Reacting to The Absolute Joke of the 2017 ACM Awards Nominations

pile_of_shit

Let’s be honest, I’ve never been that fond of country music award shows. Outside of the 2015 CMA Awards that helped launch Chris Stapleton to a brand new level of stardom, I’ve pretty much scoffed at these shows. As I’ve said before, no other genre spends more time patting themselves on the back than country music. This is evident by the heaps of award shows held throughout the year and this trains the viewer to basically not give a shit. But nevertheless we keep an eye on these shows in hopes they get it more right each time. Well we now have the nominations for the 2017 ACM Awards and there’s no other way to put it. These are an absolute joke. My first reaction was are these the mainstream country radio awards? Because it’s mostly a list of radio darlings that programmers fall over themselves to play. After seeing these nominations it makes me not want to watch and may not. Each category seems to have its own joke, so let’s pick through each.

Entertainer of the Year

  • Jason Aldean
  • Luke Bryan
  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Carrie Underwood
  • Keith Urban

No Eric Church or Chris Stapleton, but sure Aldean and Florida Georgia Line get nominations. Complete failure already before we even get to the more insane nominations. I know the ACMs are in the tank for Aldean, but could they be any less discreet about it? The only nomination even worthy of winning is Carrie Underwood for her excellent touring numbers and consistently churning out hits and I give her a snowball’s chance in hell of winning. Aldean and Bryan are the odds on favorites here.

Male Vocalist

  • Jason Aldean
  • Dierks Bentley
  • Thomas Rhett
  • Chris Stapleton
  • Keith Urban

Once again Eric Church isn’t a nomination. Church released the best album of his career and is releasing the best singles of his career. And every awards show is stiffing him. I guess the industry is pissed he isn’t giving them radio fodder anymore. But I’m guessing Church doesn’t give a shit. Another category with one worthy candidate in my mind: Chris Stapleton. Remember when Dierks Bentley was considered one of the good guys at these shows? Then he decided he wants to be Luke Bryan and make a bunch of cheesy and stiff adult contemporary schlock. No Tim McGraw. Also no Blake Shelton in any categories. Well there’s some good news.

Female Vocalist

  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • Miranda Lambert
  • Maren Morris
  • Kacey Musgraves
  • Carrie Underwood

I don’t know why Kacey continues to go to these awards show when she and everyone else knows she’s just a token nomination to fill out the field. What did she do in 2016 to earn a nomination? She didn’t release any new music. And keep in mind this isn’t a jab at her. She’s one of the best on a major country label. You would think Miranda is the shoe-in to win, but with her turn towards a more songwriter/Americana-like side I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Maren Morris wins. She seems poised to usurp Lambert as the new female darling in mainstream country and is racking up awards like crazy.

Vocal Duo

  • Big & Rich
  • Brothers Osborne
  • Dan + Shay
  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Maddie & Tae

Big & Rich are a Vocal Duo nomination in 2017…..hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! They released one single last year that took like 40 weeks to peak at #14 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart. They’re completely irrelevant. What in the hell makes them deserving of a nomination? Maddie & Tae are a complete token nomination like Musgraves above. I don’t see Dan + Shay being quite in the position to win yet. So it’s between CMA 2016 Duo of the Year Brothers Osborne and past years favorite Florida Georgia Line. I’m hopeful the former wins, but being a radio favorites show I expect the latter to win.

Vocal Group

  • Eli Young Band
  • Lady Antebellum
  • Little Big Town
  • Old Dominion
  • Rascal Flatts

Eli Young Band?! Where are they getting these joke ideas for nominations? You’re telling me Eli Young Band is a nomination, but not Zac Brown Band who at least had a song reach the top 15 in the last year and are a mainstream staple? Get out of here! Lady Antebellum was on hiatus for all of 2016. Rascal Flatts are irrelevant. Yet despite this joke of a category, the best group Little Big Town should easily walk away with this award.

