Random Thoughts of the Week: What Country Artists Can Learn From Nelly

In the short life of this blog, I have already reviewed my fair share of bad music. However, an increasing, and more alarming, problem, is that I have reviewed plenty of “country” music that wasn’t country at all. Kip Moore’s Wild Ones is a good rock album, but I should never have reviewed this at all because it is not country in any sense. Luke Bryan’s Kill the Lights is an album full of trend-chasing music which explores pop, r&b, and rock, and then throws some country on the end like an afterthought. Brett Eldredge’s Illinois was almost exclusively an r&b album, with some rock, and Thomas Rhett’s latest, Tangled Up–so named because of his many influences–was a terrible excuse for music filled with attempts at nearly every genre except the one to which it was marketed. This is a problem that should be addressed not only by country reviewers, but by those of the other genres–the music these artists are making is often terrible in its own genre and thus is disrespectful not only to country, but also to whatever genre it fails to be.

Recently, rapper Nelly was asked about a rumored country EP. This was his response, as reported by
Saving Country Music:

I love country music. I respect country music so much that I would never think that I can sit down and just as easy do a country album. That’s not it. That’s just like some country artist saying, ‘Hell, I’m just gonna do a rap album.

Yes! Country artists, take note–the rapper Nelly is explaining that you can’t just “do a rap album.” I don’t see why Nelly had to explain this to you, but allow me to elaborate: you don’t see rappers and pop artists flocking to make country records. Washed-up rockers are the ones coming to country because they want the money; however, successful artists are not running out to make a country record. They know they can’t, and they have respect for country and for music in general. Nelly apparently has more respect for my beloved country music than Thomas Rhett, whose father was Rhett Akins. This says nothing good about the state of country music.

No artist is going to make an album filled with fiddle, steel, and country lyrics and then market it as rap. For one, rap fans are not as gullible as the fans to whom country music attempts to cater. Secondly, the gatekeepers of other genres are smart enough to keep fiddle and steel out–as they are trademarks of country! So why is it that country, in the name of “evolution,” is allowed to become rap, r&b, pop, rock, and EDM? This doesn’t even make sense if you believe in evolution: no one thinks people evolved from fish because they aren’t related at all. Evolution is based on clear relationships; rap is clearly not related to country and therefore can’t “evolve” from it. The same goes for the r&b/funk/disco/pop mess that Thomas Rhett released. The lack of “evolution” is clear when these artists attempt to copy other genres because, as Nelly pointed out, they can’t just say, “Hell, I’m gonna do a rap album.” They won’t make a good rap album because they aren’t rappers. They aren’t rappers, r&b singers, pop artists, or rockers; they are country artists. It’s what they grew up doing, and it’s where they excel. To make bad music that other genres wouldn’t claim, and then to claim it is “country,” is disrespecting country, the other genre, and music in general.

Tomato of the Week: Kasey Chambers

I discovered her about a month ago and promised a Female Friday. Check out her feature on Female Friday!

Random Country Suggestion: George Strait–“If You Can Do Anything Else”

I’ve been on a Strait binge since his new album–here’s one of his better songs.

Non-Country Suggestion: Passenger–“Riding to New York”

A friend sent me this song this week with the message that it had “incredible lyrics”–this is right, so I’m sharing it with you all.

Texas Music From Oklahoma: A Look at the Texas Music Chart (October 5th)

