Skip to comments.What’s Wrong with Country Music Today?
Posted on 05/20/2014 8:58:16 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
I’ve complained about the state of modern mainstream country music for a long time now. And clearly, I’m not alone. Singer-songwriter Collin Raye, one of the top country artists throughout the ’90s, recently took to Fox News to air his grievances at the state of country music today.
As a platinum-selling country music artist and, more importantly, a lifelong fan of the genre, Id like to send out this heartfelt plea to the gatekeepers of the industry:
Id like to think that I am expressing what nearly every artist, musician and songwriter (with perhaps a few exceptions) is thinking when I contend that the Bro Country phenomenon must cease.
It has had its run for better or worse and its time for Nashville to get back to producing, and more importantly promoting, good singers singing real songs. Its time for country music to find its identity again before it is lost forever.
Disposable, forgettable music has been the order of the day for quite a while now and its time for that to stop.
Our beautiful, time-honored genre, has devolved from lines like, Id trade all of my tomorrows for one single yesterday … holding Bobbys body next to mine, and a canvas covered cabin, in a crowded labor camp stand out in this memory I revive. Cause my Daddy raised a family there with two hard working hands .and tried to feed my Mommas hungry eyes, down to Can I get a Yee Haw?
And the aforementioned Truck! Come on slide them jeans on up in my truck! Lets get down and dirty in muh truck, doggone it I just get off riding in muh truck, I love ya honey, but not as much as muh truck! Oh and we cant leave out the beautiful prose about partying in a field or pasture.
He goes on to lay the blame at the feet of the label honchos rather than at the artists or songwriters. “They have the power and ability to make a commitment to make records that keep the legacy of country music alive, and reclaim a great genres identity.”
Raye has a point. Here’s Exhibit A: “Cruise,” by Florida-Georgia Line, which spent an astounding 21 weeks at #1 on Billboards Hot Country Songs chart.
Modern country music has become so formulaic that some wags devised a web-based Bro Country Song Inspiration Generator. For the most part, the poetry and beauty that have been hallmarks of the genre for so long are missing from mainstream country today, with a handful of exceptions, such as Zac Brown Band, The Band Perry, and Miranda Lambert.
The real Nashville could take a cue or two from the fictional Nashville. Most of the songs on the hit ABC series fit the mold of the country songwriting tradition - heartfelt and often poetic. And, though actors who just happen to sing populate the cast (with some of the best Southern accents in the business, I might add), these folks know how to interpret a song well.
Take Sam Palladio, who plays up-and-coming songwriter Gunnar Scott. The British actor/singer wraps his amazing voice around “It Ain’t Yours To Throw Away,” a beautiful tune co-written (in real life) by the great Pam Tillis:
In another clip from a concert special, members of the cast perform “A Life That’s Good,” which has become an unofficial anthem for the show, along with the songwriters:
Collin Raye has a point. If industry executives treated their talent as artists rather than as commodities and their music as art rather than as products, country music would improve. The next Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Dolly Parton are out there for discovery, but they’re taking a backseat to the “Bro Country” movement. I’m afraid one day we’ll look back at these last couple of years as a low point in country music.
Similar questions have been being asked since the 2nd generation of the Grand Ole Opry members took to the microphones/stages/radios/records.
Similar questions were being floated 40 years ago.
Similar questions were being floated 20 years ago.
Sadly, music of all genres are suffering this fate. It is all prepackaged and sound-alike. There is no balance of art and money, it’s all about money and it’s killing music.
similar questions have been asked since Isaac Watts started writing hymns, and musical instruments were allowed in worship services... and likely, before that :)
Having abandoned a nearly lifelong affinity for country music with the advent of Garth Brooks, I have no idea what the “Bro Country phenomenon” is.
Would someone care to define?
gee just country music?
it’s the whole darn culture and all it’s movies, TV and music, dance, clothes.. in all it’s forms.
We used to be the Greatest Generation, we beat the Nazis.
Now it’s just full of narcism.
they would sing rap just as soon a country or western
Today? Today??? Country music has not been right since Patsy Cline died!
Similar questions were floated last week...right here...with this same article.
Very little contemporary music, from any genre, ‘trips my trigger’ these days. Country included.
