Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
Posts Tagged ‘Reba McEntire’
rs.jpg” alt=”" width=”160″ height=”159″ />100 Greatest Men: The Complete List
Their fraternal harmonies saturated stations across the radio dial in the fifties and early sixties, and today they’re best remembered as founders of both rock and country music as we know it.
Brothers Don and Phil Everly were born two years apart in the late thirties, and grew up listening to music that transitioned out of the depression and into the second world war. Their father, Ike, was a traveling musician and had his own radio show out of Shenandoah, Iowa.
They started as part of the family act, but as they got older, they became a duo. Through the help of Chet Atkins, they received a record deal at Columbia, which faltered after one failed single. Still, Atkins encouraged them to stay at it, and helped them get a publishing contract in Nashville.
Their publisher, Acuff-Rose, introduced them to the higher-ups at Cadence Records, and when they signed with the label, the hits came quickly. Hits like “Bye Bye Love”, “Wake Up Little Susie”, “Devoted to You”, and “Bird Dog” made a big impact on the radio, reaching the upper ranks of the pop and country charts in America. Their Rockabilly sound reached all the way around the world, as the duo had big hits in the United Kingdom and Australia.
As format walls hardened, the band signed with Warner Bros., where they had their last big pop hits with “Cathy’s Clown” and “When Will I Be Loved.” Interestingly, though the songs didn’t crack the country charts back then, both would later be covered by female country artists who took them all the way to #1. When Reba McEntire sang “Cathy’s Clown” and Linda Ronstadt sang “When Will I Be Loved”, they sounded just as country as anything else at the time, if not a bit more.
Throughout the sixties, their fortunes faded at radio, and a feud broke the duo apart in the seventies. But before they temporarily called it quits, they released the landmark 1968 set Roots, a critically acclaimed set that was one of the earliest examples of the country-rock that Ronstadt and the Eagles would mainstream in the years that followed.
The Everly Brothers were among the first group of acts inducted during the inaugural year of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. Since then, they’ve been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
- Bye Bye Love, 1957
- Wake Up Little Susie, 1957
- All I Have to Do is Dream, 1958
- Take a Message to Mary, 1959
- Cathy’s Clown, 1960
- When Will I Be Loved, 1960
- The Everly Brothers, 1958
- Songs Our Daddy Taught Us, 1959
- It’s Everly Time, 1960
- A Date With the Everly Brothers, 1961
- Roots, 1968
Next: #79. Hank Locklin
Previous: #81. Eagles
Thursday, September 1st, 2011
I’ve had the Adele album for a good bit now, and “Someone Like You” is my favorite track on it. I’d already heard how the song shot to #1 in the U.K. after she performed it on the Brit Awards.
I checked out that performance, and thought it was good. Not great, but good.
So when I heard all the buzz about her performance of the song on Sunday’s MTV Awards, I didn’t rush to check it out, and ended up just watching it last night out of boredom.
I can’t tell if it’s because she was a bit hoarse, or if she was trying to hold back her tears. Either way, it was so stunningly powerful that I was even a bit shaken up by the whole thing.
I know that there’s going to be the inevitable claims of authenticity and real talent and such, which makes sense given the pop landscape that she’s performing in. But honestly, it’s been a really long time since anything has happened on a country music stage that’s even come close to what Adele pulled off that night.
It reminded me of Reba McEntire’s performance of “For My Broken Heart” on the 1991 CMA Awards. She’s a seasoned pro who rarely misses a note, but she tears up so much in the final chorus that she can’t get the notes out, and imperfection that makes the performance timelessly perfect:
I can’t find the clip online, but it also reminded me of Vince Gill singing “The Key to Life” on the 1998 show, also breaking down in the final few lines of the song. I miss moments like this in country music.
No wonder I’m so awfully disinterested in country this year. Besides the usual mainstream drivel, I’ve also been disappointed by new albums from usually reliable folks like Dolly Parton, Todd Snider, Alison Krauss & Union Station, and even Emmylou Harris. I’ve taken to pretending that The Civil Wars are somehow country so that I don’t write the genre off completely this year.
The only thing I’ve really loved so far? Matraca Berg’s The Dreaming Fields. It’s got that same rawness that must be speaking to me for some reason these days. There’s no chance of Berg making it back on the radio in 2011, but with all the shameless format-hopping that’s been allowed by country programmers in recent years, maybe we can get them to give a few spins to Adele.
Tuesday, August 16th, 2011
Of historical note for two reasons.
First, it established Twain’s affection for the exclamation point, a punctuation mark that she would take to ludicrous extremes in the years to come.
