Sunday Selections: January 22, 2017

All things considered, it was a fairly light week.

And by “light week,” we mean that there were not any new releases or reissues that we could track down, which doesn’t happen too often. Moreover, there weren’t any country stars who shot their mouths off on social media, so that’s an improvement from last week.

Discussion-wise, Carrie Underwood went face-to-face with Ron Swanson, Ryan Adams talked about the prospects of getting the band back together, and Dierks Bentley didn’t forget where he came from. There are also new singles from the likes of Tift Merritt, Nikki Lane, and Lady Antebellum– no spoilers as to which ones we think are good and which ones we think should have been left in the hand of the False Tricksy Hobbit.


New Releases & Reissues, 1/20/2017

Charted Territory
Billboard Country National Airplay:
#1: Blake Shelton, “A Guy With a Girl” (1 week).
Most Increased Audience: Kenny Chesney, “Bar at the End of the World.”
Most Added: Kenny Chesney, “Bar at the End of the World” (39); Rascal Flatts, “Yours if You Want It” (22); Cole Swindell, “Flatliner” (17); Dierks Bentley, “Black” (13); Jason Aldean, “Any Ol’ Barstool” (13).
Debuts: Cole Swindell, “Flatliner” (#48); Florida Georgia Line feat. Backstreet Boys, “God, Your Mama, and Me” (#51); Brothers Osborne, “It Ain’t My Fault” (#57).
Notes: Blake Shelton’s “A Guy With a Girl” narrowly edged out– by about 52K in total audience impressions– Carrie Underwood’s “Dirty Laundry” for the #1 spot; Florida Georgia Line lands duets at both ends of the chart this week, as “May We All” featuring Tim McGraw drops from #5 to #7 and “God, Your Mama, and Me” featuring the Backstreet Boys debuts at #51; Little Big Town’s “Better Man” continues a quick ascent, up to #8; after an absurd 46 weeks on the chart, Granger Smith’s “If The Boot Fits” finally cracks the top 10 at #9; “Kill a Word” by Eric Church feat. Rihannon Giddens posts a strong week, up from #15 to #12 off a strong gain in audience; Chris Stapleton’s “Parachute” inches up to #18 but loses a sizable chunk of its overall audience total and looks to be headed toward recurrent status; Garth Brooks re-enters the top 20 with “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” at #20 after 14 weeks; Miranda Lambert’s “We Should Be Friends” inches back up to #31 this week and, hopefully, starts gaining some momentum; Runaway June’s “Lipstick” keeps plugging away, attaining a new peak of #33 this week; the three worst songs on the chart– Chris Lane’s “For Her” (#44), Chase Rice’s “Everybody We Know Does” (#46), and Morgan Wallen’s “The Way I Talk” (#49)– all moved up at least three spots because of course they did; and because we can’t possibly have nice things, both Candi Carpenter’s “Burn the Bed” (#58) and Drake White’s “Makin’ Me Look Good Again” (#60) lost their bullets; Cody Jinks’ “I’m Not the Devil” keeps gaining slowly on the smaller-market Indicator chart, though, up to #45 after 13 weeks.

Elsewhere on the Billboard Radio Charts
Ryan Adams moves up to #7 on the AAA chart with “Do You Still Love Me,” the first of three singles he’s already released from his forthcoming album; The Avett Brothers’ “True Sadness” loses about 10% of its spins but only drops from #16 to #17 on that chart; it’s only taken two-plus decades, but Old 97s may have something like a hit on their hands, as their duet with Brandi Carlile, “Good With God,” makes a big debut at #23 and is second only to the new single by The Shins in terms of increased plays; also scoring station adds at AAA this week were Son Volt’s “Back Against the Wall” (2), Valerie June’s “Shakedown” (2), The Mavericks’ “Brand New Day” (1), and Tift Merritt’s “Dusty Old Man” (1);  at Adult Contemporary radio, Florida Georgia Line’s “H.O.L.Y.” inexplicably re-enters the chart at #30; on the Christian charts, Hillary Scott & The Scott Family’s “Thy Will” actually re-bullets at #7 in its 34th week on the chart.

News & Notes

Carrie Underwood appeared on The Today Show this week, where she sat across from the just brilliant Nick Offerman and covered topics from her recent skydiving adventures to her dream TV cameo. It’s Underwood at her most charming. (JK)

“It was, ‘Damn, I got my start playing on Lower Broadway and I come to all these games. I feel like I don’t deserve anything, but if there’s someone who is going to have their face on the wall in that building, I’m a pretty good representative of the Lower Broadway music scene.'”
— Dierks Bentley considered the full arc of his career in anticipation of his concert at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena this week. Bentley’s tour has been fairly well-received, even though the album he’s supporting, Black, has been met with far more mixed reviews. (JK)

“In the song [“Call to Arms”], Simpson, who is also a US military veteran, calls out not only the brutal nature of military and war, but the fact that Western profiteers are making a figurative killing off of heroin for the literal killing of people in Afghanistan.”
— Matt Agorist penned one of the more surprising articles of the week, “Country Singer Goes on SNL, Exposes Afghan Heroin Trade And No One Ever Noticed,” in response to Sturgill Simpson’s watercooler-moment performance on last week’s Saturday Night Live. (JK)

