Tuesday, June 30, 2015

When confident becomes annoying!

We meet again, Dear Future Husband.

I heard this song in a store a couple months ago, was completely turned off by the tone of it, and then kind of forgot about it. I wrote that it was like Any Man of Mine, if you take out the charm and humor and replace it with annoying stridentness. So when I saw my favorite music reviewer Todd was tackling it last night, I couldn't wait. And hoo boy, it's so much worse when you're not at the mall and can actually hear all the things she's saying. I know she's spouting some pseudo-confident, pseudo-girl power crap, cause her lips are movin'. From now on, I'm calling her Meghan Tryhard.

So let's do this. I haven't done a song review-ish thing in a while, and it turns out I have a lot to say about this one. I'll try not to repeat anything Todd said, which just shows what a crapmine this song is, since he had a lot to say about it too. Oh, and he said almost the exact same thing I did about Any Man of Mine. Clearly, he reads my twitter. *cough* Anyway!

Let's start with the sound of the song. Now I love me some 50s/60s girl groups. The Ronettes, The Angels, the Shangri-Las, the Chiffons, The freaking awesome Supremes... I grew up with that stuff cause it was my mom's era and I've loved it ever since. I also liked Madonna's 60s girl group homage, True Blue. So I should like this. But I'm sorry, she ruins it as soon as she opens her mouth. Not because her voice is especially bad, but she does this thing where she sings everything like she just won Miss America. "I'm Queen Shit." She might as well just sing that over and over on a loop. I can't even tell you if I like her voice, cause it's too little voice and too much attitude.

Is this supposed to be a confidence booster, something positive for teen girls? Cause I can't find a note of positivity in this song, other than its deceptive upbeatness. It's a passive-aggressive nightmare. You know what it reminds me of?

I'm just waiting for the chilling moment when that big perky smile drops and the murderface sets in.

So we've got over-polished confidence that's so in your face it's annoying and comes off as fake, even if it isn't. Cause no one is that relentlessly confident and perky. No one. I'm not saying she's being fake, I'm saying she might in fact be a robot. Because these are not real human emotions. No one thinks like this or acts like this, at least no one I'd want to know. You know what I think this is? It's the whole Cosmo-women's magazine culture. It's The View. It's the same women who read 50 Shades and watch Sex and the City and The Bachelor and listen to stuff like "What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger"* and think it's deep and meaningful. Which is probably why this comes off so tone deaf to me. It's sad that women are so thirsty for any kind of empowerment, they'll drink half a glass of lukewarm water like it's champagne.

Anyway, the sound of the song gets a B-. Now... the lyrics. The true horror that is Dear Future Husband. This song just hits all the wrong notes for me, starting with the title. You just know it's not gonna be about the husband, but all about her. Not what a couple brings to each other, just what he can do to worship this apparent FUCKING GODDESS.

Oh wait, excuse me, she'll buy the groceries. And give him love if he kisses her ass right. That sounds like a healthy relationship, right?! Ok, let's back up.

"Cause if you'll treat me right
I'll be the perfect wife
Buying groceries
Buy-buying what you need

You got that 9 to 5
But, baby, so do I
So don't be thinking I'll be home and baking apple pies
I never learned to cook"

Okay, she'll buy the groceries but she draws the line at cooking them! I don't know about you, but I find cooking a hell of lot more enjoyable than standing in line at Walmart. But whatever. I guess she is doing the guy a favor there, but it seems an odd thing to find important enough to put in a song. "We're out of eggs, I'm gonna run to the store!" *swoon* GREATEST LOVE SONG EVER. Also, why is everything about food? I'm not gonna make a fat joke, cause she's not actually fat and I don't make fat jokes. It's just a weird focus. To her, marriage seems to be about two things, food and sex. And both given as a reward for proper ass-kissing. BLECCCCH! Let's continue.

"After every fight
Just apologize
And maybe then I'll let you try and rock my body right
Even if I was wrong
[Laugh] You know I'm never wrong
Why disagree?
Why, why disagree?"