For me, I think its the lack of great, unique voices...probably a byproduct of the reality that music stars today have to look good for the camera, even more than sound good.
And technology simultaneously makes up for vocal shortcomings (auto-tune) while emphasizing shortcomings in the looks department (HDTV). So, more than ever, we get really good looking people who are adequate singers.
I mentioned this on the other thread from last week. If you watch a re-run of Hee-Haw, or a musical act from the Ed Sullivan Show, etc....the performers are ‘naked’. There is very little to back them up - no earpieces helping them out, no synthesizers, no auto tune, sometimes no music. They had to be very good, or they would be exposed.
So I agree a lot of today’s music is fairly bland....or at the other end of the spectrum, deliberately strange to get attention.
The fans are strangely tattooed morbidly fat people with weird hairdos who like to do drugs, ride big motorcycles dripping with fringe, and generally look like they are on their way to a felonious Hall'o'ween Party. L'il Abner on LSD and Steroids.
It was more like "Country Music" when the fans and Hank Williams did not look as if they belonged to some alien species, as do today "stars" and their "fans."
Today's country music is a commercially contrived 'white rap' sort of artifact and does not spring from anything genuine.
You’ve got so-called female “country singers” dating Kennedys, for crying out loud.
And the same questions were asked of rock music 20 years ago, and 40 years ago.
The problem is that now I’m asking those questions instead of defending the genre. I’m not getting old, the modern music is crap. Really, it is.
“Rock n Roll’s been going downhill ever since Buddy Holly died.”
I thought rap would last about 6 years or so and fade away. It has been going on for 3-4 decades now.
Long ago I said that MTV killed music. Any a$$—— with a video camera could get on MTV. The great bands died and it became all about the vocalist. Back in the day when I could still jump, the best music came from bands that played together for year, were serious about the music, and usually had some sort of musical education.
Now all the good musicians are just session players, and it’s all about the money.
MTV killed music, American Idol made damn sure it stayed dead.
I LOVE the show “Nashville”. The music and the performers are terrific! The special Nashville, a behind the scenes show about the music and song writers and colaberations, was a great show/episode/special.
REAL country, absolutely.
Patsy Cline, the greatest female voice in country music.
Jim Reeves, the greatest male voice in country music.
I still listen to many songs by both.
I was thinking more of John Bonham and Keith Moon...
colaberations = collaborations
Be fair, as long as rock music had been around by the time MTV started, it was definitely already reaching the point of diminishing returns.
RE: Rock n Rolls been going downhill ever since Buddy Holly died.
That’s what Don McLean seems to be saying when he wrote the hit song, “American Pie” (The Day the Music Died).
“good singers singing real songs”
As a pedal steel player, I no longer listen to “Country” radio. “Watermelon Crawl” killed it for me! I did catch a couple minutes last weekend whilst driving around. I heard a song about something like “down in Mexico.” The singer was appallingly off key, and out of tune. He needed pitch correction badly! And three of the five songs I listened to all sounded the same!
I have many friends in Nashville. One is a longtime audio engineer. He says that every work order he’s gotten for several years, have all come from New York City! There’s the problem!
It was a quote from “American Graffiti.”
I agree. I've seen several posts lamenting the death of country music. There's a point in which every art form seems to run its course. There's nothing really new in anything ("there's nothing new under the sun"). I listen to classical music and Sinatra pretty much exclusively. Even in classical, I listen to recordings by conductors who have passed on. Most of the movies I watch are older movies starring dead people.
True. The bands that propelled rock through the late 60s to mid 70s were pretty much played out by 1980 anyway. There were a few acts that followed like Dire Straits, The Cars and The Pretenders, but nobody of the stature of The Who, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones in their prime, and Zeppelin.
I’ll give credit to Dire Straits for seeing what was coming with “Money for Nothing.”
Country has been always under assault, just like Our Country.
Rock acts matriculated over to country sound, following the drugs and booze.... so now we have meth-head, bones in their nose, biker chicks listening to Jason Aldean, or some such.
