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.
Suggested by longtime reader and commenter Jonathan Pappalardo:
What are the five most essential albums in your collection?
I love this question!
Here’s my list:
- Dixie Chicks, Home
- Reba McEntire, For My Broken Heart
- Patty Loveless, When Fallen Angels Fly
- Trisha Yearwood, Hearts in Armor
- Linda Ronstadt, Heart Like a Wheel
Was going to try to do some equal opportunity attempt and squeeze in an album by a male act. But even without repeating artists, the next seven or eight would still be female artists.
So here are my five most essential albums by male artists, for the record
- Johnny Cash, American III: Solitary Man
- Dwight Yoakam, Gone
- Todd Snider, The Devil You Know
- Willie Nelson, Phases and Stages
- Alan Jackson, Like Red on a Rose
From longtime reader Six String Richie.
What are your favorite pre-fame releases? You can pick singles and/or albums. Whatever works for you.
Here’s my Top Five:
- Patty Loveless, “I Did”
- Shania Twain, “Dance With the One That Brought You”
- Kenny Chesney, “Whatever it Takes”
- Carlene Carter, “Never Together but Close Sometimes”
- Martina McBride, “Cheap Whiskey”
We haven’t done a Daily Top Five for a few days, so the original post is going to be lengthier than usual.
Loyal fans of an artist usually love album cuts and rarities as much as they do the singles, if not more. Today we ask, what are your five favorite lesser-known tracks by your five favorite artists?
You don’t have to to pick five artists in the comments, of course. But for the artists you pick, try to avoid singles!
I’m cheating and using my iPod play counts to help me out here.
Here are my five favorite fan favorites from five of my favorite artists:
- Dreaming Fields
- Woman Walk the Line
- Standing Out in a Crowd
- Little Hercules
- Harmless Heart
Once again, technical difficulties derailed yesterday’s Daily Top Five. So we’re doubling down today.
Ever notice how the Vocal Event categories at country award shows honor harmony vocals as much as they do real, full-fledged duets? The spiritual godfather of all of this is “You and I”, the not quite duet by Eddie Rabbitt and Crystal Gayle, “You and I.” But the modern trend goes back to the award-sweeping “It’s Your Love”, the not quite duet by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.
So for today’s Daily Double Top Fives, we’re asking you to make the distinction that the award shows don’t. What are your favorite five duets, which feature two artists actually trading off lines, and what are your favorite five “all-star” harmony vocals?
Here are mine:
Top Five Duets
- Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton, “The Last Thing on My Mind”
- Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty, “After the Fire is Gone”
- Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton, “You Can’t Make Old Friends”
- Suzy Bogguss & Billy Dean, “Something Up My Sleeve”
- Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss, “Whiskey Lullaby”
Top Five Harmony Vocals
- Linda Ronstadt with Emmylou Harris, “I Can’t Help it (If I’m Still in Love with You)”
- Tim McGraw with Faith Hill, “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s”
- Patty Loveless with George Jones, “You Don’t Seem to Miss Me”
- Vince Gill with Patty Loveless, “When I Call Your Name”
- Trisha Yearwood with Emmylou Harris, “Woman Walk the Line”
Does failure to reach a consensus indicate a year that lacked quality, or a year that had enough interesting singles that subjective taste is enough to prevent a consensus?
This was the dilemma faced by the Country Universe staff as we compiled our Best Singles of 2014 feature. We followed our usual routine. Each writer submitted their list of the twenty best singles of the year, and our numbers guru Jonathan Keefe used his time-test algorithm to produce a collective ranking.
But this year, there was only one single that appeared on four out of five lists. The rest: three or less. Rather than shorten the list to showcase only those songs chosen by multiple writers, we decided to stick to the usual forty slots, and let quite a few songs embraced only by one writer to have their place in the sun.
The result is probably the most diverse singles list we’ve ever published, and provides a great counterpoint to our upcoming albums list, which showed far more consensus than any previous albums list has.
Today, we start with the lower half of our top forty singles. Look for the upper half tomorrow, and our albums list on Wednesday.
“Truck Stop Gospel”
Raspy-voiced newcomer Parker Millsap takes it to church on one of the year’s best-drawn character sketches, adopting the persona of a truck driver whose cab doubles as his pulpit. – Jonathan Keefe
As 2014 comes to a close, the Country Universe staff has been collectively impressed by the number of quality albums that were released this year. How many of those albums, however, will we still be listening to in twenty years?
We have that benefit of hindsight for the year 1994, and we’ve compiled our twenty favorite studio sets from that year. At their time of release, some of our favorites were comeback albums from veteran artists, some were from current artists reaching new artistic and commercial peaks, and some were debut sets from artists that went on to become mainstays on country radio or in the Americana music scene that was just coming together twenty years ago.
What they all have in common is that each and every one of them still sounds great today, and they collectively show the wide breadth that the country music landscape was transforming into as the genre reached wider levels of popularity than it had ever seen before.
This is Me
BF #11 | KJC #15 | LW #19
Travis’ legendary status was practically secure by 1994, but This is Me shows an artist neither resting on his laurels nor struggling to keep up with the young new talent of the era. The album serves up one solid song after another, with its best tracks delivering clever new takes on signature country themes, thus further advancing an already respectable legacy. – Ben Foster
Recommended Tracks: “Before You Kill Us All”, “This is Me”, “The Box”
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
Our Best of 1994 Singles List kicks off today with the bottom quarter of our top forty. The list was compiled by weighing each individual writer’s choices, with preference given to songs that appeared on multiple lists. Each writer’s individual ranking is listed under the songwriter credits.
Bonus retro fun: Check out those cassette singles covers!
“Livin’ on Love”
Written by Alan Jackson
SG #14 | JK #23 | BF #37
Country music has, historically, given voice to those disenfranchised by poverty, validating and finding the value in the struggles of economic hardship. What elevates the appropriately bare-bones narrative of “Livin’ on Love” is the warmth and real sense of empathy in Jackson’s performance. – Jonathan Keefe
There are a lot of great country songs chronicling the breakup of a relationship, but it’s the female characters who have often shown a particular propensity for leaving their lovers by car. Sometimes she changes her mind and turns the car around; most of the time she doesn’t. Either way, it’s been the making of many a great country song.
There are obviously numerous songs that fit this mold, but here’s my whittled-down list of six personal favorites. I look forward to reading about your favorites in the comments section below.
“Nothin’ But the Wheel”
Written by John Scott Sherrill
Whenever I attempt to rank my many favorite Patty Loveless songs, “Nothin’ But the Wheel” is always one of the top three. Loveless’ mournful drawl is gorgeously framed by the weeping fiddle and steel guitar as she gives voice to a woman striking out on the road in the wee hours of the morning. The real gut punch comes with the line “And the only thing I know for sure is if you don’t want me anymore…” as the narrator reveals that she’s leaving not only because she’s unhappy, but because she knows she will not be missed. Continue reading