Charles Kelley is a blithering idiot.

Why? Well, read it for yourself:

Since the beginning of country, they were debating on Kenny Rogers being too pop and then Rascal Flatts, too, but now you listen to Rascal Flatts and they sound like traditional country.

“Rascal Flatts…(sounds) like traditional country.”

Uh…no. No they don’t. Even now, 14 years after their debut, Rascal Flatts’ music still sounds just like the glitzy feel-good pop that was dominating the genre a la Shania Twain and Faith Hill in the early 2000s. Sure, you might have heard a fiddle here and there, but that didn’t make them country any more than Eddy Shaver’s electric guitar made Tramp On Your Street a thrash metal album. I really don’t understand where people get off saying certain music sounds like traditional country music just because it’s old. That’s gotta be the most self-serving shenanigan I’ve seen from a modern mainstream “country” artist yet. (And considering Jerrod Niemann that’s really saying something.) I mean, really. It’s just so self-evidently ridiculous that I don’t have to explain it.

But why the hell not? Just for an example, Charlie Rich’s “Behind Closed Doors” came out in 1973 — more than four decades ago — but there are quite a few big songs from that year that were considerably more country-sounding, among them:

• Merle Haggard, “I Wonder If They Ever Think Of Me” and “If We Make It Through December”

• Loretta Lynn, “Rated X”

• Cal Smith, “The Lord Knows I’m Drinking”

• Johnny Rodriguez, “Ridin’ My Thumb to Mexico”

I could go on, but such would be belaboring the point. I hesitate to say that Charlie Rich was the Rascal Flatts of his day, as even with his pop leanings his music did have substance to it, but that really doesn’t change anything. (Perhaps he was the Faith– or Breathe-era Faith Hill of his day.) It’s more than a little bit disingenuous to take a certain genre of music out of its historical context for whatever reason, not least of all because music is to a large extent a reflection of its time. None of this is to say that music doesn’t evolve, and I realize that artists are going to bring the influences of the artists they listened to in their formative years to their own sound. But the question still remains of why, for example, on one hand you have Jason Boland and the Stragglers covering Don Williams and Merle Haggard in their live shows and relegated to relative obscurity, and on the other you have the likes of Eric Church boasting about playing the same stage as Metallica after he talks about how he didn’t even grow up listening to country music and not being at the very least booed right the hell out of the room.  (It’s like, well what the hell are you doing here, you freaking carpetbagger?) And it’s worth asking why so many mainstream artists feel the need to defend their musical direction by taking old musical trends completely out of context as Kelley did here — other than the phenomenon Bob McDill described 20 years ago in “Gone Country.”

(h/t Country California)

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One Response to “Charles Kelley is a blithering idiot.”

  1. Greg Says:

    Found this on a TX Ags forum thread..seems very accurate! http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/dc9/2014/10/jason_aldean_florida_georgia_line_gexa_energy_pavilion_review.php

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