Second, and far more importantly, it firmly established her point of view on relationships. She’s really just looking for two things: respect and monogamy.
The bare midriffs and the playful videos were just the window dressing. What Twain was really selling was a distinctively feminist point of view, permanently shifting the perspective that all female country artists would sing and write from in the years to come.
A more careful historian would tally up the number of female victim songs, pre- and post-1995, but really, just check out the catalog of Reba McEntire for a simple case study.
Thanks to this record, victim queens are outta here.
Written by Robert John “Mutt” Lange and Shania Twain
Monday, July 25th, 2011
This is one of those times when Reba really needs to start acting her age.
She’s fifty-six years old. She’s lived. She’s been married, and she’s been divorced. She’s become a mother, and watched her child grow to adulthood. She’s risen to superstardom in a male-dominated genre format. She has an added level of age and experience to bring to the table, which should be especially evident when she puts pen to paper to offer a lyrical composition of her own.
“Somebody’s Chelsea” is a story-song in which the female narrator meets an elderly gentleman on a plane, and listens to him reminisce over sixty years of happy marriage to his late wife Chelsea. What profound insights does this middle-aged woman bring to this conversation?
“I wanna be somebody’s Chelsea
Somebody’s day and night
One and only girl….”
That’s it? All she can do is spit out a few clichés? The story almost had me interested at first, but the narrator’s conclusion offers a weak listener payoff that rings hollow and insubstantial.
Unfortunately, “Somebody’s Chelsea” sums up to a great extent what’s wrong with Reba’s All the Women I Am album as a whole. In her constant struggle to maintain commercial viability in a youth-obsessed market, she’s become so preoccupied with chasing current trends that she’s lost the heart, authenticity, and artistic focus that shines through in all her best work.
On the occasions when Reba has sung from her full-grown woman perspective, magic happens. Look at past classics like “The Fear of Being Alone,” or even more recent cuts like “When You Have a Child.” The former finds Reba feeling out a new romance with caution, warning herself not mistake fear of loneliness for love. With the latter, she puts into song the conflicting emotions that a mother experiences in having a child, and watching the child grow up and leave home.
Could Carrie Underwood pull off either of those songs? How about Taylor Swift? No, of course not. But Reba can because she has the life experience that allows her to deliver such sentiments with authority.
Truth be told, this song still wouldn’t be very interesting even if it were coming from a younger artist. It sets the listener up to expect something profound, but it never fully developes its concept, instead regressing into superficiality. Still, it’s a particularly disappointing entry coming from a seasoned legend who should have so much more to say.
This newly-inducted Country Music Hall of Famer is not helping her artistic legacy with these late-term single releases. Her efforts at downplaying her age may prolong her hitmaking streak, but there’s no way around the fact that the quality of her music has suffered as a result.
Written by Reba McEntire, Liz Hengber, and Will Robinson
Listen: Somebody’s Chelsea
Monday, April 25th, 2011
But this gospel number brings out the very worst in Lee Ann Womack as a singer. She simply sounds terrible when she tries to get too soulful. She tries to do the Reba McEntire curlicues at some points, the Dolly Parton vibrato at others. She can’t pull either one of them off.
It’s not a good thing when the Blind Boys are singing to Womack to “forgive yourself”, and all I’m thinking is that if she was really sorry, she’d stop stretching two-syllable words out over fifteen seconds.
Listen: I Was a Burden
Wednesday, February 9th, 2011
Reba’s a great singer, and this is a great song.
Yes, the lyrics make it an awkward fit at times. Did we really need to hear Reba McEntire use the phrase “kickin’ it”, one single after using Twitter as an action verb?
But I think I get why this song is resonating with her. Perhaps more than three decades of being a female artist in a male-dominated industry makes it easy for her to tap into the double standard bemoaned by the lyric.
The problem is that even if her vocal brings maturity to the material, the production undermines it. The echo on “boy” in the chorus is terrible. It sounds like something you’d hear an overzealous synthesizer band do in the early eighties.
Reba’s only had a handful of truly great singles in the last fifteen years. “The Fear of Being Alone.” “Consider Me Gone.” “He Gets That From Me.”
They’ve been great because she found a great lyric, delivered it flawlessly, and didn’t let the bells and whistles of production get in her way.
This could’ve been a great single, with a lyric or two changed to make it more believable, and a production that didn’t call out for a Members Only jacket.
She’s Reba McEntire. She has no excuse for not getting it right.
Written by Toby Gad and BC Jean
Listen: If I Were a Boy
Thursday, January 27th, 2011
The 11th Annual Country Music Critics’ Poll has just been published by Nashville Scene. It covers the 2010 year of country music. The participants of the poll consists of country music critics who spend their time listening to and analyzing stacks of music throughout the year in order to knowledgeably write about it for the purpose of either promoting excellent music or warning against the not so good stuff. Kevin, Dan and Tara are among these prestigious critics.
