Tag Archives: Angels and Alcohol

Billboard Country Airplay and Country Albums Chart (August 15th)

Billboard Country Airplay

1. Luke Bryan–“Kick the Dust Up” (up 3) [really?]
2. Michael Ray–“Kiss You in the Morning” (up 1) [again, really?]
3. Frankie Ballard–“Young and Crazy” (up 3)
4. Zac Brown Band–“Loving You Easy” (up 1)
5. Brantley Gilbert–“One Hell of an Amen” (down 4)
6. Jason Aldean–“Tonight Looks Good on You” (down 4)
7. Dustin Lynch–“Hell of a Night”
8. Sam Hunt–“House Party”
9. Thomas Rhett–“Crash and Burn” (up 2)
10. Chris Janson–“Buy Me a Boat” (up 2)
11. Brett Eldredge–“Lose My Mind” (up 3)
12. Keith Urban–“John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” (up 1)
13. Eric Church–“Like a Wrecking Ball” (up 2)
14. Kenny Chesney–“Save It for a Rainy Day” (up 3)
15. Maddie & Tae–“Fly” (up 1)
16. Chase Rice–“Gonna Wanna Tonight” (up 3)
17. Jake Owen–“Real Life” (up 1)
18. Cole Swindell–“Let Me See Ya Girl” (up 3)
19. Florida Georgia Line–“Anything Goes” (up 3)
20. Dan + Shay–“Nothin’ Like You” (up 5) [biggest gainer]
21. Kip Moore–“I’m to Blame” (down 1)
22. Old Dominion–“Break up With Him” (up 1)
23. Lady Antebellum–“Long Stretch of Love” (up 2)
24. Cam–“Burning House” (up 2)
25. Big & Rich–“Run Away With You” (up 2)
26. Brothers Osborne–“Stay a Little Longer” (up 2)
27. Parmalee–“Already Callin’ You Mine” (up 2)
28. Chris Young–“I’m Comin’ Over” (up 2)
29. Jana Kramer–“I Got the Boy” (entering top 30)
30. Hunter Hayes–“21” (entering top 30)

  • new No. 1: “Kick the Dust Up”
  • next week’s No. 1 prediction: “Kiss You in the Morning”
  • Luke Bryan and Michael Ray have albums coming out Friday, and they have the No. 1 and No. 2 slots…how convenient
  • once again, a good song (Jana Kramer) enters the top 30 and is balanced by crap (Hunter Hayes)
  • Brad Paisley’s “Crushin’ It” and Canaan Smith’s “Love You Like That” fell from No. 9 and No. 10, respectively, to out of the top 30

Billboard Top Country Albums

1. Alan Jackson–Angels and Alcohol
2. Ashley Monroe–The Blade [debut]
3. Sam Hunt–Montevallo
4. Jason Isbell–Something More Than Free
5. Zac Brown Band–Jekyll + Hyde
6. Eric Church–The Outsiders
7. Little Big Town–Painkiller
8. Jason Aldean–Old Boots, New Dirt
9. Brantley Gilbert–Just as I Am
10. Florida Georgia Line–Anything Goes
11. Kacey Musgraves–Pageant Material
12. Various Artists–Now That’s What I Call Country, Volume 8
13. Luke Bryan–Crash My Party
14. Willie Nelson/Merle Haggard–Django and Jimmie
15. Chase Rice–Ignite the Night
16. Luke Bryan–Spring Break…Checkin’ Out
17. Zac Brown Band–Greatest Hits So Far…
18. Easton Corbin–About to Get Real
19. Cole Swindell–Cole Swindell
20. Kenny Chesney–The Big Revival
21. Big Smo–Bringin’ It Home (EP)
22. Blake Shelton–Bringing Back the Sunshine
23. Carrie Underwood–Greatest Hits: Decade #1
24. Miranda Lambert–Platinum
25. Kelsea Ballerini–The First Time

  • Alan Jackson’s Angels and Alcohol hits No. 1 after all
  • Ashley Monroe’s mostly great album The Blade debuts at No. 2
  • Luke Bryan will probably have three albums on this chart next week…
  • if Sam Hunt weren’t in the way, this would be the best top five albums I’ve seen in awhile…sadly, he is infecting it
  • who is buying these Now That’s What I Call Country albums???

Source: Billboard

My Top Ten Country Songs (July 2015)

July had very few releases compared to June, so this is going to be divided between Jason Isbell, Alan Jackson, and Ashley Monroe. However, this is certainly not a bad thing, as all of these releases were great albums.

