Thursday Open Thread: Put a 'Stupid Girl' in it

Today's open thread

From Brad at Music City TV, via The 9513:

It makes sense: The new Brooks & Dunn song is called Put a Girl in It.

For the music video shot Tuesday, they put 100 girls in it. Most in bikinis.

Video director Wes Edwards says the duo requested 1,000 models, but the budget wouldn’t allow it.

You can click through to see the pictures, which include a shot of a few of those hundred young girls in bikinis hosing each other down. These days, the “Stupid Girls” that Pink sang about are dancing next to Kix & Ronnie instead of 50 Cent.

I'm no stranger to gathering one hundred women together, and looking at these pictures got me thinking about the little girl in the audience during the performance shown below. It's taken from the 1993 Women of Country special. Check her out at the 2:13 mark:

That little girl is looking on in awe at the women on stage. The legends haven't come out on stage yet

, but she's already seen Mary Chapin Carpenter, Wynonna, Kathy Mattea, Michelle Wright, Patty Loveless, Suzy Bogguss, Pam Tillis, Trisha Yearwood and Emmylou Harris. You can see the look of hope and endless possibility in her eyes.

I think about the girls her age today, and what they see when they turn on CMT or GAC. We can't even pretend that the Brooks & Dunn video shot is out of the ordinary, so they'll certainly see that women can serve as cute backdrops to men twice their age.

Of the few female artists out there? Carrie Underwood and Jennifer Nettles certainly have the talent, but both are increasingly vamping up their images. Nettles actually looks like one of the Brooks & Dunn extras in Sugarland's latest clip.

Then there's the girl who has become a tween phenomenon, Taylor Swift. All of her hits songs show how her life and well-being are defined by how things are going with the boy she secretly likes (“Teardrops on My Guitar”), currently loves (“Our Song”), still loves (“Tim McGraw”), or want to get back at (“Picture to Burn.”) And she sings it all in a prom dress, wearing more makeup than most people are buried in.

Maybe we can get Carrie or Miranda to cover “Stupid Girls”, or write and record the country equivalent?

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27 Comments

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27 Responses to Thursday Open Thread: Put a 'Stupid Girl' in it

  1. TomNo Gravatar

    are you serious now, kevin, or just stepping into the “paisley-trap” again?

    in the 1930′ patsy montana was the girl in the prairie ramblers line-up, lulu belle and scotty – wasn’t there a girl in it? did the “cheatin’ heart” belong to a guy? who did conway sing “hello darlin’” to?

    b&d’s song/video is basically just a remake of what doug supernaw already reminded us in that “how-to-make-a-country-video-clip” manual, featured in the “she never looks back” video of 1995: #1 girl (she’s sporting a yellow bikini, which still seems to be the classic outfit, even a decade or so later).

    showbusiness including the opposite sex in order to increase the overall appeal is really nothing new. why should country music be an exception. we’re living in “physical times” these days, appearance is everything, even in the dumbest of videoclips – so what? why shouldn’t some of today’s top-artist’s experience these delightfully embarassing moments, when they look back at some their photographs and videos in ten or twenty years time? i bet: “oh, my god…” will be the most often heard exclamation then. being surrounded by already wise people in their twenties sounds like a fiction of the most boring kind to me. a countryfied “stupid girls” – no, thanks.

  2. My criticism isn’t of the bikini babes themselves so much as the lack of an alternative image right now. Doug Supernaw was in rotation with Pam Tillis and Trisha Yearwood back in 1995. I think that was the same point that Pink was making about the pop scene, too.

    Maybe wise twenty-somethings would be boring to you, but I’m still in my twenties, and I’d like to see a bit more wisdom and intelligence in country music, from both genders. Randy Travis was in his twenties when he recorded Storms of Life, as was Trisha Yearwood when she recorded Hearts in Armor. Heck, Miranda Lambert’s doing compelling music and she’s in her early twenties, I believe.

  3. LeeannNo Gravatar

    Really, I’m with Kevin on this one. I don’t think country music should ever pander to the lowest common denominator. B&D are in their late forties to early fifties. They don’t need to be in videos with 100 almost unclad women who are the ages of their daughters. Not only is it just a gross thought because of the age difference, but it’s difficult to imagine men my father’s age sending this kind of message to their children…perhaps because I can’t imagine my father even taking the time to watch a video like this. Instead, he’d take the time to let his daughters know that having a brain is one of the most important things for a woman to cherish. Therefore, exploiting oneself to cater to society’s shallowness and, frankly, objectification of women is not the best way to use that brain.