Each year, invited critics submit their ballots with their favorite music and artists in the appropriate categories. The poll includes the best albums, singles, male and female artists, reissues, live acts, duos and groups, songwriters, new acts, and the over all artists of the year. While the results include the usual suspects, they are mixed with some surprises or names that aren’t commonly associated with mainstream country.
Some of my favorite results include Raul Malo tied at #8 with Gary Allan for top males and Elizabeth Cook at #2 for top females, not to mention Sunny Sweeney’s “From A Table Away” landing at the #3 spot for singles. The most amusing result, however, is Jamey Johnson and Taylor Swift in the top two spots for songwriters.
What’s most fascinating about this process is that the critics have the opportunity to include comments with their ballots. These comments serve to clarify choices and pontificate on the state of country music and its various aspects. There are some insightful comments from both Dan and Tara, along with other critics that you might recognize from our blog roll.
Here are some of the cream of the crop comments that display a satisfyingly diverse array of perspectives:
“Lost amidst the rush to proclaim Jamey Johnson as the man to reclaim country music from pop acts like Taylor Swift is the fact that Johnson and Swift are cut from the precisely same cloth. Johnson is most often championed for the supposed authenticity of his songwriting, but is it really any more believable that he’s been “takin’ dee-pression pills in the Hollywood hills” than it is that Swift regrets not calling an ex when his birthday passed? Both Johnson and Swift have developed public personae and voices as songwriters that trade in the same suspension of disbelief. Swift’s music may not scan as “country” to the extent that Johnson’s does, but that isn’t because she’s any less authentic than Johnson. They both act like they’re “Playing the Part,” and they both do so awfully well.” —Jonathan Keefe, Slant Magazine
“Thank goodness the Internet and satellite radio are around to pick up FM’s slack, because brilliant would-be singles continue popping up on independent releases that Clear Channel won’t touch. My favorite two this year were Elizabeth Cook’s “El Camino” and Chely Wright’s “Notes to the Coroner.” The former: a hilarious country-rap about a creepy, mulleted lothario. The latter: a frank diary introduction from a recently deceased woman. Both: utterly unique and unshakably catchy.” —Dan Milliken, Country Universe
“In 2010, Grandpa told us about the good old days again. The most conspicuous presence on country radio in recent years has been this kindly old gentleman, lugging his aching bones out of bed to share some worldly wisdom. After years of hard labor and heartache, he’s now embarked on a second career as life coach for his hillbilly kin on recent singles from Lee Brice, Billy Currington, Craig Morgan and Alan Jackson (the matured mentor on Zac Brown’s “As She’s Walking Away”). Of course, country radio won’t fool with women over 40 except for Reba, so you never really get to hear Grandma’s side of things.” —Blake Boldt, The 9513
“Despite their two weak singles this year, “Our Kind of Love” and “Hello World,” I remain in Lady Antebellum’s corner. What hooks me is the way they’re able to inject gritty, tangible emotion into the glossiest of production and the vaguest of lyrics. That’s what elevates “Need You Now” to an aching confession, and that’s how, on a song that compares innocence to a condiment, Hillary Scott’s vocal performance alone manages to tell an evocative story.” —Tara Seetharam, Country Universe
“So if country music is doing so well artistically, why is it that whenever I turned on the radio in 2010, I heard mostly pop or rock songs with a token steel guitar thrown into the mix? I’ve long since given up hope of Americana artists ever getting picked up by mainstream radio, and I’ve pretty much come to terms with the fact that Jamey Johnson won’t be getting many (if any) hit songs no matter how good they are. But would it kill them to play some non-hyphenated country music a little more? I know that country-pop and country-rock are the flavors of the month, but where does that leave more traditional artists? I know I’d be more willing to tolerate Jason Aldean rapping or Jennifer Nettles singing with her stupid fake Jamaican accent if “Draw Me a Map” or “Will I Always Be This Way” was next on the playlist.” —Sam Gazdziak, The 9513
“In an August interview with Spinner, Ryan Bingham rejected the notion that he makes country music. Two weeks later, Bingham was named the Americana Music Association’s “Artist of the Year,” thanks in large part to his Academy Award-winning song “The Weary Kind,” a song he wrote for a movie about a country singer. In September, when asked about the state of country music today, rising star Justin Townes Earle told The Wall Street Journal that he’s embarrassed to be from Nashville because of the “shit songwriting, shit records and shit singers who are making a million dollars.” Even mainstream country stalwart Zac Brown distanced himself from the genre, telling American Songwriter in September, “The songs that I write are Southern, but I wouldn’t necessarily call them country.” It’s a shame — and an enormous loss for the genre — that the term “country music” has come to describe something so narrow that bright young artists like these choose not to identify themselves as country. Thank God for Jamey Johnson, who wears the mantle proudly.” —Jim Malec, American Twang
Category Best of 2010
Tags: Alan Jackson, Billy Currington, Chely Wright, Craig Morgan, Dierks Bentley, Elizabeth Cook, Gary Allan, Jamey Johnson, Jason Aldean, Justin Townes Earle, Lady Antebellum, Lee Brice, Raul Malo, Reba McEntire, Ryan Bingham, Sugarland, Sunny Sweeney, Taylor Swift, Zac Brown Band
Thursday, January 27th, 2011
How are country artists faring? Let’s take a look at cumulative sales for current albums. Sales are rounded to the nearest hundred.
