Category Archives: news


I’m leaving today for the beach, so I won’t be around for 11 days, although you can probably still find me on Twitter; actually, you can definitely find me on Twitter on the days that I’ll be taking the 20-hour journey from here to the coast. Probably some on the actual trip as well. Anyway, there will still be stuff to read, since July was utterly slow and boring for new albums. It gave me the opportunity to catch up on albums I missed from months back (well, basically, from the last huge trip I took when I randomly took it upon myself to go to the UK.) So, it won’t be new stuff, but there will be some stuff from very early 2017 that I took some time to write about during the achingly slow month that July has been. OH, and I did write a reflection as well last night which I hadn’t planned to do, but when you’re avoiding packing for an 11-day trip, you’ll do such things. So there’s that. Anyway, I’ll talk to y’all on here when I get back! 🙂

Country Exclusive Welcomes a New Writer

So, this running a blog and keeping up with all this new music can be overwhelming. I have heard the same from several fellow bloggers. I have no idea how Trigger at SCM does it alone, and he writes more than all of us combined. For that, he deserves the utmost respect. For all the rest of us, or at least for me, it gets overwhelming. More than that, there are lots of albums I listen to but just can’t seem to put my thoughts about them onto paper. I am extremely proud of how far Country exclusive has come and grateful to the readers and commenters that make it happen and seem to want to hear what I have to say. I want to see it grow even further, to cover more music, and ultimately to reach more people and showcase more deserving artists.
With that in mind, I am happy to welcome another writer, Brianna, to Country Exclusive. You can expect her arrival within the next couple of weeks. Brianna is a fellow lover of country music, especially the more traditional and alternative music that many of us embrace, and she also does reviews of books. Our connection came, as many great connections do, somewhat by accident, in a conversation over a game of poker. I am excited to welcome her and learn from everything she has to say. Different perspectives are always great to have, and reading the same opinion can be tiresome at times. It’s great to have different opinions and observations about the same song or album. Most importantly, we’ll get to talk about more good music this way, and that can only be a good thing. 🙂
Oh, and one more thing. With Brianna coming onboard, I will have more time, so I’m thrilled to announce Female Fridays are coming back. They won’t be every Friday like before, but you can expect them once or twice a month. I know many of you really enjoyed that feature, and it was one of my favorite things to write. You’ll be seeing their return very soon. Finally, thank you all for making Country Exclusive what it is today because without you, I’d still be boring my family with my facts and opinions and perpetual ranting about country radio. And without you, I wouldn’t have this problem of not being able to cover everything on my own because I’d be writing to the air. So thank you for blessing me with this problem, and Brianna and I look forward to sharing more great country music with you all.

The 49th Annual CMA Awards: Predictions and Live Blog

Well, it is time. Tonight, at 8 PM EST, Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood will host the 49th annual CMA Awards on ABC. It is sure to be a night mostly filled with bad pop music and little hope for country, but as fans of country music and of music in general, we will be there together to watch it and cheer for the signs of hope. For a preview and my predictions, you can
Click Here

I will be updating this post throughout the night with thoughts, the results, and probably some pop country bashing.

2015 CMA Awards Live Results

Musician of the Year: Mac McAnally
Music Video of the Year: Maddie & Tae–“Girl in a Country Song”
Event of the Year: Keith Urban featuring Eric Church–“Raise ’em Up”
Vocal Duo of the Year: Florida Georgia Line
Vocal Group of the Year: Little Big Town
New Artist of the Year: Chris Stapleton
Single of the Year: Little Big Town–“Girl Crush”
Song of the Year: “Girl Crush”–Liz Rose, Lori McKenna, and Hillary Lindsey
Album of the Year: Chris Stapleton–Traveller
Female Vocalist of the Year: Miranda Lambert
Male Vocalist of the Year: CHRIS STAPLETON!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Entertainer of the Year: Luke Bryan

Live Commentary

7:11–Hank Williams JR. singing “Are You Ready for the Country?”–the most ironic opener in CMA history. and I didn’t know it was possible to hate Keith Urban’s “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” worse, but after that, I was wrong.
7:17–Have to love Brad Paisley making fun of Sam Hunt for rapping in his songs and then starting to sing “for no apparent reason.” And “Luke Stagefaller.” Brilliant.
7:24–and the Single of the Year goes to “Girl Crush.” Thank the good Lord for this!
7:31–oh Zac Brown, the traitor of country music…
7:32–Seriously, Zac, you don’t even sound like yourself…
7:34–I have no idea how this Kenny Chesney song spent three weeks at #1…it’s just so boring…then again I would almost welcome even Luke Bryan’s entire discography after having my heart ripped out by my former friend Zac Brown.
7:37–oh look, it’s Aubrey Peeples from Nashville, an actual talented artist forced to announce that Sam Hunt is up next…the irony.
7:42–And here he is, come to rap some and then start singing for no apparent reason…if this piece of shit song somehow wins Song of the Year…
7:44–If he doesn’t stop soon, I shall wish I was deaf…
7:46–And the Song of the Year goes to “Girl Crush.” Thank the Lord and all that is holy that it was not Sam Hunt.
7:51–Country Exclusive Alternative Song of the Year