OH GOD MY SOUL IT BURNS. This song... this song makes me feel like a man. Like, I'm totally putting myself in the guy's place here and I am RUNNING LIKE HELL. This is nothing but a trope, and it's an old one and a bad one. This is what leads to men doing "old ball and chain" jokes. Which I hate. But with this attitude, who could blame them? This kind of thing was done with actual charm and humor in Any Man of Mine. It did not need this witless rehashing. You get the feeling Shania's man is gonna laugh along with her and actually enjoy the relationship. The guy in Dear Future Husband is gonna live a life of quiet desperation. I feel sorry for him already.

Why disagree? Maybe because he's a human being with feelings and his own damn opinions.
"Dear future husband,
Make time for me
Don't leave me lonely"

Okay, that's fine, just do the same for him.

"And know we'll never see your family more than mine"

... Excuse me??? Okay, now we've entered into straight-up psychological abuse. You're telling a grown man when he can see his own damn family? Imagine if that was reversed, we'd be getting on the women's abuse hotline immediately. So there you have it. "Dear Future Husband: I'm a controlling bitch. Your family can't save you. Suck it up and smile."

Look, I get that it's hard out there. Women being judged solely by their appearance, women who are average-size called fat because they're bigger than a size 4, rape jokes, rape threats, men who say they just "can't take a joke." It's an ugly, ugly world sometimes. But this is not the way to combat it. So what is the way? Men and women should play to each other's strengths, and compensate for each other's weaknesses. These might be traditional gender roles, or they might not be. Treat each other as equals. Don't tell someone they can't see their damn family, for fuck's sake. Make it about love. Fair, honest love.

And that's why these lyrics get a big old F. Where is the mention of LOVE anywhere in this song? Where are kindness, and fairness? Where's being nice just because you care and want each other to be happy, instead of this weird bargaining? Where are the shared interests, the laughs, the things that actually make a marriage work? You know, the actual... feelings? Yeah, you should probably work out who goes to the grocery store, but it really shouldn't be the first thing on your mind. Todd played a clip from D-I-V-O-R-C-E at the end of his video, and I laughed so loud I mighta woke up the neighbors. Cause yeah. If this is your idea of marriage, look forward to having more than one of 'em.

Dear Future Husband: RUN.

Friday, June 26, 2015

I miss fun pop music almost as much as I miss country music that sounds country.

I hear this kind of thing all the time and oh god how I hatehatehatehatehate these sparse beats!!! They sound like one of the presets on my old Casio keyboard, except not as catchy!

How does anyone get anything out of those beats? I don't get it. It's just terrible.

So here's some old school music, cause I feel like posting songs today.

I was really into freestyle in the late 80s/early 90s.

See, I like some electronic dance music if it's actually fun and doesn't sound like the most lifeless, depressing party ever. I'll just call that other stuff the "We Can't Stop" school of music, in honor of the dreariest song about having fun I've ever heard. Cause there's nothing worse than dreary fun.

Like, this song is supposed to be uplifting but it's so droney sounding. The rap part is ok. I like her much better as a rapper than a singer.*

*I have to asterisk "singer" when it's just 17 layers of autotune. This literally sounds like it's being performed by a machine.

Beats: this is how you do them. It sounds like something is actually going on here. Love the harmonies and horn riff too. So glad I delved back into the early 90s.

Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation is one of my favorite albums of the late 80s/early 90s. It just exemplifies the sounds of the time so beautifully. I miss when entire albums were good and cohesive.

Madonna's 80s music remains some of the best pure pop I've ever heard, and Holiday is my favorite. Nothing evokes the 80s and growing up at the beach more than this song for me.

I lost interest in Madonna's music after her (wonderful) Like a Prayer album, which happened to be right at the end of the decade. Her 90s stuff just didn't do much for me, it was either kinda boring adult contemporary or whatever the hell Justify My Love and Erotica was. The poppy fun was gone, but it was good while it lasted.

I kinda think Britney and her droney autotuned crap helped kill the energetic sound of pop music, or at least drove a nail into the coffin. I may be biased, but I may be right.

And now? Well, I don't usually wish for copycats, but everyone please make stuff like Uptown Funk. Not that sounds just like it, but is that level of pure FUN.

Now for people who don't like pop music, this stuff probably sounds all about the same. But as a fan, the difference in sound and production is just staggering. Autotune and those barely-there beats need to die. Most of today's pop: a dull, ugly thud.

