Country Universe Turns Eight: Jonathan's View

I distinctly remember the google search that first led me to Country Universe back in early 2006. I was listening to Joy Lynn White’s “comeback” album, One More Time, and I was curious about the songwriter behind her mid-90s single “Wild Love,” the cassingle for which I had somehow misplaced.

All Music Guide didn’t have the information I wanted– typical of the gaps in their catalogue at that time when it came to somewhat obscure country acts– so I turned to google, which led me promptly to entry #395 on Country Universe’s “400 Best Contemporary Country Singles” countdown. A few hours later, having read through the rest of that feature and a host of single and album reviews, the site had officially made it onto the list of music review and news sources I check daily. And, give or take a day or two, I’ve kept up with Country Universe ever since.

The way people write about country music has changed dramatically – for the better, I’d argue – in the past

few years. And, though the exact roster of contributors to Country Universe has remained in flux during its eight years online, it has consistently offered writing that is passionate, authoritative, and distinctive: A testament to everything that the much ballyhooed “democratization” of internet criticism gets right. I find it humbling that this crew keeps me in their company.

The piece that best captures what I think makes Country Universe such a unique and essential source for writing about contemporary country music is the spectacularly-titled editorial Kevin posted after Taylor Swift’s much maligned performance of “You Belong With Me” at the Grammy awards. Not only is the article itself thoughtfully composed and smart, but note how the comments section plays out: The lengthy discussion that followed the post is every bit as revelatory as the original piece, with an exchange of actual ideas that’s as well-reasoned, civil, and rare as anything you’ll find online.

Country Universe Turns Eight:


  1. I meant to comment earlier, but better late than never. I enjoyed reading about how you first came to Country Universe. That 400 Greatest Contemporary Country Singles feature was definitely a good’n, one that I often refer back to down to this day. I even copied and pasted all of the entries into a single Word document for quick and easy reference.

    Good choice on “The Success of Taylor Swift Is Not a Moral Issue” as well That along with the article on “Carrie Underwood, Shania Twain, and Gender In Country Music” are classic examples of Kevin’s ability to take something that a lot of people are worked up over, and provide a reality check.

    I sure am glad you decided to contribute to Country Universe, as you’ve provided some excellent writing. I’ve also been reading your Slant reviews on a regular basis, as they never cease to be interesting and well-thought out.

  2. Ditto to Ben. I was very excited when Jonathan joined us, because I’ve been a fan of his writing for years. Even when I haven’t agreed with his “slant, I’ve appreciated/respected the writing. So, how cool it is to have one of the music blogging stars agree to join ranks with us.:)

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