New Male

  • Kane Brown
  • Chris Janson
  • Chris Lane
  • Jon Pardi
  • Brett Young

Out of all the categories, this actually might be the one I have the least qualms with because these are all new male artists who have did something notable in the last year. Despite not being a fan of him, Kane Brown is deserving based on the fact that he does sell well and has great streaming numbers. While you and me might not like him, there are many he does resonate with and it’s ironic he’s one of the few nominations where the ACM looked beyond radio. Hands down this should go to Jon Pardi, who achieved a #1 album with California Sunrise, racked up a #1 hit in “Head Over Boots” and is on his way to another #1 in “Dirt on My Boots.” And I think it actually does go to him because his accomplishments blow the others out of the water. If anyone else wins I’m calling shenanigans.

New Female

  • Lauren Alaina
  • Cam
  • Brandy Clark
  • Maren Morris

That’s right they couldn’t even fill out the nominations for this one. Hey ACMs: Margo Price and Aubrie Sellers. Did you forget they exist? How is Brandy Clark new? This is just another award for them to give Maren.

New Vocal Duo/Group

  • A Thousand Horses
  • Brothers Osborne
  • Dan + Shay
  • LoCash
  • Maddie & Tae

None of these are really new, but then again barely anything else makes sense with these awards. I’m guessing Brothers Osborne or Dan + Shay win here.

Album

  • Dierks Bentley – Black
  • Florida Georgia Line – Dig Your Roots
  • Maren Morris – Hero
  • Keith Urban – Ripcord
  • Miranda Lambert – The Weight of These Wings

This should 1000% go to Miranda Lambert for her great album. But it’ll probably go to Urban or Morris or maybe even Bentley. You could take the best material from all of the non-Lambert ones, put it in one album and it still wouldn’t top Lambert’s album.

Single

  • Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color”
  • Florida Georgia Line – “H.O.L.Y.”
  • Tim McGraw – “Humble and Kind”
  • Maren Morris – “My Church”
  • Miranda Lambert – “Vice”

Key distinction is this is single. I’m kind of surprised Thomas Rhett’s “Die A Happy Man” isn’t here, but rather under Song below. I don’t give Lambert a chance here either sadly. I could see any of the other four winning.

Song

  • Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color”
  • Thomas Rhett – “Die A Happy Man”
  • Tim McGraw – “Humble and Kind”
  • Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word”
  • Chris Stapleton – “Tennessee Whiskey”
  • Miranda Lambert – “Vice”

I would be happy with any of the bottom four winning, but watch one of the top two win. If I had to pick the winner I would definitely go with “Kill A Word,” being the best song of the nominations and for Church getting screwed over in general.

Video

  • Chris Stapleton – “Fire Away”
  • Various Artists – “Forever Country”
  • Tim McGraw – “Humble and Kind”
  • Kelsea Ballerini – “Peter Pan”
  • Miranda Lambert – “Vice”

With all due respect to the other videos, “Fire Away” is the no-brainer best video. It’s one of the powerful music videos I’ve watched in years and takes the song to a whole new level of meaning. Instead though “Forever Country” will probably win because it’s done insane numbers on YouTube and sold well (also great numbers on this very blog). The only hesitation I have of it winning is this song was specifically made for the ACM’s chief rival show CMA’s 50th Anniversary. How ironic would that be if it won an ACM Award?

Songwriter

  • Ashley Gorley
  • Luke Laird
  • Hillary Lindsey
  • Shane McAnally
  • Lori McKenna

McKenna has to win this one, right?

Vocal Event 

  • Dierks Bentley (feat. Elle King) – “Different For Girls”
  • Various Artists – “Forever Country”
  • Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – “May We All”
  • P!nk (feat. Kenny Chesney) – “Setting The World on Fire”
  • Chris Young (feat. Cassadee Pope) – “Think of You”

I could see a case made for any of these conceivably winning. I think this will largely depend on the other categories’ winners.

