Album Review — Eminem’s ‘Music To Be Murdered By’

I can’t recall the last time I’ve listened to an album and upon the very first listen getting more annoyed with each passing song. But this new surprise album from Eminem fits the bill. At 20 songs long and over an hour long, it’s an absolute pain in the ass to listen to this album. It’s not fun nor interesting. The themes on this album are so cringy, corny and off-putting that I could barely muster a few listens. Eminem’s Music To Be Murdered By is an album so terrible that I’m not really sure where to begin with all of the things I hate about it.

Keep in mind I enjoyed his previous album (which was also a surprise) Kamikaze. Perhaps I should also preface that maybe I’ve just reached a point where I’m just tired of Eminem and his schtick because he does things on this album that at this point in his career he’s already done a million times. He takes beating a dead horse to a new extreme. For example, songs like “Leaving Heaven” and “Stepdad.” Both songs see him complaining about his dad and stepdad respectively (the latter also features a horribly clunky and forced hook). And I understand that it must have been difficult to have such a rough upbringing. But Eminem has already done tons of songs about these issues. He says nothing new about these subjects that we haven’t already heard from him. Complaining about his family, critics and life in general feel like the only three topics he can rap about. There’s just no adapting or growth; he’s complaining about the same things at nearly 50 as he was in his 20s.

Then we get to the bars on this album. Now Eminem has always had issues creep up of dropping corny and just nonsensical bars that make no sense (see Revival). But this feels even worse at moments on this album. And again maybe this is just me reaching an age where Eminem’s humor and bars no longer appeal to me. But please tell me with a straight face that these are “fire” bars:

“Game ov-over, Thanos on you H-Os/On my petty shit but I don’t paint toes/Get the plunger ’cause Marshall and MA go plumb crazy/Call us Liquid Plumber ’cause even Dre know.”

And yes I’m well aware of the wordplay at the end with the Dre line, but it’s not clever. Why do I want to hear bars about toilets too? I could spend hundreds of words going over all the bad lyrics that plague this album, but I’m not in the mood for this painful exercise as listening to this album was enough of a chore. What makes these lyrics stand out even worse is having features from artists that never fail to deliver clever wordplay and lyrics like Black Thought, Royce da 5’9″ and Q-Tip.

But I haven’t even covered the worst thing about this album. The worst moment on this album is “Darkness,” a song that you think starts out as your typical song from Eminem about being depressed about fame. But then it reveals itself to be an exact recounting of the night of the Las Vegas shooter at the country festival, with Eminem imagining himself as the shooter. Now here’s why this song fails on so many levels: For one, it’s incredibly disturbing and tasteless (not to mention exploiting tragedy for profit). Secondly, Eminem fails to make any point with this song. He just does an exact recounting of the incident and then at the end raps some vague lyrics about gun control and clips of the media play. No point of substance is made. It feels shallow and tries way too hard to get across a message, even though it fails to do this while also failing to be a quality song.

This is my big problem with the political and message songs in general nowadays. Modern artists want to tell us and preach to us these messages, instead of focusing making a quality song that shows us the message. Messages are just so ham-fisted with no regard to the quality of the song and begs the questions of why someone would want to willing listen to a song like this. It’s also pretty hard to get a serious message across about shootings when throughout the rest of the album and in previous albums Eminem would make light of these incidents and casually drop references to them to craft “clever” wordplay. It comes off as fake, insincere and trying to have your cake while eating it too. And Eminem wonders why people don’t take his message songs seriously.

What’s even more bizarre is while parts of this album is Eminem being your woke Twitter friend, the other is him being a callous, edgy teenager who surfs the dark web all day and thinks dead baby jokes are hilarious. As I said before it makes it hard to take anything he raps about seriously on this album, but also makes for a weird and disorienting listen. It’s almost as if Eminem wants to keep his old crowd while also trying to desperately win over socially conscious young people. He bitches about the critics and some listeners not liking him and his music, yet he tries to win them over too. Eminem can’t pick a lane and make up his mind.

