Tag Archives: CMA Awards

Thirteen Observations From Last Night’s CMA Awards

So, the 51st annual CMA Awards had its moments of atrocity, but overall, there was more good than bad last night. Here are some highlights and opinions, in no particular order–the good, the bad, and the curious.

1. Sam Hunt walks away winless despite “Body Like a Back Road” breaking historic records on the charts. It pains me to type this, but logic says he should have won Single of the Year, as this is about commercial success–except the CMA stomped all over that logic by saying this moron isn’t country, and we aren’t giving him awards no matter what records he breaks with his dumb single. Also, FGL, Luke Bryan, and Thomas Rhett remain empty-handed which can only be counted as a blessing.

2. Miranda Lambert says “f you” to the entire establishment by coming out and performing “To Learn Her,” the most traditional song of her career and that we’ve seen at these award shows in recent memory. Stellar performance.

3. Carrie Underwood comes out singing “Softly and Tenderly” while images of lost country greats and Las Vegas footage play in the background. This was stellar as well, and because we’ve got this whole Carrie/Miranda thing going on, my only fear here is that Carrie’s moment will somehow make Miranda’s less noteworthy. Both should be equally recognized and appreciated.

4. Chris Stapleton’s wins, while definitely victorious for real country music, are starting to get predictable. Don’t get me wrong, he deserves them, but I don’t want to see the CMA fall into a thing where we award Stapleton as the token traditionalist like we award Miranda Lambert as the token female.

5. Brothers Osborne break into “Tulsa Time” in tribute to the great Don Williams which can only be described as badass.

6. Little Big Town actually do a stunning tribute to Glen Campbell with “Wichita Lineman.”

7. ON the flip side of this, Dierks Bentley and Rascal Flatts completely suck ass at the tribute to Troy Gentry. Look, good on the CMA for paying tribute to all these guys, but the sound quality was shit. Troy deserved better.

8. Alan Jackson, in what can only be described as a curious move, comes out singing “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow.” Great song, made me happy, but definitely a missed opportunity to promote his current single and prove that traditional country music is still alive and well, not just a thing of the past.

9. Pink shouldn’t have been booked on this show, but her performance was more understated and country than many of the supposed country performers.

10. Old Dominion are still atrocious, Kelsea Ballerini’s “Legends” still sucks, and Maren Morris’s collaboration of “Seeing Blind” was utterly useless. I have not gotten the Maren Morris hype since “My Church.”

11. Sturgill Simpson busked outside the event in his characteristic arrogant fashion, most likely to protest the CMA attempt to keep the night from being focused on politics.

12. Garth Brooks lip synced–and did a bad job of it–as I’m sure many of you know, thereby making his win for Entertainer of the Year completely embarrassing. He did admit to it, and you can’t fault him for being sick, but this makes his win look pretty idiotic.

13. Eric Church, despite doing more for country music from the inside than most, performing 40-song sets by himself on tour, committing himself to his fans, prominently featuring women in his performances on these shows, doesn’t win anything. Look, it’s good that we’re not recognizing Sam Hunt and FGL, but not recognizing Eric Church for his efforts is wrong and frankly ridiculous.

2017 CMA Awards: Preview and Predictions

The CMA’s will air tonight at 7 PM CST on ABC. For snarky commentary, feel free to follow me on Twitter @Honest_Country

Video of the Year

“Better Man”–Little Big Town
“Blue Ain’t Your Color”–Keith Urban
“Craving You”–Thomas Rhett feat. Maren Morris
“It Ain’t my Fault”–Brothers Osborne [won]
“Vice”–Miranda Lambert
Notes: “It Ain’t my Fault” won this earlier today, and as this is the only video of the five I know anything about, I can honestly say it’s a good one, but I can’t make a fair judgment for it against the others.