I'll end this by going back to one of the stupidest messes of a hit pop song I've heard in recent years, and also one of my favorite posts ever on this blog. :) And btw, I really liked some of Katy's music. Teenage Dream, Hot and Cold, Firework? Heck yes! How did we get here from there?


Feel Good Friday

A funky, breezy, summery song today, my favorite from the aptly-named Awesome Mix.

Why letting go of radio makes me a little sad

"If you don't like what's on country radio, just don't listen to it. Listen to *insert online music site* instead."

It's a fair argument. I've always been of the mind if you don't like something, just don't bother with it. Do your own thing and to each their own. I haven't listened to country radio or any radio (except classic rock in the car with my husband) since that gawdawful Country Girls Shake it (for the Groundhogs) or whatever song took hold. In hindsight, I guess I saw which way the wind was blowing. At the time it was just, "well, this sucks!" *click*

It's not a huge deal. I listen to several different genres from several different decades. I even get into occasional new music thanks to sites like savingcountrymusic.com. I don't do streaming sites, partly because half the time I try to use a site here in Canada I get DENIED, but mostly because I'm happy with my post-radio way of hearing music. Listen on youtube, buy on iTunes if I like it. Pretty simple.

So my issue isn't a shortage of music, though I imagine I'd get into much more new stuff if a better quality was played on the radio. Now more than ever, I feel like there's tons of good music I'll never hear simply because there's so much on the internet and I don't have time to wade through it all. Radio used to serve as a kind of handy delivery service. So that's one of the things I miss about it.

But my main argument for radio is an emotional one, not necessarily rational, and hard to put into words. As an 80s kid it was a HUGE part of my life growing up, and continued to be into adulthood. There's a little hole in my life where radio used to be. It's not a huge hole, it doesn't affect my life in a big way and I don't think of it often, but it's there. It's one more piece of what used to be me that's been lost.

Here, maybe this song can explain it better.

"She's got a radio heart
She loves the songs they play,
They take him off her mind
She's got a radio heart
It helps fill an empty space
He left behind

She gets lost in a steel guitar
Oh it's her way out
When the heartache starts
She's found a little salvation
On a local station
She's got a radio heart"

My circumstance isn't the same as the girl in the song, no kids or heartache, but the concept of radio as salvation rings completely true to me. I had a hard time in school, and my best memories of that time are listening to the radio late at night in my room. It allowed me to feel like a part of something bigger and better, at a time when I felt small. In my late teens and twenties when I was feeling down, I'd put on the country station and just drive, and I always felt better. Radio saved me many times in intangible ways. Listening on the internet is okay, but it is definitely not the same. It's more isolated; the feeling of being connected to something is gone.

Yeah, I love how I can make one huge, giant mixtape now and listen to it for days. Seriously great. But I still miss the "I hope they play my favorite song next," the anticipation of hearing a new song from my favorite artist the first time, the deejay lulling me to sleep late at night. Somehow things were just a bit bigger, and more romantic, on the radio.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I see the argument about "listening to lots of different kinds of music" put out there a lot too. Guess what, I also listen to lots of different kinds of music. THAT DOESN'T MEAN YOU HAVE TO PUT THEM ALL IN THE SAME SONG!!!

My 90s playlist I made recently has country, pop, early hip hop, latin freestyle, new jack swing - pretty much everything I listened to back then all mixed together. And it's great. But what makes it great is how different the styles are and how they evoke different feelings. It's like a patchwork quilt, or a scrapbook, instead of a vomit-stained tailgate blanket.

All this really proves is that Taylor Swift is the most powerful person on the planet, somehow.
I'm back from vacation! And a female singer has the biggest hit on country radio, hoor- oh, wait.

This is a 21-year old young woman and I'm not gonna say anything bad about her. She's poppy but inoffensive at worst, and under all the processed ham of this song I think I can hear an actual voice. I'd like to hear what she sounds like live. And with better material.

But goddamn, this goes back to what I wrote about Cole Swindell. I've listened to "Love Me Like You Mean It" several times now and I hardly remember anything about it. It's generic brand pop, literally and figuratively. Today's radio seems to reward the most unmemorable songs, or sometimes downright terrible ones. This isn't terrible; it's too unremarkable. No wonder we don't have classics anymore. (I still can't remember how a single Cole Swindell song goes. And he's a top tier country star, apparently.)

