Rodney Atkins

Keep on the Sunny Side

April 11, 2009 // 23 Comments

Today’s Recommend a Track focuses on those songs that remind us to “Keep on the Sunny Side.”

As I wrote in my review of the new Rodney Atkins album, I’m an optimistic guy. So while I do love me some dark and depressing country music, the songs that best match my personal philosophy are those that look at the brighter side of life.

Some of my favorites:

The Carter Family, “Keep on the Sunny Side”

The Grandmama of them all. This was released during The Great Depression, y’all.

Shania Twain, “Up!”

Rodney Atkins sounds about as optimistic as Dwight Yoakam when compared to Shania Twain. This remains one of my favorite songs she’s ever released. Bonus points awarded to this clip because it not only features Alison Krauss & Union Station behind her, but Krauss and Twain discuss deodorant and shaving during the winter seasons.

Rodney Atkins, It’s America

April 9, 2009 // 8 Comments

The name of the new Rodney Atkins album is It’s America, but it could just as easily have been called Rodney Atkins and the Power of Positive Thinking.

Pessimists, be wary of this record. You run the risk of abandoning your perennial half-empty glass and purchasing a lifetime subscription to Keep on the Sunny Side Quarterly. For an optimist like me, listening to Atkins is like discovering a new friend, one who shares your enthusiasm for looking on the bright side but has the added bonus of punctuating his look on the bright side sentences with fiddles and steel guitar.

I can’t remember the last time I smiled so many times while listening to a new country record. In the opener, “Tell a Country Boy”, I grinned when he described a country boy as someone who will “always take his time, if you give him a choice.” As “Chasing Girls” progressed from chasing the girls you’re suiting to chasing the girls you’ve fathered, I laughed out loud as he pleaded with his three year-old daughter, “Don’t let that dog lick you in the mouth!”

And even though I’ve been a frustrated out-of-towner stuck behind a tractor on a one-lane road in Alabama, I couldn’t help but smirk at his celebration of his “Friends with Tractors” who “are good at slowing speeders down when they pass through from out of town.”

Discussion: Worst Singles of 2008

December 15, 2008 // 62 Comments

As we launch our list of the best singles of 2008, it’s only fair that we give some time to the…not best singles of 2008. What was the low point this year for country singles? Was it John Rich’s ego/talent balance tipping decidedly in the wrong direction, with tripe like “Raisin’ McCain” and “Another You”? Was riding in on a beautiful “White Horse” not enough reason to forgive Taylor Swift for the British Literature-flunking “Love Story” and the casually homophobic “Picture to Burn”? Do Rodney Atkins’ “It’s America” and Jason Aldean’s “She’s Country” deserve to the final nails in the coffin of “let’s make a list” songwriting? Or did Buddy Jewell sink the lowest of all with his anti-immigration rant “This Ain’t Mexico”? You tell us. What were the worst singles of 2008?

Review: Rodney Atkins, “It’s America”

November 20, 2008 // 10 Comments

That patriotism is such a powerful fixture in modern-day country music can largely be attributed to the events of 9-11.  In the early stages of the decade, the format issued jingoistic missives (“Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue”), sentimental dreck (“Only in America”) and fortunately, eloquent commentary (“Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning),” all revolving around the public’s American pride in the aftermath of great tragedy. But even as time passed, country music’s artistic community continued to reaffirm their faith in God and country, using every opportunity to establish their fidelity to the most treasured of pure American traditions. And just as the United States is now experiencing a clear identity crisis, the same tremors of change can be felt on Music Row, where the traditional sounds of yesteryear are increasingly drowned out by the bland rhythms and rhyme schemes of today’s polished musical product. Nashville’s schizoid Read More

Discussion: Country Universe Giveaway/Darius Rucker, Learn to Live

November 18, 2008 // 38 Comments

While a number of artists from different musical genres entered into the country rodeo this past year, no Nashville newcomer was more successful than Hootie & the Blowfish frontman, Darius Rucker. His debut country disc, Learn to Live, topped the country album charts in its first week of release, in large part due to its lead single, the #1 smash, “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It.” Country Universe is offering a free copy of Learn to Live to our loyal readers. To be considered, leave a comment and tell us your favorite #1 country song of 2008. Billboard #1 country songs in 2008: Taylor Swift – “Our Song” Brad Paisley – “Letter To Me” Rodney Atkins – “Cleaning This Gun (Come On In Boy)” Carrie Underwood – “All-American Girl” Alan Jackson – “Small Town Southern Man” Trace Adkins – “You’re Gonna Miss This” George Strait – “I Saw God Read More

