I had such a positive response to "The Curious Case of Country Music," I decided to do a follow up. Then, the more research I did on the issues with country music made me realize it's going to require more than one follow up. Unless, of course, I wanted to write a ten thousand word blog. As much as I don't want to, I'm sure it's mutually agreed the readers wouldn't want to read it either.
There are so many ways to go when writing about the issues of country music, I need to focus on them one at a time. When I say issues, I mean problems. The first one needing addressed is Big Machine Record Label president Scott Borchetta.
It's important you remember that statement as I discuss why I feel Borchetta is not good for country music.
I honestly don't know where to start when it comes to Borchetta. Seeing him in action on American Idol made me question how in the world he was able to start a successful independent record label in 2005. Yes, he did have the backing of Toby Keith, who ironically left his affiliation with the label a year later. Keith still holds some ownership with the label and is said to be the reason why year after year he continues to be one of the top grossing country artists. More on Keith later.
We all know Borchetta's claim to fame is his discovery of Taylor Swift. Like I said in the previous blog, you don't discover an artist like Swift, she discovers you. If you want to get down to the dirty of it, Big Machine is only what it is today because of Swift.
One would think if Swift had designs on staying with Big Machine, Borchetta would have sold in a heartbeat. Whatever Swift decides to do in the future, people should really take notice. One of the most played artists in the world, she has the music industry in the palm of her hand, along with Borchetta.
Why should people take notice? People should take notice, because Taylor Swift is Taylor Swift because of Taylor Swift. Borchetta had little to do with her success. Her success came from the tons of hard work she, and her family put into her music career. Now, Borchetta is taking all the kudos in the world for his "discovery." Again, he did not discover her. He simply provided her with a platform.
This is what kind of person I feel Borchetta really is. For the life of me, I can't think of the name people generally call these individuals. For now I will call him a poacher. Swift seems loyal, so if Borchetta truly is responsible for her, she will stay. If not, then this verifies Borchetta just happened to be at the right place at the right time.
The biggest news in the music industry within the next couple of years will be what Swift decides to do. If she happens to leave Big Machine, I suspect Borchetta and his team will start the mudslinging immediately. Trust me, it will make good TV.
Like I said earlier, Borchetta started Big Machine in 2005. Before then, he was a struggling country/rock artist who eventually landed a job working in the mail room for his father. After a couple of different adventures within some major labels, Borchetta decided to start his own independent label with the backing of Toby Keith.
I would personally love to know why Keith ended his affiliation with Big Machine a year later to start his own label. Is it possible he knew the direction Big Machine was going and wanted no part of it? Keith seems to be the type of guy who holds traditional country values dear, and Big Machine is nowhere close to having those same traditional values. To be fair, Keith does still have his hand in the cookie jar at Big Machine. Would this make Keith the type of person who likes to talk out of both sides of his mouth? Again, all speculation as to why he ended his affiliation.
When you take a look at the musicians Borchetta has in his stable, you can't help but be impressed with some of the names. He has a few current hot artists, some up and comers, established veterans and some leaving me shaking my head.
Rumor has it Nelly is interested in going country. Let us not forget both of his collaborations with country artists are members of the Big Machine Team. This would be Florida Georgia Line and Tim McGraw. Both collaborations had major success, so one could see Borchetta pursuing this.
With some of his other up and comers, you have the sound of southern rock and pop continuously being noticed in their music. Is this the vision Borchetta has? Is it his vision to get rid of all genres and have music be one big entity? Or is Borchetta simply trying to stick it to the powers that be in country music? If this is the case, there has to be a better way of doing it.
Part of me wonders if this isn't really who Borchetta is. I have to go back to Swift, but can you imagine any other country artist who is with a country label switching to pop, while still signed to their label? Her pulling this off just goes to show the power she possesses. Maybe Borchetta is just one big act, trying to save face as Swift told him to stick it, because she wants to do what she wants. Now Borchetta is stuck playing games with country music.
Those who watched Idol this year saw or read about his issue with Clark Beckham. A moron could tell Borchetta was completely into Clark as the season started. As the season progressed, Clark refused to change and was caught in a power struggle with Borchetta. Clark eventually lost, because really he had no say. I'm sure the clip of Borchetta and Beckham discussing his direction in no way, shape or form happened with Swift. Could you imagine the conversation.
Swift: Hey Scott, I'm thinking my next album is going to be a pop album.
Borchetta: Okay, thanks Taylor.
I used to be one of those people who was sick of hearing about different genres. After some serious soul searching, I've decided we need those genres. We need those genres to separate the music that people hold near and dear. It's true, music is music, but sound and style are always different.
When I turn on the radio to a country station, I want to hear country. I don't want to hear pop country. I don't want to hear rap country. I don't want to hear R&B country. I want country, traditional country. When I'm in the mood for pop, I will turn to one of the mainstream channels. Same as all the other genres.
It's really up to you people, the fans of country music. Ask yourself if you're happy with the direction. Ask yourself if you would trust this guy handling the careers of your young son or daughter. My answer is no.
