The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [June 2007]

220px-ticks

This is the past pulse of mainstream country music. Each week, I take a look at the Billboard Country Airplay Chart (or, “Hot Country Songs” as it used to be called) from years ago and grade the top 30 songs. Each week will be a different year. 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 past top thirty country songs, with the highest possible score being a +150 and the lowest possible score being a -150. The grade 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 past state of mainstream country music and determine if it was better or worse compared to now. To see the full list of the top 30 country airplay songs for this week, click here. This week I will take a look at the top 30 songs of the Billboard Hot Country Songs from June 30th, 2007. In honor of my request backlog from a couple of weeks ago, this week’s chart goes out to Raymond. Thanks for reading Raymond!

  1. Brad Paisley – “Ticks” -1 (I’m sorry, for as humorous as Brad can be this just did nothing for me)
  2. Tracy Lawrence feat. Tim McGraw & Kenny Chesney – “Find Out Who Your Friends Are” +3
  3. Montgomery Gentry – “Lucky Man” +2
  4. George Strait – “Wrapped” +3 (Holy fiddle and steel Batman!)
  5. Emerson Drive – “Moments” +4
  6. Big & Rich – “Lost In This Moment” 0
  7. Billy Currington – “Good Directions” +3
  8. Keith Urban – “I Told You So” -2 [Worst Song] (The narrator’s arrogance just does nothing for me. I like the sound but that’s it)
  9. Alan Jackson – “A Woman’s Love” +1 (I like the bluesy feel. Just wish the theme was a little less conventional)
  10. Jake Owen – “Startin’ With Me” +4
  11. Jason Aldean – “Johnny Cash” +1 (Guilty pleasure…..sue me)
  12. Taylor Swift – “Teardrops On My Guitar” +2
  13. Kenny Chesney – “Never Wanted Nothing More” +2
  14. Tim McGraw & Faith Hill – “I Need You” +3 (So you guys both have an Uncle Joe in Oklahoma who needs rain huh? Kidding aside, this is solid)
  15. Rodney Atkins – “These Are My People” +2 (Yes, this is cliché as hell, but Rodney’s sincere delivery works for me. Plus that opening fiddle is just heavenly)
  16. Bucky Covington – “A Different World” +1 (Was he even old enough to know about all the things he’s singing about here? Regardless, at least it has a good sound)
  17. Craig Morgan – “Tough” +3
  18. Kellie Pickler – “I Wonder” +4 [Best Song]
  19. Eric Church – “Guys Like Me” +1
  20. Toby Keith – “High Maintenance Woman” +2 (I know this is a pretty well-known hated Toby song, but I think that the song isn’t meant to be taken that seriously. On that note, combined with the pretty good guitar work it passes for me)
  21. Reba & Kelly Clarkson – “Because Of You” +2
  22. Little Big Town – “A Little More You” +2
  23. Martina McBride – “How I Feel” -1
  24. Luke Bryan – “All My Friends Say” +3
  25. Sugarland – “Everyday America” 0 (Ugh, those Pop beats were unfortunately ahead of their time in country music. That of course means they were only slightly behind what pop was doing…)
  26. Jason Michael Carroll – “Livin’ Our Love Song” +1
  27. Cole Deggs and the Lonesome – “I Got More” +1 (Well, we had a guy whose name says “Cold eggs” and in the modern-day we have Colden Rainy Swindell. Go figure)
  28. Trace Adkins – “I Wanna Feel Something” +2
  29. Tim McGraw – “If You’re Reading This” +4 (Three times where McGraw is on the chart. It’s exactly like 2016! Not complaining though)
  30. Brooks & Dunn – “Proud Of The House We Built” +2 (Yes, it’s cheesy and corny as all hell. And yes, this is another song where I’m making excuses for why it works for me)

The Past Pulse Of Mainstream Country Music: +54

Well it would appear to be another good chart this week! In all honesty I was probably a little more forgiving of some of these songs than I should have been, but even before I became a hardcore country fan in 2010 I always had memories of some of these songs playing on my grandparent’s radio. Nostalgia admittedly gets in the way of some of these songs for me, but hey none of us are free from bias. I went with Kellie Pickler’s “I Wonder” for the best song honor since it came from a personal place and is excellent to boot. It was hard to pull off getting a song like that to be a single in 2007 and it’s pretty much impossible to do in 2016.