Tift Merritt’s “Dusty Old Man” is gaining some traction at AAA radio, so, in a bit of a surprising move, she just released a music video for the song, “Heartache is an Uphill Climb.” It’s vintage Merritt, in that it recalls the country-rock artists along the Ronstadt – Eagles axis and is elevated by Merritt’s uncommonly warm voice. Josh Hurst reviewed Merritt’s upcoming album, Stitch of the World, over at my old stomping grounds, Slant Magazine, and the album sounds like a real stunner. (JK)

Singer-songwriter Greg Trooper, whose songs were recorded by artists including Vince Gill and Robert Earl Keen– passed away on January 15th following a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. The always great Juli Thanki of The Tennessean wrote a tribute to Trooper. (JK)

Nikki Lane headed to Vegas to shoot the video for her latest single, the rollicking “Jackpot.” (JK)

“You know what, you surprised me with that kind of conversation. I didn’t think there were going to be any demonstrations. No, I won’t. If there are such. Our schedule is full, I’ll be singing at the Vice President’s dinner and, of course, the Mall performance and watching the swearing in. That’s the focus of why I’m going to D.C.”
— Lee Greenwood was surprised when Billboard‘s Erik Hayden told him that there were demonstrations planned to coincide with the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Greenwood criticized Broadway veteran Jennifer Holliday for withdrawing from the events and spoke about what a boon he anticipated the performance would be for his career. (JK)

“We go up to do the Christmas tree lighting in D.C., and TMZ — they always stick a camera in your face — they go, ‘Hey man, what about the inauguration?’ And the response was, ‘It’s always an honor to serve.’ I wasn’t asked at that point… We left it up to karma. If Cincinnati goes two weekends instead of one, then of course we are out.”
— Garth Brooks, as a counterpoint to Greenwood, told Billboard why he wasn’t performing at this week’s inaugural events— namely, that he hadn’t officially been asked to do so when TMZ ambushed him with a question about it, and that he already had a multi-night gig booked. (JK)

“… if Whiskeytown were to ever try to make a record and me carrying on with making the music I made from the beginning before those sort of side things it would be weird. It could be weird good but I don’t know.”
— Ryan Adams hinted at the possibility of a reunion of alt-country band Whiskeytown in an interview with Apple Music. Adams also spoke about his work on the upcoming albums by Jenny Lewis and Liz Phair. (JK)

Lady Antebellum debuted their latest single, “You Look Good,” with a lyric video that abandons the whole lyric video conceit about halfway through. I like a good horn section as much as anyone– I mean, “9 to 5” is about as perfect as popular music gets– but there’s nothing at all about the production or the lyrics to ground the single as “country” in any identifiable way. Which is to say that it’s no surprise that the song was evidently on hold for Thomas Rhett to cut. (JK)

That will do it for this week! Be sure to check back this week for more new reviews. Hopefully, we’ll be able to bring some much-needed positive attention to Candi Carpenter and Drake White…


  1. Please don’t judge or hate me for this.

    But I absolutely love the new Lady Antebellum single. To me it sounds flirty and fun, the horns make the song stand out and with this song it sounds like Lady Antebellum is truly letting loose and having fun (just please don’t hate me for loving that song a lot)

  2. I’m hoping it’s just a timing issue and you’ll be covering Crystal Gayle’s induction into the Grand Ole Opry next week. I listened to it last night on the radio and teared up a little. Crystal and Loretta were sweet and hilarious.

    And Raymond never be afraid or worried about expressing your opinion on here. Country music has all kinds of styles and sounds. And different music appeals to different people. That’s why it’s fun discussing it here. Glad you’re liking the new Lady A song.

  3. I see that Lee Greenwood said that “The nation spoke resoundingly to elect this President.” Losing the popular vote by almost 3 million votes is a resounding victory? Sounds like more of the “alternative facts” that we’ll be hearing from our liar in chief and his minions. 4 Pinocchios for Mr. Greenwood.

  4. I’m not too terribly surprised that Tift’s “Heartache Is An Uphill Climb” got compared to Linda Ronstadt, since Tift is a very big fan of Linda’s. But the talk of this song is making me even hungrier for Stitch Of The World‘s release this Friday. I stand by my belief that she is the greatest female singer to come along in any musical genre in this century.

  5. @ Raymond,

    I don’t hate the Lady Antebellum song. I don’t think it’s especially good, and it definitely has nothing whatsoever to do with country music, but it’s honestly an improvement from what they’ve been releasing in terms of having an actual pulse.

    @ caj,

    Yes, I’d planned to include Gayle’s induction this coming Sunday!

    @ bob,

    It was hard to decide which Greenwood quote to pull from that interview. He came across as completely oblivious on pretty well every point he tried to make.

    @ Erik,

    I really do like Merritt a whole lot, but I wouldn’t go that far in my praise for her. What I’m most encouraged by from what I’ve heard of Stitch thus far is that her voice sounds far better (and far more like it did on her first two albums) than it has recently. She’s a major talent, though, and I’m excited for this new album!

  6. I should clarify that my statement about Tift Merritt was strictly my own, so as not to put down anybody else’s favorites. Just strictly speaking from my perspective, she is my personal favorite of those female artists to have come along in this century, with her mix of contemporary Americana songwriting and old-school (Linda/Emmylou) country-rock (her 2013 album Night with classical pianist Simone Dinnerstein being an excellent side diversion, in my humble opinion).

  7. The 17th Annual Nashville Scene’s Country Music Critics’ Poll, Results and Comments are in. Glad to see Brandy Clark do well. My favorite comment was by Stephen Duesner.

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