Country Perspective’s 2016 Worst Album of the Year – Chris Lane’s ‘Girl Problems’

Fraud. What is fraud? Well according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, fraud is defined as the following:

intentional perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something of value or to surrender a legal right

an act of deceiving or misrepresenting

a person who is not what he or she pretends to be

In 2016 country music there was one artist and one album that embodied this word perfectly. The perfect representation of fraud. This fraud immediately presented itself as the clear-cut, easy choice to win one of Country Perspective’s most dishonorable year-end awards. So with great disdain, I present Country Perspective’s 2016 Worst Album of the Year award to Chris Lane’s Girl Problems.

chris-lane-girl-problems

Released back in August, it only took my one brutal listen to realize I had just listened to the worst “country” album of 2016. Sure there was Steven Tyler’s “country” album that had many horrible songs on it, but its lead single managed to be decent. Or you have a usual suspect like Cole Swindell, who at least reached mediocrity with his album. Jason Aldean’s new album was painstakingly boring, but still not as bad as Girl Problems. Kane Brown just released his debut album and it couldn’t manage to top Lane in awfulness because at least Brown has a good voice. No, you know why none of them released as bad of an album as Lane did? Because at least they strived in some way or fashion to be unique and at least attempted to bring their own flair to the table.

Chris Lane is nothing but an impostor, copy cat artist who rips off styles and sounds of other artists. There’s nothing distinctive nor special about his music. The entirety of Girl Problems is trend chasing, ripping off past due bro country, ripping off bad pop music and for some reason a Mario cover. You know the album you’re listening to is pretty damn bad when you would rather be listening to Florida Georgia Line. Speaking of that duo, half of the songs from Lane on this album sound like songs that were rejected for Florida Georgia Line’s 2014 album Anything Goes. By the way, for you new readers that album won our Worst Album of the Year award in 2014. When you’re releasing songs that sound like they don’t belong on an already bad album on your own album that’s not great, Bob! It’s fucking pathetic and transparently grabbing for an appeal that expired about two years ago. How sad is it that an artist releases not just bad music, but bad music from two years ago?

Of course this all wouldn’t have happened if the lead single for this album hadn’t become a #1 hit at country radio. Yes, you can blame country radio for this bullshit happening. You can assign them lots of blame. The lead single “Fix” is one of the biggest sham hits I’ve ever seen and the amount of gerrymandering and politicking by his label, along with country radio’s willingness to go along with the charade absolutely disgusts me. This song took 35 weeks to reach #1! It had no business even being a top ten hit and it took a lucky break just give it an opportunity for the label to push it to the top. I mean I don’t blame Big Loud Records from a business standpoint to push Lane hard because he’s their first artist to sniff success and is essentially their meal ticket. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that “Fix” is not country in any way, shape or form. It’s bad pop music with cheesy ass lines like “Walter White high” and relying on the beaten to death trope of love is my drug. But you know this song got the thrashing it deserved in its original review. Let’s look at the rest of this terrible album…

The sophomore single “For Her” sounds like the result of mashing up Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” with the dominant production of Chase Rice’s Ignite The Night. We also get to hear Lane’s falsetto voice, which is so damn dreadful that I liken it to screaming cats scratching a chalk board. “Let Me Love You” sounds like something Thomas Rhett would sing, making this a ripoff of a ripoff. The most laughable moment of the entire album and where the falsetto is thickest is “Who’s It Gonna Be.” Lane’s “falsetto” in the chorus sounds like Mickey Mouse overdosed on helium, complete with Alvin and The Chipmunks vocal layering. How in God’s green Earth can anyone find this enjoyable? He sounds so awful that I almost feel bad for him.

Lane attempts to appear considerate and understanding on “Back to Me,” where he white knights himself for being such a noble man to allow his woman to leave him. In one breath he says he wants to her find what she’s looking for and the next says he hopes she runs back to him. What? Oh so you’re basically saying she doesn’t know what she wants and that really once she sows her wild oats she needs to come back to you, who will be waiting with open arms. This isn’t being a nice guy. You’re being a douche. But that’s self-appointed nice guys for you. “Maybe” sounds like another Florida Georgia Line song. Oh did I mention that Joey Moi is producing this album? He’s the same one who has produced all of Florida Georgia Line’s albums. I haven’t even gotten to the worst song of the album, “Her Own Kind of Beautiful.” Just look at the lyrics for the first part of the song:

Ball cap to the flip flop
A toe ring to the tip top
From Haggard to the Hip-Hop
She can play either side of a bad cop, good cop

From a sun dress to her Sunday best
A cover girl type or just a hot mess
Oh my my yeah
She’s the girl that got my heart beatin’ out of my chest

