You say, “tomato,” we say… actually, we’ll let Margo Price fill in the rest.
It’s been a while since the #TomatoGate controversy reared its head, but that topic figured prominently in this week’s discussions. Margo Price, one of 2016’s biggest breakthrough successes, had quite a bit to say about #TomatoGate and her interactions with Keith Hill– which included some nasty harrassment that eventually led her to step away from her social media accounts for a while. Price’s comments came as part of a roundtable discussion that Jewly Hight led for Billboard. Price was joined by Kacey Mugraves, Cam, Maren Morris, Mickey Guyton, and Aubrie Sellers– pause for a just a quick second and imagine how much better country radio would sound if those 6 women were all regularly scoring the airplay their music deserves– for a fascinating discussion about the barriers they have faced as women in the music industry, the different points-of-view that they each bring to country music, and contemporary politics. It’s a must-read piece.
And let’s just give an additional hi-five to Hight here. She’s long been one of our favorite country music writers, but with this roundtable and the vital interviews she did with Cam and Eric Church earlier this year, Hight is on an absolute tear in 2016.
Elsewhere, The Mavericks and James McMurtry talked politics, Garth Brooks made a big announcement regarding his new SiriusXM channel, and Chris Stapleton chatted up Axl Rose. Toby Keith, Ryan Adams, and case/lang/veirs all gave standout live performances, while several acts premiered new music videos.
This week’s new releases are led by Lori McKenna’s The Bird & The Rifle, which includes lead single “Wreck You” and her rendition of “Humble & Kind,” the song she wrote that recently became a massive crossover hit for Tim McGraw. Jake Owen also released a new album, and Hillary Scott & The Scott Family’s Love Remains finds the Lady Antebellum singer joined by her parents– her mother is Linda “Does He Love You” Davis, and younger sister for a gospel album.
New Releases & Reissues, 7/29/2016
Gregg Allman, No Stranger to the Dark: The Best of Gregg Allman. (Floating World)
The Charlie Daniels Band, The Epic Trilogy, Vol. 3. (Floating World)
Gary Hoey, Dust & Bones. (Provogue)
Bob Lind, Magellan Was Wrong. (Ace)
Lori McKenna, The Bird & The Rifle. (CN)
Jake Owen, American Love. (RCA Nashville)
Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Anyway You Love, We Know How You Feel. (Silver Arrow)
Hillary Scott & The Scott Family, Love Remains. (EMI Nashville)
Billboard Country National Airplay:
#1: Florida Georgia Line, “H.O.L.Y.”
Most Increased Audience: Miranda Lambert, “Vice”
Debuts: Miranda Lambert, “Vice” (18); Brantley Gilbert, “The Weekend” (38); Trent Harmon, “There’s a Girl” (53).
Most Added: Miranda Lambert, “Vice” (86); Brantley Gilbert, “The Weekend” (49); Tim McGraw, “How I’ll Always Be” (29); Luke Bryan, “Move” (28); Jason Aldean, “A Little More Summertime” (28).
Notes: After a week at #1, Carrie Underwood’s “Church Bells” gives way to the H.O.L.Y. crap that is Florida Georgia Line’s latest single– there are rumblings that the terrific “Dirty Laundry” will be Underwood’s next single, but we’re still crossing our fingers for “Choctaw County Affair,” which is even better; Eric Church’s “Record Year” continues to outpace Chris Lane’s garbage single “Fix,” as they rise to #3 and #4, respectively; Lambert earns the biggest debut of her career, which has always run hot-and-cold with radio, thanks to an hourly-spin promotional deal with iHeartMedia, so she’s likely to take a tumble on next week’s chart as “Vice” settles into its natural chart run; Kenny Chesney’s “Noise” misses the top 10, falling from a peak of #13 to #23; Luke Bryan’s latest, “Move,” makes a huge leap from #58 to #35 in its second chart week; two of the better singles on the lower part of the chart, “Lipstick” by Runaway June (#46 to #49) and “Where Do You Go?” by The Last Bandoleros (#51 to #52), both lost their bullets, while Aaron Watson’s lovely “Bluebonnets” was bumped off the chart.
Elsewhere on Billboard‘s radio charts:
After a 5-week run at #1, The Avett Brothers’ “Ain’t No Man” drops to #2 on the AAA chart; Amos Lee logs the only debut at that format this week, with his single “Vaporize” debuting at #24; alt-country / dadrock mainstays Wilco scored the most AAA station adds this week with “If I Ever Was A Child,” the lead single from their upcoming album, Schmilco; as it ascends to #1 at country radio, Florida Georgia Line’s “H.O.L.Y.” also cracks the top 30 at Adult Top 40; after losing its bullet last week, Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind” has one of the largest gains in spins at Adult Contemporary radio, where it holds at #15; Hillary Scott & The Scott Family were bumped out of the top 10 at Christian radio this week, where “Thy Will” dropped to #11.
News & Notes
“I was so fired up when that tomato thing happened, I made a shirt that said, “You say ‘Tomato,’ I say ‘F— you.’ ” (Laughter.) I tweeted it at [Keith Hill, the radio consultant responsible for the uproar]. I had an argument with him. There was just no changing his mind. He actually made my photo his Facebook profile picture and got all these people to say bad things about me — how I’m ugly and need a nose job… I ended up getting rid of my personal Facebook and blocking him on Twitter. I can feel my blood pressure rising talking about it.”
