Monday musical observations, 20.01.14

(This post is mostly brought to you by the musical selections at Grady’s BBQ at 281 & Nakoma on mine & Sabra’s lunch date yesterday…)

No offense to you fans, but I just don’t understand the appeal of Keith Urban. It’s as if he has absolutely no sense of musical identity at all. He claims all these different influences, but in the end it’s just some mishmash of only God knows what, sort of like the musical equivalent of mystery meat casserole or AeroDillo’s “coffee, chocolate chips, potato crisps, and baked bean slurry.” I am reminded of what Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks said after they were asked to do a pop remix of the title track to Wide Open Spaces:

“We like those other artists, and we’re fans of that other music, but we don’t want anyone thinking we’re trying to not be country….We’re trying to bring country back to country.”

Keith Urban, on the other hand, sounds like he just doesn’t give a shit, like he just calls his own music “country” for the sake of musical expediency. And whatever talent he allegedly possesses is completely marginalized by that.

Speaking of the Chicks, we also heard “There’s Your Trouble,” the first No. 1 hit from their major-label debut, 1998’s Wide Open Spaces. I remember…I remember I actually bought that cd the day it came out (January 27, 1998) on the strength of the album’s first single, “I Can Love You Better.” That song barely made the top-10, and I think the album debuted somewhere in the lower part of the top 20 on Billboard‘s country albums chart. I never would have thought that within six months they’d be the hottest thing in country music. And I still think it’s a shame that Natalie shot off her mouth on that London stage. Not sure how I feel about the remark here about the “high quality of early-2000s country,” but I think there’s a lot of truth to the rest of this observation:

The real effect of their commercial demise wasn’t the open wound they left in country music but its inability to properly heal. The Dixie Chicks took the high quality of early-2000s country down with them, and the state of country radio has never recovered, more and more a parody of its former self each and every bygone year. They took with them the challenge to be great, to sing intelligent songs, and fill your records with the lyrics of strong insightful songwriters. Think about it. Had the Chicks proceeded as normal, without alienating most Americans, we’d likely been spared such dreck as “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Come Off,” “Dirt Road Anthem,” “Truck Yeah,” and “Cruise.”

Oh, and speaking of “Cruise”…

After I mentioned Chase Rice’s “Ready Set Roll” day before yesterday, I had to hear for myself just how bad that song was. Yeah. It was that bad, with the lyrics laid on top of some sort of hip-hop/electronica rhythm and what I would guess was — yet again — the producers auto-tuning the shit out of his voice. Fuck even being country, that “song” sucks as music, period. Who’s gonna fill their shoes, indeed…

But hey, he looks teh s3xxay in that leather jacket and backwards ball cap, and as we all know that’s the most important thing, right?

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