As always, if you have any questions as to why I gave a song a certain grade feel free to ask me. Also, let me know what you guys think of the chart in the comments!

The Hodgepodge: Country Music After The Mainstream Bubble Pops

Willie
After the mainstream country music bubble popping, the genre could finally rebuild and go back to it’s roots.

Last week in The Hodgepodge I laid out a prediction that mainstream country music’s bubble was about to burst. This week I want to further clarify what I mean and what I think country music would look like as a result. If you haven’t read last week’s Hodgepodge yet, you’ll want to read it before reading this piece. This is basically part two. What I mean by bubble bursting is that I think country music will cease to exist in the mainstream realm. I believe what’s been done to country music in the past few years, as well as right now is irreversibly damaging the format beyond repair as a mainstream genre. The big awards shows will disappear slowly, along with country radio stations. The amount of big labels will shrink and there will be more independent artists. This isn’t me predicting that country music will have another neo-traditional like renaissance or an outlaw movement. Essentially I’m predicting a country music apocalypse. I’m predicting the death of mainstream country music if they continue down the path they are on.

I think I got the point across now. So what would country music be like post-apocalypse? Well for starters lets take a look at the biggest names in country music. With the genre no longer a cash cow, no longer having a big radio presence and being relegated to second-tier status, I see many artists going to the pop realm. Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton and Jason Aldean would all go pop for example. They won’t find near the success they had in country music, but they can remain in the spotlight and are certainly willing to kowtow to whatever the popular sound is. Some of the bigger country artists I could see going to the rock scene. Brantley Gilbert could easily fit into the rock scene, as well as Eric Church. Their current sound has a lot of rock influences.

In post-death of mainstream country music, I think you would see a lot of lesser known acts fade into obscurity. Groups like Lady Antebellum and Thompson Square wouldn’t stand a chance in this new world of country music. Neither would bro country stars like Chase Rice, Cole Swindell and Thomas Rhett. They no longer have any kind of radio presence nor huge appeal, so there’s no longer a reason sites like mine would need to cover them. Only the best would get covered. Speaking of the best artists like Tim McGraw, Dierks Bentley and Kacey Musgraves could all put forth their best country albums possible. No longer would they have to answer to labels wanting a radio hit. They can make the exact music they would want to make. No more fad or trend chasing.

This leads me to the independent country artists, Americana artists who make country music and older country legends still making music. They would benefit the most out of all of this happening because now they’re on more equal ground with the likes of the biggest names in country music. The battleground is no longer on the radio. It’s on the Internet, where all media is competing now. The two key aspects to your music being heard would be quality and promotion. The latter is something that is really key because many country artists struggle to have a great online presence. Whoever can nail both of those two key aspects would not only be the most covered, but the most popular. Country music would finally be judged in the most just way possible. It would encourage artists to put out the best country music possible and establishing a dedicated fan base would be of the utmost importance. See why I think independent country artists would benefit the most?

Ultimately I think country music fans would benefit greatly too. Many of you reading this are already taking to the Internet to find country music. Your habits and listening wouldn’t change much, if at all. If anything you’ll have more fellow people joining you in toasting the best of country music. Sites like mine could take the time we spent talking about the junk in the mainstream and use it to find more unknown country acts who deserve to be heard. I enjoy writing reviews on an act that deserves to be heard and doesn’t have a huge following more than some terrible, fad chasing mainstream country single. They say it’s always darkest before the dawn and I think that would be the case here. Country music needs to die as a mainstream format if it ever wants to fix itself and be country music again.