    There’s certainly nothing wrong with women enjoying their femininity and wanting to look their best, but there is something wrong with society dictating the terms. Women have much more to offer, as Kevin’s “100 Women” has tried to illustrate.

    Tom, it’s true that B&D and the current crop of young country female singers are simply doing what’s probably expected of them to try to maintain their careers. it is, however, somewhat disheartening that it’s required of them in the first place.

  4. TomNo Gravatar

    it would be fantastic, if most artists reached the quality level of those you mentioned in your last paragraph (pam tillis included) but pyramids do not stand on their tips!

    “bob that head” might have been one of those early signs that things have gone a little too far towards the ridiculously trendy side of things but don’t bet on the pendulum to swing back very soon. we haven’t see all bellybuttons yet.

    by the way, randy travis is a tricky example. if an overdose of religion could kill, he’d be as dead as keith whitley. a more light-hearted approach to life and career in his younger days and country music might have seen a few more exceptional country albums by him rather than that gospel-bonanza.

  5. LeeannNo Gravatar

    One of my favorite albums by Randy is Worship And Faith. Glory Train is pretty good too. I think you’d find some pretty country stuff on those two albums.

  6. LeeannNo Gravatar

    Jake,

    I think you raise another good point.. Not only are they not exactly promoting the best self-image for their daughters (or girls of their age and younger), they are setting an example for younger men who may look up to them on how women should be treated or regarded. Sure, celebrities shouldn’t be role models, but young people are ipressionable…and role models do make a difference.

  7. Just to follow up on Tom’s point here, Randy Travis was more than a decade into his career before he started incorporating religious themes into his music. His sidelining in country music had a lot more to do with the new superstars who took his place (Alan, Garth, Clint, Travis Tritt) than his music actually changing.

  8. I don’t think Taylor Swift belongs in that roll call. She dresses more demurely than most 18-year-olds in show business, and there’s a healthy dose of empowerment in even her songs about boys.

  9. LeeannNo Gravatar

    I wouldn’t call her as progressive as, maybe, Miranda Lambert, but I agree that she tries for someone her age. I suppose prom dresses aren’t so bad when compared to bikinis. I think that’s more of a reflection of her age. I suspect she’ll look back and be a little embarrassed in a couple years.

  10. LynnNo Gravatar

    I thought Taylor was a good role model for young girls, but I was disheartened by her “Picture to Burn” video. Thigh-high black patent leather boots on a teenager? Sigh.

    Speaking of young girls, doesn’t Ronnie Dunn have three? I don’t know how old they are, but I wonder if he’d let them make an appearance in the video…

    This thread reminds me of a Springsteen quote I read recently. He played at the Ryman in the early/mid 90s. The reviewer said he made this comment on stage:”Country, he said, wasn’t afraid to ask hard questions about adult life and it wasn’t satisfied with escapist easy answers.” (After laughing out loud, I double-checked the date.) No further comment needed.

  11. LynnNo Gravatar

    Speaking of “Stupid Girls,” didn’t Gretchen Wilson kind of perform a country version when she did “California Girls”?

    (Although she sang it in daisy dukes and a bikini top and I don’t think she meant that part of it to be making fun of CA girls).

  12. I echo Darby’s sentiments. To me, all this is another strong indicator that, over-rated though she may indeed be by some, Miranda Lambert is poised to become the most important female artist of her generation. I’m not saying that her material is on-par yet with the best of Mary Chapin Carpenter or Trisha Yearwood or really most of the women in that (rather cool) video, but her output thus far has demonstrated that it’s still possible for a woman to say something significant and unique and be heard by mainstream audiences without pigeonholing herself or making her sex appeal speak louder than her music. Sure, it’s been an uphill battle for her – “Gunpowder & Lead” only just now became a top ten hit after 28 weeks, and it’s her first – but in the long run, I think she’s going to make a lot of difference. I don’t know about younger kids, but the vast majority of girls at my college who listen to country music or aspire to a careers in it (which is an unusually large sum of girls because of the school’s location and programs) cite Lambert as one of their inspirations and constantly bemoan the vacuousness that plagues so much of Carrie Underwood’s and Taylor Swift’s catalogues.

