Nov 29, 2010

Snap Judgments: Promo Only Country Radio December 2010

The weather's getting cold and gray and so are the singles. Not a lot of up-tempos to be found. Normally that'd be fine with me - a welcome break from the happy happy joy joy - but too much of the same gets old. If this is a look into the music of the next month or two, load up on Red Bulls till spring. No Four Lokos though, please!

*click the links for listens of each song*

Josh Turner - I Wouldn't Be a Man
I've heard this before, but it's been a while so at least it's a "fresh ears" judgment. This is a nice cover of the 1989 Don Williams hit. I still prefer the original, but this is very strong.

Loretta Lynn, Miranda Lambert and Sheryl Crow - Coal Miner's Daughter
The inclusion of Crow here is baffling to me and she adds little, but this isn't a bad take on the classic. Miranda is a perfect fit and Lynn is in superb voice.

Meh. Bunch of boring inspirational platitudes. I've been more emotionally moved reading Hallmarks in the Target greeting card aisle. Don't call it a comeback; this is flat-out terrible.

Why mess with perfection? The original was much better; in fact, I prefer Dwight Yoakam's excellent cover to this. Pianos and crashing guitars do nothing for my 2nd favorite Elvis tune. Pointless.

The Harters - If I Run
This is a pleasant enough swelling pop country ballad in the vein of Lady Antebellum and Gloriana, but it's nothing new or remotely memorable.

Kenny Chesney - Somewhere With You
People complaining about all of Chesney's "reminiscing" songs and beach anthems, take heed. This isn't one of those. It's also a different sound for Kenneth... AAA. Decent, but after it hits #3 or so on the charts and drops, nobody will request it again.

Little Big Town - Kiss Goodbye
Speaking of Gloriana, this also sounds like them. I had to check the display to make sure it wasn't. Eh, I expect better from LBT, though the chorus is pretty moving.

This sounds like a country take on "Dock of the Bay," but more boring. Lee should branch out a little; this is too much in the same pocket as his previous hit... whatever that was called. Dull dull dull zzzz...

This is well written and decently sung. Less than I hope for from Allan though. He really needs to step it up before he becomes a B-List afterthought. Admittedly, all these low key songs are negatively coloring my perception of the individual tracks on this comp, but...

Jamey Johnson - Playing the Part
One of the less exceptional cuts from The Guitar Song is still better than most everything else on this collection. It's probably too late for this song to make a dent in the charts, but it would be a breath of fresh air amongst the Flatts and Swifts.

Billy Currington - Let Me Down Easy
Billy's got such a good, good voice. This is a simple (low key) break-up song that brings nothing new or exciting to the table, but it's got some indefinable "it" factor going for it. And that voice...

The Randy Rogers Band - Steal You Away
I reviewed this song here.

Brett Eldredge - Raymond
I've heard a lot about this song, but this is my first time to hear it. Alzheimer's has been dealt with in country music before, but not this effectively. Brett's voice is fresh and emotive, a strong baritone. "Raymond" pulls all the right heartstrings, but you never feel like it's taking advantage of your sympathies. This is one of the strongest debut singles since Currington's "Walk a Little Straighter."

Simple and effective, but maybe too simple to find a large audience. I want good things for this talented duo/couple, but they're going to have to release harder hitting singles to make it in this market.

Mark's voice isn't unique, but it's solid enough. The song is 90s sounding, well-written, but again... low key... and I'm drooling on my desk at this point. Must all winter releases be yawners?

Uncle Kracker w/Kid Rock - Good to Be Me
Here's an anomaly. A more upbeat, summery track in the midst of all these gray skies. Sure it's Uncle Kracker, but this is every bit as "country" as nearly every other song here. And I like it... it's a guilty pleasure. Bouncy, singable and possibly released at the perfect time to be alternative programming to all these other party poopers. Bite me; it ain't bad.

Christian Kane - The House Rules
Apparently this guy is on some TV show I've never seen before. Whatever. He reminds me of Blake Shelton a little. This song is way more upbeat than most of the previous tunes. Wait... "you know they're gonna show 'em if they got 'em"?? This is pretty risque for the format. Oh no, a crowd sing-along at the end. That's a full letter grade off. Mmmm, not sure if I like this a ton, but it could be a hit.