10. Ashley Monroe–“I’m Good at Leavin'”–A great “rambling woman” song about being the girl who can’t stay home and clean and raise children. When the No. 10 song got a ten in my review, you know the list is going to be great.
9. Alan Jackson–“The One You’re Waiting On”–An excellently written song told from the point of view of a man observing a woman across the room waiting on her date. He watches her check her phone and turn men away, speculating about whether the guy she’s waiting on is really worth it.
8. Jason Isbell–“Something More Than Free”–A great ode to the working class that is what country is really all about…call him Americana or folk or rock, but this is country at its finest.
7. Jason Isbell–“Palmetto Rose”–I hesitated to put this here, as this is more Southern rock, but it would be incorrect not to list this upbeat tribute to South Carolina, the “iodine state.”
6. Alan Jackson–“Gone Before You Met Me”–This is a fun song off Jackson’s album where he meets Tom Sawyer and Jack Kerouac and decides in the end that family life is better than rambling. It’s a good thing to see a singer uphold family values, and it shows that you can name-drop without being obnoxious about it.
5. Alan Jackson–“Angels and Alcohol”–A classic country commentary on mixing women with alcoholism, complete with great instrementation and lyrics.
4. Alan Jackson–“You Can Always Come Home”–As I said in my Angels and Alcohol review, this song took on a double meaning for me, and it felt like coming home after all the crap being marketed as country on a daily basis.
3. Ashley Monroe–“The Blade”–A heartbreak song with perfect imagery and a beautiful melody. “You caught it by the handle, and I caught it by the blade”…excellent.
2. Ashley Monroe–“Dixie”–I said in my review of The Blade that this song should get a twelve, and I still believe that. It’s a great song about being sick of the South, and would have scored No. 1 for me any other month.
1. Jason Isbell–“Speed Trap Town”–I told you once, and I’ll tell you again…please listen to this song. This tear jerker about a teenager saying goodbye to his father in a small town hospital will be a candidate for my song of the year. It’s going to be hard to beat.

Honorable Mentions

  • Jason Isbell’s “Life you Chose” and “24 Frames”
  • Ashley Monroe’s “If the Devil Don’t Want Me” and “Bombshell

Billboard Country Airplay and Country Albums Chart (August 8th)

Billboard Country Airplay

1. Brantley Gilbert–“One Hell of an Amen” (up 1)
2. Jason Aldean–“Tonight Looks Good on You” (down 1)
3. Michael Ray–“Kiss you in the Morning” (up 1)
4. Luke Bryan–“Kick the Dust up” (up 2)
5. Zac Brown Band–“Loving You Easy” (up 4)
6. Frankie Ballard–“Young and Crazy” (up 2)
7. Dustin Lynch–“Hell of a Night” (up 5)
8. Sam Hunt–“House Party” (up 3)
9. Brad Paisley–“Crushin’ It” (up 1)
10. Canaan Smith–“Love you Like That” (down 5)
11. Thomas Rhett–“Crash and Burn” (up 2)
12. Chris Janson–“Buy me a Boat” (up 3)
13. Keith Urban–“John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” (up 4)
14. Brett Eldredge–“Lose my Mind” (up 2)
15. Eric Church–“Like a Wrecking Ball” (down 1)
16. Maddie & Tae–“Fly” (up 3)
17. Kenny Chesney–“Save it for a Rainy Day” (up 6) [biggest gainer]
18. Jake Owen–“Real Life” (up 2)
19. Chase Rice–“Gonna Wanna Tonight” (down 1)
20. Kip Moore–“I’m to Blame” (up 2)
21. Cole Swindell–“Let me See ya Girl”
22. Florida Georgia Line–“Anything Goes” (up 5)
23. Old Dominion–“Break up With Him” (up 1)
24. Lady Antebellum–“Long Stretch of Love” (up 2)
25. Dan + Shay–“Nothin’ Like You”
26. Cam–“Burning House” (up 2)
27. Big & Rich–“Run Away With You” (up 2)
28. Brothers Osborne–“Stay a Little Longer” (up 2)
29. Parmalee–“Already Callin’ You Mine” (entering top 30)
30. Chris Young–“I’m Comin’ Over” (entering top 30)

  • new No. 1: “one Hell of an Amen”
  • next week’s No. 1 prediction: “Kiss You in the Morning”
  • Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” and Blake Shelton’s “Sangria” fell from No. 3 and No. 7, respectively, to out of the top 30
  • an actual good song enters the top 30 (Chris Young) but is balanced by crap entering as well (Parmalee)