This doesn't mean a damn thing for women on country radio. It's calculated BS. If you want to support and enjoy some female artists, I suggest Cam (great new find with a beautiful voice), Jamie Lin Wilson's Holidays & Wedding Rings, Jana Kramer's new song, and Kacey Musgraves' new album which is out today. I haven't heard it yet, but I'm pretty excited.

I think my first exposure to bad country music was Achy Breaky Heart. Actually, wait. We'll get back to that. My first exposure to bad, or badly done country music was the first country album I ever owned. I just remembered this the other day when I was listening to my classic country playlist - specifically, "Luckenbach, Texas." Yup, my first country album was a little thing called Urban Chipmunk.

Man, nostalgia is a funny thing. I know that this is an unholy abomination unto some great country songs, but I didn't know that when I was five. So when I hear it, I kinda feel five again. It's still awful, though countrier than FGL dammit.

...It's kind of like everyone who listens to country radio now is five, isn't it? ANYWAY.

It seems country music was able to mitigate the damage that Billy Ray and his achy breaky organ could have done. It was a HUGE hit, after all. Probably made an achy breaky assload of money. But no. While he wasn't a one-hit wonder (and honestly some of his other songs are fine), this song was kind of relegated to one-hit wonder status. And if there were any copycats, they didn't take over the airwaves. Life went on. I've written about this before, almost a year ago.


But apparently, FGL was just too much of a juggernaut to contain. "Cruise" is this generation's Achy Breaky, except it didn't quietly go home or to the morgue or wherever achy breaky hearts go when they expire. It infected country radio much like the supervirus in The Stand, with only a few survivors left to fight. I've never seen such a swift takeover of a music genre, and with such horrifying results. Yes, Garth Brooks was very influential and definitely helped define the 90s country sound, but the artists who came after him weren't all the bloody same! Garth's songs weren't all the bloody same! There was variety! And women who weren't wannabe pop starlets!

MAKE NO MISTAKE: "Love Me Like You Mean It" is not the least, tiniest bit country. It's the kind of bubblegum pop song you used to hear a lot on pop radio, before pop radio started sounding more like an industrial accident. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised by Kelsea Ballerini at some point, but based on this song she's Taylor Swift lite. She's Sam Hunt without the uniqueness that actually makes Sam Hunt a legit star (though not a country one.) This means nothing for country radio. Now, if Cam's song hits number one, I'll be interested.

She might look bubbly and poppy, but don't be fooled. She has a beautiful voice and this is a haunting song.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

This song is like...

So sometimes you're having -so much fun- at a party you don't want it to end, even though it's 2:15 AM and you really should be heading home. That's when you have one more shot, and wind down with something like this* before you go.

*There are roughly 162 Tom Waits songs that fill the bill, but this one's my favorite. In fact, screw this post, I'm just gonna listen to Mule Variations.

Okay, okay, Luke Bryan. Kick the Dust Up is when it's 2:15 AM and you've been drinking for twelve hours and you're exhausted and just want to go home BUT NO - your friend or SO or whoever you came with refuses to acknowledge the end of the party even though it's clearly been over for a while, and they keep knocking back booze of diminishing quality with diminishing enthusiasm until they pass out, probably on the toilet.


It's not even a fun song. Who would even play this at a party? Drunk on You or I Don't Want this Night to End, yeah, okay sure. I wouldn't play it, but I see how it could happen. Even *shudder That's My Kind of Night is catchy and has a driving beat. But this song has all charm of a drunk who has long overstayed their welcome. It's not cute or fun anymore; it's a chronic problem.

Friday, June 12, 2015

I have things to say today

The one good thing I'll say for the top 25 is at least Cole Swindell wasn't in it. What the hell is the appeal of this guy?? Not only is he mediocre talent at best, he's not interesting, attractive, or remotely charismatic. It's like watching a glass of milk perform. I swear I've seen and heard this guy, but I can barely remember what he looked or sounded like. He's that unmemorable. He is the human manifestation of the number zero.

Have I made my distaste for his popularity clear? Okay, good.

Since blog posts criticizing Miley Cyrus are apparently newsworthy, here're a few of mine. They weren't written by the offspring of a failed VP candidate, so they're clearly not important, but at least they're funny.