— Margo Price, a year post-#TomatoGate, put to bed any lingering doubts that Keith Hill, whose absurd comments started that cycle of internet outrage, is a misogynist boor. Because had Hill’s comments about women in country music been only about (his selectively-chosen sample of self-validating) market research and data like he insisted they were, he wouldn’t have made attacks about Price’s physical appearance. Earlier this year, Price’s terrific album, Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, became the first ever album to debut in the top 10 of Billboard‘s country albums chart without ever having had a single chart at country radio. Price’s comments were part of yet another essential feature by Jewly Hight; this time, Hight led a roundtable discussion with six of the most promising up-and-coming women in country for Billboard. (JK)
“Sometimes the gatekeepers — everybody loves that word, but whomever decides what is going on in mainstream country music — don’t give country audiences enough credit. There’s a lot of different kinds of people listening and they’re all smart.“
— Cam, from that same roundtable discussion, can always be counted on to be respectful of the country audience. Just as much as her music, it’s her thoughtful perspective that makes her such a refreshing addition to the genre. (JK)
“You can have a depressing song, but if you can take a sarcastic approach it kind of lightens the load a little bit. I’ve never intended to be a lobbyist on any side, but I am proud of bringing people to country music who might never have listened to it and never thought they liked it. Country music has always been a genre about real life and real things: people losing their jobs, getting divorced, and cheating—all that crazy shit that happens in everyday life. That’s what I respect about country music, and that’s what I’m trying to keep alive.”
— Kacey Musgraves reflected on how her style fits into the country genre. Musgraves also participated in the roundtable for Billboard, but this comment came from an interview she gave with Mike Usinger of The Georgia Straight in advance of a tour stop in Vancouver. (JK)
The Grand Ole Opry’s YouTube channel comes through yet again, this time with Toby Keith’s on-point tribute to Merle Haggard from his performance back in May. (JK)
“I asked him how many nights in a row he can possibly scream like that, and do all the high, high rock & roll singing that he does. Because I know for myself I have limits, and how many nights in a row I can actually sing. Then we discussed him doing stuff with AC/DC a little bit. It was conversations you don’t think you’re ever going to have.”
— Chris Stapleton asked another big-voiced singer, Axl Rose, about his limits as a performer when Stapleton opened for Guns N’ Roses at the Nashville stop on their Not In This Lifetime tour earlier this month. (JK)
case/lang/veirs performed their dreamy single “Atomic Number” on Good Morning America. (JK)
“I think this song represents how most Americans feel about our country… It’s patriotic without being jingoistic. It paints a picture of what and who we are that many have forgotten or are simply trying to erase. This is why we’ve decided to record it at this time.”
— Raul Malo explained to Rolling Stone why The Mavericks unveiled a cover of Frank Sinatra’s politically charged “The House I Live In” this week. The band also announced that they will release a live album (!) in October. (JK)
“It’s really hard to write a good political song. Steve Earle is the best at getting what he wants to say into a song, but most of us, if we try to force our point of view into the song, then you kill the song. You get a sermon.”
— James McMurtry considered the challenges of writing explicitly political songs as part of an interview with Bill Nevins of No Depression… after saying that, when he lets his hair grow too wild, he looks like Bernie Sanders. (JK)
Rather than any of the death metal covers he performed at last week’s Newport Folk Festival, Ryan Adams brought The Infamous Stringdusters along for his appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to perform “Oh My Sweet Carolina,” one of the highlights from his debut album, Heartbreaker, which was re-issued on vinyl earlier this year. (JK)
SiriusXM has announced that Garth Brooks will be performing his first ever concert at the Ryman Auditorium on September 8th to coincide with the launch of his new SiriusXM channel. (LMW)
“Lori has enough Nashville in her to write killer songs for the market, but she has enough distance to not be scared to write a song like ‘Girl Crush.’ That’s one of the things about her that’s crucial: she’s not so ingrained that she wouldn’t think to write a song like that.”
— Brandy Clark offered high praise of Lori McKenna as part of an in-depth profile of McKenna by Jonathan Bernstein for The Guardian. McKenna’s new album, The Bird & The Rifle, has earned some of the year’s most rapturous reviews and follows some of her biggest commercial hits in Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” and Tim McGraw’s “Humble & Kind.” (JK)
And now, a slew of new music videos and singles…
Country Universe favorites Turnpike Troubadours premiered their new single, “Come As You Are,” and its accompanying music video. (JK)
LeAnn Rimes has been flying far below the radar for a while now, despite making some of the finest music of her career over the past few years. Case in point: There’s been relatively minimal fanfare over the release of her new music video for her cover of Brandi Carlile’s “The Story.” (JK)
Kiefer Sutherland released a black-and-white performance video for “Can’t Stay Away,” the second single from his album, Down in a Hole. The arrangement on “Can’t Stay Away” suits Sutherland’s gravelly voice better than did the most straightforward folk production on his previous single, “Not Enough Whiskey.” Though he’ll forevermore be Jack Bauer to some of us, Sutherland’s new series, Designated Survivor, premieres on ABC this fall. (JK)
Jon Paul White, formerly of The Civil Wars, comes roaring back with “What’s So,” which favorably recalls the stomp and bluster of that duo’s Grammy-winning “Barton Hollow.” “What’s So” is the lead single from White’s forthcoming album, Beulah. (JK)
That will do it for this week! Be sure to check out Kevin’s review of Miranda Lambert’s “Vice,” and check back for our Dixie Chicks: Revisited round-up on Taking The Long Way.