Bro-Country (love the term or hate it, it’s sticking) is dominating the country music airwaves. Florida Georgia Line, Cole Swindell, Luke Bryan, and Jason Aldean all sing to profess their love of girls in cut-off jeans, tan legs, jacked-up pick-ups and drinking under the moon. Nearly every song on the radio has the same sentiment or the same down-beat. Hard core fans of this trend, basically folks who jumped on the country bandwagon within the past 4 years, have no idea that Jason Aldean use to sing a song about a green tractor or sang about telling the “Truth.” They may not also be aware that Luke Bryan had several good albums before his lastest train wreck where he sang about takin’ rides in trucks, a tacklebox, or a loss in “The Car in Front of Me.” Some of these guys were someone else entirely before jumping on the bandwagon of what sells with the emergence of Florida Georgia Line. It’s because of this success that guys like Cole Swindell are able to get record deals, and Darius Rucker’s first country album was called “too country” and had to be revamped before release.
Yes, country music has evolved, but unfortunately, the current trend is forcing some incredible talent to the sidelines. People who have an actual story to tell, are being silenced because they aren’t “radio friendly,” aka deeper than a shotglass of fireball.
So, when we asked CMTT readers via Twitter and Facebook who they thought was the most overrated and underrated country artists the results were a bit overwhelming. While the underrated were split between Kristian Kane, Chris Young, and Gary Allen. The artists folks seem to think are a tad overrated were pretty consistent, and overwhelmingly bro-country. With the exception of a couple people naming Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, and Kacey Musgraves; nearly everyone voted Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan, and/or Jason Aldean. (There was one vote for George Strait, but were gonna plead insanity on their behalf).
So, this leads to the question…. why does country radio saturate the airwaves with shallow bro-country if it appears the overwhelming majority is tired of the trend? Last week at CRS, a room full of DJs who spin bro-country on repeat gave the Oak Ridge Boys a standing ovation. Could someone explain it to me??
Last week, country singer Jack Ingram (many of you won’t know who his is because he didn’t get popular performing bro-country, but I suggest you look him up) took to Facebook to talk about a comment a radio exec had made.
I heard that a Nashville executive made a comment during the Country Radio Seminar last week that “if it’s not played on country radio, it doesn’t exist”. When I look at the list of artists that I just came up with off of the top of my head from music that I listen to often, I just can’t help but laugh at the short sightedness of a comment like that. Some of those artists certainly do exist and will sell 20 million records/downloads/friends/etc. and other artists on that list MOST CERTAINLY EXIST and will not sell a single record/download/friend/etc… I have had points in my career where I have been played often on the radio. In fact, I believe one of my singles was one of the most played songs on the radio for an entire year! I have also had moments of my career where my songs were not played much at all over the airwaves. My music existed at every moment! You can believe that.
I very much enjoy and seek to get my music on the radio, country music radio in particular! A recording artist’s second most important objective is to get their music heard, through any means possible, by the most amount of people possible! The 1st objective is to make music that I believe in, that speaks the truth as I see it and hear it. If I don’t make music that I believe in, then and only then will it ever cease to exist whether it’s on the radio or not. Through experience I know this to be true.
Music that gets played on the radio certainly does exist! The radio gives GREAT music a good chance of finding a huge audience to exist with for a long time! But let’s never mistake a HIT song for automatically being a GREAT song…sometimes you have both but one does not guarantee the other!
My hero, Willie Nelson, did NOT say “There is only 1 type of music- music on the radio”…What he DID say is “There are only 2 kinds of music- GOOD and BAD.”
I agree….and sometimes bad music gets the most play. I’m not saying that fun music is bad. But if it’s all you got, then you’re gonna run outta things to say real quick. There’s a reason why Alan Jackson, George Strait, Reba McEntire, and hell even Dierks Bentley, Brad Paisley, and Keith Urban have had careers that have spanned decades. They each know who they are and stay true to it. If they changed their sound because of a trend…they will flounder. They may not always be hitting no. 1, but they stay relevant. Alan Jackson still performs hits that he performed back in the day, “Wanted,” “Mercury,” “Chattahoochee.” I suggest that some of these newcomers start singing songs they wanna be singing when they’re 60…unless of course… they don’t plan on being around that long…and maybe Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean need to take a listen to their earlier albums like ‘I’ll Stay Me’ and ‘Relentless.’
Artists are constantly being quoted that they ‘just wanna make good music.’ Well, I’d like to say… no one is stopping you…get on with it.