The third one is crazy long, so I'll just sum up the highlights: "I'm going out on a limb and saying the twerking actually makes (We Can't Stop) more interesting, in the way a house fire makes a nap more interesting." and "It's like Alvin and the Chipmunks pole dancing." and "SEE I'M AN ADULT, SEE SEE? I HAVE SEX AND TAKE DRUGS AND EVERYTHING!" You're welcome.

The theme for today appears to be "nepotism." I haven't read Ms. Palin's pearls of wisdom, nor will I, but I find it hilarious that one product of nepotism is criticizing another. This is the world we live in. At least Miley is famous for actually doing something. She's pretty terrible at it, but at least she's not famous just for being related to someone famous and being on a reality show. (Though really, are Disney Channel shows that much of a step up from reality TV?) And seriously, I don't even consider a failed VP candidate an acceptable celebrity, let alone their relatives. That would be like if the offspring of one of the OJ lawyers got their own show... oh, wait. :(

It's all pretty ridiculous. But hey, kids of celebrities aren't all bad. At least we have Pam Tillis.

One more post today, cause I like to not post for a month and then 4 times in one day. Y'know, for funs!

So I did my monthly-ish and ever-bewildering Viewing of the Charts today.

... It's bad. Wow, it's bad.

Out of the top 25, there are 7 songs I like, which is actually kind of high, a few that are okay or I'm indifferent to, and a few I haven't heard because I've been wholly unimpressed by the singer thus far.

I'd be happy that an emotional song like Girl Crush is #1 - cause isn't that just what I was complaining about in my last post? - if I didn't feel it got there partly based on trumped-up "controversy." Or maybe LBT is just that popular, that they can get an actual song on radio. I can't complain about the song, but I hope it doesn't take those kind of circumstances for something like this to hit #1. Cause that means this is a fluke, not a trend. Or we'll be seeing a string of "faux lesbian" songs... oh no no no. Oh God, no. I take that back, universe. Please forget I ever said that. No one heard me, right?

Blah blah Sam Hunt, Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, FGL... they all kind of form together into one blob after awhile... Billy Currington... wait, didn't he already have a song called "Don't It" a while ago? Whatever, I'm sure it's super original... okay what's next. Kelsea Ballerini, yep, cause Taylor Swift Lite is exactly what country radio needs. PLEASE don't let this girl be the one new female allowed on radio. This is like listening to a vacuum.

Carrie and Kenny are good, okay, what's next... no clue about Canaan Smith, could be a bro, could be awesome, prolly a bro. Easton Corbin somehow making cliché dreck sound good, bless you Easton Corbin. Eric Church is ok, I need to really give this song a listen... Jason Aldean is dead to me after the nekkid song... DEAD... ok, here we go. Crash and Burn by Thomas Rhett.

I haven't talked about this song, cause I have no idea what it is. Seriously. Is it a bad song? Eh... not really? I mean, it's an ok pop song I guess, kinda derivative, but I have no clue what's going on here. Is he going for... male Meghan Trainor with the 60s pop vibe? Can I just point out what an odd choice that is? Even as a desperate cash grab, a male "country" artist trying to coattail the sound of a female pop artist is just weird. Or maybe the 60s pop sound is a coincidence. I am genuinely perplexed. When I said nothing surprised me anymore, I was wrong. This surprises me for just how bewildering it is.

Okay, what else has this guy done... something called "Beer with Jesus." Hoo boy. That's what like, The Onion probably thinks every country song is called. But let's give it a listen. ...That's actually not terrible. A little substance anyway. But still Thomas Rhett, Mr. Nepotism-pants, if you really wanna copy someone's sound, may I suggest your own father from around 1995. This is a good song.

The rest of the top 25 is 3 great songs by Tim McGraw and ZBB, that Brantley guy who I swear is more caricature than human, Brad Paisley doing some bro sounding stuff... oh, Brad... and then some of the worst, bottom-feeding garbage I've heard in my life. Michael Ray? Chris somebody? This is like D-list crap. I've heard better stuff played at county fairs by high school kids. I have no idea what's going on, people have no taste, and I'm gonna stop now before I lose all faith.

Vacation in a few days. I need it!
I should clarify that in my previous post, I wasn't implying that female artists have more substance than males. There are plenty of male country artists making wonderful music, some are actually played on the radio, most aren't. My point is there's no female counterpart to the Luke Bryans and FGLs of the world. Even Miranda and Carrie, AKA The Only Two Females Radio Thinks Exist, have much more substance than those bozos and most everything else played on the radio.

