as their music has been a mixed bag in the last five years or so. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to review it.
  • Chris Hennessee, signed to Jamey Johnson’s Big Gassed Records, will release an album next week titled Greetings From Hennessee. I listened to the lead single from it and I thought it was pretty good. Johnson has an eye on for talent, so I’m definitely giving this one a listen.
  • Hunter Hayes just recently came out with his new single, “21.” There will be a review on this one soon.
  • Kip Moore announced on Twitter last week that his new album will finally be released on August 21. It will be called Wild Ones. So you only have to wait a little longer for an album, Kip fans.
  • Kellie Pickler just released a new song titled “Feeling Tonight.” It was originally released exclusively to Spotify, but is now available in most music outlets. I’m sure we’ll get around to reviewing it.
  • Brett Eldredge will release his new album on Friday, September 11 and it will be called Illinois.

Throwback Thursday Song

The Dixie Chicks – “Not Ready To Make Nice” – Yeah this fits this Hodgepodge perfectly. Country music needs The Dixie Chicks back. Save us Dixie Chicks! I would love to hear what they think of Keith Hill.

Non-Country Song of the Week

Guns N’ Roses – “Welcome To The Jungle” – One of my favorite rocks songs from one of my all-time favorite albums, Appetite For Destruction.

Tweet of the Week

So many choices this week, but I’ll go with Twitter king Jason Isbell’s comments on Hill.

iTunes Reviews That Rock!

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This week’s reviews are for Jake Owen’s new song “Real Life.” Thank you to reader Ben for sending this one in! Looks like Owen’s own fans felt the same way you and myself also felt about the song. Remember Jake if you’re going to copy 90s music, copy 90s country radio, not 90s pop radio.

That’s it for the Hodgepodge this week! Be sure to sound off in the comments! 

The Hodgepodge: Is Country Music Heading Into A Civil War?

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Pretty quiet in country music, huh? Unless you’ve been living under a rock, country music has been anything but quiet. It all started last week at the 2015 Country Radio Seminar where Sony Nashville CEO Gary Overton uttered the following infamous statement: “If you’re not on country radio, you don’t exist.” This has kicked off a giant shit storm in the world of country music. Right about the same time it became official popular Texas/Red Dirt country artist Aaron Watson had the #1 album in country music with his new release The Underdog. Watson doesn’t get played on mainstream country radio and yet here he was with the #1 album in country music. This created the “perfect storm.” This led to Watson’s interview with Trigger at Saving Country Music and Watson said the following in response to Overton: “My name is Aaron Watson. I’m not played on country radio. And I have the #1 record in country music this week. I do exist.”

Grady Smith of The Guardian (an excellent country music journalist I highly recommend reading) then posted an article pointing out how Watson’s success proves Overton wrong. It’s a great article and that is completely spot on. This appeared to be the end of it, but really it was just the beginning. This article prompted country radio shock jock/talk show television wannabe Bobby Bones to post a lengthy letter on his Facebook page. It has since been taken down, but luckily Trigger at Saving Country Music transcribed it here. Bones, as in most of his rants, is off-base and has no idea what the hell he’s talking about. I think he forgets that he’s just a talking head paid to parrot the company line. They definitely don’t pay him to think.

Of course it doesn’t end there with Bones. Aaron Watson, being the nice guy that he is, went to Bones’ studio to patch things up. But Bones refused to let him in the building because apparently Watson called one of his assistants sweetheart and this was considered sexist by Bones. This is despite the fact that Bones whores himself out as a spokesperson for bro country artists on his show, who use actual sexist and offensive terms in their music. I see nothing wrong with calling a woman a sweetheart, as long as it’s not said in an offensive way because the term itself is not offensive. According to pretty much everyone who has met Watson, they all reaffirm that he’s not a sexist pig. I’ll trust them over a shock jock. Bones eventually accepted Watson’s apology (which wasn’t necessary) after he extorted $1,000 out of Watson for Bones’ charity.

This caused many Texas country fans, artists and outlets to take to social media to respond. The most notable response of course was by Texas country artist Charlie Robison, who posted a scathing takedown of Overton, Bones and Nashville:

Then there’s the move that took this feud from an industry level to a mainstream level. Florida Georgia Line, of all mainstream country artists, came to the defense of Overton by posting the following tweets:

Robison then made the most appropriate response:

Now many Texas country artists are using the phrase “I exist” as a rallying cry and country music fans are taking sides. Really all that’s needed is a match to light all of the powder that’s just been laid in the last week. It’s a lot to take in and I’ve been thinking about it as I’ve watched all of this happen in the last week. Well is country music heading into civil war? I want to say yes, but these situations have happened often in the last five years. So for now I say no, however I think this should be the moment that sends country music into a war against itself.