CMA Awards Review

November 13, 2008 // 58 Comments

Last night, the CMA stamped its approval on the leading contemporary country stars of today.  Congratulations to Kevin for commandeering the most popular live blog in Country Universe history.  Here is a series of highlights (according to me) from an otherwise staid ceremony: Best performance: “More Like Her,” Miranda Lambert; “Just a Dream,” Carrie Underwood.  With understated brilliance, Lambert shifted gears by offering her Texas twang on the stripped-down ballad, while Underwood hit all the glory notes on her dramatic tearjerker with style and grace. Often pitted as rivals and polar opposites, the two proved that country music holds plenty of room for these two prodigious talents. Although Underwood ended Lambert’s faint hopes of claiming the Female Vocalist prize, bet on Lambert winning her fair share of CMAs in the near future. Sound off: Repeatedly an issue, the Sommet Center’s sound system had problems again this year.  Also, Nashville is Read More

2008 CMA Awards Live Blog

November 12, 2008 // 254 Comments

2008 CMA Winners Entertainer: Kenny Chesney Male Vocalist: Brad Paisley Female Vocalist: Carrie Underwood Album: George Strait, Troubadour Vocal Duo: Sugarland New Artist: Lady Antebellum Vocal Group: Rascal Flatts Song: Jennifer Nettles, “Stay” Single: George Strait, “I Saw God Today” Music Video: Brad Paisley feat. Andy Griffith, “Waiting on a Woman” Musical Event: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, “Gone Gone Gone” Musician: Mac McAnally _______ Predict the Winners: Kevin – 8 Leeann – 7 Blake – 7 Dan – 7 ______ Live Blog: 11:03 Thanks again for another great night.  See ya at the Grammys! 11:02ish To Blake and Dan:  A Song For You. 11:02 Blake: Down with our dictator! 11:02 Dan: Kevin sucks. 10:57 If I was a petty man, I’d be gloating about out-predicting all of my co-writers at Country Universe.  Wait a minute.   I am a petty man.   I won! Yes! I won!  This country universe is Read More

Country Universe Staff: 2008 CMA Predictions

November 12, 2008 // 19 Comments

This afternoon, the Country Universe staff is following up last night’s personal picks with our actual predictions about who will win tonight. Check back tonight at show time to join the live blog and mock us for our defective divinations. Less than four hours until showtime! Entertainer Kenny Chesney- Kevin, Leeann, Blake Brad Paisley – Dan George Strait Sugarland Keith Urban Kevin: BMG has to throw their weight behind either Chesney or Paisley. My hunch is they’ll back Chesney for Entertainer and Paisley for Male Vocalist. _ Leeann: It’s been Chesney all this time and not much has changed to make me think it won’t be Kenny again this year. _ Blake: Chesney remained steady on the concert trail and earned three #1 singles in the past year. This would be his fourth win, tying Garth Brooks for the most ever in the Entertainer lineup. _ Dan: It seems somewhat Read More

Country Universe Staff: 2008 CMA Personal Picks

November 11, 2008 // 20 Comments

As we gear up for tomorrow night’s CMA Awards Show, the staff of Country Universe share our personal picks in all categories.   Check back tomorrow for our predictions in each category.  Our third annual Live Blog will commence at the beginning of the show. Entertainer Kenny Chesney- Blake Brad Paisley – Leeann, Lynn George Strait Sugarland – Kevin, Dan Keith Urban Kevin: The only act in the running this year who has shown artistic, commercial and live performance growth is Sugarland, and they’ve grown by leaps and bounds.  In a race with four other acts who have long since settled into their styles, they’re the only ones who are still charting new territory. Leeann: While Paisley may not use explosions or other fancy tricks to entertain his crowds, much like Vince Gill, he keeps them mesmerized with his comedy, graphic creations, incredible guitar prowess and a catalog of engaging songs – in Read More

CMA Flashback: Horizon Award (New Artist)

November 9, 2008 // 14 Comments

For a look back at the other major categories, visit our CMA Awards page. 2010 Luke Bryan Easton Corbin Jerrod Neimann Chris Young Zac Brown Band Usually there isn’t this much turnover in this race unless most of last year’s nominees are ineligible.  This year, only one of the four eligible nominees from last year – Zac Brown Band – earns a nomination.  With their massive success and their multiple nominations, they’ve got an excellent shot at winning. Then again, Easton Corbin is elsewhere on the ballot, too. It could be a horse race. 2009 Randy Houser Jamey Johnson Jake Owen Darius Rucker Zac Brown Band Thirteen years after winning the Best New Artist Grammy as part of Hootie & The Blowfish, Darius Rucker won the country music equivalent, adding an exclamation point to the most successful pop-to-country crossover in a generation. 2008 Jason Aldean Rodney Atkins Lady Antebellum James Read More

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