Friday, 27 March 2015

Is Country Music Really Moving Forward?

Country music's long established attitude to gay and female musicians has long been one that's polarised opinions of radio programmers, critics and fans alike. It's hard to say when the storm began to really gather dust but perhaps it's best to start with Kacey Musgraves, the tongue in cheek Texas native who wasn't afraid to say what everyone was thinking, even it meant her music was largely shunned by country radio.

In 2013, Musgraves released Follow Your Arrow, the third single from her Grammy Award winning major debut album Same Trailer Different Park. While the single would go on to win a host of awards including Song of the Year at last year's CMA Awards, the track only managed to peak at number forty-three on Billboard's Country Airplay charts. You see, Musgraves was always going to face an uphill battle, not only is she a solo female artist in a largely male-dominated industry, but she was also advocating same-sex relationships in a way that was never done before.

Perhaps it was Musgraves that lit the fuse as it wasn't long before many were praising the efforts of country music for slowly but surely rectifying the social issues that plagued the genre. Fast forward to late 2014 and country performers Ty Herndon and Billy Gilman were making history by both coming out on the same day, a turn of events that generated a flurry of praise from fellow country stars.

With Musgraves, Herndon and Gilman making headway on changing the genre's attitude towards homosexual musicians, country newcomers Maddie & Tae were plugging away on the female front, quickly putting the last nail in the bro-country trend with their debut single Girl In A Country Song, subsequently becoming the first track from a female duo in eight years to bag a number one. As 2014 came to close, it looked like a new era of acceptance for both female and gay musicians was on the horizon but in light of recent events, it looks like we might not be there just yet.

Earlier in the week, news broke that Little Big Town's current single Girl Crush, a track that's actually about jealousy rather than a same-sex relationship, was facing some troubles at country radio with listeners threatening to boycott stations that played the song and supported the "gay agenda". Taste of Country went on to report that while the track has stalled at number thirty-three in the charts, the single has raced up the iTunes charts to a top five position.

The controversy surrounding Little Big Town's current single serves to raise two important points, firstly, has country music really made any headway if songs are still being forced into low rotation due to same-sex connotations and secondly, has it anything to do with being perceived as a female orientated song due to being largely sung by Karen Fairchild? Whatever the reason, it's about time country music faced its social issues head on or else we're only moving backwards.

First Listen: Thompson Square // Trans Am

Impacting country radio on April 13th, Trans Am is the lead single from Thompson Square's upcoming third studio album which will follow-up their 2013 record Just Feels Good.

The first taste of new material from Keifer and Shawna Thompson is high-energy, high-stakes country that will hit the spot over the summer months. Featuring shredding guitars and polished production, the duo sing "Girl let’s fly, jump inside, take a ride in my Trans Am, hammer down, cruise around, rock this town in my Trans Am. Everybody wants to ride, hey, everybody wants to ride, hey, girl, you know you wanna ride, take a ride in my Trans Am". The catchy chorus is the track's unique selling point that will see the risqué single wracking up some serious radio airplay for the married couple.

Having previously scored number one hits with slower songs such as Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not and If I Didn't Have You no one can say that Thompson Square aren't shaking up their sound and taking some risks, and in my eyes that's only a good thing.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Country Newcomer Karli Whetstone Shines In "Frozen" Video

Country newcomer Karli Whetstone is making waves with the video for new single Frozen. The Ohio native was always destined for stardom having started making trips to Nashville at the tender age of fifteen to get herself acquainted with the music scene, subsequently leading Whetstone to open shows for the likes of Taylor Swift and Joe Nichols.

Fast forward a handful of years and the country songstress is steadily carving out a name for herself with a string of new songs including Frozen. Directed by Roman White, the accompanying cinematic clip adds an artistic flair to Whetstone's heartfelt pop-country love tune.

Florida Georgia Line Release Fiery Video For "Sippin' On Fire"

Country duo Florida Georgia Line are hoping to notch up their third number one single from 2014 album Anything Goes with their latest offering Sippin' On Fire.

The accompanying clip which features the duo performing the track in Las Vegas desert will no doubt help the pair claim the top spot once again. Directed by Marc Klasfeld, the video sees two lovers searching for each other in the desert before finding one another and having a sultry reunion.

Florida Georgia Line are currently playing a long string of shows across North America as part of their 2015 Anything Goes tour.

Kacey Musgraves Records Track With Beach Boys' Brian Wilson

Kacey Musgraves might have her hands full with new single Biscuits, but that hasn't stopped the Texas country singer from teaming up with Beach Boys' co-founder Brian Wilson to record a track entitled Guess You Had To Be There for the music veteran's new album, No Pier Pressures.

Speaking to Rolling Stone, Wilson complimented Musgraves saying "When it's good it's good, when it's not — do it again. But after three tries, Kacey nailed it. I like the way she just slides over the notes — she has a very cool sound."

Musgraves joins the likes of Nate Reuss from fun. and Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward of She & Him fame for the record which is set to drop April 7th.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Blake Shelton Teases Video For New Single "Sangria"

Fresh off the back of his fourteenth number one single in a row Lonely Tonight, Blake Shelton has dropped a steamy teaser clip for forthcoming release, Sangria.

The video for Shelton's upcoming song will set pulses racing as it certainly looks to be capitalising on the track's sultry lyrics. The short clip appears to be the first of many to come before the full video is released.

Sangria is the third track to come from Shelton's 2014 record Bringing Back The Sunshine.

Tyler Farr Announces Sophomore Album Details

Having already released the lead single from his sophomore record last year, it was only a matter of time before Tyler Farr announced the details of his forthcoming album, Suffer In Peace.

The album which is due to drop April 28th will feature 11 new tracks including last year's A Guy Walks Into A Bar and a duet with country superstar Jason Aldean entitled Damn Good Friends. The Columbia Nashville artist will be hoping to beat his previous record Redneck Crazy which peaked at number two in 2013.

Suffer In Peace tracklist:
1. C.O.U.N.T.R.Y (Chris Tompkins/Craig Wiseman/Rodney Clawson)
2. A Guy Walks Into A Bar (Melissa Pierce/Jonathan Singleton/Brad Tursi)
3. Withdraws (Josh Kear/Gordie Sampson/Hillary Lindsey)
4. Damn Good Friends Ft. Jason Aldean (Brent Anderson/Chris Dubois/Neal Medley)
5. Suffer In Peace (Aaron Barker/Phil O’Donnell)
6. Raised To Pray (Lance Miller/Adam Sanders/Brad Warren/Brett Warren)
7. Criminal (Dallas Davidson/Rhett Akins/Ashley Gorley)
8. Better In Boots (Justin Wilson/Dave Pittenger)
9. Poor Boy (Tyler Farr/Dallas Davidson/Rhett Akins/Ben Hayslip)
10. I Don’t Even Want This Beer (Tyler Farr/Wade Kirby/Phil O’Donnell/Houston Phillips)
11. Why We Live Here (Tyler Farr/Dallas Davidson/Houston Phillips)