Musical Event of the Year

“Craving You”–Thomas Rhett feat. Maren Morris
“Funny How Time Slips Away”–Glen Campbell and Willie Nelson [won]
“Kill a Word”–Eric Church feat. Rhiannon Giddens
“Setting the world on Fire”–Kenny Chesney and Pink
“Speak to a Girl”–Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
Notes: Make no mistake, Glen got the sympathy vote here, but hey, it kept Thomas Rhett from winning. It’s a shame they didn’t broadcast this.

Vocal Group of the Year

Little Big town
Lady antebellum
Old Dominion
Rascal Flatts
Zac Brown Band
Prediction: Little Big Town because I’m not stupid
Preference: Um, Turnpike Troubadours? Seriously, this category sucks.

Vocal Duo of the Year

Florida Georgia Line
Brothers Osborne
Maddie & Tae
Dan + Shay
LoCash
Prediction: Brothers Osborne
Preference: Brothers Osborne
Notes: So, until they combine Duo and Group, both categories will inevitably be ridiculous…Maddie & Tae are great but have done nothing this year deserving of this slot. LOCash don’t deserve it either. I think Brothers Osborne have a better shot than FGL, but never discount those two from this award either.

Single of the Year

“Body Like a Back Road”–Sam Hunt
“Tin Man”–Miranda Lambert
“Better Man”–Little Big Town
“Blue Ain’t Your Color”–Keith Urban
“Dirt on my Boots”–Jon Pardi
Prediction: “Body Like a Back road”
Preference: “Better Man”
Notes: Single of the Year is supposed to be for commercial success, so logically, Sam Hunt should actually win this. Logically, he should also not be in country, so “Better Man” is another good commercial choice that would make me want to vomit much less. Also, “Dirt on my Boots” in no way deserves to be here, either for critical acclaim or commercial success.

Song of the Year

“Body Like a Back Road”–Sam Hunt, written by Zach crowell, Sam Hunt, Shane McAnally, Josh Osborne
“Better Man”–Little Big Town, written by Taylor Swift
“Blue Ain’t Your Color”–Keith Urban, written ┬áby Clint Lagerberg, Hillary Lindsey, Steven Olsen
“Tin Man”–Miranda Lambert, written by Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall
“Dirt on my Boots”–Jon Pardi, written by Rhett Akins, Jesse Frasure, Ashley Gorley
Prediction: “Tin Man” or “Better Man”
Preference: “Tin Man” by a mile
Notes: “Tin Man” deserves this, but Taylor swift wrote “Better Man” which might be reason enough for voters to select it. Single and Song of the Year should not be the exact same five; songs are supposed to be about the writing and the critical acclaim. Once again, “Dirt on my Boots” doesn’t deserve a spot here by any stretch of the imagination.

New Artist of the Year

Brett Young
Lauren Alaina
Jon Pardi
Luke Combs
Old Dominion
Prediction: Luke Combs or Jon Pardi
Preference: Luke Combs
Notes: Old Dominion are on their second horrific album, so not exactly new. Lauren Alaina, although making good music, is also on her sophomore album, though for her, there was a six-year break between releases, so she’s arguably new again. Cool to see a female here, but she won’t win. Luke Combs should win this over Pardi–look, I understand Jon Pardi is more traditional and all, but except for “Head Over Boots,” he’s released absolute shit to radio. At least Luke’s single is good. Unless Brett Young is being nominated for his newfound cure for insomnia–which, granted, his album is doing amazing things for in that field–he shouldn’t be anywhere near this award.

Album of the Year

Little Big Town–The Breaker
Chris Stapleton–From a Room, Volume 1
Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit–The Nashville Sound
Miranda Lambert–The Weight of These Wings
Lady Antebellum–Heart Break
Prediction: Miranda Lambert or Jason Isbell
Preference: Miranda Lambert, but I’d be happy with Isbell and okay with Stapleton
Notes: I don’t think Jason Isbell’s nomination here was simply a token one, and I think he’s a strong candidate for this award. He’s also been named artist in residence by the Country Music Hall of Fame which shows that the industry is taking notice of him. and we saw with Stapleton’s 2015 wins that the CMA pays attention to things beyond radio play and mainstream success. But I think Stapleton and Isbell may split votes, and ultimately, Miranda Lambert will probably win. I’ll also take the unpopular stance that while this field is incredibly strong and Jason Isbell is completely deserving, Miranda Lambert’s album was actually a bit better. But when you’ve got three great albums here, it’s hard to complain if any of them walk away with this.