Top Selling Current Country Albums
- Taylor Swift, Fearless: 6,233,900
- Taylor Swift, Taylor Swift: 4,955,000
- Lady Antebellum, Need You Now: 3,138,700
- Taylor Swift, Speak Now: 3,078,600
- Zac Brown Band, The Foundation: 2,489,200
- Carrie Underwood, Play On: 1,937,041
- Lady Antebellum, Lady Antebellum: 1,835,800
- Jason Aldean, Wide Open: 1,364,700
- Miranda Lambert, Revolution: 1,149,000
- Rascal Flatts, Greatest Hits Volume 1: 994,600
- Sugarland, The Incredible Machine: 815,200
- Jason Aldean, My Kinda Party: 766,300
- Tim McGraw, Southern Voice: 749,200
- George Strait, Twang: 670,200
- Kenny Chesney, Hemingway’s Whiskey: 655,200
- Zac Brown Band, You Get What You Give: 636,000
- Rascal Flatts, Nothing Like This: 585,800
- Luke Bryan, Doin’ My Thing: 509,200
- Keith Urban, Get Closer: 508,200
- Brooks & Dunn, #1′s…and Then Some: 479,700
- Toby Keith, American Ride: 432,100
- Chris Young, The Man I Want to Be: 408,000
- Eric Church, Carolina: 380,600
- Darius Rucker, Charleston, SC 1966: 376,700
- The Band Perry, The Band Perry: 364,000
- Josh Turner, Haywire: 361,800
- Justin Moore, Justin Moore: 325,600
- Easton Corbin, Easton Corbin: 314,000
- Toby Keith, Bullets in the Gun: 279,400
- Jamey Johnson, The Guitar Song: 256,300
- Gary Allan, Get Off on the Pain: 238,000
- Reba McEntire, All the Women I Am: 224,800
- Jerron Niemann, Judge Jerron & The Hung Jury: 222,700
- Billy Currington, Enjoy Yourself: 222,000
- Tim McGraw, Number One Hits: 220,500
- Dierks Bentley, Up on the Ridge: 204,900
- Zac Brown Band, Pass the Jar: 202,100
- Trace Adkins, Cowboy’s Back in Town: 194,200
- Johnny Cash, American VI: Ain’t No Grave: 190,100
- Brad Paisley, Hits Alive: 189,200
- Alan Jackson, 34 Number Ones: 181,000
- Blake Shelton, All About Tonight: 160,700
- Little Big Town, The Reason Why: 158,300
- Blake Shelton, Loaded: The Best of Blake Shelton : 142,300
- Jaron and the Long Road to Love, Getting Dressed in the Dark: 119,700
- Josh Thompson, Way Out Here: 107,000
- Joe Nichols, Old Things New: 100,700
- Brantley Gilbert, Halfway to Heaven: 81,400
- Lee Brice, Love Like Crazy: 81,200
- Steel Magnolia, Steel Magnolia: 41,000
- Joey + Rory, Album Number Two: 34,100
- Randy Houser, They Call Me Cadillac: 30,900
Category Crunching the Numbers
Tags: Alan Jackson, Billy Currington, Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Brantley Gilbert, Brooks & Dunn, Chris Young, Darius Rucker, Dierks Bentley, Easton Corbin, Eric Church, Gary Allan, George Strait, Jamey Johnson, Jaron and The Long Road to Love, Jason Aldean, Jerron Niemann, Joey + Rory, Johnny Cash, Josh Turner, Justin Moore, Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney, Lady Antebellum, Lee Brice, Little Big Town, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Randy Houser, Rascal Flatts, Reba McEntire, Steel Magnolia, Sugarland, Taylor Swift, The Band Perry, Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, Trace Adkins, Zac Brown Band
Sunday, January 23rd, 2011
It’s hard to believe that there once was a time that country artists put out two full-length albums a year. If they were part of a regular superstar duet team, like Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn or Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton, a fan might hear as many as four new studio albums from their favorite artist.