It’s not like this album is completely devoid of any quality, as the production is good to decent in most spots and there’s not a bad feature, as each of his features brought much needed quality to the table. “Godzilla” with the late Juice WRLD is a solid song that shows off Eminem’s impressive rapid delivery and both men contribute some great bars. I like the Alfred Hitchcock inspiration behind it too. But the lingering and large issues that permeate nearly every aspect of this album make it hard to appreciate what little this album gets right. I didn’t even get into him doing yet another bad song with Ed Sheeran or his awkward romantic relationship songs that he never pulls off. Music To Be Murdered By is way too long and sees Eminem indulging in his worst tendencies, making for an album that left me highly annoyed and having no desire to listen to it again.

Grade: 2/10

https://open.spotify.com/album/4otkd9As6YaxxEkIjXPiZ6

Predictions for Country & American Roots Categories at the 2016 Grammy Awards

Grammy

On Monday we celebrate the biggest music awards show of the years. I’m of course referring to the 58th Grammy Awards, set to air Monday night at 8 pm ET on CBS. With it being a holiday and football season being over, it should pull even more eyes than usual. It’s an even bigger deal for country and Americana acts this year, as many deserving names are up for the top awards in both. Not only this, but Chris Stapleton is set up to have another huge awards night. This could be another big step forward in mainstream country improving its quality of music and Americana continuing to rise in stature. Now let’s get to the predictions! Keep in mind I’m not the best at this prediction game, but I feel like I do a little better each year. The award shows can be unpredictable. And be sure to make your own predictions in the comments.

Album of the Year

  • Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color
  • Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
  • Chris Stapleton – Traveller
  • Taylor Swift – 1989
  • The Weeknd – Beauty Behind The Madness 

What I Would Pick To Win: Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly or Chris Stapleton’s Traveller

What I Predict Will Win: Chris Stapleton’s Traveller – After the 2015 CMA Awards I learned something important: do not bet against Chris Stapleton. This man will prove you wrong. He continues to have monster sales in the fallout of that impressive night. There will be enough vote splitting amongst Lamar and Swift to open it right up for Stapleton to pull off the “upset.” Alabama Shakes have almost no chance and The Weeknd had a breakout 2015, but I don’t think they have enough momentum to win. Beck shocked the world winning this award last year and Stapleton will do it this year.

Song of the Year 

  • Kendrick Lamar – “Alright”
  • Taylor Swift – “Blank Space”
  • Little Big Town – “Girl Crush”
  • Wiz Khalifa & Charlie Puth – “See You Again”
  • Ed Sheeran – “Thinking Out Loud”

What I Would Pick To Win: Kendrick Lamar – “Alright”

What I Predict Will Win: Wiz Khalifa & Charlie Puth’s “See You Again” – This song was one of the biggest emotional hit songs of 2015 and had a monster run on the charts. I give “Alright” and “Blank Space” decent shots at winning. Little Big Town had one of the biggest hits in country music in 2015 with “Girl Crush,” but they stand no chance against these huge names.

Best New Artist

  • Courtney Barnett
  • James Bay
  • Sam Hunt
  • Tori Kelly
  • Meghan Trainor

Who I Would Pick To Win: Courtney Barnett

Who I Predict Will Win: Meghan Trainor – Trainor should win this in an absolute walk. She’s the biggest name of the five by far. Sam Hunt is shockingly the only other artist I could see winning here, but he just doesn’t compare to Trainor’s stardom and impact. For once I’m glad to see Trainor’s name, as it will block Hunt from winning something at an actual awards show.

Best Country Solo Performance 

  • Cam – “Burning House”
  • Chris Stapleton – “Traveller”
  • Carrie Underwood – “Little Toy Guns”
  • Keith Urban – “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16”
  • Lee Ann Womack – “Chances Are”

What I Would Pick To Win: Chris Stapleton – “Traveller” (Anything but Urban’s song)

What I Predict Will Win: Chris Stapleton’s “Traveller” – Remember: Do not bet against Stapleton. Nice to see Cam getting some attention and Carrie continuing to get noticed by the Grammys, unlike the CMA and ACM Award shows. It’s really cool to see LeeAnn Womack’s name here too.

Best Country Duo/Group Performance

  • Brothers Osborne – “Stay A Little Longer”
  • Joey + Rory – “If I Needed You”
  • Charles Kelley, Dierks Bentley & Eric Paslay – “The Driver”
  • Little Big Town – “Girl Crush”
  • Blake Shelton & Ashley Monroe – “Lonely Tonight”

 

What I Would Pick To Win: Joey + Rory – “If I Needed You” (Really I would be fine with any of these)

What I Predict Will Win: Joey + Rory’s “If I Needed You” – I believe this will undoubtedly get the sympathy vote, just like Glen Campbell in the Best Country Song category last year. It would be a great sight to see such a loving and talented couple like Joey and Rory to get this honor.