Texas Music Chart

1. Reckless Kelly–“Real Cool Hand” (up 1)
2. Bart Crow–“Life Comes at You Fast” (up 2)
3. Turnpike Troubadours–“Down Here” (down 2)
4. Curtis Grimes–“Smile That Smile” (up 1)
5. Kevin Fowler & Deryl Dodd–“Damn This Ol’ Honky Tonk Dream” (up 1)
6. Randy Rogers & Wade Bowen–“Lady Bug” (up 1)
7. Casey Donahew Band–“Loser” (up 2)
8. The Statesboro Revue–“Undone” (up 3)
9. Mike Ryan–“Girls I Date” (up 4)
10. Cory Morrow–“Old With You” (down 7)
11. Miles Williams–“Teasin’ Me” (down 1)
12. TJ Broscoff–“Phone Calls” (up 6)
13. Josh Grider–“You Dream I’ll Drive” (up 2)
14. Kyle Park–“What Goes Around Comes Around” (down 6)
15. Stoney LaRue–“Easy She Comes” (up 2)
16. Uncle Lucius–“Don’t Own the Right” (up 4)
17. JB and the Moonshine Band–“Shotgun, Rifle, and a .45” (down 1)
18. Roger Creager & Cody Johnson–“If You Had to Choose” (up 11) [biggest gainer]
19. Mario Flores–“Beer Time” (up 3)
20. Jon Wolfe–“Don’t It Feel Good” (up 4)
21. Whiskey Myers–“Shelter From the Rain” (down 7)
22. Zane Williams–“She Is” (up 1)
23. Jason James–“I’ve Been Drinkin’ More” (up 4)
24. Saints Eleven–“I Don’t” (up 1)
25. Pat Green–“While I Was Away” (down 6)
26. Cody Canada and the Departed–“Easy” (down 5)
27. Chance Anderson Band–“245 Miles” (down 1)
28. Dalton Domino–“Jesus & Handbags” (up 6)
29. William Clark Green–“Ringling Road” (up 10)
30. Matt Kimbrow–“Livin’ the Good Life” (down 18) [biggest loser]
31. Kaleb McIntire–“Ozark Mountain Stomp” (down 1)
32. Ray Johnston Band–“Small Town Square”
33. Casey Berry–“Blood of the Lamb”
34. Micky & the Motorcars–“Tonight we Ride” (up 4)
35. Luke Robinson–“Roses on the Radio”
36. The Damn Quails–“Just a Little While” (up 1)
37. Jason Boland & The Stragglers–“Holy Relic Sale” (up 7)
38. American Aquarium–“Losing Side of Twenty-Five” (up 3)
39. Tori Martin–“Woman Up” (down 8)
40. Cody Jinks–“Loud and Heavy”
41. Bri Bagwell–“My Boots” (up 1)
42. Cody Johnson–“Proud” (up 5)
43. Paul Thorn–“Everybody Needs Somebody” (up 3)
44. Cody Joe Hodges–“One More Drink” (down 1)
45. Breelan Angel–“She Made Your Bed” (up 3)
46. Blue Water Highway Band–“Medicine Man” (down 1)
47. Green River Ordinance–“Red Fire Night” (up 3)
48. Cameran Nelson–“Nothing’s Got Nothin'” (up 1)
49. Parker McCollum–“High Above the Water” (entering top 50)
50. Zach Coffey–“Love Will Lead me Back to You” (entering top 50)

  • new #1: “Real Cool Hand”
  • next week’s #1 prediction: “Life Comes at You Fast”

Source: Texas Music Chart

Female Fridays: Featuring Jamie Lin Wilson

Someone said they’d like me to do a feature on Jamie Lin Wilson, and that day has come. I am excited to feature Jamie on this Female Friday.

How You Might Know Jamie

Much like her friend Courtney Patton, whom I covered two weeks ago, you might not know Jamie Lin Wilson if you aren’t familiar with the Texas scene. If you are, she’s a member of the Texas-based group The Trishas. She can often also be found singing with Courtney.


From a 2014 article by The Daily Country, on the influences for her debut album,

The type of music she likes to make is, she says, influenced by “the greats” — Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, Guy Clark, Townes van Zandt, John Prine, Rodney Crowell and Tom T. Hall. But it’s equally inspired by those friends and contemporaries, including the Trishas and song-swap pals like [Courtney] Patton,Drew Kennedy and Owen Temple. “Their style creeps into my style and vice versa,” she says. “I love that. We’re a little team.”

From an interview with Newslang on her style of songwriting:

The song I wrote with Jason [Eady] and Adam [Hood], we started with a photo. I sent this picture of an old abandoned house in Yancey. The yard is overgrown and the windows are broken. It hasn’t been lived in for a very long time. There was a chair on the porch facing out that had been there ever since the last people moved out. They left this chair on the porch. I took a picture of that and sent it to them saying that there was a song in this picture and we needed to write it. That was one of the easiest co-writes because we all had the same image. Half of co-writing is trying to get that same image in your head. We figured out that was a great way to co-write.

Jamie Lin Wilson has gained a great reputation in the Texas scene as a singer and songwriter. However, for many years, she was simply a collaborator on other projects. Her career began fifteen years ago while she was in college; she was simply inspired by the sight of Natalie Maines, the former lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, singing and playing guitar. Shortly after this, Jamie started a band called the Sidehill Gougers (later known only as the Gougers) and began writing songs. She released a solo EP in 2010 called Dirty Blonde Hair and made a name for herself as a member of the Texas-based female group the Trishas. During a Trishas hiatus, Jamie Lin Wilson finally took time out of her life–which by this time included a marriage and three children–to record her first full-length solo record. Holidays & Wedding Rings, released on May 19th, 2015, has been met with much-deserved praise and appreciation. Finally, people everywhere are being exposed to one of Texas country’s best-kept secrets.

Why Jamie Belongs on Country Radio

Her case is similar to Courtney’s; as I said with Courtney, I am not going to spend time explaining why independent/Americana/Texas artists deserve to be treated fairly in the mainstream. This is a headache-inducing topic that can only be improved through sources such as Saving Country Music, Country Perspective, and this site that give these artists an equal playing field and hopefully more fans. This post, however, is about Jamie, and what she brings to country music in general. Well, firstly, and I don’t know why I have to keep writing this sentence on these features, she’s country! This should need no further explanation. She has relatable, real-life experience in her songs–you don’t have to have partied in every cornfield and club in the South to relate to her lyrics. Similar to Courtney’s, her songwriting tells the stories of real people in real-life situations. Like Lindi Ortega’s, Jamie Lin Wilson’s voice is unique. Blake Shelton would say, if somehow she were ever able to stand before him on The Voice, “There’s no one quite like you in country music right now.” Well, Blake, this is because mainstream Nashville doesn’t want originality, and that’s what Jamie has to offer.

