No Picture

Pop Goes Country – A Cover Song Report Card

November 15, 2011 Ben Foster 40






Cover songs can be a hot topic at just about any given time. We recently got to hear a somewhat underwhelming OneRepublic cover by Faith Hill, which Kevin recently reviewed. Other recent attempts include Sara Evans’ pop-country reworking of Rod Stewart’s “My Heart Can’t Tell You No,” as well as last year’s polarizing Beyoncé cover by Reba McEntire.

Since cover songs are so much fun to talk about, I thought I’d weigh in on a few well-known cover songs from the past few years – the good ones, as well as a few that we would rather forget. My criteria is simple: A good cover song should bring something new to the table, and the song should be treated in a way that is well-suited to the artist as well as the genre. This list focuses specifically on country covers of non-country songs.

No Picture

2011 CMA Awards: Staff Picks and Predictions

November 7, 2011 Ben Foster 28






It’s that time of year again! The time when we all dutifully tune in to the CMA Awards show, raise our eyebrows at the “What the heck are they doing here?” award presenters, and afterwards complain about how totally un-country the whole show was. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I can’t wait.

We’re pleased to share the Country Universe staff picks for this year’s CMA Awards, as well as our predictions of who the winners will be. This year we have some highly competitive categories in which predicting the winners is quite difficult, leading to some significantly divergent picks among our writing staff. Agree? Disagree? Join in the discussion in the comment thread below, and let us know.






No Picture

Favorite Songs by Favorite Artists: Sara Evans

August 7, 2011 Ben Foster 41






I was in my early teens when I first discovered Sara Evans… and I thought she was the greatest thing since sliced bread. The rich throaty texture of her distinct voice reeled me in quickly, and her entertaining mixture of traditional and contemporary influences had me thoroughly hooked.






No Picture

The 30 Day Song Challenge: Day 17

May 25, 2011 Leeann Ward 28






Today’s category is…

A Song That Describes You.

Here are the staff picks:

Leeann Ward: “Lord, I Hope This Day is Good” – Don Williams

There might be a song that technically describes me better than this one, but this is the song that perfectly describes how I feel each morning before I start my day. I don’t know why, but I relate to it on a guttural level.






No Picture

Single Review: Sunny Sweeney, “Staying’s Worse Than Leaving”

April 15, 2011 Kevin John Coyne 19






This is going to be an unfair criticism, but here it goes.

“Staying’s Worse Than Leaving” is an awesome song. As good as anything I’ve heard lately in terms of lyrics. Mature, realistic, insightful. It’s good stuff.

The production is effective in that “stay out of the way of the song” kind of way, as it is on so many great country records.






No Picture

Starter Kit: Sara Evans

November 7, 2010 Kevin John Coyne 18






Sara Evans was one of the most successful female artists from the earlier part of the last decade, which was not a particularly good era for women as a whole. Her ease with both pop-flavored and purely traditional country allowed her to adapt to quickly changing trends in the genre.

This makes her catalog a fascinating one to sample. In compiling this Starter Kit, it would be easy to just list the hits. But I’ve left off some of her more overexposed tracks in favor of some gems that either didn’t quite dominate the charts or wasn’t sent to radio at all. I think her crossover numbers haven’t aged that well, anyway.

Be sure to let me know what I missed in the comment threads!

“Shame About That” from the 1997 album Three Chords and the Truth

The title track got all of the love, and the most airplay of the three low-charting singles from Evans’ debut album. But I think that this is the coolest little record, with Evans sounding like the female heir to Buck Owens as she can’t even feign sympathy for the ex who is now regretting his departure.






No Picture

Single Review: Sara Evans, “A Little Bit Stronger”

September 3, 2010 Kevin John Coyne 43






This isn’t very good.

Perhaps it could have been, with a stronger melody and a more refined concept. The song itself is pretty good, but Evans turns in a listless performance, delegating all of the “oomph” to the background vocalists and studio musicians. And they’re pretty listless in their own right.






No Picture

iPod Check: Back to the Nineties

August 5, 2010 Tara Seetharam 28






To continue Country Universe’s celebration of the nineties, I’m throwing in a nineties edition of iPod Check. The rules are simple: put your iPod on shuffle and list the first ten songs to pop up that were released in the nineties. They don’t have to be singles, and they don’t have to be country.

I’ve listed my ten songs below. Share yours in the comments, and check your shame at the door! (I’ve got 1994’s “Hakuna Matata” on my iPod, but sadly, it did not come up in shuffle.)