Sarah Darling - With or Without You
A U2 cover... pretty cool. Glad it wasn't a cover of "Lemon." She's got a sweet voice. She better wail at the end with the "oh oh oh's" though. As low key winter releases go, this isn't bad at all. Don't care for the backing vocals much. A male contrast would have sounded better there. Ugh, no "oh oh oh's"! Letter grade off. Pretty good, but the song had no high point to really set it off.


  1. A couple of pretty good ones in there. I like the Uncle Kracker song--it manages to just fail at being country, but I do like that man's voice.

    And it's not just the surroundings, that Gary Allan song isn't his normal caliber.

  2. Danielle Car "Walk of Shame" is on the Promo Only disc for January. It's up-tempo. She's new. It's good.

  3. I'm not big on remixing songs when the artist dies, as they have no input. But with that being said, I'd much rather Suspicious Minds (2010 Viva Elvis Version) over A Little Less Conversation (JLX Remix)

  4. I have to ask... what's your favorite Elvis song?

  5. The review says Gary Allan "really needs to step it up before he becomes a B-List afterthought". But hasn't he always been a B-list afterthought? I know critics tend to review him favorably, but he only has 3 platinum albums. And no multiplatinums. Not exactly A-list success. Maybe once he was close to making it to A-list status, and maybe he could have with a huge breakout hit, but that day is long gone. I think its even generous to call him a "B lister" now. Seems to me he's basically a D-list celebrity in 2010. Maybe he can score a hit here and there and maybe even sell some CDs but he is culturally irrelevant (if he ever was relevant...)


  7. The reason Gary Allan is where he is...Is because early in his career, he thought it would be "cute" to buck the system. This has hurt him in the long run really....Not too mention, he basically went from wanting to carry the hard core country flag to selling out doing, for instance, a Vertical Horizon cover. At this point, one can't see him going from the mid-level theater venues he is playing now to going over in an arena. Too much damage early on to keep going up.

  8. I really don't get the "D-list" Gary Allan comment. He's had too many Top 20 hits--including recently--for that label. It's not like you have to be Britney Spears to be culturally relevent. Besides, I'd rather listen to an artist that I think is good than listen to one that's 'culturally relevent.'
    An A-list talent with B success is probably a more apt moniker.

    And I don't think he sold out, either. His most mainstream album, in my opinion, was 'Smoke Rings in the Dark,' which was also his most traditional. More correctly, Allan has moved more towards rock since his wife's suicide, and "Best I Ever Had" fit in with that aesthetic and the tone of 'Tough All Over' as a whole.
    Some artists evolve. Deal with it.

    Finally, and this one is just a statement of fact, "Let Me Down Easy" is not a break-up song.

  9. Ok D-list might be harsh, but he's getting close. C list for sure. His last top ten song was released in 2007! Thats not good. Yeah, he's had some top 20s since then but a top 20 is more of a flop than a hit in my book.

    I'll grant that the "d-list" moniker was harsh because the fact that Allan can still get a song in the top 20 suggests that radio is at least willing to give him a chance. But the fact that he no longer can get in the top ten suggests that a lot of listeners aren't interested.

    No you don't have to be Britney Spears to be "culturally relevant." But Gary Allan is far from a household name. My friends who don't listen to top 40 country radio almost surely have no clue who he is. I bet many people who do listen to top 40 country radio don't really know who he is or could only name a song or two.

    I think even at his peak, Gary Allan was basically "filler" radio music - something to play in between the Tim McGraw, George Strait, and the other superstars. But his music seems pretty expendable to radio. He's no more important than Mark Chesnutt was 10 years before Allan. Sounds fine on the radio but not someone the masses are gonna get excited by.

    I think Gary will long have some die hard fans and I do think his music has a lot of appeal to a certain group. I applaud him for that. Good for him. If he makes his fans happy he can be proud of what he is doing. I think he is pushing the D-list, but if he enjoys his career, can make a solid living, and keeps his fans happy he can be proud of that.

  10. I think even at his peak, Gary Allan was basically "filler



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