Except for that one really terrible song.

Female artist spotlight - Jana Kramer

I first heard Jana Kramer a couple years ago, and had a generally positive reaction. Some of her stuff was a little poppy for me, but "Why Ya Wanna" and "Whiskey" were good, and the song that really hooked me is "When You're Lonely." This is a country song, so much so that I heard it once, bought it, and when it came up on a playlist a day or so later I was like, "Wait, is this a 90s song I forgot about?" before I remembered who it was.

Her new song is like that too. I just heard this yesterday and I've been playing the hell out of it. This is the kind of song that probably won't go anywhere on today's radio, and boy do I mean that as a compliment.

What's not to love about this? It's like a lost Lee Ann Womack or Deana Carter song. Classic country theme, great wordplay, meaningful lyrics and oh man, her voice when she sings "she got the man." Gives me chills. If you're looking to support a mainstream female artist with a great country song, I highly recommend "I Got the Boy."

"I got the first kiss and she'll get the last
She's got the future, I got the past
I got the class ring, she got the diamond and wedding band
I got the boy, she got the man"

This goes back to what I was talking about at the end of my last post, about female vocalists and substance. What has changed in our world that radio doesn't play songs like this anymore? I'm thinking of songs like "Little Past Little Rock" or "Strawberry Wine" that were big hits back in the day. They wouldn't stand a chance now. Is it because female-driven songs often have more depth, and we just can't have nice things anymore? It's too "depressing?"

What's depressing is the lack of substantial music. it's like going to the circus every day. Who the @#$% wants to go to the circus every dayÉ Maybe I'll be wrong and this'll be a big hit. Maybe there's "room" for another female artist with the departure of Taylor Swift. Maybe it'll be Jana Kramer. Personally, I think she's too good for it. But all it takes is a few songs like this taking hold on the radio, and maybe that can change.

Feel Good Friday - summer playlist

This is gonna be a lot longer than usual.

I love summer. I love fun. I love fun, summer songs. I love road trips and back roads and cornfields and drinkin' beer and DEAR GOD, AM I ACTUALLY THE BRO COUNTRY DEMOGRAPHIC AFTER ALL?

No, no I'm not. I drink craft beer, not Bud Light. WHEW. Existential crisis averted. But that said, there is a time and place for fun country songs about drinking, dirt roads, summer, and small towns. So what separates the good from the bad? When do the tropes actually work? After all, tropes are tropes for a reason, and just because something is cliché doesn't mean it's never relevant. Trucks and cornfields and back roads are country, they just need to be used a bit more sparingly. Like, not in every single song.

So here's my (very general) criteria for the following playlist. As I said in my last post, lyrics are not the main thing I care about in music. I love good lyrics, but I'll forgive stupid ones if I like how the song sounds. The two main things that stand out for me in music are vocals and production. Awesome vocals go a long way, and over-production just kills an otherwise decent song. (Obviously this differs between music styles - I can accept more of a produced sound in pop than country.)

I also require that my fun songs actually sound... fun. This is the major complaint, beyond the dumb lyrics and terrible production, I have with so much of today's country: they're "fun" songs that ARENT FUN. They're not fun to listen to, nobody sounds like they're having any fun, they're just going through the motions. They're all so samey it sounds like one big dirge at this point. A fun dirge. Yay? It's like the Groundhog Day of "fun," the same song over and over and over til you want to scream.

This last point is pretty subjective, but I tend to go more for songs that sound like they were written by, and for, adults. How "mature" can a fun song really be? Well, "not ridiculously immature" is probably a better way to say it. As in, not FGL. No hip-hop slang, name-dropping rappers, addressing women like a pre-pubescent boy who just saw breasts for the first time, excessive focus on getting drunk, high, and/or laid, etc. One or two memorable, smart lines always helps too.

So - vocals, production, actual fun, some indication it was written by an adult with a brain.

This is only a small sampling of my summer playlist, which includes old and new country as well as rock, pop, soul, and probably other genres I'm forgetting. As per the point of this post - finding actually fun songs from the era of "fun country songs"- these songs are all from this decade, or artists who are currently relevant.