In this scenario the best artists would become the face of the genre. The likes of Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell, Wade Bowen, Brandy Clark, Kacey Musgraves and others would lead country music like they should be now. Together these great artists could re-build the genre into what it once was in its heyday and continue it on for future generations in the manner it should be. This would take years to happen, but it’s something that must happen. If anything we should all be cheering for this to happen because everyone in the end would benefit. Well except for those fringe artists I mentioned, but that’s their own doing. Nevertheless I think the death of country music as a mainstream format would be the drastic change needed to save this genre. It would be painful to watch and tumultuous at times, but from the ashes country music would rise again reborn in its rightful image. In the words of founding father Patrick Henry, “give me liberty or give me death.” Country music isn’t going to give us liberty. So I guess there’s only one other option.

(Note: This is all pure speculation on my part and I could easily be wrong. Country music always seems to pull a rabbit out of its hat just at the right moment. But I do think this is a real possibility and I wanted to fully explore it. Who doesn’t like to explore hypothetic scenarios?)

Upcoming/Recent Country Music Releases

  • The long-awaited debut album of Chris Stapleton will finally be released next Tuesday. The album called Traveller, is currently streaming on NPR if you want to get an early listen before the release date. We’ll definitely have a review on it next week.
  • Shelby Lynne, sister of fellow alt country artist Allison Moorer, will release a new album next Monday titled I Can’t Imagine. If it’s anywhere close to Moorer’s album in terms of quality we’re in for a real treat.
  • Jason Michael Carroll will release his first new album in four years next Tuesday. It’s titled What Color Is Your Sky. The former Arista Nashville artist is hoping this album will launch him back into mainstream conscious. I’m curious to hear what he’s come up with.
  • Randy Houser has released the first single from his new upcoming album and it’s called “We Went.” You can currently stream the song on Rolling Stone if you want to give it a listen. Ryan is writing a review on this one.
  • Right now at Brandy Clark’s website if you sign up for her newsletter you get a free download of her new song “I Cried.” How great of a deal is this? If you’re a fan of Clark or free music head on over and sign up.
  • The eagerly anticipated sophomore album release from Kacey Musgraves has finally been announced. It’s called Pageant Material and will come out on June 9. This is definitely one of the more fascinating and interesting releases in mainstream country music this year, as her debut album won her a lot of hardware and praise from critics and fans alike.
  • More great news! Lindi Ortega’s new album is coming out on August 7 and it’s called Faded Gloryville. I’m definitely excited about this one and will provide more details about it as they become available.

Throwback Thursday Song

Jamey Johnson – “The Last Cowboy” – This feels like an appropriate one for this week’s Hodgepodge. Also I listened to some of Johnson’s catalog to wash the new Zac Brown Band album out of my head. I’m still salty and it’s going to take me a while to get over it. Arrgh! Also I’m looking forward to hearing Jamey’s new album, whenever it may come out.

Non-Country Album of the Week

Let’s talk about a great album, shall we? Like Lord Huron’s new album Strange Trails. If you’re into Springsteen type rock music, you’ll love this album. It also reminds me a lot of The War on Drugs’ album last year, except this album doesn’t have five different songs over seven minutes. There’s also some country influences on the album, most notably on “Hurricane.” I think a lot of you would like it and it’s worth checking out.

Tweet of the Week

Amen Reginald.

An iTunes Review That Will Make You Face Palm

Fuck You Hunt Fans

Cobra brought to my attention this ridiculous review left under Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen’s fantastic new album. Now you know why I say so many terrible things about Hunt and his fans. It’s idiotic, trolling comments like this (and the horrific music of course). But hey Hunt fans might get their wish if my above prediction comes true. They’ll kill country music in the mainstream. But you’ll never take away great artists like Bowen and Rogers.

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

Album Review – Zane Williams’ ‘Texas Like That’

Zane

Zane Williams has built a reputation through writing and singing traditional-influenced story country songs. In fact, his big break came from the song “Hurry Home,” a song that won the John Lennon Songwriting Contest in 2005. That led to the song being cut by Jason Michael Carroll, and a record deal with Big Yellow Dog Music. Zane Williams has an appreciation for country music that tells stories, so much so, that he posted a video on his Facebook page talking about country’s current state.

 “I’ve always loved country music the best. And when I first discovered country music, what I fell in love with about it was that the lyrics were real… They were story songs. Songs that made you laugh, made you cry.”

