Tag Archives: Josh Gracin

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 16

Today’s category is…

Your Guiltiest Guilty Pleasure.

Here are the staff picks:

Kevin Coyne: “Sashimi” – Keyboard Cathy

Look, here’s the thing. It started out as a joke. I was laughing at it. I swear. Then I started singing it to myself more often than I care to admit…until now.

Leeann Ward: “Gotta Be Somebody” – Nickelback

I have plenty of guilty pleasures, but my guiltiest guilty pleasure stands ahead of the rest. In fact, I feel so guilty about enjoying this song that I can’t even define what I like about it, but the fact is that I do, despite that you wouldn’t find any song like it in my iTunes.

Dan Milliken: “Working For the Weekend” – Josh Gracin

I honestly don’t experience much musical guilt, so I’m just going with what probably sounds the worst on paper. Gracin snarls his way through this perky 80’s pop hit, imbuing it with a weird, aggressive, kind of creepy sexuality. It’s strangely engrossing.

Tara Seetharam: Shake That” - Eminem featuring Nate Dogg

Any class I’ve built up as a music blogger probably just came crashing down, but I can’t help it y’all. I freaking love this song.

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The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 1: #201-#181

hourglassThis was the decade that brought back the single.  Not that it ever fully went away, as radio still played the promotional ones and video outlets the filmed ones. But actual commercial singles had gone the way of the dodo, until the digital revolution suddenly made them practical again.  Why buy the whole album when you can just get the song that you want?

The devastation this has brought to record company bottom lines was probably unavoidable anyway, given the realities of post-Napster society. But technology has its perks. Now you can buy the songs on this list with a click of the mouse!

And what a list it is: 201 singles that run the gamut, from genuine hits that topped the charts to songs spun only by renegade DJs working the night shift. Here’s how we compiled it: four Country Universe writers ranked their personal favorite 100 singles, with an inverted point system applied (#1 on a list meant 100 points, while #100 on the list meant 1 point.) The songs were then ranked by number of total points, greatest to least. Ties were broken by the number of lists the song appeared on, then by highest individual ranking.

There was more consensus than usual for CU, and we all agreed on one thing: this list was a heck of a lot of fun to compile. We hope you enjoy it, too!

The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 1: #201-#181

201 Lady A

#201
“I Run To You”
Lady Antebellum
2009
Peak: #1

There’s a palpable intensity to this song that grips me every time I listen to it. Love isn’t always characterized by peacefulness, and the song’s pulsing production perfectly conveys the urgency, desperation and passion that often accompanies it. – Tara Seetharam Continue reading

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Discussion: American Idol, Crazy Eights

kellyclarkson1On Tuesday, January 13, 2008, the eighth season of American Idol commenced. As the highest-rated show on television, American Idol‘s produced an immeasurable impact on the entertainment industry, with film stars (Jennifer Hudson), pop superstars (Kelly Clarkson) and publicity magnets (Clay Aiken) all sprouting from the competition.

A number of Idol participants adopted country music as their main mode of career transportation.  In addition to Season Four champion Carrie Underwood, finalists Josh Gracin, Bucky Covington and Kellie Pickler have achieved varying levels of success on Music Row. Phil Stacey, Kristy Lee Cook and Bo Bice continue to polish their craft in the hopes that they’ll find favor with country listeners as well.

The best Idol contestant to date is Kelly Clarkson. Her blend of balls-to-the-wall rockers and fall-to-your-knees ballads were a magic potion to angry tween girls (and fans of pure pop bliss), and her ensuing success legitimized Idol as a cultural institution.  Then, the floodgates opened. Kudos came from all corners of the musical universe with 2005′s “Since U Been Gone,” a sing-in-your-hairbrush salvo that Clarkson fires off with the strength of a gale force wind. Hip and happening, fueled by a melody that was half Strokes, half Swedish pop genius, “Since U Been Gone” gained a rare thing for mainstream radio songs: credibility. A change in her musical muse (Clarkson delved into deeper, darker tones on 2007′s My December) was met with turbulence; in June 2007, she shared her public “feuds” with famed record exec Clive Davis, she dumped her management team and she canceled a stadium tour.

kellyclarkson21Recent developments advance the notion that she’s ready to conquer the Top 40 parade again. Hailed as the return of pop’s prodigal daughter, Clarkson’s new album All I Ever Wanted (slated to ship on St. Patrick’s Day) is being positioned as a bounce back into the shinier rhythms of Clarkson’s earlier work. The bright, beaming colors of the album art (not to mention her goody-two-shoes, glammed-out pose) and the light, breezy feel of its first single, “My Life Would Suck Without You” signal a renewed energy.  Lyrics like “Maybe I was stupid for telling you goodbye/Maybe I was wrong for tryin’ to pick a fight” hint coyly at the contretemps behind the black curtain. A masterstroke of marketing or an earnest ditty of devotion?  No matter. The quasi-comeback kid kicks the tail out of a tale of resistant rapture.

There’s your Kelly Clarkson update. Now, who is your favorite Idol contestant, country or otherwise?

P.S. Who, in my view, is the best country Idol contestant so far?  Well, Carrie Underwood, of course.

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Single Review: Josh Gracin, “Telluride”

If you’re going to comb through an artist’s catalog looking for missed hits, Tim McGraw is a good guy to start with.    “Telluride” was on Tim’s Set This Circus Down album, which produced four #1 hits.    It’s easy to imagine this one lighting up the charts, though it’s quite a bit less effective in the less experienced hands of Josh Gracin.

There’s none of the wry humor or devilish charm of McGraw’s reading here.  If anything, Gracin’s overly earnest. McGraw gave a performance that connected with what the lyrics described – a one-night stand that was noteworthy for the action.  Gracin sounds like he’s swooning over a long lost love.    In case anyone out there’s still looking for proof of the difference between being a gifted singer and an effective one, here it is.

Written by Brett James and Troy Verges

Grade: C

Listen: Telluride

Buy: Telluride

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Josh Gracin, “Unbelievable (Ann Marie)”

While this song may not be quite as steamy as Sara Evans’ latest single, “Love You With All My Heart”, it seems to focus on the intimacies of the Gracin relationship. As indicated in the title, “Unbelievable (Ann Marie), Josh Gracin’s newest single was written by Gracin for his wife. It’s a sweet gesture, but I’m still left to wonder why Ann Marie is really so unbelievable.

It begins and ends with plenty of flattering adjectives such as “undeniable, incredible, simply wonderful and beautiful. Those compliments, however, are only supported by a description of his physical attraction to her: “I wanna touch your skin/Til it feels like a sin/And take you places/That you’ve never been/Oh Baby this is real/The way you make me feel, unbelievable…/Got your breath on my skin and the taste of your kiss/Every inch and every curve/Late at night can’t believe when you lie next to me/Cause I know this is more than I deserve…”

Not only does this song tell us too much, it also tells us too little about why his wife is so unbelievable. Its generic melody, along with it’s vacuous lyrics, does nothing to help it stand out among the countless other love songs in country music.

Written by Josh Gracin

Grade: C

Listen: Unbelievable (Ann Marie)

Buy: Unbelievable (Ann Marie)

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