Monday, November 22, 2010

They say this like it's a good thing.

And it doesn't surprise me, but still I shake my head...

"We had to bring something new to the table," (Rascal Flatts lead singer Gary) LeVox said. "Call it what you want but we sure love making country music and I think we've been able to open some doors for people like Taylor Swift. Who would've ever thought you'd hear Bon Jovi on country radio with Kid Rock? We might've had a little hand in opening the door to radio and getting them played."
I am reminded of Kevin Coyne's recent post at Country Universe:
Dear Country Music,

Don’t get too excited about Taylor Swift’s sales numbers. They have nothing to do with you.
And, of course, in the comments there people observe that they have heard people say things to the effect of "I don't like country music, but I love Taylor Swift." I've talked about all this before, but I don't see why Bon Jovi and Kid Rock getting played on country radio is a good thing. I'd be tempted to make an exception for Kid Rock given his professed affinity for the old country, but he seems to blow his potential as a Real Country Singer all to hell every chance he gets. And I've said before that I don't see why Taylor Swift's success within the country genre is a good thing. Why are certain artists so hellbent on attracting people to the genre who never had any appreciation for it? Going back to one of my favorite anecdotes, it was a mere hop, skip and a jump for me from Metallica's self-titled black album to the wonderful world of '80s thrash, power and progressive metal. (It might have taken longer if I hadn't gotten Sirius satellite radio, but still...) I don't see that working out in the context of country music, especially since Metallica's self-titled album wasn't nearly as different from their earlier music as Rascal Flatts and Taylor Swift are from older country music. I just don't see today's Rascal Flatts and Taylor Swift fan being tomorrow's Loretta Lynn and Merle Haggard fan, especially since radio has such an aversion to playing the legends.

So, given all that, it alternately makes me laugh and grind my teeth to see Joe Don Rooney whining about people not thinking RF is a country act. I am reminded of what the reviewer at wrote in his review of their debut album ten years ago:

"With harmonies as squeaky-clean as their faces, Rascal Flatts relish the pop and lite-groove direction that the genre has taken at the turn of the century. In fact, they seem to take pride in their distance from hard-core country roots. To their credit, this trio of earnest young men sounds as if they are truly enjoying themselves as they run through their bouncy, bubbly love songs. And at least these boys don't pay lip service to keeping country traditions alive in 2000."

That would have been what I'd have written had I not had such a visceral reaction to RF back in the day, as opposed to, "Good Hank Williams, do these guys suck." And membership in the Country Music Hall of Fame? The day Rascal Flatts gets into the Country Music Hall of Fame is the day they need to nuke the site from orbit, 'cause it'll be the only way to be sure.

(h/t Country California)