Williams goes on to say that country needs to go back to more songs like that and away from constant, good-time, party songs.  He specifically praises Aaron Watson, Sunny Sweeny, Will Hoge, and Sturgill Simpson for creating the type of country music he grew up on. In response to this video, fellow Texas country singer Chris King challenged Zane Williams on his comments. King calls out a few of the songs on Williams’ new album Texas Like That for being the type of song that Zane Williams complains about in the video. The conversation ultimately came to an “agree to disagree” conclusion, but it certainly adds a bit of intrigue coming into this review.

The opening track for Texas Like That is a folksy, acoustic driven song called “Feelin’ Free.” The song speaks of the free feeling of driving on the open road under the clear night sky. The instrumentation is right at home in Texas country with some fiddle and banjo breakdowns. Up next is “Throwback” which is the song Chris King called Zane Williams out on. The song sounds like it has a drum machine loop behind a spoken word, rap-like lyric delivery from Williams. The song is about how Williams is more old-fashioned in his way of doing things: saying “yes ma’am,” opening doors, etc. It’s not a bro song or party song, but the production isn’t quite country, and the material is a little juvenile, so I can see where King is coming from in his response. But I would argue that “Throwback” isn’t the worst on the album.

“Summer Rain” is a lust song with a slow tempo production. He describes this woman’s good looks and compares his desire for her to a “summer rain on thirsty ground.” There’s some authenticity to the production and some nice harmonies pop in halfway through the song. “She Is” is a bit more natural when it comes to a good, modern country love song. The production is simple with the guitar and drum melodies. The song depicts their relationship and how complex women can be, but that’s joy of their life together. Up next is “Just Gettin’ Started.” No, it’s not the Jason Aldean song, but it very much could be. Zane Williams comes close to rapping again in this one. The song, though is about how he wants to make love last with this girl. It’s very bro-like in the way he describes wanting to be with her, but when he says he’s only getting started, Zane Williams refers to their life, rather than their night. Still the rapping and delivery of the story take away from the lyrics. I guess maybe you could see this as a clever parody, maybe? But it comes across as a sincere song, and I think it’s another that seems suspect in the light of Zane’s video.

With that said, Zane Williams does have a song here that’s everything he loves about country music. “Jayton and Jill” is a ballad about the start of lifelong friendship. Jayton is a nobody working a dead-end job and Jill is the rebel daughter of a verbally abusive pastor. After Jill’s boyfriend gets angry at her for saying “no” in the car, he hits her and leaves her on the side of the road. Later on, Jayton is driving down the road and sees her. He brings her home, they talk all night, and become great friends. Williams describes how their friendship helped both their lost souls, and how the night they met saved their lives. It’s a beautiful, acoustic song that tells a wonderful story of a small town friendship. “Jayton and Jill” is the best song on this album, and there’s a fairly good chance it’ll make the cut on my top ten list this month. “Here’s to You” is a tribute song Williams wrote for his fans. It has a good, foot stomping country beat. For a singer with five albums and who’s toured relentlessly to earn his stripes, it’s a nice gesture. Also I like the country instrumental concluding the song featuring a fiddle, mandolin, and guitar.

“Kansas City Sunrise” is a song about a divorce. When the relationship started, he moved to Kansas City for her to build their life together. But now they’re finished and he’s moving on and away from the city in order to start fresh. This is another good country, heartbreak ballad that shifts to a more positive light as the song progresses. On “Love Is on Our Side” sings of how life is hitting them hard, but with love on their side, he feels confident they’ll push through the hard times. The production is a bit more upbeat and is nothing but country. Texas Like That ends with the title track. This song is an ode to the Texas creed. A hard-working man who won’t let age slow him down. A woman who’s equally hardworking, tough, and pretty. It’s a pandering song that connects to one group of people, and if you’re not from Texas then it’s a song that you just brush off.

