Archive for the ‘Say What?’ Category

Say What? – Carrie Underwood talks Gender

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

It seems pretty unbelievable that I missed this the first time around, given how this site has been so focused on women in country music these past four months.   But  Carrie Underwood had some interesting things to say about women in the country music world after the ACM awards last month.

First, she discussed the scarcity of female nominees for Entertainer of the Year.   The CMA hasn’t nominated a female act since 2001 (Dixie Chicks) and the ACM since 2003 (also the Dixie Chicks.)  In fact, the only other women to be nominated at either show in the 90′s and 00′s are Shania Twain, Faith Hill, Reba McEntire and Kathy Mattea.   Here’s what Underwood had to say about that:

“I think there have been several women over the past decade that should have been nominated at some point. It’s disappointing that they haven’t been, because I know — and I’m speaking for all of us — how hard women have to work. Not to take anything away from the guys, but we have to do a lot more than they have to do. … It’s unfortunate that a lot more women haven’t gotten a lot more credit.”

The upside, according to Underwood?   Greater camaraderie among female artists, as she demonstrates with her gracious hat tip to Miranda Lambert:

Miranda is a wonderful artist.  It goes back to the women thing. It seems like there’s only a certain number of [award] slots, and it’s like everybody is vying for two or three slots. It’s kind of weird. None of us are competitive with each other anyway. We get together and we hang out. Miranda is one of those people who deserves a lot more credit than she’s gotten. Her album is great.

It will be interesting to see if the CMA’s nominate Carrie Underwood this year for Entertainer of the Year.  It’s getting increasingly difficult for anyone to argue with a straight face that she’s not one of the top five acts in the genre, by any measurable standard: record sales, airplay, concert gross, critical acclaim.    Heck, if the CMA really wants to shake things up, a nomination for Sugarland would be pretty cool as well.    But if Underwood isn’t in the lineup, the CMA will pretty much prove her right: women just have to work a hell of a lot harder to get the credit they deserve.

Say What? – Taylor Swift On Her Senior Year

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

We all know that Taylor Swift has been home schooled while she has been working hard on her country music career. Unfortunately, it seems that she has not been taking her studies too seriously. Apparently, she worked so hard during her junior year that she only had to fulfill two class requirements during her senior year in order to graduate this upcoming June. She told GAC:

“I chose public speaking and musical performance…So I kind of coasted my senior year, as seniors usually do. Musical performance: I was on tour with Rascal Flatts and Brad Paisley, so that occurred every night — me singing in front of people happened a lot this year. And public speaking: Every single time I did a radio interview, every single time I got on stage and said, ‘How we doin’, Houston?’ — you know, that’s public speaking. So, senior year’s been pretty good.”

As an educator, I can’t help but feel a bit uneasy about Swift’s dismissive comments regarding her high school education. Moreover, since Swift is really only a kid, it’s even more disturbing that her parents failed to insist that their daughter’s education be more of a priority.

Kenny Chesney’s Not a Fan of ACM’s Fan-Voted Entertainer Award

Monday, May 19th, 2008

2008 ACM Entertainer of

the Year Kenny Chesney has gone on record to protest this year’s change that made the category fan-voted:

“The entertainer of the year trophy is supposed to represent heart and passion and an amazing amount of sacrifice, commitment and focus,” he said. “That’s the way Garth won it four times, that’s the way I won it, that’s the way (George) Strait won it, Reba (McEntire), Alabama all those years. That’s what it’s supposed to represent.”

He said his complaint is directed at the industry, not the fans — and that the method amounted to “complete disrespect” of the artists, saying the academy turned the award “into a sweepstakes to see who can push people’s buttons the hardest on the Internet.”

I think he makes a good point. Thoughts?

Say What? – John Rich, Part III

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Via The 9513, I learned that John Rich has some problems with American Idol:

“The reason their ratings are going into the toilet right now is because the American public cannot stand when it comes to reality,” Rich said. “You can tell when somebody’s comment was scripted. You can tell when they told an artist, ‘Wear this, and sing that, and do that.’ That’s not the way it’s going to work on this show,” he said of “Nashville Star.”