She’s a blue jean roll sweet supermodel
Like a stained glass rain from a broken bottle
Make ya promise she won’t
But she knows she gonna
Yeah, she’s her own kind of beautiful
She’s a roman candle, she’s a tin revival
She’s a needle dancin’ on classic vinyl
She’s a sunset wish with a ten mill smile
Her own kind of beautiful
Beautiful

Stop invoking Merle Haggard in shitty pop music pretending to be country! You’re not fucking country for name-dropping Haggard! There’s a reason he dismissed the majority of modern country before he passed away and it’s shit like this he was disgusted with. The rest of this is just garbage straight from the Dallas Davidson handbook, who surprisingly makes no appearances on this album. No, the writers for this song are Rodney Clawson, Barry Dean and Matt Dragstrem. Their songwriting credentials should be revoked for passing off shit like this as serious music. If you don’t have a headache by this point of the album, I would be shocked.

I could keep reviewing the rest of this album, but it isn’t worth wasting anymore time on it. It’s just the same old crap in the first parts of the album I just went over. And hey Chris Lane does go back to this roots…when he auditioned on American Idol with his twin brother as hip hop artists. I’m not shitting you. If you want some quality car crash entertainment, click here. Once again another reason why Chris Lane, country artist is just a giant fraud. He does whatever makes him money. Except you can’t even say that about this album. Girl Problems sold a paltry 6,200 copies in its first week. (Insert prominent indie country artist here) sells more than this in their first week. And this guy got a #1 hit at country radio! It gets worse because as of September 2016 there’s only been 11,100 copies of Girl Problems sold. To put this terrible sales number into perspective: Cody Jinks, an artist who is completely ignored by the mainstream, released his new album I’m Not The Devil a week later than Lane. In the first week alone 11,300 copies were sold. Jinks sold more albums in the first week than Lane has sold in total.

I think it’s perfectly clear: Chris Lane’s Girl Problems is horrible no matter what way you want to slice it. And that made it the slam dunk choice to win Country Perspective’s 2016 Worst Album of the Year.

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [August 29]

Sam Hunt Destroying Country Music
When you hear a Sam Hunt song come on the radio and you accidentally burn the house down as you try to burn your radio…

Each week we take a look the Billboard Country Airplay chart and grade the top 30 songs. The grading format I use each week is every song will receive one of the following scores: +5, +4, +3, +2, +1, 0, -1, -2, -3, -4, -5. These will then be tallied up for an overall score, or pulse of the current top thirty country songs, with the highest possible score being a +150 and the lowest possible score being a -150. How do I determine the score for the song? The review grade it received on the site or myself will determine this. If it hasn’t been reviewed yet, then I will make the call. The grade it has received or I would give it determines its Pulse score. The grading key: 10 [+5], 9 [+4], 8 [+3], 7 [+2], 6 [+1], 5 [0], 4 [-1], 3 [-2], 2 [-3], 1 [-4], 0 [-5].

The goal of this exercise is to evaluate the current state of mainstream country music and determine if it’s improving or getting worse. Let’s take a look at this week’s top thirty…

  1. Sam Hunt – “Make You Miss Me” -4 (Up 1)
  2. Jake Owen – “American Generic Country Love Song” -2 (Up 2)
  3. Kelsea Ballerini – “Peter Pan” -1
  4. Dierks Bentley & Elle King – “Different For Girls” -3 (Up 2)
  5. Dan + Shay – “From The Ground Up” +1 (Down 4)
  6. Justin Moore – “You Look Like I Need A Drink” +2 (Down 1)
  7. Blake Shelton – “She’s Got A Way With Words” -3 (Up 3)
  8. Kenny Chesney & Pink – “Setting The World On Fire” -2 (Up 4)
  9. Tucker Beathard – “Rock On” -3 (Up 2)
  10. William Michael Morgan – “I Met A Girl” +3 (Up 3)
  11. Billy Currington – “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To” +2 (Up 3)
  12. LoCash – “I Know Somebody” -5 (Up 3) [Worst Song]
  13. Luke Bryan – “Move” -4 (Up 4)
  14. Cole Swindell – “Middle of a Memory” -2 (Up 4)
  15. Zac Brown Band – “Castaway” +1 (Up 1)
  16. Brett Young – “Sleep Without You” -2 (Up 4)
  17. Jason Aldean – “A Little More Summertime” (Up 5)
  18. Miranda Lambert – “Vice” +3 (Up 1) [Best Song]
  19. Big & Rich (feat. Tim McGraw) – “Lovin’ Lately” +2 (Up 2)
  20. Tim McGraw – “How I’ll Always Be” +3 (Up 4)
  21. Drake White – “Livin’ The Dream” +1 (Up 4)
  22. Old Dominion – “Song For Another Time” -3 (Up 4)
  23. Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” -1 (Up 4)
  24. Granger Dibbles Jr. – “If The Boots Fits” -4 (Up 4)
  25. Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – “May We All” -3 (New to Top 30)
  26. Brett Eldredge – “Wanna Be That Song” (Up 3)
  27. Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer” +2 (Up 3)
  28. Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” -3 (New to Top 30)
  29. Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” -4 (New to Top 30)
  30. Chris Stapleton – “Parachute” +3 (New to Top 30)

