In October 1974, pop singer Olivia Newton-John won female vocalist of the year at the Country Music Association Awards. This was a very controversial issue and caused huge disputes in the country music industry.
Another memorable CMA Awards flap, came the following year when an obviously well-lubricated Charlie Rich ended his reign as 1974’s Entertainer of the Year by announcing the new recipient of the CMA’s top prize. “The award goes to my friend, John Denver,” said Rich, who had been drinking gin-and-tonics backstage. At which point he pulled out his Zippo lighter and set fire to the card holding the name of his successor. Rich held the burning card up for the cameras on the nationally televised live show and smiled a big smile of triumph. The message to anyone watching seemed clear: in Rich’s eyes, a West Coast neo-folkie like John Denver, who had built his career on pop radio, was not welcome in country music.
This was like the Kanye West and Taylor Swift feud of that generation. #scandal
Country music is often put into a bad limelight amongst people and the media, many people give it a bad betrayal. It receives a lot negative stereotyping. Some cliches still remain strong with people coining the genre as solely about singing about trucks, objectifying women, and drinking beer.
Even though this genre may not be in your music playlist, it’s becoming a lot more popularised and it’s killing the charts today.
So why has it become so popular?
According to Forbes Magazine, Nielsen reported a strong correlation between country music and sports: 71% of country fans surveyed said sports are important to them. There is plenty of country music to be found this football season: Garth Brooks’s song “Pure Adrenaline” is the kickoff track for SEC football games on CBS, Brad Paisley just finished his second annual Country Nation College Tour, and Granger Smith’s alter ego Earl Dibbles Jr. gets in on the fun each week with his popular “Dip ‘Em & Pick ‘Em” video series.
Straight Outta Compton conquered the box office with a $60.2 million gross, but one area that it couldn’t dominate with, the country star Luke Byran with his album Kill the Lights.
Luke Bryan conquered the number one album spot with 320,000 in pure album sales, “Kill the Lights” posts the third-largest sales week of 2015, following Drake‘s “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” (535,000 equivalent units, including 495,000 album sales) and Kendrick Lamar‘s “To Pimp a Butterfly” (363,000 equivalent units, including 324,000 album sales).
The genre of country music has recently become very popularised, with Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Bebe Rexha, Beyonce, John Mayer and other artists either collaborating with country artists or just showing genuine affection for country music through their music.
Harry Styles who came to prominence as a member of boy band One Direction, has released covers of country music on Spotify Sessions and includes them on his tour. Harry also enlisted country singer Kacey Musgraves to open shows in 2018 on the first and second leg of his American and Canadian tour.
Niall Horan another 1D member, also released his debut album Flicker that topped the charts in the US following its release which featured not only a collaboration with country singer Maren Morris but also him taking on the genre with tracks of himself singing on the album.
Essential Country music recommendations
Little Big Town – ‘Sober’, ‘Bring it on Home’, and ‘Girl Crush’.
Zac Brown Band – ‘Toes’ ‘Knee Deep’ and ‘Roots’
Lady Antebellum: ‘American Honey’, ‘Down South’, ‘Dancin’ Away with My Heart’, ‘Our Kind of Love’, ‘Heart Break’.
LANCO – ‘Greatest Love Story’
John Mayer – ‘Roll it on Home’
Thomas Rhett – ‘Die a Happy Man’ ‘Unforgettable’ and ‘Gateway Love’
Chris Young – ‘Lonely Eyes’
Rascal Flatts – ‘Bless the Broken Road’, ‘I Like the Sound of That’, ‘Yours if You Want It’
Billy Currington – ‘Don’t it’
Luke Byran – ‘Play It Again’
Sam Hunt – Body Like A Back Road