Artists I Wish Would Take a Hint From Brad Paisley

Brad Paisley was one of the first artists that got me into country music. He may not be your favorite–and that’s okay–but you can’t argue with songs like “Who Needs Pictures,” “we Danced,” and certainly “Whiskey Lullaby.” He was one of the people that I heard on the radio in the late 90’s and early 2000’s that made me fall in love with this genre. He really disappointed me on his last two albums; they weren’t terrible, but they just weren’t Brad Paisley. You could tell he was trying to be something he was not. His guitar play was noticeably lacking, and he seemed to be veering toward chasing radio success. On his latest album, Love and War, he has gone back to being himself, and that’s just refreshing. There was a discussion on SCM about whether or not Brad will make it into the Hall of Fame, and all that remains to be seen, but he can’t do anything better than be himself, and that’s what he has done on his latest record. It got me thinking and talking about a lot of the artists that got me into country in the first place. A lot of them made some fine music earlier in their careers but have since started to kill their legacies by chasing short-term success and promoting mindless singles to radio. They could learn from Paisley, as well as Tim McGraw, who has also returned to form recently. Zac Brown Band could easily be talked about on either side of the conversation here, but I’ll reserve judgment until May 12th and hope I can include them in with Paisley and McGraw. Anyway, let me know if there are any artists you’d add to this list, as these are just the ones whose decline in quality over the years has personally bother me the most.

Dierks Bentley

Why, why can’t we get back the Dierks Bentley of “Up on the ridge” and “Riser?” Yep, “riser” was released in 2015; even then, he hadn’t sold out. There’s not even any point in him selling out this way–he was getting airplay anyway. Black is certainly not the most terrible album I’ve heard in recent memory, but it’s one of the most disappointing because I really thought we could count on Dierks Bentley. This is what he is capable of.

Blake Shelton

I own a Blake Shelton album called Loaded: the Best of Blake Shelton. Ironically, that album was released just prior to the beginning of his stint on The Voice, and so, essentially, it really is the best of Blake. Anyway, that record is great. But people won’t remember that; he’s done his best to eradicate all that in the past five years with the majority of his singles. I remember when I first heard “Austin,” and it blew me away. Same goes for “Don’t Make Me.” Blake does a lot for traditional country and music of substance from his chair on The Voice, and I just wish he’d take his own advice because if he did, I think he could be remembered for more than his reality show and his obnoxious tweets.

Keith Urban

Those of you that are shocked I own a Blake Shelton album, brace yourselves for this…I own no less than six–yep six–Keith Urban records…I’ll give you a moment to digest the fact that I’m not a Sturgill apologist, yet I own six Keith Urban records…now then. Keith Urban was a prime example of what good pop country is supposed to be–right up till the single “Little Bit of Everything” and his American Idol run (coincidence, Blake?). He used to write much of his material as well, and whether you enjoyed it or not, he was real. Keith Urban might be the most disappointing artist in the mainstream for me because he is just simply better than the crap he is releasing to radio–and it’s not as if he was ever especially traditional in the first place, so I don’t exactly see radio not playing him if he went back to more meaningful material. It literally boils down to laziness in his case, and that’s unfortunate.

Kenny Chesney

He is better than this too, even if you’re sick of beach music. His last record was absolutely boring and lifeless. Even Chesney sounds bored. I miss the days of “There Goes my Life” and “Old Blue chair.” Like Brad and Keith, even if Kenny isn’t your favorite, he used to at least be himself.

Eli Young Band

I remember when Eli Young Band were a cool Texas band releasing equally cool new music instead of shit like “Turn it On.” Yeah, that is basically all.

Honorable Mentions

  • Josh Turner–His last album wasn’t quite disappointing enough to piss me off on this level, it was mainly just boring, but if he releases more like this, he’ll make the list.
  • Little big town–I wish they’d get back to themselves, but I didn’t enjoy them enough when they were themselves to be as annoyed by them now. Also, The Breaker was a small step in the right direction.
  • the Band Perry–I don’t think them coming back to themselves is even possible at this point, so I don’t see the point listing them here.

4 thoughts on “Artists I Wish Would Take a Hint From Brad Paisley”

  1. Yes to all of the artists listed. In the case of Dierks I think there’s a chance he gets back to old Dierks with the next album. And the Eli Young Band appears to b getting back to themselves with the album they have coming out this summer.

    1. We’ll see with the Eli Young Band, I was less than thrilled with “Saltwater Gospel” but anything would be better than stuff like “Turn it On,” not to mention their embarrassing rendition of “Honey, I’m Good.”

  2. I would like to add three names to this list:

    Gary Allan: One of the most phenomenal voices in mainstream country music. His late 90s and early 2000s stuff was fantastic (Alright Guy is one of the few full albums I have listened to that I might give a 10/10 distinction to; the others being Ashley Monroe’s Like a Rose and Maddie and Tae’s Start Here [other possible contenders for 10/10 would be Kacey Musgraves’s Pageant Material and William Michael Morgan’s Vinyl]. ). However, Hangover Tonight was, admittedly, stupid, and Do You Wish It Was Me was so boring that all it made me want to do was take a nap. Gary is so talented and amazing, it’s a shame his last two releases did not show that.

    Jana Kramer: What the hell has happened to Jana Kramer? Her first album was awesome. I Got the Boy was amazing. Then she released Thirty-One, and the only songs that were even enjoyable from it were Boomerang, I Got the Boy, Dance In the Rain, and Last Song. The rest of the songs ranged from forgettable, nap-inducing, and boring (Love, Circles, Just Like the Movies) and Kelsea Ballerini copycats (Don’t Touch My Radio and Pop That Bottle), to absolutely bottom of the barrel god-awful (I never want to hear Bullet or Said No One Ever again.). Jana is so much better than those last two singles (Said No One Ever and Circles) that she has put out.

    Jason Aldean: An artist who was once full of immense promise. I’ll go ahead and ruin my country credibility today by admitting that I own the first four Jason Aldean albums and don’t really mind Dirt Road Anthem (it’s not a country song, but it does have more country instrumentation in it than most of the songs on mainstream radio today.). Yeah, Aldean’s had some real shitters (Burnin’ It Down and 1994, anyone?). But for every one of these awful songs, he’s got some really great songs like The Truth and Amarillo Sky. His first album was solid, and his second album was sorely underrated and full of incredible songs that I highly recommend. If Jason would revert back to his old self and leave bro-country and shitty R&B knockoffs in the dust, I’d be all for it.

    1. Agree wholeheartedly on Jason Aldean. I thought about including him actually. Kramer is another great one I hadn’t considered. “I Got the Boy” showed a lot of promise for her, and her album was really underwhelming.

Enter your Comment