Overall, Texas Like That is a good offering from Zane Williams. Even with a few songs with mainstream Music Row influences, Williams has some good, honest country tunes to counteract them. For the most part, though, this album just sort of sits in the middle of the road. Some songs with overdone topics get a fresh sound with the production and some I could do without.  But for the most part, I think Zane Williams puts his money where his mouth is in regards to his recent Facebook video.  Songs like “Jayton and Jill” and “Kansas City Sunrise” are true country story ballads that should be heard.

Grade: 6.5/10

The Hodgepodge: Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” & Country Radio’s Hypocritical Line Drawing

Little Big Town Girl Crush

Country music radio in 2015 could be best described as regressing, in disarray and disillusioned. It looked like in the latter half of 2014 and very early 2015 that country radio may actually be improving and regaining substance. We even got a positive score for the first time ever for The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music in January. Ever since then things have regressed so much that I’ve lost a lot of hope I had for mainstream country music improving in 2015. Zac Brown Band, Jana Kramer’s “I Got The Boy,” and Carrie Underwood’s “Little Toy Guns” are the only bright spots amongst new material released in 2015. Everything else has been generic, mediocre R&B or down right terrible.

This leads me to Little Big Town’s latest single “Girl Crush.” While many critics praised Little Big Town’s 2014 Pain Killer, I considered it generic, 80s pop rock material. I had no idea what people heard with this album and why it got so much praise. Sure it looks great next to the likes of Sam Hunt, Florida Georgia Line and Jason Aldean. But in the whole scope of things it’s a fairly forgettable album to my ears. Anyway back to “Girl Crush.” This is the one song where I agree with many in that it’s actually a good song. I wouldn’t call it great, but it’s good and is a big improvement over many songs playing on country radio right now.

Karen Fairchild’s smokey voice and the airy instrumentation work well in this song. Of course the main allure of this song is its subject matter. On a casual first listen this appears to be about a woman falling in love with another woman, a rare country song about a homosexual relationship. You’ll realize though upon multiple listens that it is indeed not about a lesbian relationship. Instead it’s about a woman being jealous of another woman who is with the man she loves. It’s a jealous lust towards the other woman, not a lust for the woman herself. Anyone who takes the time to listen can figure this out easily.

When “Girl Crush” entered the top 30 of the Billboard Country Airplay chart on March 14, I was glad to see it. Then the following week it fell right out of the top 30 and has even dropped more since then. What gives? I speculated last week that it could be because country radio finds the song to be too risqué to play on country radio. This is ridiculous for the reasons I spelled out above of course. Then this post drops on For The Country Record. Vickeye Fisher, who runs FTCR, wisely reached out and had a current music director for a country music station in Texas “pull back the curtain” on country radio and what is happening with “Girl Crush.” The music director, identified as TexMex, wrote this in the piece:

When I first came in contact with the song, LBT’s record label sent me a hard copy to listen to. There it was in BIG letters on the front “GIRL CRUSH”… I am not going to lie, at first I thought, probably no chance this makes the air and chuckled to myself. I listened to the first couple lines and again thought to myself, “Wow!! How does LBT think this makes the air?” And then, when you are least expecting it… BAM!! They hit you with the hook. It is a jealousy song, lyrically crafted by an obvious wordsmith and something of a genius. I think LBT knew this would be the reaction of many. What they couldn’t have predicted, and neither did I, was that people would still complain about the song’s “obvious” lesbian meaning. What? Did you listen to the song all the way through? Do you not like songs about women being jealous of a mistress? This is the foundation of female country music subjects most of the time.

To my surprise, after explaining the song to more than a handful of people, every one of them responded with basically the same thing (paraphrased): “You are just promoting the gay agenda on your station and I am changing the channel and never listening to you ever again!!”

As a result, despite TexMex’s pleads to keep it in heavy rotation, the song was pretty much reduced to barely getting any plays. I’m sure this same thing happened at several other radio stations across America. Now we all know why “Girl Crush” has been dropping on the charts: hard hearing country fans and radio bosses who refuse to see that this song for what it is.