By the time that I got into country music – twenty years ago, natch – things had slowed down a bit. Artists usually released a new album every 12-18 months. Sometimes they’d push it to two years, but not often.
Those were the days. Waits between album releases have gotten crazy lately. I’m all for taking the time to get it right, but once we push past the half-decade mark, things have gone too far. Sure, we’re given side projects to carry us over, but there’s no substitute for a full-length studio album of all-new material.
Here are five artists who I’d really love to see make a long-awaited return with a new album in 2011, along with a brief rundown of the side projects that they’ve been busy with while we’ve waited for that new album:
Last Studio Album: Up! (2002)
Side Projects: Greatest Hits (2005), featuring four new tracks; contributions to a Dolly Parton tribute album, a live Willie Nelson album, an Anne Murray duet album, and the Desperate Housewives soundtrack.
It’s been over eight years since Twain released that 19-track opus. It was cool that she released the album in three different mixes, essentially giving us 57 new mp3s for the iPods we didn’t even have yet. Of all the superstar acts, she’s the one who has been away the longest.
Last Studio Album: What the World Needs (2003)
Side Projects: Live album, Christmas album, covers album, Cracker Barrel album…
In a sense, she’s never really gone away. But despite being a fixture in the media and releasing so many other-type albums, we haven’t gotten a real studio set from Wynonna in over seven years. Given that the last one was among the finest in her career, it’s a shame she has yet to craft another mainstream country album.
Last Studio Album: Blame the Vain (2005)
Side Projects: A Buck Owens tribute album in 2007, Dwight Sings Buck.
The most distressing absence on the list, mostly because he’s been so prolific in the past. Movie appearances are keeping him busy. Here’s hoping that when he does return, we get more than ten songs.
Last Studio Album: Taking the Long Way (2006)
Side Projects: “The Neighbor”, from the Shut Up & Sing documentary; contributions to a Tony Bennett duet project; Emily and Martie’s Court Yard Hounds set; Natalie’s duet with Neil Diamond.
It’s hard to follow up an album that wins a bunch of Grammys, but it’s not like they haven’t done so before. If they’re insisting on writing all of the next album, it could be gestating for a very long time. Can’t we get a Patty Griffin or Darrell Scott covers album to hold us over?
Last Studio Album: These Days (2006)
Side Projects: A mother lode of duet and harmony appearances on other artist’s albums (Reba McEntire, Charlie Daniels, Amy Grant, Clay Aiken…)
Gill’s last album was a four discs worth of new material, so it’s understandable that it would take a couple of years for him to craft a new one. But we’re going on five now. Since Gill was able to create those four discs a mere three years after his previous studio set (2003′s Next Big Thing), we should be due for a new album soon.
Category Miscellaneous Musings
Tags: Amy Grant, Anne Murray, Buck Owens, Charlie Daniels, Conway Twitty, Court Yard Hounds, Darrell Scott, Dixie Chicks, Dolly Parton, Dwight Yoakam, Loretta Lynn, Neil Diamond, Patty Griffin, Porter Wagoner, Reba McEntire, Shania Twain, Vince Gill, Willie Nelson, Wynonna
Saturday, January 22nd, 2011
The bulk of our work at Country Universe this month has been catching up on singles currently at radio. Collectively, they’ve been abysmal, with review grades rarely reaching a B, let alone an A.
How can we turn this around? Here are five songs that I’d love to see sent to radio tomorrow. Share your own in the comments!
Zac Brown Band, “Let it Go”
A dizzying dose of positivity, with a few great musical twists to boot. The Serenity Prayer never sounded so good.
Court Yard Hounds, “Ain’t No Son”
The only truly country song on their album. The only truly great song on their album.
Toby Keith, “In a Couple of Days”
It’s easy to take Keith for granted, so consistent are his vocals and song structures. Usually, its his lyrics that trip him up. It’s his heartbroke ballads, like this gem, that showcase his talent best.
Reba McEntire, “The Day She Got Divorced”
Country singers used to sing about people like this all the time. Flawed anti-heroines like this don’t come along too often anymore.
Carrie Underwood, “Change”
I suspect those with more refined tastes than mine are clamoring for “Someday When I Stop Loving You”, an admittedly beautiful ballad, but this is the track I’m returning to the most from Play On. I think it captures the nagging cynicism that prevents many of us from fully embracing our inner benevolence.