Best Country Song

  • Lee Ann Womack – “Chances Are”
  • Tim McGraw – “Diamond Rings & Old Barstools”
  • Little Big Town – “Girl Crush”
  • Brandy Clark – “Hold My Hand”
  • Chris Stapleton – “Traveller”

What I Would Pick To Win: Brandy Clark – “Hold My Hand” (But again I would be fine with any of these)

What I Predict Will Win: Chris Stapleton’s “Traveller” – Once again I believe Stapleton will have another huge night. The Grammys did a really great job with this category and all five are certainly deserving. Tim McGraw continues to get nominations for the Grammys, but shut out from country awards shows like Carrie. Brandy Clark is set up to have a bigger year at the Grammys next year, but it’s nice to see a quality song like “Hold My Hand” get recognized.

Best Country Album

  • Sam Hunt – Montevallo
  • Little Big Town – Pain Killer 
  • Ashley Monroe – The Blade
  • Kacey Musgraves – Pageant Material
  • Chris Stapleton – Traveller

What I Would Pick To Win: Pageant Material or Traveller

What I Predict Will Win: Chris Stapleton’s Traveller – Need I say it again? Also it’s an absolute joke to see Hunt’s name here.

Best American Roots Performance 

  • Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn – “And Am I Born To Die”
  • Buddy Guy – “Born To Play Guitar”
  • The Milk Carton Kids – “City of Our Lady”
  • Punch Brothers – “Julep”
  • Mavis Staples – “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean”

What I Would Pick To Win: Punch Brothers – “Julep”

What I Predict Will Win: Punch Brothers – “Julep” – The Grammys seem to really love this group, so I’ll go with it.

Best American Roots Song

  • The Mavericks – “All Night Long”
  • Don Henley & Merle Haggard – “The Cost of Living”
  • Punch Brothers – “Julep”
  • Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell – “The Traveling Kind”
  • Jason Isbell – “24 Frames”

What I Would Pick To Win: Only one? But they’re all fantastic!

What I Predict Will Win: Jason Isbell – “24 Frames” – After getting screwed over by the Grammys a few years ago, they finally make amends. With the #1 album in country, folk, rock and Americana, Isbell by far had the biggest 2015. But then again I could conceivably see Henley and Haggard get the nod, along with The Mavericks who seem to do well when nominated for something on the awards circuit. But really what a class of songs to choose from!

Best Americana Album

  • Brandi Carlile – The Firewatcher’s Daughter
  • Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell – The Traveling Kind
  • Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free
  • The Mavericks – Mono
  • Punch Brothers – The Phosphorescent Blues

What I Would Pick To Win: Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free (Because why would I pick against our own 2015 Album of the Year winner?)

What I Predict Will Win: Jason Isbell – Something More Than Free – See the reasons I cited above. I have to say it’s great to see Brandi Carlile’s name here, as she is an underrated artist more people need to know about.

Review – Keith Urban’s “Break On Me”

Keith Urban Break On Me

When you look back at the pop country of the 2000s, Keith Urban is certainly one of the biggest names to emerge from the era and experience a lot of success. The sincerity of his voice combined with the easy-going pop country stylings in his music made him a big fan favorite amongst mainstream country fans. Personally, Urban has always been just sort of there for me. It wasn’t until his last single “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” that I formed a strong opinion on one of his songs. That single to me was nothing but a giant word vomit of clichés. The song was basically about nothing. And of course it reached the top five on the country airplay charts. I was surprised it didn’t reach #1 and the only reason it didn’t was because of the strong airplay of Kenny Chesney’s “Save It For A Rainy Day.” Urban has now released the follow-up and the second single of his upcoming eighth studio album, titled “Break On Me.”