Now before I go on to make my greater point let me address a few things here with my argument. This is not about gay rights and where I or anyone else stands on the issue. Here at Country Perspective we do not engage in talks about political issues, as it’s unproductive and not related to the topic always at hand, which is music. Another thing I see many critics and fans pointing out is how “Girl Crush” was intended to be controversial and that this was all planned. Little Big Town has even retweeted on their Twitter account tweets about how the song is being pulled off radio for political reasons. They may very well have planned this whole thing, but none of us can know for sure. However I will point this out: Have you ever known Little Big Town to be controversial or to engage in this kind of territory? I certainly haven’t and that’s why I believe this wasn’t planned. I believe Little Big Town for once actually stumbled upon a song with clever lyrics. So basically I believe Little Big Town didn’t plan for this to happen, but now that is is they’re rolling with it because nobody turns down free publicity. (If you want to see a planned “outrage,” see Brad Paisley’s little leaking stunt on Twitter last year)

Now to my overall point, where I point out how hypocritical and stupid country radio is, along with some of its listeners. Let’s start with the low-hanging fruit that is Florida Georgia Line’s “Sun Daze.” This song enjoyed a nice run in the top ten of the Billboard Country Airplay chart and reached the very top. It’s still recurrent even at this moment. Yet this song contains the following lyric: “I sit you up on a kitchen sink/Stick the pink umbrella in your drink.” For those country fans out there who were too slow to understand “Girl Crush,” I’ll spell this lyric out for you. It’s a guy sticking his penis into a woman’s vagina and screwing her. Not to mention the entire song is about getting hammered and stoned. Where are your complaints country fans? Why didn’t you pull this song off radio for being too risqué, country programmers? All yeah you wouldn’t.

You could pick out almost any song off of Florida Georgia Line’s 2014 album Anything Goes and call it risqué. But country radio kisses their feet like they’re gods. Florida Georgia Line and host of others have been churning out these songs that encourage drinking and smoking for the past few years, yet no complaints. It would take me forever to point out all of these songs, so I’ll point out another song that was highly popular on the radio, but wasn’t considered too risqué to play: Tyler Farr’s 2013 smash hit “Redneck Crazy.” It peaked at #3 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart and got overplayed as hell on my local country stations. Let’s take a look at some of the lyrics from this song. Here’s the chorus:

I’m gonna lean my headlights into your bedroom windows
Throw empty beer cans at both of your shadows
I didn’t come here to start a fight, but I’m up for anything tonight
You know you broke the wrong heart, baby,
And drove me redneck crazy

Or what about these lyrics?

Did you think I’d wish you both the best,
Endless love and happiness?
You know that’s just not the kind of man I am
Yeah, I’m the kind that shows up at your house at 3 A.M.

This is the modern-day version of The Police’s “Every Breath You Take” or as I call it, “The Stalker Song.” That song I can at least laugh at it and mock it for its overall stupidity. But if I hear “Redneck Crazy” it sends me into a rage. It’s a song about a whiny douchebag who can’t get over being dumped and has to resort to breaking or threatening to break numerous laws to make himself feel better. He threatens violence, destroys property, trespasses and stalks a girl in the middle of the night. How is this song not considered too dangerous to play on country radio? For all of the fathers out there reading this, would you want your daughter mixed up with a boy like the one in this song?

The point is this: “Girl Crush” is nowhere near being a “risqué” song and it’s being labeled as such. Meanwhile country radio gleefully plays songs that encourage bad behavior, from excessive drinking to stalking to guys getting girls drunk enough so they can get in their pants. Country radio listeners and programmers are just fine with these type of songs. They’re drawing lines where they shouldn’t and not drawing lines where they should. It’s a damn joke. Rejecting “Girl Crush” shows they’re nothing but hypocrites with a double-standard. This really isn’t a surprise though and I’m sure this controversy will blow over soon. I think the main thing to take away from this is it’s yet another reminder of how country radio is a very crooked and political place. There’s so much more going on than meets the eye and it’s a problem that continues to grow out of control.