Billboard Top Country Albums

1. Jason Isbell–Something More Than Free [debut]
2. Alan Jackson–Angels and Alcohol [debut]
3. Sam Hunt–Montevallo
4. Zac Brown Band–Jekyll + Hyde
5. Eric Church–The Outsiders
6. Little Big Town–Painkiller
7. Kacey Musgraves–Pageant Material
8. Various Artists–Now That’s What I Call Country, Volume 8
9. Jason Aldean–Old Boots, New Dirt
10. Brantley Gilbert–Just as I Am
11. Florida Georgia Line–Anything Goes
12. Willie Nelson/Merle Haggard–Django and Jimmie
13. Moonshine Bandits–Blacked Out [debut]
14. Luke Bryan–Crash my Party
15. Easton Corbin–About to Get Real
16. Chase Rice–Ignite The Night
17. Luke Bryan–Spring Break…Checkin’ Out
18. Lee Bryce–Mixtape: ‘Til Summer’s Gone (EP)
19. Kenny Chesney–The Big Revival
20. Cole Swindell–Cole Swindell
21. Carrie Underwood–Greatest Hits: Decade #1
22. Zac Brown Band–Greatest Hits So Far…
23. Blake Shelton–Bringing Back the Sunshine
24. Tim McGraw–35 Biggest Hits
25. Miranda Lambert–Platinum

  • Jason Isbell and Alan Jackson score a huge victory for country music by taking the No. 1 and No. 2 spots this week
  • Canaan Smith and Kelsea Ballerini are no longer in the top 25…Kelsea’s album came out on May 19th, and Canaan’s came out on June 23rd…look at their staying power
  • after a long absence, Miranda Lambert’s Platinum is in the top 25 again this week

Source: Billboard

Random Thoughts of the Week: Jason Isbell and Alan Jackson Prove Quality is Worth More Than Airplay

Congratulations to Jason Isbell and Alan Jackson, who have claimed the No. 1 and No. 2 spots, respectively, on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. Both released excellent albums–I reviewed them both here on Country Exclusive–on July 17th, the first Friday release date for albums in North America. Jackson’s Angels and Alcohol was a traditional album by a country veteran, released on a major label. Isbell’s Something More Than Free was an Americana/Southern rock/folk/country blend marked by excellent songwriting, released independently. Musically, these albums were polar opposites–well, as opposite as two albums can be within the same genre. While they both had great songwriting, the content on their albums was quite different, and their ways of storytelling and crafting lyrics aren’t similar either.

So what did these two albums have in common? Musically, although different, each had a distinct country sound. As I have mentioned, each contained quality music marked with great songwriting. I gave each album a 9 when I reviewed them. Each contained many songs written solely by the artist. This is especially surprising in Jackson’s case, considering that most mainstream songs are written by at least three people these days. (It takes at least three to write crap about a dirt road, but one can write good music?) Jackson wrote seven of the ten tracks on his album. Isbell’s songwriting is something he has been praised for and something I discussed at length in his review; for him to write the material on his album, however, is not as unusual because he is an independent artist.

But, wait…there’s something else glaringly obvious these two albums have in common. Neither has had five minutes of radio support. Jackson has had a little and may have more with a future single, but he has not had airplay comparative to what he should have with the No. 2 album in the country. Isbell isn’t getting airplay at all and yet has managed to beat Jackson by less than 500 units after a fight that came down to the wire. Both albums sold over 46,000 copies.

And here I thought if you weren’t on country radio, you didn’t exist. If you were living under a rock in February, that is what Gary Overton, CEO of Sony Music Nashville, who was later fired, infamously told The Tennessean–“If you’re not on country radio, you don’t exist.” Overton’s comments were the cause of an uproar from Texas artists such as Aaron Watson who, after claiming the No. 1 album that very week, noted, “My name is Aaron Watson. I’m not played on country radio. And I have the #1 record in country music this week. I do exist.” Aaron Watson went to settle the matter with Bobby Bones and, in a strange turn of events, was told that he was being “disrespectful to women” for calling a producer “sweetheart.” This led to an epic online rant from Texas artist Charlie Robison–too long to post here–which in turn led to Florida Georgia Line’s tweet that they had “lost a lot of respect” for Robison. His reply was, “How do you lose respect for someone who doesn’t exist?”

Overton’s comments were overshadowed by the idiocy of Keith Hill in May, but they shouldn’t be overlooked. Alan Jackson and Jason Isbell certainly exist–and there is a silent majority out there buying their albums saying they’d rather search the Internet and streaming services to find good music than listen to what is offered on radio. Kacey Musgraves has been all but blacklisted on country radio, and she has held her position on the chart, debuting at No. 1 quietly. We may also see this next week with Ashley Monroe–fingers crossed–whom I have never heard on the radio. Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard don’t get played anymore, and their album Django and Jimmie has had no problem staying in the top ten, while radio-supported Billy Currington, Canaan Smith, Kelsea Ballerini, and Easton Corbin struggle to keep their places on the charts. What would happen if they lost radio support? How long will country radio ignore the numbers? Maybe they can ignore a bunch of traditionalists griping on blogs, but It’s not just people griping on blogs anymore, it’s on the charts now.

