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 Read More
Anyone who reads Bob Lefsetz’ “The Lefsetz Letter” knows that Lefsetz is a fairly new country music fan, but a passionate one all the same. I frequently disagree with his current assessment of country music, particularly country radio (although recently he has clued in to its frequent vapidness and monotony), but he’s a fantastic voice out there championing country music.
In a recent letter, he made some interesting statements about his desired role for the future of country music (i.e. the classic rock of the future). After approvingly citing the recent Newsweek article which bemoaned the current state of country music, Lefsetz stated:
Country used to have an edge. My buddy Pete Anderson would love to bring it back. But I’m thinking we’ve just got to move the needle a little bit, and suddenly we’ve got the rock business we used to have, the one that triumphed in the seventies.
One probably thought they knew what to expect from Jessica Simpson on her latest single, “Pray Out Loud,” simply by reading the title: The big-voiced former Christian pop singer was going to put forth her best Martina McBride imitation and sing for the rafters. It was going to be over-the-top, joyous, cheesy, uplifting and worthy of its name and oft-repeated chorus “pray out loud.” One may even, like me, have been planning on giving her permission to do so because if ever a song – and a time – was asking for it, it is this one. But, umm … no. On this single, Simpson shows … restraint. And a great deal of it. It’s completely baffling. Simpson has never been a stellar interpreter of song, but the sheer lack of joy, enthusiasm and spirituality in her vocal is surprising. Simpson was more convincing inviting us to “come on over” Read More
The nominations for this year’s Academy of Country Music Awards will be announced on Wednesday, February 11, and Country Universe will have a preview next week. As announced yesterday, the blond brigade of Julianne Hough, Leann Rimes, Jessica Simpson and Kellie Pickler will read the nominations from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. From the Academy of Country Music website: The Academy of Country Music, Dick Clark productions and Great American Country (GAC) announced today that for the first time ever, the three newcomer categories for the Academy of Country Music Awards—Top New Female Vocalist, Top New Male Vocalist and Top New Vocal Duo or Group—will be opened up to interactive fan voting through GACTV.com. The 44th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards will be broadcast LIVE from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Sunday, April 5, 2009 at 8:00 PM live ET/delayed PT on the Read More
In this era of rampant piracy and economic recession, things aren’t looking good for the music industry. We don’t post too often about the business side of the music business here, as we tend to keep the focus on the music. But the reality is that these numbers matter. If Little Big Town’s second Equity album had performed as well as the first, the label might still be in business. It’s not all doom and gloom, as many artists go on to make their best music once they leave major labels. But this Christmas, you can guarantee that some artists and record executives will be bracing for the New Year, while others are embracing it. Here’s a look at some totals for albums released in 2008, ranked by total sales (rounded to the nearest thousand): Taylor Swift, Fearless – 1,519,000 Sugarland, Love on the Inside – 1,179,000 George Strait, Troubadour Read More
At only twenty-three years old, Adam Gregory has been performing for ten years in his native Canada. After arriving in Nashville in 2007, he signed a recording contract with Midas Records, who then reformed last year under indie powerhouse Big Machine Records. Earlier this year, Gregory reached the Top 40 with his first single, “Crazy Days,” and last month he released his second single, “What It Takes.” His yet-untitled debut album in the United States is slated for release in Spring 2009. Gregory called Country Universe earlier this week to provide a glimpse into the life and career of the Nashville newcomer. Who is Adam Gregory as an artist? And which artists have inspired this direction? I consider myself as just a guy who sticks to his roots and follows his own path and tries to find meaning in every song. I’ve co-written a lot of songs on the album, Read More
Jessica Simpson’s second country single is a good deal better than her first. It’s still conversational in style, but instead of trying to convince a guy to come on over, she’s trying to convince a friend to turn away an abusive boyfriend. The steel guitar still sounds like window dressing, but her performance is closer to sincere than it is to cloying this time around. When singing the chorus, she sounds quite a bit like co-writer Rachel Proctor, who had the memorable hit “Me and Emily” that explored similar themes. The ending tag, “Take it from me, I’ve stood there in your shoes”, is gratuitous, but overall, it’s a decent single. Written by Victoria Banks and Rachel Proctor Grade: B– Listen: Remember That Buy: Remember That
Jessica Simpson Do You Know Jessica Simpson is all country. At least by her own account. She has fully embraced the sound of Nashville pop-country, along with all the elements of its image. The conversations flavored with “Y’all” and “Bless your heart” and all those sweet, southern sayings. The wardrobes of jeans, t-shirt and a perfectly worn pair of cowboy boots. And the songs feature just enough steel and country sass to fit well with all that has become mainstream country music. Is the image a true reflection of Simpson as a person? Likely. Are the songs there? Unfortunately not, for the most part, on Do You Know. The first single, “Come On Over,” became a Top 20 success on country radio; however lyrical content is not its strong suit. In fact, it fully discloses the major problem that courses through the entire album. Do You Know sounds good, thanks to Read More