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Blake Shelton, Superstar?

March 7, 2011 Kevin John Coyne 25

He’s a good singer. He’s put out a few good songs here and there. I’m partial to “Goodbye Time” myself.

But is he really this good?

Country singer Blake Shelton has been cast as the final judge/coach on Mark Burnett’s upcoming singing competition series. Shelton joins Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, and Adam Levine on the panel.

“We couldn’t have a panel that represented the hottest American music without a strong country presence, and Blake is at the top of his game right now,” said NBC’s reality chief Paul Telegdy. “Not only is he incredibly charismatic, but his passion for collaborating with and bringing the best out of other talented artists makes him the perfect choice to round out this ‘Dream Team’ of musician coaches.”





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Inspiration

March 1, 2011 Kevin John Coyne 6

Inspired by Leeann Ward.

Sometimes it’s hard to write about country music.

Outside life intrudes, and the music that used to offer you sanctuary now greets you with mind-numbing banality.

But if there’s something true about all long-term country music fans, it’s probably that the music has uniquely inspired us, moved us in a way that other genres had failed to do.



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Identity Crisis

January 31, 2011 Kevin John Coyne 49

I became a country fan twenty years ago, and have been fully immersed in the genre for about as long. I’ve read up on the history, heard pretty much every significant artist and recording, and can speak knowledgeably about the genres highs and lows over the past few decades.

We’ve never been this low. I think I finally understand why that is.



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Where’ve You Been? – 2011 Edition

January 23, 2011 Kevin John Coyne 25

It’s hard to believe that there once was a time that country artists put out two full-length albums a year. If they were part of a regular superstar duet team, like Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn or Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton, a fan might hear as many as four new studio albums from their favorite artist.

By the time that I got into country music – twenty years ago, natch – things had slowed down a bit. Artists usually released a new album every 12-18 months. Sometimes they’d push it to two years, but not often.

Those were the days. Waits between album releases have gotten crazy lately. I’m all for taking the time to get it right, but once we push past the half-decade mark, things have gone too far. Sure, we’re given side projects to carry us over, but there’s no substitute for a full-length studio album of all-new material.

Here are five artists who I’d really love to see make a long-awaited return with a new album in 2011, along with a brief rundown of the side projects that they’ve been busy with while we’ve waited for that new album:




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2011 Singles: A Wish List

January 22, 2011 Kevin John Coyne 52

The bulk of our work at Country Universe this month has been catching up on singles currently at radio. Collectively, they’ve been abysmal, with review grades rarely reaching a B, let alone an A.

How can we turn this around? Here are five songs that I’d love to see sent to radio tomorrow. Share your own in the comments!

Zac Brown Band, “Let it Go”

A dizzying dose of positivity, with a few great musical twists to boot. The Serenity Prayer never sounded so good.



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New Year’s Resolutions

December 31, 2010 Kevin John Coyne 27

We’re in that wonderful period of time where we convince ourselves that all of our 2010 coulda woulda shouldas will be transformed into 2011’s totally gonnas.

In that spirit, I submit the following blogger resolutions:



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Sincerity

December 29, 2010 Kevin John Coyne 24

Earlier this year, a discussion with a colleague of mine revealed a mutual affinity for country music. It was a typical conversation that I have with fans that are around my age. We fell in love with the music about twenty years ago, don’t think it’s quite as good as it once was, but can find a lot of things to like from just about any era, including the current one.

So in the 2010 version of making a mix tape, I offered to load up her iPod with a whole bunch of country music. A week later, she took me to dinner as a thank you. We started talking about the music that I’d passed on to her, and she told me that she was listening to the iPod while mowing the lawn. Suddenly, a song came on that made her cry. Full-out cry, mind you, not just a tear or two.

So I ask if it was “Love, Me”, or maybe “Where’ve You Been”, or something similarly tragic. She was almost embarrassed as she told me that it was the old Anne Murray hit, “You Needed Me.”