7:57–And the New Artist of the Year is Chris Stapleton! Pleasantly shocked. No Sam Hunt, no Kelsea Ballerini, no Thomas Rhett. Beautiful!
7:59–Ok, if you’re listening to Carrie Underwood sing “Smoke Break” right now, you cannot tell me she’s not doing a Miranda Lambert impression. no Carrie, I want Carrie, not Miranda.
8:09–Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake sing “Tennessee Whiskey.”…what a strange pair.
8:14–Justin Timberlake is far from the worst thing we’ve seen or will see tonight.
8:19–Back to Chris Stapleton…this was a huge win, and he’s still up for two more!
8:20–Back to reality with Florida Georgia Line…they are so 2013…
8:24–And the Vocal Duo of the Year is, of course, Florida Georgia Line.
8:27–Eric Church sings “Mr. Misunderstood.” I actually really like this.
8:31–Country Exclusive Alternative Duo of the Year: Maddie & Tae

8:35–Thomas Rhett and Fallout Boy…I don’t even have a smartass comment for this…it just writes itself…
8:38–Can we get Justin Timberlake back? Seriously…
8:42–and the Album of the Year goes to…Chris Stapleton’s Traveller! Excellent!
8:44–This is huge for both Chris Stapleton and Dave Cobb…Dave Cobb produced such excellent albums as Jason Isbell’s Something More Than Free and Lindi Ortega’s Faded Gloryville as well. This is a huge step for Cobb, Stapleton, and traditionalists.
8:47–I really can’t stand Kelsea Ballerini, but I did notice it was the female performance they cut short for announcing the radio station nominees. But as I said, I can’t stand her, so…
8:52–Brad Paisley sings “Country Nation”–an average song made worse by shamelessly using college football to promote it.
8:56–This Blake Shelton song is not that good and I have never liked it much, but I just heard a fiddle…yes Sam Hunt that thing is called a fiddle.
8:58–This is Maddie & Tae’s way of saying they really are traditional…by playing “Girl in a Country Song” in a stripped-down fashion…I love these ladies!!!
9:00–Also, Maddie & Tae were cut off too…women, if you’re not named Miranda Lambert or Carrie Underwood, start expecting this. It doesn’t matter if you’re traditional Madison Marlow and Taylor Dye or fake pop princess Kelsea Ballerini, country radio and country award shows don’t want you.
9:04–Here comes Luke “stagefaller” Bryan, or as I call him, “Douchebag”…oh please can he fall?
9:05–“I wanna drop this cell phone out” is the stupidest line I have ever heard–because women everywhere are so turned on by men damaging high-dollar electronics in their efforts to “strip it down.”
9:10–And the Vocal Group of the Year is, of course, Little Big Town.
9:12–Also, did I just hear Pentatonics sing an Oak Ridge Boys song? Don’t know what to say to this…
9:13–I like Miranda Lambert’s “Bathroom Sink.” Will this be a single?
9:17–Country Exclusive Alternative Group of the Year: Turnpike Troubadours

9:20–Oh look, it’s the best friend of “Douchebag,” Jason Aldean…aka “Arrogant Asshole.”…
9:25–Thank you, Kacey Musgraves, for being the first non-Miranda or Carrie female to grace the stage with a complete song…and save us from Jason Aldean.
9:27–Seriously, Kacey, this “Dime Store Cowgirl” is the most country bit I’ve seen all night.
9:34–Marry me, Dierks Bentley. “Riser” is amazing!
9:37–And the Female Vocalist of the Year, is, of course, Miranda Lambert.
9:43–Country Exclusive Alternative Female Vocalist of the Year: Ashley Monroe

9:46–Brooks & Dunn and Reba–can we get more of that??!!
9:47–Yes, Ronnie Dunn, I agree, “Play something country…crank up the band, play the steel guitar.”…
9:50–Do y’all realize what just happened here???!!! Chris Stapleton, Male Vocalist of the Year!!!!!!!!!
9:51–And no awards for Sam Hunt…good Lord, this is ridiculously good news!!!
9:52–To all those who didn’t watch…there’s hope!!!!!! Hope for country music, in the form of Chris Stapleton!!!
9:54–And in case y’all were unsure…holy shit, this is a big deal for country music…..
9:56–I hope this isn’t spoiled by a Luke Bryan win for Entertainer…
9:57–But of course it is…come on now Luke…fall please…
9:58–Luke Bryan says, “Watching Chris Stapleton have this night is so uplifting.” I like this from Luke…however, Chris is fighting against douchebags like you with douche music.
10:00–I don’t even care that much…Chris Stapleton had three wins, and a shutout for Sam Hunt…yes!!!