I think is inevitable and quite frankly this is exactly what country music needs. To me this reinforces the idea of splitting country music. Take a look at mainstream country music in the last few years. It has progressively gotten less country each year when everyone thought it possibly couldn’t get any worse. First it was more pop influences. Then rap influences, followed by EDM. Now it’s just straight pop, EDM. Sam Hunt is the most popular country music artist right now and there’s not a damn thing country about his music. All the while the independent country scene has become louder and more prominent in the minds of country music fans. There’s no greater example of this than Sturgill Simpson, who went from obscurity to a major label quicker than anyone ever anticipated.

More people are realizing they can find alternatives to the music played on the radio through the Internet. They’re realizing they don’t have to listen to what executives are shoving down their throats and marketing as “country.” The listeners have a voice and the call for more traditional country music on radio is getting louder with each passing month. Texas and independent country artists know they’re worthy of being on radio and are tired of being passed over when they know they have plenty of fan support. Mainstream acts like Florida Georgia Line don’t want to lose their spot at the top, even though it’s inevitable that they’re just a fad band. Country radio sits in-between this cross fire hoping to appease both sides.

In-fighting in country music is what’s needed to heal the genre because it’s clearly broke. The creativity well in Nashville is drying up, as evident by all of the average music that Derek and myself have been reviewing lately. Female artists continue to struggle for radio play. Bro country is a dead concept. Streaming continues to hurt music sales and that’s causing division amongst artists too. Labels, artists, songwriters and fans all want more than what they have now and nobody wants to give an inch anymore. That’s really how we got to this spot in country music. Compromises were made and everything just snowballed from there. People have sat on their hands for too long and now it’s time for action to be taken.

Country music needs to face its problems head-on. It needs to force itself through a rough patch so to speak. I think many are afraid that may put it in a situation similar to rock music’s standing in the mainstream realm, but I don’t think that will ever be the case. Country music simply needs to find itself again and a little civil war might be what helps it find it’s identity again.

In the words of Dolly Parton: “I think country music is popular – has been popular and will always be popular because I think a lot of real people singing about a lot of real stuff about real people. And it’s simple enough for people to understand it. And we kind of roll with the punches.”

Upcoming/Recent Country Music Releases

  • Whitey Morgan will be releasing his new Kickstarter-funded album Sonic Ranch on May 19. As someone who got an early copy, I can tell you this is a great one you will need to check out. If you like honky-tonk style country, this one is for you. You’ll see my review on this in a few months.
  • Tyler Farr announced he will be releasing his sophomore album on April 28. It will be called Suffer In Peace. The lead single from it, “A Guy Walks Into A Bar,” has been doing well on the charts. Hopefully his album will have similar songs and be nothing like the crap that was “Redneck Crazy.”
  • Maddie & Tae announced they will be releasing their debut album Start Here on June 2. This one should be intriguing, as this duo was one of the hot topics of country music in the last year.
  • Corb Lund wrote the following message via Twitter last week: “cutting a new record in april. writing feverishly. 11th hour. it’s not as easy as it looks on the television. psychologically hellish. erg.” So expect a new Lund album later this year.
  • Kacey Musgraves is releasing her lead single from her second album on March 17. I’ve heard mixed reviews on this and still need to give it a good listen before forming an opinion on it.

Throwback Thursday Song

George Strait & Alan Jackson – “Murder on Music Row” Hey it was only appropriate this song was chosen this week. Who doesn’t like this song?

My Non-Country Song of the Week

Ed Sheeran – “Thinking Out Loud” – I’m surprised I haven’t bothered to listened to Ed Sheeran sooner, who by the way is a noted country music fan (actual country music). I’m hoping to listen to his album X released last year soon, as I’ve heard countless recommendations from people.

Tweet of the Week

Damn. Jason Isbell wins Twitter for the week again.

An iTunes Review That Will Make You Face Palm

Idiot Swindell Reviewer

This was left under Cole Swindell’s Down Home Sessions EP he released last year. And it features crawfish sex!

That’s it for the Hodgepodge this week! Be sure to sound off in the comments!