Those that know me know that I'm opinionated when it comes to certain things: Pantwear, Lifestyle choices, and, most importantly, Country Music.
For what seems like no rhyme or reason, I like or dislike certain artists. I think it's time for the whys and why nots. I mean, it's like I'm doing Pandora's job for them.
There's no really logical place to begin, so I'll start by trying to explain why I don't like the guys you know I don't like.
Toby Keith- It's not that he's too American, or that he's made tons of money off of seeming to be too American that I don't like him. It's not entirely his beard or his ugly curled up cowboy hat. It's not that his mind is as narrow as a sidewalk crack. It's not that he tried (and failed) to ruin the careers of the Dixie Chicks. It's a combination of everything. FUTK.
Keith Urban- Honestly, the real reason I don't like Keith Urban is that I can't distinguish one song of his from another. Not one of them is memorable or significant in any way.Have you ever heard someone play a Keith Urban song on a jukebox? Me either.
And not that there's anything wrong with being Australian or being married to Nicole Kidman, but I feel like that's why he's still 'relevant'. I mean, I know Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, but how do you suddenly start singing with a country accent. He's a fraud. Speaking of frauds...
Kenny Chesney- You might think that this is simply a clash in fashion senses. He wears the jeans, the cut off t-shirts, and an oversized hat to cover his bald head. That's just not my style. But that's not it. He sounds like he's holding his nose when he sings. Am I the only one that hears this? And I get it. Kenny likes the beach. I get it. Now try to find a song about something else.
Blake Shelton- Blake's had a cool song or two. I even wrote a parody of Ol' Red. Lately, though, I'm sick of his schtick. Guys that "tell it like it is" seem really popular and gather quite the following. I feel like he falls in that same category of Tony Stewart. They know they're assholes, but they don't know they're actually bullies.
And it's great that he married Miranda Lambert, (Yeah, I heard they were married once or twice during the 10 million times they've been on network tv this month.)
I mean, they're getting carried away with anointing these two has the prom king and queen, aren't they? Miranda won a ton of awards in the last year that she had no business winning. I feel like it's all been a part of some great big promotion for these two for some reason. I don't like it.
Carrie Underwood- I'll admit it, she has a nice voice and even better legs. But she has some terrible songs. Wait, I need to make that Terrible with a capital T. "Jesus take the wheel?" Is that what's happening on all of the interstate pileups in the South. "I thought Jesus was drivin'."
I feel like half her songs are just a gateway to do her loud "whoa oah aoaah heey heey yeaahhhh" voice thing. Kind of like she needs to show off that she can sing. She already kind of did that when she won American Idol, right?
Tim McGraw- The knock of Tim McGraw, according to critics over the years, is that his songs are formulaic. I don't know what that means except if it means that all of his songs are the same. What really concerns me is the leather pants and the leather cowboy hat he chooses to wear. Would you sit next to a guy on the bus wearing leather pants and a leather cowboy hat? Maybe ladies in the 90's would, but not me.
(Side note: Faith Hill can do whatever she wants and I'd be fine with it. I'm extremely sad that she won't be on Sunday Night Football next season. That's the only reason I stayed up past 8:00. )
Luke Bryan- Oh brother. I feel like this is the next guy they're shoving down our throat. Awards and award shows? Unmerited. I feel like every song of his in the last year or two has been about drinking with the same girl in different places. They're all starting to blend together. Maybe that was his plan. His very gimmicky plan. I don't know. He sounds like an alcoholic Kermit the Frog.
Jason Aldean- Jason had a great song a while back called 'Amarillo Sky'. Everything since then, minus 'Dirt Road Anthem' has lacked. He's got a formula, too, if you count overly loud and out of place guitarwork + what sounds like someone singing in the midst of a bowel movement as a formula.
And that song "The only way I know"? I thought it was supposed to be great, what with all of country's young and rising stars on board. Worst song of the year contender, if you ask me.
Rascal Flatts- What happened to them? They've been completely unbearable for years now. Who still likes them? Who keeps paying them to make music?
