UPDATE: Check out the impeccably researched work of Deb B, also known as Windmills, over at MJ’s Big Blog:
Country Radio & The Anti-Female Female Myth: A Data-Based Look
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.
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”
Today’s Daily Top Five asks you to pick the five albums you would use to make a case for country music to the unconverted listener.
Here are the five albums I would lend/rip/share in a .zip to someone willing to give country music a chance:
- Dixie Chicks, Home
- Tim McGraw, Live Like You Were Dying
- Reba McEntire, For My Broken Heart
- Alan Jackson, A Lot About Livin’ (and a Little ‘Bout Love)
- Shania Twain, The Woman in Me
What are your Top Five Country Convert Albums?
This is the strongest album Reba McEntire has released in more than twenty years.
Listening to Love Somebody is hearing a legend of the genre rediscover her own voice. She’s always been an excellent singer, but after making her name as both a heartbreak queen and the common folk’s Everywoman, she had tremendous difficulty navigating the post-Shania Twain landscape of female empowerment anthems.
As we’re prepping our 1993 lists, there have been many debut albums in consideration. That year brought the first studio sets from big stars like Tracy Byrd, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, Shania Twain, and Clay Walker. Also, sentimental favorites of attentive listeners, like Brother Phelps. Shawn Camp, Bobbie Cryner, Lisa Stewart, and Lari White also released their first discs.
Debut albums aren’t always great. Sometimes the artistic voice just isn’t there yet. But some new artists knock it out of the park the first time out.
Today we ask: What are your Top Five Debut Albums?
Here’s my list:
- Kim Richey, Kim Richey
- Clint Black, Killin’ Time
- Randy Travis, Storms of Life
- Bobbie Cryner, Bobbie Cryner
- Emmylou Harris, Pieces of the Sky
The fiftieth annual Academy of Country Music Awards air tonight, and Country Universe has you covered! Here’s a rundown of all of the major categories, along with some commentary from our writers about who should win, who will, and what the nominations as a whole say about the current state of country music.
Share your thoughts about this year’s show in the comments, and check back for a list of winners when it’s all said and done.
Update: Join the CU crew on Twitter (@CountryUniverse) during the show to share your thoughts as things unfold!
Entertainer of the Year
- Jason Aldean
- Garth Brooks – Jonathan
- Luke Bryan – Sam
- Florida-Georgia Line
- Miranda Lambert – Ben, Kevin
- Jason Aldean
- Garth Brooks
- Luke Bryan
- Florida Georgia Line
- Miranda Lambert – Jonathan, Ben, Sam, Kevin
BF: I think Lambert is due, but I could get on board with a win for Brooks, whose comeback tour certainly warrants recognition. Those are about the only two possible victories I could swallow.
SG: This is fan-voted, so it really comes down to who can most mobilize their fan base. I give Miranda the nod, simply because she and her husband can both rally the troops. As to who deserves it, it’s hard to deny the impact that Luke Bryan has had on country music, love him or loathe him. He also seems like a fair entertainer, whether it’s shimmying around the stage or falling off them.
This week brought tax season to an end, and depending on how it went for you last year, you’ll be collecting a refund check or writing one out to the IRS instead.
Seems as good a time as any to share our five favorite songs about money!
Here ‘s my top five:
- Merle Haggard, “If We Make it Through December”
- John Anderson, “Money in the Bank”
- Todd Snider, “Broke”
- Shania Twain, “Ka-Ching!”
- Alabama, “40 Hour Week (For a Livin’)”
Today’s a fairly big release day for long time country music fans, as two legends release sets today: Reba McEntire, who returns after five years with Love Somebody, and Dwight Yoakam, who is back with Second Hand Heart, which is only his second album of new material in the last ten years.
We’ve already review the lead Reba single and lead Dwight single. We’ll have reviews up of both albums at a later date, but they influenced today’s Daily Top Five: What are your most recent purchases?
I’m still an albums guy, so I’m going to list my most recent five albums purchased, but feel free to list tracks instead, if you’re more the a la carte type.
My five most recent (country) album purchases are:
- Shelby Lynne, Temptation
- Shania Twain, Still the One: Live From Vegas
- Rhiannon Giddens, Tomorrow is My Turn
- Punch Brothers, The Phosphorescent Blues
- Jason Isbell, Sirens of the Ditch
You can read the CU reviews of Giddens here, and Punch Brothers here, and there’s a good chance you’ll be reading about the Lynne set when we finish our 1993 lists. Also, a great Starter Kit for Jason Isbell can be read here. (Start with Southeastern, if you don’t have it already, before moving on to Sirens and the rest of his catalog. You should have all of his catalog. He’s that good.)
What are your five latest country purchases?
Shania Twain is returning to the road for the first time in more than a decade, and she’s calling it her farewell tour.
Well, technically, she’s calling it the Rock This Country tour, but it’s being marketed as both her return to and retirement from the road.
I should be all over this. She’s one of my favorite all-time artists, and I loved her tour in support of Up!, which I still consider her best album.
But even though I enjoyed her Vegas television special last month, and even though any set list would be stacked with songs that I love, I’m honestly not that interested in seeing the show.
This is for a simple reason: She’s not touring in support of new material.
I think I’m in the minority on this one, but I don’t like it when an artist only plays their hits from the past. There’s something sterile about it, as if artistic vitality has been left in the rear view mirror and the artist is just attempting to recreate a time that has already passed.
In 2008, I was finishing up my degree in journalism and trying to understand what it meant to be a professional writer. I wanted to write about music, but the divide between fan and critic felt, at times, insurmountable.
That fall, I stumbled onto Country Universe through this post, and it changed my perspective. As both a writer and leader, Kevin was thoughtful, rational and personally invested in the country music genre. He showed a deep respect for the genre’s history, but wrote about new artists with tolerance and curiosity. Best of all, he held readers and writers alike to the highest standards of decency.
It’s for that reason that this post shines. Kevin’s ability to take a stand while cultivating constructive dialogue is unmatched. He cut through the divisive hype around Carrie Underwood –an artist who is as special to me now as she was back then—and underlined the real issue at hand: country music’s staggering, frustrating gender bias. Six years and a truckload of interchangeable male artists later, it’s more imperative than ever that we continue this discussion. – Tara Seetharam
Discussion: Carrie Underwood, Shania Twain and Gender in Country Music
by Kevin John Coyne
August 29, 2008
I fear this post won’t quite live up to its ambitious title, and I realize that I’m stirring the tempest pot a bit by putting those two artists in the same sentence. But the tone that surfaces whenever Carrie Underwood is discussed here is something that I find increasingly frustrating, so I’m going to talk about it. Hopefully, I’ll get a meaningful conversation going along the way.