Sigh. Here we go again.

Tracy Lawrence:

The debate over pop country vs. traditional country on the radio never ends, and Tracy Lawrence says things always are going to evolve.

“You might not always like the direction of it, but people’s tastes change,” Lawrence told www.theboot.com last week.

“We’re becoming a more world format, and we’re getting people on the international stage that are making noise out there,” he told theboot.com, while mentioning Taylor Swift’s tours abroad. “We’re one of the most powerful formats on Earth. It’s amazing that what started off as bluegrass, country-based with a little bit of rock is evolving to what it is now.”

Lawrence is evolving, too, after 18 No. 1 singles and slipping from the grace of radio programmers….

Because if we’re going to listen to anyone on how country music should “evolve,” it’s going to be someone who had his last hit record seven years ago, right? And I really don’t understand where Taylor Swift comes in here. As I heard it observed before, she was a tween pop star at her peak — with the ginormous sales numbers that come with that, of course — and to hear people who know better than me say it, she is starting to get away from that into a more general pop direction anyway. Sure, she started out as a country singer, but like certain people before her she used it merely as a stepping stone to bigger and “better” things.

And why do people who talk about “evolution” in country music always talk about it in terms of artists “evolving” away from traditional country music and letting other genres of music not just mesh with the genre, but completely take over it, completely disassociating the music from the elements that gave it a distinct, unique identity?

“Footprints on the Moon,” the debut single from the new album, is a love song with a catchy country pop melody and lyrics to match.

You know, I could avoid the obvious comment here about Lawrence selling out, but it deserves to be pointed out. I actually listened to the song, hoping against hope that it wouldn’t be yet more cliched pop-country bullshit, but it was — with the cherry on top being the producer(s) auto-tuning the shit out of his voice.

Wait. That’s not quite right.

I tried to listen to the song. But I only made it about 45 seconds in before I couldn’t take anymore. Such a shame that the guy who sang great songs like “Sticks and Stones” and “Paint Me A Birmingham” reduced himself to this.

And to what end? Does he really think he’s going to have his career resurrected with this pile of cliches? As bad as the reality sucks, country music is a young man’s game anymore, to the point that the biggest reason George Strait scored a No. 1 hit with “Give It All We Got Tonight” was his record label’s promotional campaign for it. You also see how things have gone for Alan Jackson anymore.

And yet, you don’t see either of those artists trying to “reinvent” themselves for an infinitesimally small chance at a few more dollars as Lawrence is. I wonder why that is?

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