Well I can say it’s an improvement over “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16.” Then again Urban had nowhere to go but up after that song. “Break On Me” plays on the theme that is quite popular in mainstream country music and that is romantic slow jams with pop elements infused throughout. The song is about how a man offers his shoulder to his loved one and that she’s welcome to “break” on him. The lyrics, written by Ross Copperman and Jon Nite, aren’t half bad. They do a decent job of conveying emotion and giving the song somewhat of a feel. It’s a shame they really never get a fair chance to shine, as the production kills most of my interest in this song. I don’t even know how I would describe it. The electronic elements and heavy Reverb throughout the song is annoying and unnecessary. The only reason this is included is because that’s the current popular sound in the genre right now. It serves no purpose other than this. If the song sticks to a simple acoustic guitar and piano, it might actually be good. Instead it’s just another forgettable, bland romance song on country radio.

I can see what Keith Urban was going for with this song, but it misses the mark in too many areas to accomplish it. Urban has always been a pop country singer, but this is just too much pop for my taste. As I’ve seen many point out on Twitter, it’s very Ed Sheeran-esqué. Based on the sound of these first two singles from Urban’s newest album, I’m expecting him to go more pop than ever before with his music. It’s not as bad as Sam Hunt’s version of urban country, but it’s still forgettable and unimaginative nonetheless. “Break On Me” is a sleepy ballad that I’m sure many urban country fans will praise as deep and emotional, but to me it’s just a less offensive version of Luke Bryan’s “Strip It Down.”

Grade: 3.5/10

The Hodgepodge: Is Pop Radio Better Than Country Radio Right Now?

500px-Train_wreck_at_Montparnasse_1895
A look at the current state of country radio and really mainstream country music in general.

Yesterday in this week’s current pulse of mainstream country music, I was pretty frustrated and exasperated with country radio. The reasons being of course is that nothing new is being tried by country radio and the songs with substance are getting harder to find. They’re simply rehashing the same old crap. Case in point: Jason Aldean’s new single “Tonight Looks Good On You” is surging and will undoubtedly reach #1 on the chart. It’s just another version of Aldean’s 2014 hit “Burnin’ It Down.” On top of that it’s a Dallas Davidson song. I mean come on! I thought country radio had moved passed Davidson’s bullshit, but apparently not.

So as I normally do when I get frustrated with terrible music, I go listen to music I enjoy. As I sat and listened to Hozier’s excellent 2014 debut album, an idea came to me for this week’s Hodgepodge. Why not take a look at pop radio and compare it to country radio? It’s a perfect time to do so when many country stations across the nation are playing blatant pop music. When Kanye West and Ed Sheeran are getting airplay on country radio, you know shit has hit the fan and country stations have run out of answers. So to conduct this comparison, we’ll take a look at the top 20 on the Billboard Top Pop Songs chart from last week and compare it to the top 20 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart from last week. The same exact rules will apply to this as the current pulse that runs every week.

The -3 score on last week’s pulse will not be used, since it’s the cumulative score of the top 30. Only the pulse of the top 20 will be used. By taking away the bottom ten songs, the pulse of the top 20 is 0. That will be the score we use to compare to the pop chart. Today you will get to see the very rare occurrence of yours truly evaluating pop music. See what you’ve done to me country radio? So without further ado let’s take a look at the Top Pop Chart:

  1. Taylor Swift – “Style” 0
  2. Maroon 5 – “Sugar” 0
  3. Ed Sheeran – “Thinking Out Loud” +1 (Sheeran is awesome)
  4. Bruno Mars & Mark Ronson – “Uptown Funk” +1 (This song is great, despite being overplayed)
  5. Pitbull & Ne-Yo – “Time of Our Lives” -1 (Pitbull sucks no matter what genre he is in)
  6. Ellie Goulding – “Love Me Like You Do” -1 (A terrible Fifty Shades of Grey song)
  7. Kanye West, Rihanna & Paul McCartney – “FourFiveSeconds” 0
  8. Natalie La Rose & Jeremih – “Somebody” -1
  9. Calvin Harris & Ellie Goulding – “Outside” 0
  10. Ariana Grande – “One Last Time” -1
  11. Nick Jonas – “Chains” +1 (I’m surprised I liked this)
  12. Zedd & Selena Gomez – “I Want You To Know” +1
  13. Taylor Swift – “Blank Space” -1
  14. One Direction – “Night Changes” -1
  15. Lillywood & Robin Schulz – “Prayer In C” 0
  16. Flo Rida, Sage The Gemini & Lookas – “G.D.F.R.” -1 (Flo Rida is the Toby Keith of pop music. He just keeps hanging on.)
  17. Jason DeRulo – “Want To Want Me” -1
  18. The Weeknd – “Earned It” -1 (Another terrible Fifty Shades of Grey song)
  19. Usher & Juicy J – “I Dont Mind” -1 
  20. Tori Kelly – “Nobody Love”

