Country Music Radio: Lead Suspect in The Murder on Music Row.

For years the evidence surrounding this case has been building. Award winning artists, songwriters, musicians, and fans watched a loved one killed right in front of them. For far too long, the murderer has gone untouched. Until the victims demand justice, none will be served. Letting the criminal walk around free of charge makes us just as guilty as him. So much has been taken from us, but new life can be given if enough victims speak up. Since the murder, a horrible plague has filled the airways. The kind of songs Charlie Worsham made a joke of this summer at his fan club party.. “I’m hott, you’re hott, we’re all hott”. Yep… you guessed it. We have officially reached the “Bro Country” portion of this article.
Trucks, pretty women and bud light are all great… well maybe not cheap beer, but the other two are swell. Joe Diffie may have set the bar a little high in the 90’s with “Pickup Man’, but no matter how many times you try to rewrite that song it’s just not going to work. I can’t help but wonder if this music is actually used for romantic occasions. Are there are actually females who climb into a truck on a first date believing that Prince Charming of the evening handpicked a song for them? The lack of diversity on Country Radio is astonishing. It is almost as if the same song is being sung over and over again by a different male artist. What makes the situation immensely worse is that these songs continue to take over the charts. Time and time again, the newest truck song climbs higher than any new and original idea; if the new idea gets airplay at all.
Maddie and Tae spoke out about this issue in “Girl In A Country Song” which surprisingly made it to the top of the charts. I’ll focus on Women and Gender Equality a little later.
If by some chance you haven’t heard this song, you should give it a listen. It calls attention to all the ways that “bro country” songs portray women as objects rather than human beings. I still don’t quite understand how this song made it to number 1 on the same stations that promoted everything this song makes fun of. If the bro country singers ever decide to do a collaboration of hits, they can just name it “Trucks, Girls and Beer”. The genre has so much more to offer! I guess it should be noted that “bro country” isn’t a sexist term. There are great male artists making country music. Chris Stapleton has more sales than anyone in the genre. Eric Church had the number one tour in the nation for 2017. Charlie Worsham is hands down the most underrated male in the genre, and that’s an absolute truth. George Strait and Alan Jackson can’t even get airplay. Two artists that have set the bar with records sold, awards, Country Music Hall of Fame inductions, songs that will stand the test of time, but radio will not play their music. The fact that George Strait has written and recorded a song called “Kicked out of Country” speaks for itself. Alan Jackson was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame this week and said “I just hope there’s gonna be some young people coming along who really care about it as much as I have and try to keep it alive. It’s gonna be hard today. You won’t hear it on the radio probably anymore but there’s still a lot of people out there young and old who want to hear what I call real country music”. Real country music still has an audience. The only thing that has changed is the way we are forced to listen to it. Country Radio has been a staple in so many lives. The artists that I love and listen to grew up listening to radio. For so many of them it was the link to their careers and songs that made them passionate about music. For anyone who reads this that has yet to discover life outside of Country radio, I urge you to do so. Technology is changing the way that music lovers of all genres access the music they want. Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora are just a few of the many ways that artists can gain exposure without radio. “Bro Country” may very well continue to dominate Country radio, but streaming is taking a major toll on the radio industry. The world will continue to change and evolve but this change should not include the complete transformation of a genre.
“Lord I wonder, who’s gonna fill their shoes?”… A question posed to us in 1985 by the one and only George Jones. Over twenty years later, there’s not an artist on country radio that will ever come close to filling the shoes of Jones, Cash or Haggard. I can only imagine what their opinions would be in regards to the songs played on country radio today.
These men and all of the other country greats were special because they remained true to themselves. They were in it for the love of music, and they are all reflections of that. I can’t say that I know how these men and women would feel about downloads or streaming, but I do know that they would want their legacy to live on. Harlan Howard, a songwriter who is referred to by many as one of the best of all time said “Country Music is three chords and the truth”. I can’t find much of that on country radio today. Sure, there may be some truth in a good time on a Friday night, but what happens when the night ends. Eventually the girl in the cutoff jeans is going to leave, the beer supply is going to run out, and the bonfire will fade to ashes. The truth is in what happens when life isn’t a party. “You say you’re the real deal but you play what nobody feels. You sing about Johnny Cash; the man in black would’ve whipped your ass. I don’t think Waylon done it that way”. These are lyrics from the Eric Church song “Lotta boot left to feel”. Church has been one of the fortunate few to gain commercial success over the last few years while making music that matters. He is consistently referred to as a “rebel” and “outsider. I could ramble on about my love for him, but what’s important is that his music does matter. Somehow among all the bullshit, Mr. Misunderstood is still a success. If I had one positive thing to say about Country radio, it would be that at least they acknowledge Eric Church.
Our second piece of evidence is a little something you may be familiar with known as #tomatogate. For those of you who are not familiar with the term, a couple years ago, a radio host referred to the women of country music as the tomatoes of a salad… which you guessed it, leaves the men being the lettuce. At this time women were definitely not being as successful on the charts as men. Although, I know what the douche canoe’s name was, I will not give him credit for his remark, on the off chance that he stumbles across this. When this first happened, people were irate. Female artists such as Martina Mcbride and Sara Evans voiced their opinions on social media. It seemed as if Country Fans were completely supportive and ready to make a difference. Almost two years later things have only grown worse for females in country. Country radio continues to deny females any chance of access to the charts.
I am sure that there are some fans out there who maybe just think that the country industry is lacking female artists… if this is the case… you’re wrong. So many females are having to sit by and watch as artists with less originality and talent gain prestige and fame. Where would we be without Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Linda Rhondstat, Dolly Parton, or Reba? These women are just a handful of females who have paved the way for others to follow in their footsteps. In the 1990’s, the charts were almost 50/50 between men and women. Patty Loveless, The Judds, The Dixie Chicks, Pam Tillis, Trisha Yearwood, Jo Dee Messina, Martina Mcbride and Shania Twain are just a few of the female artists that dominated the charts during the 90’s. Later on to the scene included Sara Evans and Lee Ann Womack. During this time period, women and men filled country music radio. This is not the case in present times. Even Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood (who have both won female vocalist of the year several times), still struggle to climb the charts with their singles. The format barely incorporates their music, which leaves no room for any other female artist. If the radio was a just place, every country fan would know the music of Sunny Sweeney, Ashley Mcbride,and Aubrie Sellers… just to name a few. Most deserving of them all is six time Grammy nominee, Brandy Clark. Nope, that’s not a typo… six, but if you rely on country radio to hear music then I’m sure you’ve never heard of her. “Mama’s Broken Heart”, “Better Dig Two”, “Follow Your Arrow”…I’m sure I’m ringing bells now. Brandy Clark is the most intuitive human being I have ever encountered. She has the ability to transform a depressing situation into a prolific statement. She can make a man whore get his karma, then give you inspirational quotes to live by. The music of Brandy Clark makes me feel things I’ve never felt before. No matter how many times I see her live, she has the same effect on me. This woman and so many others like her deserve recognition for their talent. If I was depending on Country Radio for my music, I would have never discovered my favorite artist in 24 years of life.
I am uncertain if the country music radio can be salvaged at this point. The artists George Jones sang about in “Who’s gonna fill their shoes” will most likely never have the radio success that George or any other artist from his era had. It seems as though Americana is the best option to continue to give life to country music. You won’t find it on country radio, but artists such as Lee Ann Womack and Brandy Clark have found praise and acceptance in this format. “Kicked out of Country”… for being “too country”. Real Country Music lovers still exist and will continue to demand the music we love. The music is still being made, whether country radio plays it or not. Justice will be served. This is not the end.

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