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -30

The pulse drops five spots this week. It’s going in the wrong direction!

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Chris Lane – “Fix” -5 (Good bye and good riddance! May we never see another Chris Lane song in the top 30 ever again.)
  • Florida Georgia Line – “H.O.L.Y.” -2
  • Jon Pardi – “Head Over Boots” +3
  • Brad Paisley & Demi Lovato – “Without A Fight” +2

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – “May We All”
    • On the surface this song should be decent. After all Tim McGraw is all involved and he’s consistently been churning out the most quality country singles at country radio the past couple of years. Surely his quality could rub off and help Florida Georgia Line produce their third good song ever. If anything it should be better than the vanilla “H.O.L.Y.” Well after listening thoroughly to this track, I can say no to both of these. This song is a good reminder that Joey Moi is still the producer of this duo. There’s no other way to put it: the production on this song flat-out sucks. It’s obnoxiously loud and in your face while trying to be pop, country, rock and hip-hop all at once. Then you get to the lyrics, which look like leftovers from the bro country era. We also get a line throwing together Travis Tritt and Tupac, who are both fine artists but don’t really need to be name dropped together. Everything about this song is just so lazy and the only redeeming quality it has is Tim McGraw, who kind of mails in his performance. I don’t blame him and I imagine he had to do this song so he could release songs like “Humble and Kind” as singles. 2/10
  • Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled”
    • This is the newest On The Verge pick, in case you were wondering why Lauren Alaina went from irrelevant to rising at a meteoric pace on the airplay chart. This is the same feature that has brought us craptastic artists such as Sam Hunt, Chase Bryant, Canaan Smith and Tucker Beathard. Now let me state right up front that I think Alaina is a talented vocalist that is capable of producing great music. Alan Jackson picked her to open for him on tour this year for a reason. I would take her over Scotty boy any day and she should have won American Idol over him. But this song is just not good and quite frankly not country. It’s a catchy pop song with a generic message of never giving up. There’s not a lot of meat and whole a lot of fluff to this song. I wanted to like it, but I just can’t. More unfortunately is I don’t see this giving her career a big boost. Once this song gets its fake rise to the top of the chart I don’t see the follow-up doing much because this is still country radio where they don’t play women. Alaina and her fans need to enjoy the ride to the top now because the crash back to reality later isn’t going to feel too good. 2/10
  • Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color”
    • Keith Urban is on a race to the bottom of the barrel! His single choices in the Ripcord era have been downright pathetic and reek of an older artist that is desperate to remain relevant and in the spotlight. With this single Urban releases the worst yet. This is a straight rip off of Sam Hunt’s mega hit “Take Your Time.” Just like that song it’s about a sleazy douche who acts all innocent and will fein genuine caring for a broken-hearted girl at the bar all in the hopes he can take her pants off later in the night. It’s disgusting, in bad taste and Urban will fool tons of people into believing his phoniness. The only thing that saves this from the very bottom and makes it slightly better than Hunt’s “Take Your Time” is the well composed instrumentation that is wasted on garbage lyrics. Congrats Keith Urban on losing any shred of respect I had left for you. 1/10
  • Chris Stapleton – “Parachute”
    • My God! Is it really a Stapleton song in the top 30? After the first three new arrivals this song is a huge breath of fresh air. While it’s not on the level of the previous single “Nobody To Blame,” this is a pretty damn good song. The catchy guitar riffs will instantly get stuck in your head and Stapleton absolutely belts the chorus of this song. There are better love songs on Traveller, but I found this to be one of the most enjoyable tracks on it. Hopefully this song has a long stay on the chart and ultimately has a good showing. I give it a solid shot at reaching the top ten, especially since I imagine Mercury will push this for a while being that it’s pretty much a lock that it’s the final single from Traveller. But once again we have Stapleton music in the top 30 and that’s something we should all be happy about. 8/10

