Via Terri Clark’s Twitter, this gem from radio consultant Keith Hill:
This One’s Not For The Girls: Finally, Hill cautions against playing too many females. And playing them back to back, he says, is a no-no. “If you want to make ratings in Country radio, take females out,” he asserts. “The reason is mainstream Country radio generates more quarter hours from female listeners at the rate of 70 to 75%, and women like male artists. I’m basing that not only on music tests from over the years, but more than 300 client radio stations. The expectation is we’re principally a male format with a smaller female component. I’ve got about 40 music databases in front of me and the percentage of females in the one with the most is 19%. Trust me, I play great female records and we’ve got some right now; they’re just not the lettuce in our salad. The lettuce is Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, Keith Urban and artists like that. The tomatoes of our salad are the females.”
Tossed salad imagery aside, in what other professional setting would such blatant gender discrimination be openly advocated? The breathtaking condescension toward female listeners in country music is nothing new, but it’s been more than twenty years since any such case could be supported by sales numbers.
The fiftieth annual Academy of Country Music Awards air tonight, and Country Universe has you covered! Here’s a rundown of all of the major categories, along with some commentary from our writers about who should win, who will, and what the nominations as a whole say about the current state of country music.
Share your thoughts about this year’s show in the comments, and check back for a list of winners when it’s all said and done.
Update: Join the CU crew on Twitter (@CountryUniverse) during the show to share your thoughts as things unfold!
Entertainer of the Year
- Jason Aldean
- Garth Brooks – Jonathan
- Luke Bryan – Sam
- Florida-Georgia Line
- Miranda Lambert – Ben, Kevin
- Jason Aldean
- Garth Brooks
- Luke Bryan
- Florida Georgia Line
- Miranda Lambert – Jonathan, Ben, Sam, Kevin
BF: I think Lambert is due, but I could get on board with a win for Brooks, whose comeback tour certainly warrants recognition. Those are about the only two possible victories I could swallow.
SG: This is fan-voted, so it really comes down to who can most mobilize their fan base. I give Miranda the nod, simply because she and her husband can both rally the troops. As to who deserves it, it’s hard to deny the impact that Luke Bryan has had on country music, love him or loathe him. He also seems like a fair entertainer, whether it’s shimmying around the stage or falling off them.
The third most prestigious country music industry award nominations – but the most important ones handed out in the spring – have been announced. Here’s a rundown of all the major categories, along with some back-of-the-envelope analysis:
- Jason Aldean
- Garth Brooks
- Luke Bryan
- Florida Georgia Line
- Miranda Lambert
Who’s In: Jason Aldean, Garth Brooks, Florida Georgia Line
Who’s Out: Blake Shelton, George Strait, Taylor Swift
Last year’s winner, George Strait, didn’t get a return invitation, but Garth Brooks, who has won this award six times before, returns to the competition. Much like Strait’s farewell tour was a reminder of his extensive popularity, Garth’s ability to sell out several dates per city overshadows the lukewarm reception to his new material at radio and retail. Taylor Swift’s exit is directly tied to her cutting ties with the genre. Jason Aldean’s return makes logical sense, but it’s quite the mystery to see Blake Shelton gone and Florida Georgia Line in.
Man Against Machine
Garth’s first proper studio album in thirteen years is chock full of all of his best and worst traits, but thankfully errs more often on the side of subtlety over excess.
He’s always been good at straddling the fence between heartfelt sincerity and saccharine sentimentality, and the strongest moments are the ones that explore parenthood. “Mom” is a maternal celebration that would make Boyz II Men teary-eyed, while “Send ‘Em on Down the Road” captures the terrifying truth that finishing the job of parenthood means letting go, no matter how much you want to hold on.
The countdown concludes with our top twenty singles of 2014. Check out the first twenty entries here, and look for our countdown of the year’s twenty best albums tomorrow.
“The Devil is All Around”
Shovels & Rope
LW #5 | JK #13
The soulful husband-wife duo that comprises Shovels and Rope delivers a no holes barred analysis of trials and temptations, which boils down to the idea that the devil is all around, which means that one must do what he can to push against such a devastating force. – Leeann Ward
The countdown concludes with a wide range of classics, including breakthrough hits, signature songs, and exciting later career gems from long-established icons of the genre.
“(Who Says) You Can’t Have it All”
Written by Alan Jackson and Jim McBride
LW #10 | BF #5 | JK #38
What makes a better country song than a stark naked light bulb, one lonely pillow on a double bed, a mournful fiddle and steel guitar? Jackson’s “(Who Says) You Can’t Have It All” is one of the finest exhibits to present as the answer to that question. – Leeann Ward
Written by Don Sampson and Wynn Varble
Simply put, “Mom” is the best single that Garth Brooks has released since the first term of the Bill Clinton administration.
Got your head around that yet? Good. Now process this: The best single Garth Brooks has released since the first term of the Bill Clinton administration is a Bonnie Tyler cover.
“People Loving People”
Written by Michael Busbee, Lee Thomas Miller & Chris Wallin
There is no nuanced way to say it. Garth Brooks’ long anticipated comeback single is really bad with a little bit of good to keep it from being really, really bad.
We’ll start with the good. The message and concept of the song is admirable and hits my personal sweet spot of songs that promote love, peace and goodness in the world. He posits that it’s simply people loving people that will make the world better. It’s a simplistic view of things, but a sweet one that I can get behind on a basic level. In fact, the lyrics are well constructed and not even too cloying to sell the sentiment, which is a difficult line to balance.
100 Greatest Men: The Complete List
Arriving on the scene in 1989 with a great song sense and a strong background in marketing, Garth Brooks emerged as the poster boy for the nineties country boom, and along the way, became the biggest record-seller in America since the Beatles.
Brooks was born and raised in Oklahoma, the son of Capitol country recording artist Colleen Carroll. He grew up with music around the house, and learned to play the guitar and the banjo. His athletic prowess earned him a track scholarship at Oklahoma State University, but his interest soon turned to music. He began performing around Stillwater, becoming a major draw on the local talent circuit.
In 2008, I was finishing up my degree in journalism and trying to understand what it meant to be a professional writer. I wanted to write about music, but the divide between fan and critic felt, at times, insurmountable.
That fall, I stumbled onto Country Universe through this post, and it changed my perspective. As both a writer and leader, Kevin was thoughtful, rational and personally invested in the country music genre. He showed a deep respect for the genre’s history, but wrote about new artists with tolerance and curiosity. Best of all, he held readers and writers alike to the highest standards of decency.
It’s for that reason that this post shines. Kevin’s ability to take a stand while cultivating constructive dialogue is unmatched. He cut through the divisive hype around Carrie Underwood –an artist who is as special to me now as she was back then—and underlined the real issue at hand: country music’s staggering, frustrating gender bias. Six years and a truckload of interchangeable male artists later, it’s more imperative than ever that we continue this discussion. – Tara Seetharam
Discussion: Carrie Underwood, Shania Twain and Gender in Country Music
by Kevin John Coyne
August 29, 2008
I fear this post won’t quite live up to its ambitious title, and I realize that I’m stirring the tempest pot a bit by putting those two artists in the same sentence. But the tone that surfaces whenever Carrie Underwood is discussed here is something that I find increasingly frustrating, so I’m going to talk about it. Hopefully, I’ll get a meaningful conversation going along the way.