…or, Heyyy, time for more ragging on Jason Aldean!
For some listeners, “Burnin’ It Down” is more “pop” than “country.” Aldean has heard the criticism, and he is unfazed. “If somebody can put a definition on what country music is, please tell me,” he said.
“I’m pretty knowledgeable in country music, and I’ve never once seen where it says, ‘Country music doesn’t have a drum loop,’” he said.
Definition of country music? Steel guitar, fiddle, three-quarter time. Add some electric guitar in there every so often. You might be able to get away with more avant-garde stuff like putting your vocals through a vocoder a la George Strait and “Stars on the Water” if you know what you’re doing. Granted, that’s only a start, and country music is more than just that, but some instruments work better than others. And some things just don’t work at all. The things you find in “Burnin’ it Down” are perfect examples of what doesn’t work. It seems that Aldean thinks that “country music” pretty much has no definition, that it’s whatever people who record music in Nashville says it is. I saw something at Saving Country Music yesterday about Country Roads, a new European-produced documentary on country music, featuring this quote from Justin Townes Earle as he was narrating it:
This is one of our few untouched things in Nashville—RCA Studio ‘B’…But then you just look around at all the crap that has been built around it. This is like the belly of the beast right here. This is where all the bad ideas are thought up. This is where all the bad country songs come from. This is where they’re all recorded. In all these buildings, this is where all the ‘geniuses’ that are thinking all the crap up and what they’re gonna do … It’s amazing to me that the people that work here now can hold their heads up, that they can walk these streets and think that if Hank Williams wasn’t here right now he wouldn’t whip their fucking ass.
Aldean was also stung by his failure to get an Entertainer of the Year nomination:
Obviously it’s disappointing. We’re still out there selling out shows. With maybe the exception of Luke [Bryan], I don’t think there is anybody else out there that is doing the kind of touring numbers that we’re doing.
Now, on the surface, that gripe might be legitimate. After all, he’s “entertaining” a lot of people, right? Well, when you look at the actual criteria for the award, the snub makes a lot more sense:
“This award is for the act displaying the greatest competence in all aspects of the entertainment field. Voter should give consideration not only to recorded performance, but also to the in-person performance, staging, public acceptance, attitude, leadership, and overall contribution to the Country Music image.”
I see at least three strikes against Aldean here:
A. Attitude: his semi-literate Twitter attack on Zac Brown and his general cavalier attitude on the anything-goes direction;
B. Leadership: With apologies to Trigger, “Is ‘Burnin’ It Down’ the ‘leadership’ from the man these people think should be the Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year? Because I’d rather shit a knife than listen to this.”
C. Overall Contribution to the Country Music Image: Well, I think A and B, combined with the perception that “Burnin’ It Down” is a window into his affair, pretty much knocks that one out.
And it’s just so…disappointing. For all I rag on Aldean, he’s actually a pretty decent singer. I was expecting to be quite disappointed, for example, with his duet with George Strait on “Fool Hearted Memory” on the cd of Strait’s last live show from Dallas, but I gotta give the dude credit — he nailed his part. I don’t know if he’d ever be on that level, but he could be at least not bad if he’d record better songs.