This article is my opinion and my opinion only. It does not represent the view of everyone here at itsallaboutthatmusic.com. These are my feeling about Scott Borchetta, and I am always open to someone who believes otherwise. My challenge is for Scott Borchetta, to sit down and have a one on one interview with me to change my mind and convince me he is not bad for country music.
Are you up for it Scott?
by Maxim Daniels
What I was prepared to do was rip into the core values that die hard country fans always preach about. I was ready to tell them things are changing, and they better get on the train or get lost forever. Something happened though. Something happened when I started to research Sam Hunt and other new country artists. Something happened that even had me surprised. Surprised I would have this type of response.
Today's country music sucks!
It really is quite horrible. Sure, you have those few artists and songs that remind you of traditional country, but for the most part, it's not listenable. And I love Hunt's "Take Your Time." Sure, at first I hated it, but it grew on me. I thought the whole spoken and singing of the words was a nice little twist and fit his voice. Then, the more I listened to the rest of the album, I came away with a different impression. This wasn't country. His album is a cross between hip hop and country, and I didn't care for it.
Then I started to listen to some of the other new artists out there. It took me some time. I had gone away from country music for the past few years, and Sam Hunt and Little Big Town started getting me back into it. What I found out was, there wasn't much to get back in to.
This is where it got a little weird. As I researched these new artists, I found myself going back and listening to the more traditional country artists from years ago. And I enjoyed the heck out of it! I enjoyed it so much, I spent four straight hours singing along to all the old hits. I also found myself quoting the old country traditionalist, "Country music needs to go back to its roots." I never thought those words would come out of my mouth. Am I becoming a country traditionalist? If the state of country music is headed in the direction of these new artists, then by God I am a traditionalist.
I want to believe in 1985, the writers were starting to get worried about the state of country music. I'm sure they predicted it to happen sooner, but thirty years have passed and this song has you asking that question today. Who's gonna fill their shoes? Who are the radio heroes of today? Are there any radio heroes today?
You can come up with a couple off the top of your head. Whenever I tune into the country stations here in the Midwest, they're always populated with Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood. A few others are always thrown in, which half I either don't like or can't recognize. A lot of it doesn't even sound like country anymore.
Some would like to blame Taylor Swift for this, but I think that would be a little naive. Taylor does her own thing, and when people didn't think she was country enough, she went in a different direction. Funny thing happened there too. The powers that be who tried to run her off are the same ones begging her to stick to country music. You can't have it both ways. By the way, who the hell are the powers that be? Whoever it is has been doing a crap job.
Then you have David Allen Coe. Was there anyone outside of Waylon and Willie who was more renegade country than Coe? Yes, some of his songs were raunchy, but for the most part, he put out great music. Let's face it, he and Steve Goodman did write the perfect country western song. Who's gonna fill his shoes? Who's going to fill Willie and Waylon's shoes?
How about Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn and Hank Williams. Heck, what about Hank Williams Jr? I could sit here and go through the names one at a time, but seriously, is there anyone new out there today that reminds you of any of these artists?
Maybe it's not fair to compare. I don't like to compare any of the featured artists on this site to anyone else. Still, the musicians of yesteryear are the ones who laid the foundation for today's artists. Do today's artists have any respect for this foundation? I would say no, because if they did, they wouldn't put out crap music.
I guess it's all about radio play these days, and the new pop country. You have to sound a certain way to make it in today's business. All I have to say is, kudos to those artists who are keeping it real and not changing who they are just to fit the bill of what a "Country Artist" is today. Even if it means no air play. If today's country is any indication of the future of country music, then I want no part of it.
It has to be tempting for an up and coming artist to sacrifice everything they are to make it today. That's a shame in itself. No one should ever sacrifice themselves to fit the mold of someone they are not. I wonder what Hank would have to say about that?
Then you have Big Machine Records founder Scott Borchetta. Borchetta left the major record label business and founded his own independent label. It's said Borchetta didn't like the way the major labels were run and this was his way of giving them and Nashville the middle finger.
Of course, after this season's disastrous American Idol and his poor mentoring, Borchetta seems to be in the news an awful lot. This is what they call "saving face" in the PR business. When it comes to these two I even confuse myself a little. I've always had a soft spot for Swift, whether she sings country or pop. Borchetta on the other hand, not so much.
I would love to know what Scott's definition of country music is? Scott seems to be leading the charge of today's pop country, so I would also love to know what he thinks of today's artists compared to the traditional country artists. Maybe if he finds time between discovering the next Taylor Swift, he can read my blog and get in touch. What are the odds of that happening?
Being away from country music for a couple of years, I thought everything was peachy. Was I ever wrong. I should have known when all four of my kids can't stand country. This is disheartening to me. (Get ready for me to go all country on you) You see, my daddy's dad grew up on country, my daddy grew up on country, and I grew up on country. My kids, they're growing up on pop, and not because of my influence.
Here's where it gets even funnier. Every time I turn on the country stations in the car, they beg for me to turn it off. Every time I play classic country at home, they stop and listen. Interesting, right? They do enjoy them some Taylor Swift, but I think we can all agree she is no longer country.