Rich was on a panel promoting the NBC show during the network’s summer programming event for the press. He is a judge and mentor on the upcoming sixth season of the show, which has moved from USA Network to NBC this year.

“We have to respect the fans’ ears and eyes and give them something that’s for real,” he added. “Don’t try to con them. And I think that’s why ‘American Idol,’ in my opinion, is just dive-bombing. I can’t stand watching it. I wouldn’t want to be on that show now if you gave me a $100 bill.”

American Idol has produced legitimate country stars in Carrie Underwood, Kellie Pickler and Bucky Covington, along with a respectable showing by Josh Gracin. Certainly a stronger cabal than Nashville Star can claim, a show that hasn’t produced a star since Season 1 gave us Miranda Lambert and the long gone Buddy Jewell.

But I find it especially ludicrous for Rich to claim the high ground on reality talent competitions, after overseeing the train wreck that was Gone Country. Rich has a problem with artists being told “Wear this, do this and sing that?” After he made artists shovel manure and cook for his grandma so they could understand what it means to be country? It may have been the highest-rated show in CMT history, but it was because of the spectacle, not the music. Or did winner Julio Iglesias, Jr. score a big radio hit when I wasn’t looking?

And the train wreck is sure to be bigger and better this summer, when Season 2 of Gone Country launches in August. I’m sure he can show Jermaine Jackson and Sebastian Bach how to be serious country artists. There must be some horrible country stereotype he hasn’t exploited yet. Maybe he’ll have them make out with their cousins?

Say What? – Taylor Swift

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

Asked how she feels about her newfound stardom, and the difficulties that come along with it, Taylor Swift told Billboard :

Balancing all this is not hard. I mean what do I have to complain about? I have the best time in the world. I’m so lucky. When I go out in public and I go to a mall, yeah it’s a lot different than it was two years ago, but it’s a beautiful kind of different. It’s the kind of different that I’ve wanted my entire life. I’m a strong believer that if you work your entire life for something, and you work so hard and you want this one thing so much, you should never complain once you get it.

Good for her. That used to be the country music norm, but it sounds refreshing when compared to the attitude a massively successful act like Rascal Flatts has because they don’t win awards, when they should be being thankful for all of the success they’ve had. It’s nice to see a young girl who’s on top right now has perspective on how lucky she is.

Say What? – John Rich, Part Deux

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

John Rich is apologizing again. It’s been only a month since the last time he scrambled to save part of his fan base. Now, The Tennessean reports that PETA wasn’t pleased by the fox fur he wore on the CMA Awards, and fired off a letter to him stating their displeasure. His response:

“I would like you to please forward my apologies to any of your members that are fans of Big and Rich that took offense to me wearing a fur coat on the CMA awards,” John wrote PETA. “Trust me, it was never my intent to upset anyone. Also, if any of the world class designers that you mentioned in your previous e-mail would like to send me full length faux fur coats, I would be happy to wear them, and when asked by the press or fans, tell them it is a faux fur.

Karl Marx famously observed that history repeats itself – first as tragedy, then as farce. No wonder I can’t stop laughing at this!

Say What? – John Rich

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

Reader Roger Newcomb suggested a thread covering recent statements from John Rich of  Big & Rich regarding homosexuality.     The first comment was made on a radio show in Nashville, as Rich was discussing why he supports Fred Thompson for President:

“I think if you legalize [gay marriage], you’ve got to legalize some other things that are pretty unsavory. You can call me a radical, but how can you tell an aunt that she can’t marry her nephew if they are really in love and sharing the bills? How can you tell them they can’t get married, but something else that’s unnatural can happen?”


After receiving some negative feedback over this comment, he issued the following statement:

“My earlier comments on same-sex marriage don’t reflect my full views on the broader issues regarding tolerance and the treatment of gays and lesbians in our society. I apologize for that and wish to state clearly my views. I oppose same-sex marriage because my father and minister brought me up to believe that marriage is an institution for the union of a man and a woman. However, I also believe that intolerance, bigotry and hatred are wrong. People should be judged based on their merits, not on their sexual orientation. We are all children of God and should be valued and respected.”