    But all that said, there are also a lot of encouraging signs to be seen in, say, Underwood’s remarks about the lack of female recognition for the “Entertainer” awards. It’s very hard to say how long it will take for the tide to turn back around, or if it ever really will. Mainstream country music is in a spot right now where it’s so afraid to see its record sales plunge even further that it’s pandering like crazy to its target audience, giving them songs which don’t challenge or provoke them in the least. It’s only natural, then, that we should see traditional gender paradigms make a significant comeback. And that’s not only debilitating to women; I think it cheats men quite a bit, as well. How many boys are going to grow up thinking something is lacking in their individual sense of masculinity because they don’t meet all of the criteria detailed in Brad Paisley’s “I’m Still A Guy”? How many of them are going to grow up with the impression that the women in their lives are only deserving of their attention if they put out? Sorry to be blunt, but it’s pretty serious stuff.

  13. Philly JeffNo Gravatar

    I don’t understand negative comments about Taylor Swift’s lyrics. She wrote a bunch of songs when she was 15 and 16. Why wouldn’t these songs reflect the experiences of a 15 or 16 year old? She should be writing about mid-teen heartbreak. I would be more concerned if she was writing “Walkaway Joe” at that age. As she matures as a songwriter, I would expect more mature lyrics. But for now, there’s nothing wrong with letting a teenager be a teenager (and letting people who want to listen to her do so).

    As for the Brooks & Dunn booty call, well I recall Hank’s video for “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight” with bikini flaunting in front of Grandpa Jones. Country music survived that, and it’ll survive this too

  14. CharlieNo Gravatar

    I would make the argument that the women in the B&D vs the women in the 1993 special is not exactly apples to apples (all jokes about physical appearance aside). I think for every Maxim “hotties of Country” countdown, there is a 100 greatest women list like Kevin’s. For everything celebrating the accomplishments or talents of women artists, there will also be things which celebate them for looks alone.

    As for the dearth of, for lack of a better term, “unvamped” female artists, I would argue that this is a music-wide trend. Huge pop artists, successful female rappers, rocker chicks; there is almost a direct correlation between attractiveness and success. I am not arguing its fair, it just seems to be true. Country music seems to be the most open genre for female artists that I can think of, and Carrie, Jenniffer, Miranda and Taylor may just be attractive enough to pull off a look that is the most accepted, irrespective of genre.

  15. The problem is, you just listed the only four women getting airplay in country music right now, and they all fit that criteria. How open is the genre, really, if the only four who are being embraced all just happen to be able to pull off the looks element of it?

  16. Dan,

    You really need to expand your comment into a full post on your blog. It’s brilliant.

    Lambert seems to be the only woman in country music who is carrying on what the Dixie Chicks were doing, right down to the Patty Griffin covers.

    I was lambasted for my review of Brad Paisley’s “Online”, and I have to say that if I’d reviewed “I’m Just a Guy”, I would have made many of the same points you made. I’m very happy that Leeann can write about Paisley in a less biased way than I can. I can hardly stand the guy.

  17. Philly JeffNo Gravatar

    But the other side of the coin, Kevin, is that ugly, fat guys aren’t populating the radio either anymore. And guys are as willing (and maybe more willing than women) to show their own flesh for a career boost (see, e.g., Keith Urban, Billy Currington and Darryl Worley in Playgirl). It’s a visual medium across the board now. K.T. Oslin once said she was the last sow they sent through the chute in the pre-Shania days. She could have included boars, and the message would have been basically the same. That message – for both women and men – is to have straight white teeth, be attractive and exercise sufficiently to be able to shoot a video at the beach. Otherwise, don’t bother for now.

  18. Jeff,

    I wasn’t aware that Toby Keith was no longer in rotation at country radio, Or Rascal Flatts. Or Montgomery Gentry. Or Chris Cagle. All of them are less than fit. And I also haven’t seen Alan Jackson, George Strait, Phil Vassar, Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Jason Aldean, Gary Allan, Rodney Atkins, Big & Rich, Jason Michael Carroll, Eric Church, or Trace Adkins showing off their bodies in their music videos. Nor have the few women in rotation on the country video channels singing in front of half-naked men. You’re making a false comparison.