Country music needs to go back to its roots, and like George Jones sang about thirty years ago, "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes?" Maybe no one will ever be able to fill the shoes of the classic country singers, but it wouldn't hurt to strive towards that. If you ask me, most of the new artists today have forgotten about the past. Yes they can pretend to care, but real people can see through this.
I ask those reading this to really take a look at the status of country music and ask yourself these two simple questions.
1. Are you happy with the sound?
2. Are you convinced by any of the artists today?
My answers are no, and if yours are too, do like I did. Take a visit to YouTube and just keep typing in the country classics, soon you will find yourself spending the next four hours listening, remembering and feeling what country music is supposed to be. Country music is life. Country music is me. Country music is you. And back in the day, country music delivered.
I guess I should explain what it means to record something on the radio, for the younger generation. You see, back in the eighties, if you were too cheap to buy the cassette tape, you waited until you heard the song on the radio. You would place your blank cassette tape in the radio and once the song came on you would press down the always difficult to push "record" button. Pretty crazy, don't you think? Now that I briefly explained that, I should move on with my blog.
I will admit, I was a Milli Vanilli fan, with my favorite song being "Girl I'm Gonna Miss You." If I'm being completely honest, I still like the song to this day and can sing it word for word. I hope this doesn't require me to turn in my man card. For your entertainment and listening pleasure, I've added the song via YouTube to the blog.
Truth is, listening to this song still pisses me off! What ever happened between knowing the difference between right and wrong? Screw all those involved! Guess what though? They don't piss me off nearly half as bad as the spectacle that took place this past weekend. By spectacle, I mean the biggest scam in sports history took place in the match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. Everyone involved with this scam should be ashamed, all the way down to the millions of people who paid money to watch it.
I love boxing. I've loved it for most of my life. I remember fondly the days of my childhood when I pretended to be a heavyweight fighter with the nickname Lightning. I was undefeated at twenty-six and zero with twenty-six knockouts. I was the Rocky Balboa of my imagination. This is why it pains me to say I've lost faith in all those involved in boxing.
I've lost faith, because boxing is the most corrupt sport in the world today. The fight that took place last weekend verifies this. And for the millions who bought the pay-per-view, you're ridiculous. The simple fact that Mayweather pocketed over one-hundred million dollars makes me sick. Pacquiao doesn't escape this rant free either, but I will get to him later.
The fight was five to six years too late - I think pretty much everyone can agree on this. What people watched this past weekend was two fighters past their prime, putting on one boring boxing display. I refused to watch the fight, but I am embarrassed to say, I followed the live updates through ESPN. Hell, I didn't really need to watch the fight to tell you what would happen. Everything I've read following this fight comes to the same agreement, it was boring and way too late.
Floyd Mayweather Jr is a terrible human being - Where do we start with this one? Let me preface this number by saying first, by buying this fight, this is what you gave your money to.
Only in America can a man be sent to jail for beating his girlfriend, only to be glorified because of his athletic ability. Just think, this man is getting ready to cash a check for over one-hundred million dollars. How does this not make you sick? How does it not make you sick when a man who sees a woman simply as property, makes more in one night than we can only dream about? How does it not make you sick when a man thinks the only reason a woman exists is to please a man? How does it not make you sick this man just cashed that check?
You know what Floyd should do? He should donate every single penny he made for this fight to domestic violence shelters all over this country. Most shelters are so underfunded as it is, imagine what they could do with that type of donation. What do you think the odds of this happening are? Probably less than the odds this was actually going to be an exciting fight.
Manny Pacquiao apparently had an injured shoulder - I'm calling bullshit on this one. Be a man an just admit you lost a fight that should have never taken place, or at least taken place several years ago. Hearing this, I wonder if you were in on this scam all along. You and Floyd carefully orchestrated this whole, wait six years for the fight.
I do have a way for you to make this right Manny. How about you take every single dollar you made and put that money towards improving the lives of people who live in remote villages in the Philippines? I happen to know a couple from the Philippines who live here in the states who still have family back in those remote villages. These people take crap jobs just so they can send money back to their families. I'm sure there is some charity in the Philippines you could come up with in regards to the massive check you're getting ready to cash. Hell, these people adore you Manny. I used to really like you, but unfortunately, you're about the same scum as Floyd Mayweather Jr.
I am curious to know if this shoulder ploy was also another way to get a rematch, and then cash in on another huge payday. I have to think boxing fans are smarter than that. Smart enough not to fork out the cash they did for this garbage of a fight. Unfortunately, you and your buddy Floyd know they will, and I will be stuck writing another blog about how despicable both of you are.
I do feel bad about something. I feel bad my editor refuses to read any blog on boxing, and everyone who reads this will make fun of my misuse of the English language. It just so happens, we are self-funded here at IAATM, and we don't have the type of money to afford more editors. However, I don't have to worry about Floyd or Manny reading this. Manny barely speaks English, and we all know Floyd can barely read.