Zac Brown Band- In my opinion, these guys are on thin musical ice. I think they're talented, but of late, doesn't it seem like they're just singing songs about the islands. Speaking of which:
Alan Jackson- More Chattahoochee, less Bug in my Margarita. Alan is trying way to hard to be Jimmy Buffet, who deserves to step on a nail in his flip flops.
Lady Antebellum- Please. They're less country than Northern Ireland.
Sugarland- What happened? Did the guy get tired of his love being unrequited? Probably.
There's so many kind of new artists to pick on. I almost feel bad even acknowledging them as artists. I think it's important to take a stand early on, and never waiver from the stand, just like I did with Easton Corbin.
Florida Georgia Line- These guys will go down as some of the all-time frauds of the business. I'm about to use the word hit in quotations: They're a one or two "hit" wonder at best. What I really don't like is that they're laying on the southern accents very very thickly. I guess, if you can sell records to high school dropouts, good for you.
Thompson Square- I feel like their name is wrong. Or the math is wrong or something. Is it Thompson times Thompson Aren't they just adding each other? Shouldn't it just be "2 Thompsons"? Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally.
Chris Young, Justin Moore- I can't tell these two guys apart. If you played a song, I'd have a hard time guessing who was who. I don't know much about Chris Young. I'm just looking at the Billboard Hot 100 country chart and he's on it. Justin Moore, I saw in concert. I feel like he's trying very hard to show that he's a proud country fella. Maybe a little too hard. I feel like there's a lot of guys in country music right now that could all come from this mold: Lee Brice, whoever Dustin Lynch is, Randy Houser, and Josh Turner.
At first, I thought Kip Moore and Justin Moore were the same guy. But then Kip opened the show in front of Justin Moore. Weird. I actually liked Kip a lot more than Justin, minus one thing: His biggest hit. Kip does "Something bout a truck". Honestly, it's a horrible song, and I've said that before. He's pandering to country music fans with that one. It's not real and it shows, if you really think about it.
Kip's good when he's not trying to be super country. He's more Bruce Springsteen than he is Hank Williams, Jr. (and that's a good thing). His repertoire (again, minus minus minus Something bout a truck) is full of underdog, mellow sounding, simple stuff. His first album sounds like something you can play really loud with the windows down on the highway. Just skip that first track.
Jake Owen- Apparently, I liked a song of his a few years back. But then he has a lot of songs that I can't stand. Probably because I can't stand being barefoot or in blue jeans.
Brantley Gilbert- It's like, who let this hardass in?
I guess there's too many guys I really don't like and I usually change the station when they come on. But that's the easy part of being a critic. It's not hard to say who stinks.
Here's who I think is good or who I'd pay over 5 dollars to see live in concert, but not more than 15.
Brad Paisley- Unfortunately, I've seen Brad play twice already, and I don't think I need to go again. Fortunately, I don't think he can write songs any better than what he's already done. In fact, I think they're getting worse.
Dierks Bentley- I think I opted out of seeing Dierks at the Delaware State fair. I liked Dierks' records a lot early on. I still enjoy "Sideways" if for nothing else, the lines "Take that redneck stuff outside" and "The velvet rope ain't got no slack".
Lately, I think his songs have been a bit slow and drug out. I think he should go back to playing songs about that white tank top.
And for these guys, I'd recommend them to any new country music fan:
George Strait- I think the world of "Troubadour". Unfortunately, it's not allowed to be played in my house. Apparently it used to come on my alarm clock radio at 5:30 in the morning and my wife (who was a lazy grad student) grew to hate it because it woke her up. I love it, but I have to sneak it, just like Twix Bars and crack.
Darius Rucker- Darius is great. He's got more real country soul in his voice than everyone else on this list. I've had this notion for a while that I think is perfect: Darius playing a concert consisting entirely of Pearl Jam songs. I think he'd nail it.
Eric Church- Eric proves you don't need a 10 gallon hat and a leather vest to play country music. I think he tries not to record a bad song, and that's a good thing. In concert, he was energetic at the right times. I get the sense that he's a genuine article.
There are lots of guys I didn't mention, but I hope you understand that I'm not arbitrarily deciding who I like and who I don't. I have my reasons.