Upcoming/Recent Country Music Releases

  • Josh Turner is set to release his first new album in three years next Tuesday. Turner or his team have yet to announce a name for the album, which is kind of odd. This album may be pushed back. We’ll have to wait and see.
  • Darius Rucker is releasing a new album next Tuesday and it’s titled Southern Style. Based on the track listing confirmed by Windmills, it doesn’t sound good at all. One song is called “Half Full Dixie Cup.” Perhaps a candidate for Country Perspective’s 2015 Worst Album of the Year award?
  • In an interview with Radio.com (highly recommended read), Jason Isbell said that they’re shooting for an early July release date on his new album. It would be the first one since his critically-acclaimed 2013 album Southeastern.
  • Brett Eldredge is getting ready to release a new album this year. The first single from it is called “Lose My Mind” and will debut on iHeartRadio on April 21, impacting country radio shorty after. No word on an album release date yet, but Windmills has tracked down a number of possible tracks on it.
  • Jason Michael Carroll will be releasing a new album on May 5 titled What Color Is Your Sky. It was funded through Kickstarter and will be his first album in four years. He also just released the first single from it, “God Only Knows.”
  • Now I want to address two albums that were set to come out this week, but have been delayed. The first is Montgomery Gentry’s new album. The name of it is Folks Like Us, with the album’s title track being the lead single from it (currently at #59 on the top 60 of the Billboard Country Airplay chart). I originally saw it was pushed back to April 21, however a recent interview by the group with Billboard indicates otherwise. From the interview: “Troy and Eddie have finished their upcoming album (which will be their first in four years) and are hoping to have the record in the hands of fans this summer. “As of right now, we’re getting such good response with the single that we’re going to wait and let it breathe at radio for a little while before we release the record — which tentatively is going to be in June sometime.””
  • The other album that was set to come out right around now was Easton Corbin’s new album. The name of the album is said to be It’s About To Get Real. I dug around and the only clue I could find for a release date was on his Wikipedia page, where it says the album is set to be released on May 19. However there was no source cited. The only other information I could find about it is an interview he gave with The Roanoker. This is what he said about it in the interview: “It’s natural as artists to grow over the years,” he said. “What you experience changes, and the music follows.”

Throwback Thursday Song

Alan Jackson – “Three Minute Positive Not Too Country Up Tempo Love Song.” This song just feels appropriate to post because it still rings true today. Can we get Jackson back on the radio?

Non-Country Album of the Week

Kendrick Lamar’s new album To Pimp A Butterfly may be my favorite album of 2015 so far. It’s definitely the best hip-hop album, with Lupe Fiasco’s Testuo & Youth just behind it. This is an album that gets better every time you listen to it. The funky beats, the gripping lyrics and even all of the guests on the album work flawlessly. Snoop Dogg actually sounds good! I haven’t said that in a while. If you’re a fan of hip-hop you definitely need to hear this album.

Tweet of the Week

I’m guessing this is Sunny responding to Gary Overton stepping down as the head of Sony Nashville?

An iTunes Review That Will Make You Face Palm

Michael Ray Fan

This week’s ridiculous iTunes review was sent in by reader Ben, who found this review under Michael Ray’s new single “Kiss You In The Morning.” Rebekah used real country in CAPS, so that must mean it’s true! Thanks for the great submission, Ben!

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

 

The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [March 2007]

Every week I take a look the Billboard Country Airplay chart from years ago and grade the top 30 songs. Each week will be a different year. It could be 10 years ago, 20 years ago or even further back. The grading format I use each week is every song will receive either a +1, -1 or a 0. These will then be tallied up for an overall score, or pulse of the past top thirty country songs, with the highest possible score being a +30 and the lowest possible score being a -30. How do I determine if a song is rated a +1, -1 or 0? The rating it received on the site by either Derek or myself will determine this. If it hasn’t been rated yet, then I will make the call. Songs rated between 7 and 10 receive a +1. Songs rated between 5 and 6.5 receive a 0. Songs rated 4.5 or lower receive a -1.

The goal of this exercise is to evaluate the past state of mainstream country music and determine if it was better or worse compared to now. To see the full list of the top 30 country airplay songs for this week, click here. This week I take a look at the top 30 on the Country Airplay Chart from March 3, 2007.