Tomato of the Week: Angaleena Presley

As I featured her fellow Pistol Annie Ashley Monroe last week, I thought it fitting that she should be this week. Check out her article on Female Friday!

Random Country Suggestion: Zac Brown Band–“Bittersweet”

Great song off their new album, Jekyll + Hyde. It should be a future single.

Non-Country Suggestion: Chris Tomlin–Love Ran Red

I often post pop music here, but as I’ve mentioned before, I like a little of everything, and I like some Christian music too. If you don’t like Christian music, don’t listen. If you do, you are probably familiar with Chris Tomlin, and his work speaks for itself. He is the Strait or Jackson in the Christian world that just keeps releasing good music, and his latest album is no different.

Listen to Love Ran Red

That’s all for this week’s Random Thoughts!

Album Review: Alan Jackson–Angels and Alcohol

Rating: 9/10

Well, it has finally come–the long-awaited release of music on Fridays, and with this change, the release of arguably two of the most anticipated albums of 2015. Americana fans finally get Jason IsBell’s Something More Than Free (hopefully I will get time to review this later this week, but if not, it comes recommended), and for country fans, Alan Jackson’s Angels and Alcohol It should be noted that I like to avoid streaming albums ahead of time if at all possible, and so the first time I heard Alan Jackson’s album was when I purchased it at 6 A.M. Saturday, after two long days moving and about four hours of sleep. Having said that, this album hit me in one of the rare moments of silence I’ve had in the past week, and I’m glad to say it delivered.

The album opens with “You Can Always Come Home,” about a father telling his child to chase their dreams but to know they always have a place to come back to. The instrumentation in this song is great, with acoustic guitars and fiddles, and I found myself feeling an unintended double meaning in this song. Alan sings, “No matter how right or wrong you’ve gone, you can always come home.” After all the bro country and pop country and rock country and rap country and everything else disguised as country, this truly did feel like coming home. To have a mainstream album open with an acoustic guitar in 2015 is shocking, and in a good way. It was refreshing to say the least. The next song, “You Never Know” is a fun, upbeat song about finding love in strange places, and again the strength is the music. Here there was even a piano solo. I pay attention to lyrics more than music in songs as a rule, and the toll the false country has taken on lyrics has always hit me hardest, but this album made me really miss the country sound in a way I haven’t in a long time. I guess when you get used to hearing hip-hop and pop on country radio on a daily basis, you become immune to it.

The title track is my favorite–here the lyrics and instrumentation are both great. Alan sings, “You can’t mix angels and alcohol” and “I don’t think God meant for them to get along.” I won’t say anymore, just listen to it, it’s a great song. Next is “Gone Before You Met Me,” which describes a dream in which Alan meets Tom Sawyer and Jack Kerouac and has a nightmare about never meeting his wife. He wakes up to find her there and tells Tom and Jack to “ramble on without me.” It’s a song that potentially could do well on radio, and with the absence of George Strait, Alan might have a slightly better chance at airplay. “The One You’re Waiting On” is an excellent song told from the point of view of a man watching a woman across the room check her phone. She’s brushing men off and drinking wine while he speculates about whether the guy she’s waiting on is worth it. Next is the album’s lead single, “Jim and Jack and Hank,” an upbeat song about a man telling his girlfriend, as she’s leaving him, to go ahead because “I’ve got Jim and Jack and Hank.” He tells her, among other things, to “take your string bikkinis, your apple martinis” and “What’s left there in the bank.”

“I Leave a Light on” is a classic heartbreak song about leaving the light on for an ex’s memory. “Flaws” is the only flaw in the album–and it’s not a bad song, just doesn’t measure up to the rest. It tries to be too humorous and therefore loses the message a little, which is basically that no one is perfect. I honestly hated this song but the line “we’re all made with water, dirt, and grace” redeemed it somewhat. “When God Paints” follows this, wich also helps “Flaws,” because it acts as a second part to the story. It talks of the bigger picture and the amazing things that happen “when God paints.” Alan mentions that it’s not “always black-and-white or well-defined when God paints,” an excellent line. The album closes with “Mexico, Tequila, and Me” which is a song about exactly that. It’s the song that would sell on country radio, except that some bro country artist would sing it with hip-hop beats and bad rapping, whereas Alan keeps it country. So it probably won’t get airplay, but in a perfect world, it’s the kind of song that would. All in all, Angels and Alcohol is a great album, and in the absence of George Strait, Alan Jackson is our reigning country king. He has delivered, and I hope he will continue making refreshingly good country music.

Listen to album