  19. PeterNo Gravatar

    Watching that Pink video, about 1:08 in, she looks a bit like Natalie Maines in the Not Ready To Make Nice video…

  20. If radio won’t play women, one of the few other avenues for exposure is TV. And to get on TV it helps to be attractive.

  21. Philly JeffNo Gravatar

    Toby’s good-looking, no? Built like the brick sh*t-house, mouth full of chiclet white teeth. Are there some exceptions to the rule that you don’t have to be in perfect shape? Yes. Garth and Wynonna.

    That aside, the point I intended to make is that country music industry is a visual medium – not just audio. Kenny Rogers keeps his face pulled 8 ways from Sunday for a reason. Visual sells, and if it takes Shania in a semi-dominatrix outfit backed by a bunch of brainless male models in sheer shirts or a member of Rascal Flatts flashing his ass in a video to sell records, then so be it.

    As far as a country-version of “Stupid Girls”, when Pink puts on 30 pounds and becomes a Real Live Woman, I’ll take her seriously.

  22. Thanks Kevin; I really appreciate that. And I may just take you up on your suggestion, though I’m not sure I’ll be able to form a cohesive thesis for my thoughts on all this stuff. I’ll give it a shot, though; this has always been my favorite sort of writing to do.

    Regarding Jeff’s comment, I don’t think the “image” fixation applies to nearly the same extent for men, but it is still there. Though there are certainly exceptions, it seems like the only way an average-looking guy can achieve any significant success nowadays is as a member of a group or duo. To some extent there has always been an expectation that famous people will be attractive, but only recently have I gotten the feeling that most of country music’s more successful artists look like they have pursued modeling careers. But women still get the worst shaft of all, no question.

  23. LJNo Gravatar

    15 yrs since the Women of Country concert? And there has never been a pt. II? Sheeesshhh….

    Getting back to B&D, personally I find these kind of videos/stunts by these old men embarassing for them. They are basically admitting that their music can’t get the attention on it’s own as it has at times in the past so any port in a storm.
    These guys are tired and have run their course. There is something to be said for knowing when to go away for at least awhile anyway.

  24. LeeannNo Gravatar

    Dan, I second Kevin’s call for a more extensive commentary on this subject on your blog. I think you’ve really nailed the problems with all of this. It’s what I wanted to say, but you said it much more concisely.

    Kevin, as for Brad Paisley, he’s wearing thin on my good graces. While I’ll probably always acknowledge his talent, he’s really going to have to step it up a few levels in order to keep my interest.

    For the unnecessary record, my husband is solid proof that I have no interest in men like the guy promoted in Paisley’s song. He’s no pushover (except when it comes to me, of course!), but he doesn’t act like being a “man” is defined by posturing as a macho jerk either.

  25. Cheers, Leeann. Always glad to contribute here. I don’t think I’ll be able to get anything done before Saturday, because I’m wiped today and tomorrow my life will be completely dominated by seeing The Dark Knight with my family, but I’m looking forward to working on this soon. Hope I can live up to the hype!

  26. JessicaNo Gravatar

    I was disappointed in Jennifer Nettles in the most recent video for ALL I WANNA DO with her bikini. It’s one thing for artists to hire out the deed; I don’t want to see artists as such. I was disappointed in Gretchen Wilson doing iher beach scenes and now Jennifer. Sugarland have everything going for them right now they didn’t need this — of course it’s selling like crazy so what do I know. The video/song take them quite a few steps down the ladder IMO. Just really disappointed.

  27. StormyNo Gravatar

    There are two things that bother me about B&D’s latest
    1. Its so cliche. It is literally the easist thing you can do–the thing that will require the smallest amout of thought. If you are going to call yourself and artist, shouldn’t you occassionally break a creative sweat?

    2. If you cannot sell your own music and have to sell it on the backs of scantily clad women, can you at least give them acknowledgement and credit for their contributions. Or would that be too humanizing?

    As for the industry: I miss the Dixie Chicks as mainstream, not just because they are good, but because I remember watching little girls watch them at Lilith Fair. Aside from learning that country music and its instruments were cool, these girls saw an image that didn’t limit them. They saw that you can be sexy and confident of your body (even if that body isn’t a size 3), you can be smart, funny, outspoken, talented, artistic, contraversial in ways that have nothing to do with your sex like and strong, all in the same package. That none of those things have to be sacrificed for any of the others.