Whoa, dude, get over yourself.

My gut reaction to this:

“Wow, Brad Paisley is a whiny little bitch.”

My more thoughtful reaction:

This is really quite unbecoming of…well, anyone in Paisley’s position. It’s as if he thinks he has the right to make shit music but no one has the right to call him out on it. Three things, before I go any further:

A. I realize this sort of thing (shit music vs. good music) is highly subjective.

B. I don’t have any particular love for critics on any level, as I’ve said before, and

C. Paisley may be right that “the fans know better,” as ultimately they’re the ones who decide whether the artists get to keep making records.

All of that so stipulated, what Brad Paisley is saying here is not really something one should want to say out loud, because it makes one look very, very petty and insecure. And it really doesn’t say much about Paisley’s position — or at least what he perceives as his position — in country music right now. It just comes off as him thinking the time is at hand for his career and that he’s lashing out because of that. But no matter his reasoning, did it ever occur to him that he’s held to a higher standard because critics and fans alike (but to a large extent anymore I am repeating myself — see below for more on that) perceive him as capable of better than what he’s doing anymore? I mean, he was no George Strait even on his best day, but he had at least a decent ear for good songs (“Who Needs Pictures,” “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive,” “Whiskey Lullaby,” “Too Country”) even if said songs seemed to get fewer and further between as his career progressed. But it all went to shit between his increasing penchant for joke songs, his taking himself so seriously, and trying to be “progressive,” “pushing the boundaries,” etc., etc., etc. His chickens are coming home to roost.

And here’s what I am talking about when I allude to the critics and fans more and more becoming one and the same: I find it…interesting…that Paisley chose to tweet a review from a blog as opposed to a review from a newspaper or magazine critic. All of this is my completely uninformed observation, but this suggests quite an interesting shift in perceptions — if only in the music world. Once upon a time it seemed that the only opinions people deemed worth taking seriously were those of the Authorized Critics from “official” media sources as opposed to bloggers offering their observations as fans of particular artists and genres.

Such may well be another part of Paisley’s frustration — a few of these so-called “critics” are actually fans of his who are disappointed with the direction he’s chosen to take since…well….I don’t know. That depends on who you ask. 2003’s Mud on the Tires had its moments, but I wasn’t big on the albums I heard after that. Looking back I don’t even remember why I bought that album, to be honest. It wasn’t as good as I thought Part II was then, to be sure. I used to think Paisley was decent, but his shtick has been tiresome for some time.

At any rate, it’d be interesting to see how at least the blog reviews correlate to the album sales, and why, if the reviews don’t matter, Paisley is so up in arms about them — other than his anxiety over being on the backside of his career. It certainly goes to show that he’s not the A-level artist that he thought he was. I mean, I thought Tracy Lawrence’s and Clay Walker’s respective takes on their artistry in relation to their continued relevance left a lot to be desired, but Paisley is making them look like dignified elder statesmen of the genre in comparison.

Another couple of observations…

“I control the presentation,” Paisley told Billboard’s Country Update.

Really. And this is a good thing? Whether it is or not doesn’t really matter, because what he’s ultimately pissed off about is the fact that he can’t control the reaction to his presentation. I don’t know if he said that to make himself feel better about his inability to do that, but it certainly sounds like it.

And although it’s a slightly different situation, I am reminded of the reaction to Lee Ann Womack’s Something Worth Leaving Behind. From what I understand, that album was pretty roundly panned as a poor attempt to cross over to the pop charts and recreate the success of I Hope You Dance. In other words, it was received by critics about as well as Paisley’s latest, at best. But did you see Lee Ann Womack bitching about critics? Hell no you didn’t. She went back to what she was good at and in the process made the best album of her career. There’s a lesson there for Mr. Paisley, if he’ll just pull his nose down out of the air long enough to learn it.



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