Song I Predict Will Be #1 Next Week:

  • Jake Owen – “American Generic Country Love Song”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” – Up 29 from #57 to #28
  • Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” – Up 19 from #48 to #29
  • Jason Aldean – “A Little More Summertime” – Up 5 from #22 to #17

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Chris Lane – “Fix” – Out of the Top 30 (& Finally Done)
  • Florida Georgia Line – “H.O.L.Y.” – Out of the Top 30 (& Done)
  • Jon Pardi – “Head Over Boots” – Out of the Top 30 (& Done)
  • Brad Paisley & Demi Lovato – “Without A Fight” – Out of the Top 30 (& Done)

Songs I See Going Recurrent & Leaving The Top 30 Soon:

  • Dan + Shay – “From The Ground Up”

On The Hot Seat:

  • Zac Brown Band – “Castaway” (It’s been struggling for weeks and a couple of songs seem to leap-frog it each week. At the very least it’s something to keep an eye on.)

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Jerrod Niemann & Lee Brice – “A Little More Love” (Why is Donkey guy coming back?)
  • Carrie Underwood – “Dirty Laundry”
  • Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word”
  • Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her”

Note: Thomas Rhett’s “Vacation” appears to be on its last legs, as it lost over 400k in audience this week. So it looks like it won’t be reaching the top 30 and is hands down a major flop. And to think I had the rant of all rants lined up for this song. I guess I’ll have to save it for the end of the year where it’s almost a lock to win Country Perspective’s 2016 Worst Song of the Year.

 

As always be sure to weigh in on this week’s Pulse in the comments below. 

The Hodgepodge: Country Radio’s 15 Minutes of Fame Strategy

This week’s opening will be short. I just started a new job this week so I haven’t had a ton of time to thoroughly think through this topic, but it’s something I want to dive into and would love to see readers’ thoughts on this.

Mainstream country labels seems to aim more and more for just one hit single. For all the radio hype Chris Lane got for “Fix,” his album sales tell a different story. Girl Problems hasn’t sold well out of the gate, debuting at #8 on Billboard last week and falling off the charts this week. Outselling Lane last week was Texas Country star Cody Johnson, who still remains on the charts this week. And Cody Jinks, who debuted at #4 this week with I’m Not the Devil sold more than Girl Problems did.

It’s not really breaking news that independent country stars have strong album sales, as we saw last year with Aaron Watson, Jason Isbell, Blackberry Smoke, and Turnpike Troubadours all reaching number one on the album charts. A main reason for this could be the fact that independent fan bases seem more willing to purchase an album to support their favorite artist. But being able to sell an album well, especially at the heels of a hit radio song, could signify the longevity for an artist. Yes, Cody Johnson and Cody Jinks have established careers and released multiple albums prior to Gotta Be Me and I’m Not the Devil, but strong album sales only cement their place with their fans and in the music industry.

However, with Chris Lane selling poorly after “Fix” hit number one just screams one-hit wonder. So many times, we see artists, particularly trend-chasing B/C-level artists, only perform well at radio with a song or two. Most albums seem to get delayed, or they simply just sell like crap. How do Chris Lane or Big Loud Records expect to see any follow-up success? Not that I want to hear another full-fledged pop song from Lane, but why wasn’t Girl Problems given the same type of promotion as “Fix”? I just don’t understand why they chose to play the short game for 15 minutes of fame. Chris Lane isn’t the first, and he won’t be the last. This is just one of many, many problems with mainstream country radio.

