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.