Country Universe Turns Eight: Ben's Best

The eight-year mark is definitely a noteworthy milestone in the transitory world of the internet.  Country Universe’s longevity is both a substantial accomplishment –particularly on Kevin’s part – as well as a testament to the site’s enduring appeal.

There are few country music web sites that have been as near and dear to my heart as Country Universe, and it’s hard to sum up why.  The high caliber of writing is definitely a major factor, but perhaps what drew me to this site above all else is the way that it absolutely radiates a sincere passion for music on the part of all of the writers, while creating a warm and inviting environment conducive to free and open discussion.

Each writer brings a unique set of gifts to the table – Kevin’s substantial genre knowledge and deep sincerity; Leeann’s simple straightforwardness and attention to detail; Dan’s knack for keeping things fun whenever possible, yet serious when necessary; Tara’s ability to discuss good and bad music alike with eloquence and class; Jonathan’s ability to analyze different qualities of music on a deep, insightful level; Noah’s uniquely colorful writing style; and Sam’s signature sense of humor.

Country Universe is a site that I’ve always just plain loved and been excited about, regardless of whether I had any part in writing for it.  Though I still feel like a newbie in some ways, having been with the site for only one year so far, words scarcely express how genuinely privileged  I feel to be a part of the Country Universe family, as well as a part of its history.

Favorite post I’ve written:  Single Review:  Scotty McCreery, “Water Tower Town”

I am a very repetitive writer, and I know it.  I am constantly fighting the tendency to keep using the same descriptions over and over again, but at the same time I find it difficult not to do so when each new release often sounds very much like the one before it.  I was determined to find a way to shake things up with my review of Scotty McCreery’s “Water Tower Town.”  I found an approach through which I felt I was able to highlight the weaknesses of McCreery’s single while simultaneously poking fun at my own repetitive tendencies, and bucking that trend by doing so.  At any rate, I had a lot of fun writing the review, and it’s one piece that I always look back on with fondness.

Favorite post by another writer:  Single Review:  Taylor Swift, “Mean” (Kevin John Coyne)

I had always enjoyed Swift’s “Mean,” mostly because of the cool arrangement.  But when Kevin posted a review of the song, I fully expected it to be a single sentence takedown, particularly since Kevin was not known for being a Taylor Swift enthusiast.  My jaw dropped as I read.  I found myself agreeing with Kevin’s praise of the song, and the purpose the lyric served.  I found “Mean” quickly becoming my favorite Taylor Swift song, as well my favorite single of 2011 (I was even privileged to write the caption for it on our Best of 2011 countdown).  Though there have been many excellent writers who have extended influence over my own view of music, this was by

far the most outstanding instance in which a review caused me to gain a whole new appreciation for a song – a testament to the power of a carefully thought out, well-written review.

Country Universe Turns Eight:



  1. Thanks, Leeann! I very much appreciate it. By the way, I do hope to contribute an interview article to Country Universe in the near future. I’ll just have to see when a good opportunity arises!

    At some point, it dawned on me that I am, like, the only one who didn’t say how I first found Country Universe. If I remember correctly, I was led to Country Universe through a link that appeared in a Wikipedia article about one of my favorite singles by (surprise) Sara Evans. The review thoroughly and succintly summarized the same qualities that drew me to the song. That was when Country Universe first caught my attention.

    After I discovered The 9513 a few months later, it along with Country Universe, and later My Kind of Country and Country California, became regular reading. Leeann had a very active comment thread presence on The 9513 as well as other sities, which also helped encourage me to keep checking out Country Universe. I soon found myself participating in comment thread discussions on a regular basis, and though I made quite a few nutty comments in those early days, I found myself feeling more and more at home in the CU community. Needless to say, I absolutely flipped when I got the email from Kevin inviting me to join the writing staff.

    It’s been a wonderful experience, and I can’t wait to see what the site’s next eight years hold.

  2. …there was a time, when i felt like bugs bunny in that old warner brothers cartoon “tortoise beats hare” from 1941. whenever i clicked on one of my regular country music sites – ben was already there. on top of everything, he had his own blog “the 1 to 10”, where he reviewed new country releases. quite an expressive young man, i thought at the time.

    it became even more bewildering, when ben foster all of a sudden appeared not only on the comment threads, but also as a full scale member of the editors bunch of cu. i realised that i even became somewhat hesitant to open my fridge – ben might have been in there. anyways, his transformation from omnipresent commentator to full scale editor here has been fantastic. he couldn’t have played a better rookie season and reviews passed to him were in very steady hands, scoring even one or the other touchdown.

    i really look forward to his next steps in the game. the start could have hardly been more promising.

  3. Well I’ll be, first classic Star Trek, and now Bugs Bunny! You’re just full of awesome comparisons, Tom!

    Thank you for the kind words. It’s been a fun blogging journey over the past two years, and I can’t wait to see where it leads in the future. Thanks for supporting the sites!

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