Country radio is in the pits, and these hot, one-hit wonder type songs is a short-sighted attempt to gain listeners and revenue. Labels and radio execs aren’t thinking of the long game to improve and crawl out of its self-dug hole. I don’t claim to be a programming expert, but this type of strategy screams short-term thinking. It’s treading on water without looking for a boat to help stay afloat. And as long as radio continues this thought process, we’ll be continually treated to trendy singles followed by poor albums. Artists and labels who think solely about the one single and not the album are not building a sustainable music career.

Upcoming/Recent Country and Americana Releases

  • Jack Ingram‘s Midnight Motel will be released tomorrow.
  • Whiskey Myers’ newest album, Mud will be released September 9.
  • Also coming out on the 9th is St. Paul & The Broken Bones‘ Sea of Noise.
  • Amanda Shires will release her new album My Piece of Land on September 16.
  • Erik Dylan‘s Heart of a Flatland Boy will be released on October 21.
  • Mack McKenzie is releasing his sophomore album A Million Miles on October 22.

Throwback Thursday Song

Merle Haggard’s “My Favorite Memory” This single from Haggard was released on this day in 1981, and would go on to become Merle’s 25th number one single.

Non-Country Suggestion of the Week

Frank Ocean Blonde In an act of defiance against the major labels and streaming, Frank Ocean left his label and self-released his highly anticipated sophomore album exclusively through Apple. With labels/streaming services/artists all at odds, this kind of move is big and could lead to more artists acting in the same fashion.

Tweet of the Week

It’s been a big week for Erik Dylan, who performed at this Guy Clark tribute with the likes of Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill, and others. Dylan’s upcoming album was also made available for pre-order.

iTunes Review for Florida Georgia Line

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 10.29.54 PM

This was left under Florida Georgia Line’s Dig Your Roots, which is due out tomorrow. I’ve only heard “H.O.L.Y.” and “God, Your Mama, and Me,” but I haven’t been crazy about either song. This review says it all!

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [August 22]

Dan + Shay From the Ground Up

Each week we take a look the Billboard Country Airplay chart and grade the top 30 songs. The grading format I use each week is every song will receive one of the following scores: +5, +4, +3, +2, +1, 0, -1, -2, -3, -4, -5. These will then be tallied up for an overall score, or pulse of the current top thirty country songs, with the highest possible score being a +150 and the lowest possible score being a -150. How do I determine the score for the song? The review grade it received on the site or myself will determine this. If it hasn’t been reviewed yet, then I will make the call. The grade it has received or I would give it determines its Pulse score. The grading key: 10 [+5], 9 [+4], 8 [+3], 7 [+2], 6 [+1], 5 [0], 4 [-1], 3 [-2], 2 [-3], 1 [-4], 0 [-5].

The goal of this exercise is to evaluate the current state of mainstream country music and determine if it’s improving or getting worse. Let’s take a look at this week’s top thirty…

  1. Dan + Shay – “From The Ground Up” +1 (Up 1)
  2. Sam Hunt – “Make You Miss Me” -4 (Up 1)
  3. Kelsea Ballerini – “Peter Pan” -1 (Up 2)
  4. Jake Owen – “American Generic Country Love Song” -2 
  5. Justin Moore – “You Look Like I Need A Drink” +2 (Up 5)
  6. Dierks Bentley & Elle King – “Different For Girls” -3 (Up 3)
  7. Chris Lane – “Fix” -5 (Down 1) [Worst Song]
  8. Florida Georgia Line – “H.O.L.Y.” -2 
  9. Jon Pardi – “Head Over Boots” +3 (Down 8) 
  10. Blake Shelton – “She’s Got A Way With Words” -3 (Up 1)
  11. Tucker Beathard – “Rock On” -3 (Up 1)
  12. Kenny Chesney & Pink – “Setting The World On Fire” -2 (Up 5)
  13. William Michael Morgan – “I Met A Girl” +3 (Up 3)
  14. Billy Currington – “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To” +2 (Up 4)
  15. LoCash – “I Know Somebody” -5 (Down 2)
  16. Zac Brown Band – “Castaway” +1 (Down 2)
  17. Luke Bryan – “Move” -4 (Up 4)
  18. Cole Swindell – “Middle of a Memory” -2 (Up 2)
  19. Miranda Lambert – “Vice” +3 (Up 3) [Best Song]
  20. Brett Young – “Sleep Without You” -2 (Up 3)
  21. Big & Rich (feat. Tim McGraw) – “Lovin’ Lately” +2 (Up 3)
  22. Jason Aldean – “A Little More Summertime” (Up 3)
  23. Brad Paisley & Demi Lovato – “Without A Fight” +2 (Down 4)
  24. Tim McGraw – “How I’ll Always Be” +3 (Up 3)
  25. Drake White – “Livin’ The Dream” +1 (Up 1)
  26. Old Dominion – “Song For Another Time” -3 (Up 2)
  27. Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” -1 (Up 3)
  28. Granger Dibbles Jr. – “If The Boots Fits” -4 (New to Top 30)
  29. Brett Eldredge – “Wanna Be That Song” (New to Top 30)
  30. Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer” +2 (Re-Entered Top 30 This Week)