First, I have to ask how it’s possible that John Rich was brought up with the understanding that marriage is between a man and a woman, when gay marriage wasn’t even on the radar until the past few years.   I was in college by the time people started talking about it, and I’m a lot younger than John Rich.    So I don’t really buy what he’s selling there.

Second, a look back at our country’s history.  Forty years ago, the state of Virginia was actually arguing in front of the Supreme Court that interracial marriage should be a crime.   When they lost, the right of a man and woman to marry regardless of race was finally awarded to all citizens.   That was only forty years ago, friends.   What argument did the trial judge who convicted the couple eight years before that use to justify his decision to sentence them to a year in prison?  This one:

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.

I’ll leave the debate over the sincerity of his apology and the merits of his original argument to you, readers.    I’m sure you’ll keep the conversation respectful and thoughtful.    Thanks again to Roger for tipping me off on this one.  I hope he’s right about this being a good place for a discussion of this!

Say What? – Tammy Genovese, CMA Chief Operating Officer

Friday, October 19th, 2007

On the scheduled performance of Rascal Flatts with Jamie Foxx next month at the CMA awards:

“This is destined to be the sort of one-of-a-kind performance the CMA Awards are known for,” said Tammy Genovese, CMA Chief Operating Officer. “When there is a meaningful and tangible connection between artists from seemingly diverse musical styles, bringing them together on the CMA Awards creates magical moments that resonate with our audience and expand awareness of the format.”

I can’t name one such magical moment in CMA history. Can you?

Carrie Speaks Out

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

Sorry for the delay in posts lately, but here’s something for you to read. Entertainment Weekly scored an in-depth interview with Carrie Underwood on the eve of her sophomore album release. Carnival Ride, according to EW, is a “country record through-and-through”, unlike her debut album which featured some pop-leaning songs.

Read the whole thing, but here’s the exchange that jumped out at me:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: At next month’s CMA Awards, you have three nominations, but not Entertainer of the Year, the biggest prize. In the last six years, no women have been nominated for that. Why do you think that is?
CARRIE UNDERWOOD: Um, I don’t know. And frankly, I get mad when I think about it. I feel like we have to work three times as hard as the guys just to be almost where they are. I don’t think it’s fair, and I don’t think it’s right, and I’m hoping I can do something about that.

I’ve heard people say it’s because that award is primarily about touring, and the guys are the ones who play the big arenas.
‘Cause they get the opportunity! People like Martina McBride, it’s not like they’re singing in front of 25 people — they’re singing in front of thousands and thousands of people every single night. Someone like that should be nominated.

Way to represent for the ladies! I think it’s pretty clear that Underwood has the best shot at getting some estrogen back in the Entertainer lineup, though don’t discount Reba if she tours to back up her breathtakingly successful duets project.

Earlier in the interview, she also talks about her refusal to remix songs for pop radio:

Is it true that your label asked you to record pop versions of some of the country tracks on Some Hearts, like ”Before He Cheats,” and you said no?
I didn’t have to put my foot down, thank goodness. I hate it when country artists do that. You’re listening to a song on one station and you turn it and you hear a different version? It’s like, ”All right, it’s not good enough for everybody this way, so let’s change it to make it good enough.”

Underwood is the first country artist to make the cover of Entertainment Weekly since Gretchen Wilson and Big & Rich shared the front in 2005. Only two other country acts – Dixie Chicks (2003) and Alan Jackson (2002) – have been on the cover of the influential entertainment magazine this century, putting Underwood in some elite company. Anyone think she might score a Rolling Stone cover to boot?

Say What? – Dolly Parton

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007

Dolly Parton on starting her own label:

I put it on my own label because many of the majors really didn’t want me because of my age, thinking I was over. But I feel different about that. I figured the major labels are pretty much a thing of the past anyway, kind of like they thought I was! The way music is being played today, why not make all the money, if there’s any money to be made. I’d rather have all of something than some of nothing.

Ouch! Pretty nasty indictment of the major label system, mostly because it’s entirely accurate. The system is dying, with legends like Paul McCartney and, if rumors are true, Madonna jumping ship to make more money elsewhere. Are we slowly getting to the point, with all this new media and direct marketing potential, that the major label system will meet its demise?


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