So the total current pulse of pop music is -8. Wow! It’s even worse than country radio! Yet country radio is borrowing from it. It shouldn’t be borrowing period from pop music, whether it’s better or worse. Still country radio is borrowing from a genre that is even worse. There are genre lines for a reason. The only common denominator between both groups of songs is the club theme. You can thank Sam Hunt for bringing this into country music. Music about going to the club is just plain dumb and it’s why people laugh at artists like Pitbull and Flo Rida. I will say though I would take pop’s club music over country’s club music.

After this not very surprising revelation, I think I can safely say that all of radio is nothing but a vast wasteland of garbage songs. Country radio isn’t the only one lacking substance. However it’s imperative if I point out the big different between both. Country radio and pop radio historically have been viewed completely different by listeners. Pop radio is a mix of several different genres all in one place for casual listeners to hear. Upbeat, fun, party songs are the norm for pop and everyone pretty much knows this. You don’t hear a lot of songs that you would consider classics get on pop radio today, save for the likes of Adele and Hozier maybe. In years past you had icons like Michael Jackson dominating pop, but I don’t see any singers like Jackson on the horizon.

Country radio on the other hand was always viewed by people as a place to go for songs about life, love and other themes that explore deeper meaning. It was the genre of substance. You could hear a song like Vince Gill’s “Go Rest High On That Mountain” and be brought to tears. George Strait’s “Give It Away” or Garth Brooks’ “The Dance” connected with anyone out there whoever had their heart-broken. Go back a little over ten years and you could hear a song on country radio like Josh Turner’s “Long Black Train” that had a great message to anyone of any age. These are the kind of songs that made country music what it was. It was what made you and me fans of country music.

Now an entire generation views country music as a laughing-stock full of songs about drinking, debauchery and partying. That respect country music once held in popular culture has eroded away. People turn on country radio and don’t even recognize the genre. Some people don’t even turn on the radio. Sure there is plenty of great independent country music out there and sites like this help spread the word of it. But why would people seek it out? After what they hear on country radio, it makes them run away from the genre. They’ve got such a sour taste from country radio that they won’t even try the good country music. Country music fans need something to believe in and hear to reaffirm their faith in the genre. Will we get that before it’s too late? For the sake of country music, I hope so.

Upcoming/Recent Country Music Releases

  • Will Hoge will come out with his new album Small Town Dreams next Tuesday. A couple of months ago we got a taste of what’s to come on the album and based on that I’m expecting this to be a good one. Derek will be reviewing this one, as Hoge is one of his favorites.
  • Kristian Bush’s debut solo album Southern Gravity will also be released next Tuesday. The lead single “Trailer Hitch” was a surprisingly good song, so it’ll be interesting to hear what the rest of the album sounds like and whether the sound of Sugarland is evident at all.
  • The third notable release next week and the biggest in the independent realm is Pokey LaFarge’s Something In The Water. This could quietly be one of the best releases in April.
  • On Monday, Jason Isbell tweeted: “New new album is done and mastered.” So maybe we’ll get this sooner than July? I certainly hope so. We should at least hear the first single from it very soon.

Throwback Thursday Song

George Jones – “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?” – You know how I was saying up above about how country music was the genre about life and connecting with everyday people? This song articulates that point perfectly. And it’s a song many country fans wonder today.

Non-Country Song of the Week

AC/DC – “Shoot To Thrill” – This is one of my all-time favorite AC/DC songs. The high notes blow me away every time.

Tweet of the Week

Anti-Bobby Bones tweets are always great. He’s another problem hurting country music, but that’s another post for another day.

Two iTunes Reviews That Will Make You Face Palm

Stupid EYB Comment 2

 

Stupid EYB Comment 3

 

I’ve been sitting on these gems for a couple of weeks. These were under Eli Young Band’s new EP Turn It On. The first one justifies this terrible EP by saying everyone’s going pop in country, so it’s fine. The other says it’s fine because they wrote all four songs. Here’s an easy way to determine whether or not a song or group of songs suck: people having to list reasons to justify why it’s good. People making excuses for it. A great song speaks volumes on its own merit and doesn’t need to be explained why it’s good.

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?

TNT

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!