Female Vocalist of the Year

Kelsea Ballerini
Miranda Lambert
Maren Morris
Reba McEntire
Carrie Underwood
Prediction: Miranda, duh
Preference: Miranda Lambert
Notes: well, at least they actually found five females to fill this category. People are getting sick of Miranda winning, but this year, she actually deserves it.

Male Vocalist of the Year

Dierks Bentley
Thomas Rhett
Chris Stapleton
Eric Church
Keith Urban
Prediction: Chris Stapleton
Preference: Chris Stapleton or Eric Church
Notes: Just the fact that I’m actually predicting Chris Stapleton to win anything shows how far we’ve come in the past two years, but he should win this award. It would be nice to see Eric Church win something and get some credit for all he’s done for music of substance in the past year, but I don’t see him winning it. Ultimately, he deserves Entertainer of the Year, but that’s not going to happen either. And if we’re totally honest with ourselves, “Kill a Word” should have won the Musical Event of the Year award too. I don’t see Church winning anything, but you never know, he’s got two performance slots; if he does win anything, it will be this award.

Entertainer of the Year

Garth Brooks
Luke Bryan
Eric Church
Chris Stapleton
Keith Urban
Prediction: Garth Brooks
Preference: Eric Church
Notes: I hope justice is served for Eric Church here, but I don’t see it happening. Luke Bryan could also win, as he just released a lead single, but I think you’ll see this go to Garth again this year.

“Who the Hell is Chris Stapleton?”: Answering the Question in the Minds of Millions of Sam Hunt Fans

Who is Chris Stapleton? This is a question on millions of Google searches and in the minds of Sam Hunt fans everywhere since Wednesday night (November 4th), when their beloved Sam Hunt was shut out at the CMA’s by this guy they’d never heard of. It was a huge upset when Stapleton beat out Hunt, Thomas Rhett, Kelsea Ballerini, and Maddie & Tae for New Artist of the Year. But then he went on to win Album of the Year for Traveller, so the Sam Hunt fans were forced to admit this Chris Stapleton might be a name worth knowing. Later, he even won the Male Vocalist of the Year award, breaking Blake Shelton’s five-year winning streak and causing Luke Bryan’s Entertainer of the Year win to look at best like an afterthought and at worst completely comical. Eric Church, predicted to be a front runner for the top awards, was shut out except for a joint win with Keith Urban for Event of the Year for “Raise ’em Up.” Little Big Town’s three wins looked unimportant compared to Chris Stapleton’s sweep. Both Luke Bryan and Miranda Lambert thanked Stapleton in their acceptance speeches, and Luke noted that seeing Stapleton “have this night is so uplifting.” To add to all of this, Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake took the stage for what was undoubtedly the best performance of the evening, singing “Tennessee Whiskey” and “Drink You Away.”

So naturally, the million-dollar question among the masses is, “Who the bloody hell is Chris Stapleton?”

In an effort to answer this for themselves, the country community has launched Chris’s only album, Traveller, straight to the top of the iTunes chart. He has never had a hit crack the top 40 on Billboard Country Airplay, but that could all soon change. Chris Stapleton will now be a household name. Traditionalists everywhere are dancing in the streets, some even calling Chris Stapleton our “country music savior”–rest assured that Country Exclusive does not hold this view–but this will certainly change Chris Stapleton’s life forever.

So aside from the 2015 CMA’s making Chris Stapleton an overnight superstar, what has this actually done for our beloved country music?