1. Barefoot Blue Jean Night - Jake Owen
Is this considered bro country? It's got a lot of the tropes, but this one works for me. Great catchy melody, some of Jake's best vocals, and an evocative, memorable line: "We were shining like lighters in the dark in the middle of a rock show." This is what these songs are supposed to be.

2. Take a Back Road - Rodney Atkins
This is probably the only song on this subject that needed to be written. It's perfect, and deep enough to rise above cliché. "Get lost and get right with my soul," indeed. I actually believe this guy's listening to 1982 George Strait. Maybe because he didn't name-drop him along with T-Pain.

3. Jump Right In - Zac Brown Band
ZBB always nails the palm tree songs, and this one's my favorite.

4. Boondocks - Little Big Town
This song came out before everyone was bragging how country they were living in the boondocks, and it's not terribly cliché to begin with. But it is fun and honestly, I wanted to get some female vocals in here. (Note: finding female artists for this list is really challenging.) I absolutely love the "fishin' hole" refrain in this song.

5. Beer in Mexico - Kenny Chesney
There were a lot of Kenny songs I could have chosen for this list, but this one's my favorite. It has a nice melody and really gives you that "lost in summer" feeling.

6. Runnin' Outta Moonlight - Randy Houser
This song kinda exemplifies this list. Other than Randy's voice, there's nothing earth-shattering here. But like "Barefoot," it succeeds at exactly what it is. Fun, catchy fluff.

7. Me and Charlie Talking - Miranda Lambert
Yeah, this one doesn't exactly fit the list. There's not a damn thing cliché about it and it's one of my favorite songs. BUT, this is a must-have for any summer country playlist, and I wanted another female artist on here. Seriously - "So you treat your love like a firefly, like it only gets to shine for a little while
Catch it in a mason jar with holes in the top and run like hell to show it off" - does it get any better than that? So I'm including this just because it so beautifully evokes summer.

8. Night Train - Jason Aldean
I still can't believe this is the same guy who did the "lying nekkid in my bed" song. This song is romantic, country, and perfectly captures the mood of a long summer night.

9. Beat of the Music - Brett Eldredge
Again, nothing earth-shaking, but a genuinely feel-good song. This is the kind of song you want to hear at a carnival late at night with all the lights on next to the one you love. I want a corn dog now.

10. All Over Me - Josh Turner
This song came out before all this stuff was so cliché, and it's really well-done. Josh Turner is a force of nature, I love the arrangement and production, and while he may wanna get busy down by the river, at least he has enough respect to not ask you to bring your little sugar shaker over here with a beer. And it's Josh Turner, so you know he's not picking up some skank.

11. Little Bit Gypsy - Kellie Pickler
A bright, carefree, catchy song from one of my favorite female vocalists. This should have been a big hit. F U country radio.

12. Getaway Truck - Aaron Watson
I highly recommend playing the hell out of this whole album, this summer and beyond, but a standout is this "truck" song. A good truck song? In 2015??! Yep, this one puts a whole new spin on it, and it's actually really romantic. It's about love and freedom and summer, with the very relatable theme of getting out of a bad situation and starting anew.

13. Shotgun Rider - Tim McGraw
The perfect follow-up to #12. This is an honest-to-God love song. And to the girl, not the truck for once! Or the girl's ass! This is what I mean by a more mature song. The focus is on the feelings the man has for the woman, his desire to stay loyal, instead of "Hey girl, you look hot, climb in my truck!"* And it's still light and summery feeling. This is one of those rare new songs that makes me feel nostalgic.

14. Free - Zac Brown Band
Yep, two ZBB songs that are completely different in tone, yet both perfectly evoke summer. I like winding down a playlist with a slower, easygoing song and this one's just about perfect.

*if your lyrics could double as a pickup line from "To Catch a Predator," you're probably doing it wrong.

I really wanted to include more females on here, but at the risk of generalizing, women just seem to sing about more serious topics than summer fun. I guess that's why they don't get played on the radio. This is what Mr. Salad Head was talking about, wasn't it? He thinks women are a bunch of Debbie Downers.

Tomatoes are serious business. WHOMP WHOMP.

That will be my last reference to #salad6, ever. May it wilt and die like week-old lettuce.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

More on the state of music... ugggh

I used to enjoy making snarky posts about bad music, I really did. Now I kind of dread it (hence my lack of posts).