Tracks I Recommend

Most Jamie Lin Wilson apologists will say I shouldn’t pick apart Holidays & Wedding Rings, and indeed it is a great album. These are just personal favorites.

1. “Just Some Things” (featuring Wade Bowen)–Holidays & Wedding Rings
2. “Whisper on my Skin”–Holidays & Wedding Rings
3. “Here Tonight”–Holidays & Wedding Rings
4. “She’ll Take Tonight”–Holidays & Wedding Rings
5. “You Left my Chair”–Holidays & Wedding Rings [this is the song written with Jason Eady and Adam Hood]

Listen to Holidays & Wedding Rings

Finally, I was told to check out Jamie’s videos with the Southern Gospel Revival, and all of you should too.

Billboard Country Airplay and Country Albums Chart (October 10th)

Billboard Country Airplay

1. Kenny Chesney–“Save It for a Rainy Day” (2nd week a #1)
2. Keith Urban–“John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16”
3. Brett Eldredge–“Lose my Mind” (up 1)
4. Luke Bryan–“Strip It Down” (up 2)
5. Florida Georgia Line–“Anything Goes” (up 2)
6. Old Dominion–“Break Up With Him” (up 5) [tied for biggest gainer]
7. Carrie Underwood–“Smoke Break” (up 2)
8. Chase Rice–“Gonna Wanna Tonight”
9. Chris Janson–“Buy Me a Boat” (down 6)
10. Cole Swindell–“Let Me See Ya Girl” (up 2)
11. Maddie & Tae–“Fly” (down 1)
12. Dan + Shay–“Nothin’ Like You” (up 1)
13. Blake Shelton–“Gonna” (up 1)
14. Chris Young–“I’m Comin’ Over” (up 1)
15. Jason Aldean–“Gonna Know We Were Here” (up 5) [tied for biggest gainer]
16. Tim McGraw–“Top of the World” (up 2)
17. Cam–“Burning House” (up 2)
18. Jake Owen–“Real Life” (down 1)
19. Brothers Osborne–“Stay a Little Longer” (up 2)
20. Parmalee–“Already Callin’ You Mine” (up 3)
21. Big & Rich–“Run Away With You” (up 1)
22. Kelsea Ballerini–“Dibs” (up 2)
23. LoCash–“I Love This Life” (up 2)
24. Jana Kramer–“I Got the Boy” (up 2)
25. Hunter Hayes–“21” (up 2)
26. Brad Paisley–“Country Nation” (entering top 30)
27. The Band Perry–“Live Forever” (up 1)
28. Randy Houser–“We Went” (entering top 30)
29. Chase Bryant–“Little Bit of You” (up 1)
30. A Thousand Horses–(“This Ain’t No) Drunk Dial” (down 1)

  • Kenny Chesney’s “Save It for a Rainy Day” remains at the top for a 2nd week
  • next week’s #1 prediction: “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16”
  • Thomas Rhett’s “Crash and Burn” and Lady Antebellum’s “Long Stretch of Love” fell from #5 and #16, respectively, to out of the top 30
  • Brad Paisley’s mediocre “Country Nation” and Randy Houser’s unoriginal “We Went” enter the top 30 this week

Billboard Top Country Albums

1. Luke Bryan–Kill the Lights
2. Alabama–Southern Drawl [debut]
3. Turnpike Troubadours–The Turnpike Troubadours [debut]
4. Home Free–Country Evolution [debut]
5. Brett Eldredge–Illinois
6. Sam Hunt–Montevallo
7. Eric Church–The Outsiders
8. Zac Brown Band–Jekyll + Hyde
9. Florida Georgia Line–Anything Goes
10. Little Big Town–Painkiller
11. Maddie & Tae–Start Here
12. Jason Aldean–Old Boots, New Dirt
13. Alan Jackson–Angels and Alcohol
14. Brantley Gilbert–Just as I Am
15. Various Artists–Now That’s What I Call Country, Volume 8
16. Kacey Musgraves–Pageant Material
17. Kip Moore–Wild Ones
18. Chris Stapleton–Traveller
19. Chase Rice–Ignite the Night
20. Zac Brown Band–Greatest Hits So Far…
21. Jason Isbell–Something More Than Free
22. Carrie Underwood–Greatest Hits: Decade #1
23. Elvis Presley–Elvis Presley Forever
24. Cole Swindell–Cole Swindell
25. Alabama–Angels Among Us: Hymns & Gospel Favorites

  • Luke Bryan is back on top with the unfortunate Kill the Lights
  • Turnpike Troubadours debut at #3 with their brilliant self-titled album…if you have not listened to and/or bought this, do it now
  • Alabama’s Southern Drawl debuts at #2
  • at least Sam Hunt was not in the top 5 for once
  • seriously, who is buying these Now That’s What I Call Country albums?

Source: Billboard