The sweep of Chris Stapleton has finally begun to put mainstream artists and independent artists on equal footing, in terms of recognition. Stapleton is widely respected in the industry for writing others’ hits, both traditional and otherwise–in fact, on many traditionalist blogs, Chris Stapleton is often ridiculed for having taken part in such pieces of shit as Thomas Rhett’s “South Side.” Although Traveller is his debut album, Chris Stapleton is a name that has been around Nashville for many years, and the news that he was making an album was welcome and long overdue to many dedicated fans. The CMA took notice of all this. It didn’t matter that Stapleton has had little to no commercial success. If there was ever a time when the comments of Gary Overton–“If you’re not on country radio, you don’t exist”–rang false, it was Wednesday night. This is a statement that radio cannot ignore. Country radio is no longer the only way to gain attention and recognition–in fact, radio-supported Sam Hunt, Thomas Rhett, and Kelsea Ballerini left the CMA’s empty-handed. It may be that country radio will take notice of this and start to play artists like Chris Stapleton and Kacey Musgraves–album sales and declining radio ratings in 2015 have suggested country radio’s loss of relevancy, and this was the ultimate indicator. Country music may look back on this day in its history and find that the victories of Chris Stapleton, traditional country, and music of substance marked the beginning of the returning of country to its roots. Chris Stapleton is no “savior”–country cannot be saved overnight. His music blends country, blues, and soul, and so many have been quick to complain that he is not “strictly” country, so we should not be so excited about this victory. But we are music fans first, and Chris Stapleton has brought a huge victory, both for country music and for music in general, and for this we should all be forever grateful.

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.

Female Fridays: Featuring Kacey Musgraves

I debated about whether or not to do a Female Friday over Kacey Musgraves because she’s probably the most known female in country music besides Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert. But being known and being appreciated are two vastly different things, and I think Kacey Musgraves is certainly underappreciated by country radio and many times by country listeners themselves. It’s one thing to know her as the controversial singer of “Follow Your Arrow” and “Biscuits” and quite another to know her as one of the writers of “Fine.” So with that in mind, I decided that Kacey deserves a Female Friday.

How You Might Know Kacey

I’m sure you all know “Follow Your Arrow,” but I’m not going to post that for the aforementioned reasons. Many of you should also know her debut single “Merry Go ‘Round” which won a Grammy for Best Country Song in 2014.

Bio

From a 2013 interview with PrideSource, on her musical influences,

I’ve always loved Dolly Parton and I used to sing her songs when I was little. She’s a great storyteller and that’s probably where I got a lot of my influence from. I love Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson and his truth telling. I love Glen Campbell and a lot of old-school country. I’m really all over the map, but the country I seem to like is a lot older.

From a 2013 interview with The Guardian, on her controversial lyrics,

“Certain kinds of people will always have an issue with my music,” says Musgraves. “But that’s fine, it’s OK. I don’t want to be the McDonald’s of music. I don’t want to not turn anyone off. If you were everybody’s cup of tea, you’d probably be boring.

“I don’t feel that the songs I sing and the music I make are very subversive, but I can see how it would be to some people,” she goes on. “The things I sing about are just what inspires me and what I’ve been exposed to in my life. It’s not like I’ve thought, Ooh, this is a button pusher!”

Kacey Musgraves (born August 21st, 1988, from Golden, Texas), grew up singing and songwriting. She sang western swing music in the clubs around Texas and listened to the aforementioned country artists, along with The Spice Girls and Tom Petty, among others. She dreamed of leaving Golden and eventually did, after placing seventh on Nashville Star in 2007, an experience for which she is glad few remember her. Kacey had self-released three albums before her appearance on the show. In 2008, while living in Austin, she was signed to independent label Triple Pop and recorded two songs, “Apologize” and “See You Again.” She eventually moved to Nashville and was signed to Mercury in 2012.