You know somethings wrong when the “youngsters” call the “outlaws” of the past “old guys of standard country music”— acts like Steve Young, Waylon, Willie, Merle Haggard..... and
Here ya go, from my friend Larry: Murder on Music Row:
The biggest thing that’s happened to all popular music is that they figured out the formula to make a hit. It used to be a mystery, good producers could “feel” a hit, but nobody really could codify it, now there’s computer programs. This has taken away a lot of the exploration and experimentation. At least for the most popular backed by the big labels sections of music, they are now factory workers. Meanwhile though the there’s a large fairly unsupervised indie scene doing interesting stuff, and thanks to the power of the average computer production values can be pretty high. Get off the beaten path, find the good music.
The FR thread.....
Maybe you can explain to me how “music” gets airplay on the radio.
Why do DJ’s choose to give regular airplay to say, Rihana’s or Miley Cyrus’ music over some other equally talented singer?
Same for me. I have about 350 music-cd’s in my collection, and I can fairly accurately say that they are comprised of artists who are now all quite dead. I love music. But it’s only that vintage fare that speaks to me, reflecting my tastes, my values, my morality.
They’ll still be listening to The Beatles a hundred years from now.
Would someone care to define?
"This is how we roll" by Florida Georgia Line. Go ahead an watch it on YouTube. One of the biggest songs on the radio right now and one that defines "bro country".
I haven't decided yet if I love it or hate it. I'm pretty certain I hate this song. Absolutely loath it. And when it comes on the radio, I turn it up so I can hate and loath it even more.
Thanks. I followed your link, which led me to another one entitled “A Spot-on-3-minute takedown-of-today’s Country Music: http://www.policymic.com/articles/77379/a-spot-on-3-minute-takedown-of-today-s-country-music
Having watched Roy Acuff play at the Grand Ol’ Opry, I would predict that ol’ Roy is rolling over in his grave.
Looks like I spent too much time looking for a picture. ;-)
Same way it always has, the labels pay for it. And these days there’s even less DJ decision involved, most big radio stations buy computers that do their programming. They tell the computer what kind of station they are and the rotation gets set by the computer, the DJs job is to talk about what the computer says they should during the times when “DJ talks” shows up on the list. Few and far between are the DJs that even a little bit of input on their playlist anymore. Assuming there even is a local DJ anymore, a lot of the computers come with “canned” DJs.
Nowadays all the radio stations are owned by Clear Channel, anyway.
Can't stand people who complain about music - ANY MUSIC- who've never tried to write songs professionally. Same thing I'd say to anyone complaining about the state of rock, R&B or Opera - go and do it better yourself or quit whining. FWIW I've written hundreds of songs over the last 35 years. They all mostly suck and none has sold for anything other than a local commercial or two.
BTW- not directing this *at* you, Seek and Find - just at any and all who whine. Can’t stand armchair quaterbacks or keyboard commandos either :-)
Most of them. It was the natural evolution, once most of the stations were buying the same computers that were getting updates from the same central server to put together the same play list with the same canned DJ there wasn’t much reason for them not to have the same owner.
Modern country music has become so formulaic...
Popular Recorded music has become an ephemeral commodity. There is some good stuff out there, kinda like there is a good plant there in your garden hidden in a mound of weeds. But to find it, the search has to be worth it to you. For most, it no longer is. Their iPod is full and the music is “good enough” for what they use it for.
I say this as a person that, on the rare occasion I sit down to listen to music, only listens on vinyl.
Thanks to the Internet, I’ve discovered music from all over the globe, getting out of the Anglosphere musically, opens up a whole new world.
I hadn’t noticed. I listen to Golden Oldies and Classic Country when I’m not listening to classical music.
Or head over to 95.9 The Ranch and stream it live. Hayes Carll, Ryan Bingham, Turnpike Troubadors, and on and on. Great music! No bro country.
Modern music of every genre, not just country, music that is pushed via the old passive means, has been focus grouped, digitized and auto-tuned to death in order to please people who don’t know good music and are not literate or culturally aware enough to be able to discern good lyrical content.
If you want good music, country or anything else, stop being lazy and complaining and go find it. It’s there, now more than ever. Just not on the radio or television, which are push media.
It used to be music was something people had in common. Everyone listened to the Beatles, or Led Zeppelin in the 70s, there just weren’t many alternatives. Then came: Punk, New Wave, Prog, Heavy Metal, Death Metal, Industrial, etc., and now it’s so segmented.