Taylor Swift

The Best Albums of 1993, Part 2: #10-#1

July 12, 2015 // 15 Comments

The combined efforts of nine women and three men form the upper echelon of our Best Albums list from 1993. This embarrassment of riches showcases just how much great music there was to choose from that year, especially given how many of the genre’s biggest and most acclaimed stars – Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire, Mary Chapin Carpenter, and Pam Tillis, just to name a few – were between albums that year. It was also a strong and diverse enough year that despite some overall consensus among the lists of all of the writers, each one of us has a different album at #1 on our personal lists. Enjoy the second half of our list, and look for the Singles list to kick off next weekend. #10 Uncle Tupelo Anodyne #1 – JK | #3 – SG In jumping to a major label, Uncle Tupelo was supposed to give Read More

Say What? – Keith Hill

May 28, 2015 // 54 Comments

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 ORIGINAL POST: 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 Read More

Daily Top Five: Favorites from your Least Favorites

April 25, 2015 // 57 Comments

If we’re honest with ourselves, we don’t like every single music choice that even our very favorite artists make, which  is what inspired  us to share our least favorite albums from our favorite artists. In that same spirit, there are also times when we catch ourselves enjoying a  stray song or two from artists by whom we’re  typically  not impressed. So, what are five songs that you like from artists that you normally don’t enjoy? Here are mine. I should note that I actually enjoy more than one song from most of these artists, but will only list one for the purpose of this exercise. Jason Aldean, “Two Night Town” Rascal Flatts, “What Hurts the Most” Taylor Swift (feat. The Civil Wars), “Safe and Sound” Scotty McCreery, ” Carolina Moon” Thomas Rhett, “Beer with Jesus”

2015 ACM Awards: Country Universe Viewer’s Guide

April 19, 2015 // 14 Comments

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 Should Win: Jason Aldean Garth Brooks – Jonathan Luke Bryan – Sam Florida-Georgia Line Miranda Lambert – Ben, Kevin Will Win: 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 Read More

Single Review: Kelsea Ballerini, “Love Me Like You Mean It”

March 24, 2015 // 6 Comments

“Love Me Like You Mean It” Kelsea Ballerini Written by Kelsea Ballerini, Lance Carpenter, Josh Kerr, and Forest Glen Whitehead This sounds like a demo recording for a Taylor Swift album that will never be recorded. Credit to Kelsea Ballerini for co-writing her single and for not getting vocally lost in the shuffle of a fairly busy production.   I suppose there’s some promise underneath all of the proceedings here, and there’s nothing inherently awful about any of it. But it takes a special kind of narcissistic charm to pull off a laundry list of requests for a potential beau, and she has neither the outsize personality or outsize list of demands to pull this off.  It would’ve worked better if she’d gone the vulnerable angle instead of the “I mean business” one, which she simply doesn’t have the assertiveness to convincingly convey. It’s so milquetoast that it’s more like “Take Read More

Single Review: Jana Kramer, “I Got the Boy”

February 25, 2015 // 13 Comments

“I Got the Boy” Jana Kramer Written by Connie Harrington, Tim Nichols, and Jamie Lynn Spears The sentiment is quite poignant.   “I got the boy. She got the man.”   A high school sweetheart reminisces as she sees her boyfriend from back then has gotten married. The writers establish some wonderful specifics in the verses that help to bring the characters to life.  But the chorus is bland both lyrically and melodically, so the payoff from the buildup isn’t there.

2015 ACM Awards: Nominations & Analysis

January 31, 2015 // 14 Comments

The third most prestigious country music industry award nominations – but the most important ones handed out in the spring – have been announced.  Here’s a rundown of all the major categories, along with some back-of-the-envelope analysis: Entertainer Jason Aldean Garth Brooks Luke Bryan Florida Georgia Line Miranda Lambert Who’s In: Jason Aldean, Garth Brooks, Florida Georgia Line Who’s Out: Blake Shelton, George Strait, Taylor Swift Last year’s winner, George Strait, didn’t get a return invitation, but Garth Brooks, who has won this award six times before, returns to the competition.  Much like Strait’s farewell tour was a reminder of his extensive popularity, Garth’s ability to sell out several dates per city overshadows the lukewarm reception to his new material at radio and retail.   Taylor Swift’s exit is directly tied to her cutting ties with the genre. Jason Aldean’s return makes logical sense, but it’s quite the mystery to see Read More

Album Review: Angaleena Presley, American Middle Class

January 13, 2015 // 0 Comments

Angaleena Presley American Middle Class Presley’s upbringing in the hollows of Eastern Kentucky provides her with an endless well of believable first-person details that she uses to create the quirky, cockeyed fictions on American Middle Class. Hers are the types of stories that bait autobiographical readings— always a critical dead-end, even when Taylor Swift insists on dropping hints as to who her songs are about— but what Presley does best is create a sustained mood.

2015 Grammy Nominations

December 5, 2014 // 11 Comments

Updated: Best Country Duo/Group Performance The Band Perry, “Gentle on My Mind” Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood, “Somethin’ Bad” Little Big Town, “Day Drinking” Tim McGraw featuring Faith Hill, “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s” Keith Urban featuring Eric Church, “Raise ‘Em Up” Best American Roots Performance Greg Allman & Taj Mahal, “Statesboro Blues” Rosanne Cash, “A Feather’s not a Bird” Billy Childs featuring Alison Krauss and Jerry Douglas, “And When I Die” Keb’ Mo’ featuring the California Feet Warmers, “The Old Me Better” Nickel Creek, “Destination” Best Country Solo Performance Eric Church, “Give Me Back My Hometown” Hunter Hayes, “Invisible” Miranda Lambert, “Automatic” Carrie Underwood, “Something in the Water” Keith Urban, “Cop Car”   Best New Artist includes last year’s actual best new artist! Iggy Azalea Bastille Brandy Clark  (!!!!) HAIM Sam Smith Best Americana Album Rosanne Cash, The River & The Thread John Haitt, Terms of My Surrender Keb’ Mo’, Read More

CMA Awards 2014: Staff Predictions and Picks

November 2, 2014 // 32 Comments

Despite the Grammys and even the ACM’s demonstrating more consistent taste over the past few years, the CMA’s remain the most significant industry awards that honor country music.  This year’s slate of nominees gives the organization an opportunity to build on the credibility of last year’s George Strait victory.  His win for Entertainer saved a dismal show in its closing minutes. Here’s our take on this year’s contenders: Entertainer of the Year Should Win: Luke Bryan Miranda Lambert Blake Shelton George Strait – Kevin, Jonathan, Tara, Ben Keith Urban Will Win: Luke Bryan Miranda Lambert Blake Shelton George Strait – Jonathan, Kevin, Tara, Ben Keith Urban Kevin:  I’d settle for a Miranda Lambert victory, as she had an amazing year.  But my first choice is George Strait, who deserves a fourth trophy for that record-breaking final concert.   The rest of these nominees have either won before or still seem to Read More

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