Take MST3K: it wouldn't be as much fun if every movie made was like Manos: the Hands of Fate. It would just be like, oh God, another one? You need to have some contrast between the good and the bad. There's little to no contrast in mainstream country anymore, unless you count bad to worse. And much of the bad isn't even outrageously bad or funny, it's just samey. Boring trend jumping. All I can see is the calculator that wrote it.

I think what's really brought me here, from the much-more-fun denial and anger stages of musical grief to this wasteland between depression and acceptance*, is how many artists I like are jumping on dumb trends like it's nothing. Like good music is suddenly meaningless to them. My post here about Eli Young Band's sudden nosedive was probably my last vestige of surprise. And that's the worst part. Nothing shocks me anymore. I've become numb.

*acceptance not of the music, but of the fact the music is gonna suck

Since then I've heard complete dreck from Brett Eldredge, whose debut album was really solid and promising (or so I thought, before he hopped the $-train to Crapville); Jake Owen, who was never a fave but did enough stuff I like that this latest mess is a severe decline; Zac Brown Band, who I'll forgive for making a generally good album and at least releasing actual country songs to country radio; RANDY HOUSER *sob* my favorite voice in country music, I still love you Randy but OMG THIS SONG IS A PILE OF DRIED UP BRO COUNTRY FIREBALL VOMIT. It's not even fresh enough to stink anymore. That's right, it's gone past stink into some colorless, odorless brain-numbing gas. I mean, seriously.


I'm not over Randy yet, his voice is so knee-bucklingly good I'll give him another chance. But I'm sure as HELL not buying this dreck just because I'm a fan. Take note, Luke Bryan fans. You can take the goggles off sometimes.

I might be forgetting some, it seems like another once-respected artist bites the dust every day, but let's bring it to today and my first listen to Keith Urban's new "masterpiece." It's got a really dumb title, which I'd forgive if the song was any good. Spoiler: it isn't.

"Welp, Eric Church had a big hit with Springsteen, so let's name-drop another 80s heartland rocker and see how much money it makes!" I'm pretty sure that's all the thought that went into this song. I've never been a huge Keith Urban fan, but he's a talented guy and he's put out some good music. I also admire how he's always done his own thing and kept to his own sound. But here he sounds like he's just going through the motions, which he probably is. There's no passion to this or any of these songs.

If Randy Houser doesn't even sound passionate, you know the music is lifeless. Hell, he made "Runnin' Outta Moonlight," a Dallas Davidson, etc - penned song that would have been mediocre in the hands of Luke Bryan or one of his clones, into a song I thoroughly enjoy. Just through his voice and charisma. A good artist can do that. But his latest song is unsalvageable, even by him. And even for this unabashed fangirl.

Oh, there is one exception to all this. I haven't heard a lot about this song, but I did see it lumped in with the sellout crap and I understand why. Boy, do I. The lyrics are laughably trite, tired and cliché. They would have been cliché two years ago and sound downright ridiculous now. BUT - I've always cared much more about the sound of the music than the lyrics, and this one actually sounds really good. The production is nice and simple, polished but without any autotune or other over-produced, machiney sounding crap. The vocals are wonderful. He's singin' stupid words but by God, at least he doesn't sound like he's going through the motions. There's warmth and passion put into this, at least by Easton Corbin himself. "Buzz in my dixie cup" aside, this song is totally on my summer playlist.

But ummm, if your Dixie cup is buzzin', you might wanna be careful because there's probably a wasp in it.

I'll end this by remembering how I felt about Tim McGraw not too long ago ("YOU'RE DEAD TO ME, TIM! DEAD TO ME!!!!"), and how I feel about Tim now. He's one of my most-played artists the past few months, and not even his 90s stuff, his latest album. So I'm gonna add on one more stage to musical grief, thanks to Tim. Maybe after acceptance, comes hope. If a 45-year old who sang the lines, "That girl, she's a party all-nighter, A little "Funky Cold Medina," little "Strawberry Wine"-er, That girl, she's a love gunslinger, neon jägerbomb country-okie singer" can return to relevance, ANY of these guys can.

Okay, this post was actually a little therapeutic. Thanks, blog! I'm gonna write out my feel good Friday now while I'm rarin to go, in case I get too busy tomorrow.