Final Thoughts

Well, it was certainly an interesting night for country music. We were treated to inevitable terrible performances from the likes of Luke Bryan, FGL, and Sam Hunt. However, there were also many glaring signs of hope. Sam Hunt didn’t take home any awards, and Chris Stapleton took home all three for which he was nominated. It is huge for traditionalists that he took even one…but to take New Artist, Album of the Year, and especially Male Vocalist of the Year…this is hope like we have not seen in years. Dave Cobb getting to stand there and accept a CMA was unreal. The lack of women was still disturbing, especially after the CMA talk of more representation for females…Maddie & Tae and Kelsea Ballerini were both cut off in the middle of their performances. The only female besides Miranda and Carrie to be granted a full song was Kacey Musgraves. The biggest surprise of the night–aside from the astronomically shocking wins of Stapleton–was, at least for me, the performance by Stapleton and Timberlake. I’d have rather heard Timberlake than many of the “country” performances I heard. All in all, as performances went, the night was pretty boring and lacked anything especially amazing. There were certainly horrid moments tonight, but we should all celebrate the huge victories of Chris Stapleton and traditional country music. This was not just a token nomination to appease traditionalists like us…it was unprecedented change. Overall, tonight’s CMA awards have promised hope for our beloved country music.

George Strait Announces New Album to be Released…Friday?

You read this right: in a press conference held earlier today (September 22nd), George Strait announced a new album, Cold Beer Conversation, is coming out this Friday! The album will be available exclusively through Apple Music and Wal-Mart. Here’s a track listing, provided from Windmill’s Country:

Track Listing

1. “It Was Love” (Keith Gattis)
2. “Cold Beer Conversation” (Al Anderson / Ben Hayslip / Jimmy Yeary)
3. “Let It Go” (Keith Gattis / Bubba Strait / George Strait)
4. “Goin’ Goin Gone” (Wyatt Earp / Keith Gattis)
5. “Something Going Down” (writers to be confirmed)
6. “Take Me To Texas” (Brandy Clark / Shane McAnally)
7. “It Takes All Kinds” (George Strait, Bubba Strait, Bob Regan and Wil Nance)
8. “Stop & Drink” (Dale Dodson / Troy Jones)
9. “Everything I See” (Dean Dillon / Keith Gattis / Bubba Strait / George Strait)
10. “Rock Paper Scissors” (Casey Beathard / Monty Criswell / Bubba Strait)
11. “Wish You Well” (Clint Daniels / Jeff Hyde / Brice Long)
12. “Cheaper Than A Shrink” (Bill Anderson / Buddy Cannon / Jamey Johnson)
13. “Even When I Can’t Feel It” (Dean Dillon / Ben Hayslip / Lee Thomas Miller)

Also, Strait will be one of the first to perform at the new Las Vegas Arena–he will return to live performances for dates on April 22nd and 23rd, 2016, and September 9th and 10th. Strait will be joined in Vegas by Kacey Musgraves.

In light of the album, there will be no Female Friday. I will have a review of this as soon as I can!

P.S. As a George Strait fan, yes!

Steven Tyler and Kelsea Ballerini To Reveal CMA Award Nominees

I don’t know which of these names is more telling: Steven Tyler, the Aerosmith frontman who recently followed the trend of rockers “going country” with his single “Love is Your Name,” or Kelsea Ballerini, the label-made singer of straight pop “Love Me Like You Mean It” and female-bro-country single “Dibs.” Together, these two names perfectly sum up the current state of country music, and these two have been chosen by the Country Music Association to reveal the 2015 nominees for country music’s most prestigious honor. Tyler and Ballerini will announce the nominees in five categories live on Wednesday, September 9th, in New York City. The announcements will air on ABC’s Good Morning America, and Steven Tyler will perform the aforementioned “Love is Your Name.”

“When I was asked to announce the nominees for the ever-so-prestigious CMA Awards this year, I actually whispered, ‘They really want me?’ I’m just humbled by the open arms of the Country community and am honored to take part in this BIG moment,” said Tyler.

“I’ve grown up watching the CMA Awards and am such a fan of everything CMA does and represents,” said Ballerini. “To be able to announce the nominations for the Awards this year with THE Steven Tyler makes me beyond excited.”

First of all, Steven Tyler is right: it’s ever-so-prestigious, and having one country single should hardly qualify him for this. Secondly, I wonder if Kelsea Ballerini would be just as excited if she were to announce the nominees with THE George Strait…but I digress. The 49th annual CMA Awards will air live on ABC on Wednesday, November 4th.