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -25

The pulse drops 11 spots this week. 

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week (Radio’s Purge of Quality Week):

  • Eric Church – “Record Year” +4
  • Kip Moore – “Running For You” +2
  • Jennifer Nettles – “Unlove You” +3

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Granger Dibbles Jr. – “If The Boot Fits”
    • Oh great, Granger is back. Yipee. I was kind of hoping he would just be a one-hit wonder and would go back to Texas. But we’re not that lucky. He follows up the irritating “Backroad Song” with a song that is slightly less annoying in the form of “If The Boot Fits.” This is straight up bro country with an embarrassing amount of auto-tune used on Granger’s voice. Then you have the half-assed modern country production and lyrics that center around a redneck Cinderella. It blows my mind a sub par, mediocre vocalist such as Dibbles is getting all of this airplay. But then again that’s right in country radio’s wheelhouse. Anyway it’s all very annoying and the song gets worse with each play. You can keep ignoring Mr. Dibbles. 1/10
  • Brett Eldredge – “Wanna Be That Song”
    • It feels like it’s been a while since Eldredge has been in the top 30. While he’s been going in the more trend chasing direction, I’ve found him to be one of the more palatable Nashville pop artists because of his strong vocals. Right up front I will say this song is an improvement over his previous two singles, although those weren’t going to be tough to top. “Wanna Be That Song” is a love song about a guy expressing his love towards his woman with various comparisons and analogies. It’s a tad on the sleepy side, but for a pop country song it isn’t half bad. If you listen closely you can hear actual acoustic guitars and dare I say some steel guitar too. You could do a lot worse, but this could have been better too if it didn’t rely so much on clichés. 5/10
  • Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer”

Song I Predict Will Be #1 Next Week:

  • Sam Hunt – “Make You Miss Me”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Justin Moore – “You Look Like I Need a Drink” – Up 5 from #10 to #5
  • Kenny Chesney & Pink – “Setting The World on Fire” – Up 5 from #17 to #12
  • Billy Currington – “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To” – Up 4 from #18 to #14

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Eric Church – “Record Year” – Out of the Top 30 (& Done)
  • Kip Moore – “Running For You” – Out of the Top 30 (& Done)
  • Jennifer Nettles – “Unlove You” – Out of the Top 30 (& Done)

Songs I See Going Recurrent & Leaving The Top 30 Soon:

  • Florida Georgia Line – “H.O.L.Y.”
  • Chris Lane – “Fix”
  • Jon Pardi – “Head Over Boots”
  • Brad Paisley & Demi Lovato – “Without a Fight”

On The Hot Seat:

  • Drake White – “Livin’ The Dream” (It rebounded this week, but it could easily slip)

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Florida Georgia Line & Tim McGraw – “May We All”
  • High Valley – “Make You Mine”
  • Chris Stapleton – “Parachute”
  • Thomas Rhett – “Vacation” (Country radio does not want to play this. Nobody with a sane mind wants to hear it. Just end it already!)

Note: As you can see we have a new best song this week. Ultimately I was deciding between Tim McGraw’s “How I’ll Always Be” and Miranda Lambert’s “Vice.” I ended up going with “Vice” because of the stronger lyrics and having such a vulnerable song at country radio is a pretty rare site. The way it’s going it should have a shot at top ten, which is cool to see.

 

As always be sure to weigh in on this week’s Pulse in the comments below.