Kacey Musgraves has released two excellent, critically acclaimed albums, Same Trailer Different Park (2013), and Pageant Material (2015), along with a single called “The Trailer Song” (2014.) Additionally, she can be found singing backing vocals on Dierks Bentley’s 2013 single “Bourbon in Kentucky,” was featured on Josh Abbot Band’s 2011 single “Oh, Tonight,” and is credited with writing many other songs, including several for ABC’s Nashville. Same Trailer Different Park won a Grammy for Best Country Album in 2014, as well as an ACM for Album of the Year. Pageant Material is nominated for this year’s CMA Album of the Year. Kacey’s debut single, “Merry Go ‘Round,” won a Grammy for Best Country Song and charted inside the top ten on Billboard Country Airplay, a remarkable achievement for a woman, a debut single, and a song of such substance. “Merry Go ‘Round” has been certified platinum and “Follow Your Arrow” has been certified gold. “Follow Your Arrow” also became the 2014 CMA Song of the Year.

But it was “Follow Your Arrow,” as well as Pageant Material‘s lead single, “Biscuits,” that typecast her as the controversial singer who supports gay rights and/or anti-religious lyrics. “Follow Your Arrow” does exactly that, with its “Kiss lots of boys, or kiss lots of girls, if that’s what you’re into,”–but that’s not all Kacey is about. She’s been classified by many as the singer who supports casual sex, (“It is What it Is,”) homosexuality, (“Follow Your Arrow,”) anti-religious lyrics and/or lyrics concerning hypocrisy, (“Biscuits”), and smoking pot (“Follow Your Arrow,” “Pageant Material,”) and that’s drawn both criticism and praise. Many praise her for her outspoken, progressive values while others typecast her as only singing about these things and don’t even bother to check out the rest of her discography. That is highly unfortunate, especially if you claim to love country–Kacey is a traditional country artist if I ever heard one, and she shouldn’t be overlooked either because of her values or because of some ill-conceived belief that “controversy” is all she sings about. In fact, her current single, “Dime Store Cowgirl,” is the most personal and least socially controversial song Kacey has ever sent to radio, so hopefully it will get a chance.

Why Kacey Belongs on Country Radio

Kacey Musgraves started out with a top ten hit, but now she has been all but blacklisted from country radio. Why? She’s too “country.” She’s too “controversial.” She supports drug use, gay rights, etc. Well, for one, they played “Merry Go ‘Round” and that was country. Secondly, so she’s controversial…at least there’s something to her lyrics besides “calling dibs” on some “boy.” Thirdly, so it’s okay for Luke Bryan to promote “Strip it Down” on Tinder, for the bros to objectify women–and sing about casual sex, I might add–and for virtually everyone in mainstream country except Carrie Underwood to glorify excessive drinking, but Kacey Musgraves can’t talk about getting high? Talk about hypocrisy. And one more thing: Kacey Musgraves is actually doing something that radio programmers want to do–she’s bringing in a younger audience with her “controversial” brand of country. And guess what? Unlike the people coming to “country” through Kelsea Ballerini, the bros, Sam Hunt, and Taylor Swift–with some exception for early Taylor Swift–these people are being introduced to actual country. We traditionalists advocate balance. We don’t want everything to sound like Hank Williams and Loretta Lynn–we just want some actual country on country radio. Kacey Musgraves is an answer; she brings in a younger demographic while keeping her completely traditional sound.

Tracks I Recommend

For this, I’ll pick the standout tracks from each album separately, in order of awesomeness. I recommend both albums equally; each had highs and lows, and I listen to each one far too much.

Same Trailer, Different Park

1. “It Is What it Is”
2. “Merry Go ‘Round”
3. “Back on the Map”
4. “Silver Lining”
5. “I Miss You”
6. “Follow Your Arrow”
7. “Blowin’ Smoke”

Listen to album

Pageant Material

1. “Pageant Material”
2. “Good Ol’ Boys’ Club”
3. “Somebody to Love”
4. “Dime Store Cowgirl”
5. “Fine”

Listen to album

This was the most country moment of last year’s CMA’s, complete with Loretta Lynn herself.