There’s a country radio station in NYC proper for the first time in nearly twenty years. The last one went off the air before I was old enough to drive, so when I found out it existed, I immediately checked it out.
Then I immediately checked out. It’s not listenable to me. It’s playing all of today’s hits and those from the past couple of years, and sometimes a song that I like will come on, but it’s always sandwiched between filler that hurts my ears.
The thing about filler is it’s always been around, even in any of the handful of golden eras the genre has seen. My favorite era had “Independence Day” and “Gone Country” on the air at the same time, but you were gonna hear “Wink” and “If Bubba Can Dance (I Can Too)” in between.
Today’s hits aren’t all that great to begin with, but the filler is plum terrible, and it’s so jarringly loud that it won’t allow you to let it fade into the background. I’ve heard Justin Moore’s “Point at You” twice while getting into the car this week, and if I hadn’t switched to my iPod before switching from park to drive, my road rage would be notable even by New York City standards.
I say all this because American Young’s new single, “Love is War”, is the kind of filler that would keep me tuned into the country station, waiting to hear what was played next. It sounds good from a distance. Awesome arrangement, great instrumentation, twangy in a Civil Wars on their game/Band Perry on their meds kind of way.
It’s a really bland song though, with generic lyrics that don’t really say anything new or anything interesting about a topic that requires that you have new and interesting things to say if you’re going to write about it at all. Love is war, it’s a battle, it’s a battlefield, yada, yada, yada. George Jones and Pat Benatar noticed that, too.
But I would totally be on board with more of country radio sounding like this, even if it’s just the filler.
Time’s running short. If your personal least favorite wasn’t in Part 1, Part 2 , or Part 3, perhaps it will turn up now.
The Worst Singles of the Decade, Part 4: #20-#11
The Lost Trailers, “Holler Back”
If your response to hearing “Holler Back” is to brag that you’ve got a holler back in the woods, I suggest that you and your music stay there.
Trailer Choir, “Rockin’ the Beer Gut”
I appreciate the sincerity, but it can’t overcome the fact that he’s rockin’ the Autotune and singin’ the most ridiculous lyric of the year.
Bucky Covington, “A Different World”
Bucky and I are roughly the same age, and I know for a fact that we grew up with seat belts, video games, and remote controls. What’s next, Taylor Swift singing about growing up without the internet?
Toby Keith featuring Krystal, “Mockingbird”
As endearing as it is that Toby Keith wanted to help his daughter on to country radio, I have to ask the question: Why is one of country music’s greatest all-time vocalists aping James Taylor’s far less capable vocal stylings? Did we really need to hear Toby Keith sing, “Yes indeed-o?”
Billy Ray Cyrus featuring Miley Cyrus, “Ready, Set, Don’t Go”
Then again, trying to help your daughter is a heck of a lot more sympathetic than riding on her coattails. I’d give this a pass if it was the original recording, but slapping Miley on to the track when the solo version is struggling at radio is just sad.
Blake Shelton, “The Baby”
Or as he sings it, “The Bay-ay-bee.”
Neal McCoy, “Billy’s Got His Beer Goggles On”
Of all of the nineties stars to make a one-off comeback, did it have to be the man who brought us “The Shake?”
Gretchen Wilson, “All Jacked Up”
In which Wilson sees both her front tooth and her pickup truck damaged, and pundits are left debating which one best symbolizes what she’s done to her career.
Brad Paisley, “Ticks”
A warning to all the ladies: If a stranger starts talking to you like this at a bar, please don’t follow him into the woods. It won’t end well.
Trace Adkins, “Swing”
The strikes are called after you swing, not before them. Stupid songwriters.
ntry radio these days. While there is a ton of great country music out there, the play lists for mainstream country stations seem to be very inflexible and limited to a frustratingly low number of artists/songs. Furthermore, what country radio embraces these days is not well-aligned with my music tastes. Consequently, I keep up with country music through satellite radio, copious research and suggestions by other bloggers whose music tastes I trust.
Judging by the volume of music I’ve acquired in the past 4 years since I’ve stopped regularly listening to mainstream country radio, I’ve been doing a more than satisfactory job of keeping up. Even more importantly, I’ve been able to maintain my love of country music, which surely would have fizzled out if I had continued on the mainstream country radio track.
C.M. Wilcox, proprietor of Country California (who incidentally is one of my most trusted bloggers that has turned me onto an inordinate amount of music), has inspired me to borrow tonight’s discussion topic from his live blogging of 30 minutes of country radio. I decided to check into one of my own local country radio stations for a half hour to hear what was happening there.
At 6:20 P.M., on Tuesday night, I turned my alarm clock radio (my only way to listen to the radio without sitting in the car) to a local country station, q106.5, where it seemed that a local disc jockey was at the helm. Here is what I heard during my half hour of radio:
Billy Currington, “Must Be Doing Something Right”
Brooks & Dunn/Reba McEntire, “Cowgirls Don’t Cry”
Neal McCoy, “Wink”
Kenny Chesney, “Don’t Blink”
Keith Urban, “Sweet Thing”
Craig Morgan, “That’s What I Love About Sunday”
While it certainly could have been worse, I have to say that it was a rather uninspiring half hour of radio. I think I’ll stick to my current regimen of music discovery for now.
So, since C.M. Wilcox and I have done it. I would like all of you to do the same. Turn on your radio for thirty minutes and come back here and report what you’ve heard. We can commiserate. It’ll be fun.
Country music’s modern golden age was the nineties. The artistry was compelling, while the sales numbers were staggering. There was so much great music from so many artists, both old and new, that it’s easy to forget the undercurrent of mediocrity that lurked below this sea of excellence.
The Very Best of Neal McCoy is a reminder. While even stalwarts like Alan Jackson, Vince Gill and Patty Loveless were guilty of the occasional radio filler, McCoy’s entire catalog was just that: radio filler. While a twenty-track hits collection is generous by any measure, the songs here are so generically constructed and paint-by-number produced that they blend into each other. As pleasant elevator music, “For a Change” and “That Woman of Mine” get the job done, but they’re certainly not interesting enough to hold your attention for very long.
Indeed, on those rare moments that this collection demands your attention, it’s usually because something genuinely awful has occurred. “The Shake” is as painful to listen to now as it was when it was a hit, and both “Rednecktified” and “Billy’s Got His Beer Goggles On” are wince-inducingly terrible.
The irony is that Neal McCoy is one of the era’s finest live performers, with a stage show as electrifying as his recorded music is lackluster. For those looking to cherry-pick, there are a couple of moments here that hint at McCoy’s talents, like the still-charming “Wink” and the forlorn “If I Was a Drinkin’ Man.” But aside from those tracks and the campy “Now I Pray For Rain”, there’s little here to recommend.
The challenge of releasing a song that connects to one specific demographic is that it must possess something that is strong enough to redeem it so that people outside of the chosen demographic can embrace it as well.Unfortunately for Neal McCoy, this new song that will be included on his upcoming Greatest Hits collection does not rise to the challenge.Instead, it simply sounds like another oft sung about version of the same old “I’m proud to be a redneck” anthem.
In this mid-tempo song, McCoy lists off all the reasons that he is “rednecktified” and proud of it.There are a few amusing lines, but the lyrics and the bland production does not successfully set the song apart from other such anthems.