  1. George Strait – “It Just Comes Natural” +1
  2. Rodney Atkins – “Watching You” +1
  3. Trace Adkins – “Ladies Love Country Boys” -1
  4. Keith Urban – “Stupid Boy” 0
  5. Jason Michael Carroll – “Alyssa Lies” +1
  6. Kenny Chesney – “Beer in Mexico” 0
  7. Martina McBride – “Anyway” 0
  8. Craig Morgan – “Little Bit Of Life” -1
  9. Tim McGraw – “Last Dollar (Fly Away)” +1
  10. Carrie Underwood – “Wasted” +1
  11. Joe Nichols – “I’ll Wait For You” +1
  12. Sugarland – “Settlin'” -1
  13. Rascal Flatts – “Stand” -1
  14. Sara Evans – “You’ll Always Be My Baby” +1
  15. Dierks Bentley – “Long Trip Alone” +1
  16. Brooks & Dunn – “Hillbilly Deluxe” -1
  17. Gary Allan – “A Feelin’ Like That” +1
  18. Toby Keith – “High Maintenance Woman” -1
  19. Jack Ingram – “Lips of an Angel” -1
  20. Alan Jackson – “A Woman’s Love” +1
  21. Billy Currington – “Good Directions” +1
  22. Clay Walker – “‘Fore She Was Mama” -1
  23. Josh Turner – “Me And God” +1
  24. Blake Shelton – “Don’t Make Me” +1
  25. Emerson Drive – “Moments” +1
  26. Tracy Lawrence – “Find Out Who Your Friends Are” +1
  27. Jake Owen – “Startin’ With Me” +1
  28. Josh Gracin – “I Keep Coming Back” 0
  29. Pat Green – “Dixie Lullaby” +1
  30. Danielle Peck – “Isn’t That Everything” +1

The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: +10

This is quite an interesting score. It’s positive, but only +9 better than the current pulse and down 10 compared to last week’s past pulse. Keep in mind this is about two years after last week’s. At the very top is King George Strait where he belongs. Not one of my favorite songs from him, but a good song nonetheless. Trace Adkins was riding high off his popularity from “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,” which helped propel “Ladies Love Country Boys” to the top of the chart. To me this song is a prime example of a precursor to bro country. Other songs I would consider precursors to current country trends are Craig Morgan’s “Little Bit of Life” (repetitive lyrics), Brooks & Dunn’s “Hillbilly Deluxe” (the tropes in this song are similar to Brantley Gilbert songs) and Jack Ingram’s “Lips of an Angel” (covering a popular song from another genre to gain attention).

One song I hated back in 2007 and still hate now is Clay Walker’s “‘Fore She Was Mama.” Now I enjoyed Walker’s work in the 90s, but I absolutely hate this song. The lyrics and theme of this song are annoying and dumb. This exercise also continues to prove that Toby Keith made terrible music across several years and has been a menace to country radio for pretty much the last decade. If you’re reading this Keith, please retire. I know you have enough money and you’re only doing it because you know your fan base will continue to buy your music no matter how bad it gets. You are beyond an embarrassment and need to retire for everyone’s sake.

Only four female artists made the top 30 at this time in 2007, compared to six female artists on the current chart. So the female problem on country radio was starting to rear its head back in 2007. The current country radio environment is technically better for female artists today compared to eight years ago. That’s actually surprising. Carrie Underwood is the only one to occupy both the 2007 chart and current chart. Also am I the only one who wishes Sara Evans was still on the radio? I find her to be underrated.

Before you ask me in the comments and I know you will, you’re going to wonder why I gave that McGraw song a +1. Well I gave it a positive score because it’s a funny song and if you don’t take it too seriously you can enjoy it. You have to remember this song is being sung from the point of view of a man-child who can’t grow up when all of his friends are growing up. Joe Nichols was still one of the “good guys.” I miss those days. Come home Joe! Blake Shelton was still one of the good guys too. Damn you corporate bastards in Nashville. I always thought Tracy Lawrence’s “Find Out Who Your Friend Are” to be an underrated song with a really good message. The music video is good also.

So what do you think of this chart? What’s your favorite and least favorite of the above songs?