Author: Leon Blair
Editor's Note: Today we've got an outside post courtesy of Sheepie Niagara, founder of sheepieniagara.weebly.com. If you're interested at all in Niagara Falls, you'll want to check it out! Anyway, we decided to each do a crossover post for each other's blogs, so while mine will be out later on, Sheepie's is here right now. So without further ado...
Put a coin in the jukebox, we’re going to the 80s.
Author: Leon Blair
So I was browsing around the ol' Internet as I'm known to do, and I came across this thread on Pulse Music Board titled "Top 20 Songs That Never Went Top 20". The whole idea surroudning the thread was to list your twenty favorite songs that never went top twenty on either the Mediabase or Billboard Country Airplay charts. Well, that's what this post will be about. Yes, I did post in that particular thread, but after thinking about this a little bit more I decided to revise my list somewhat. So here you are, my twenty favorite songs that never saw the justice they desevred at country radio. Keep in mind, these are all solely my picks and I invite you to make your own list down below! Also keep in mind that I am only including songs that came from the 2000's or 2010's. I might do another one of these in the future with 90's country songs or even before that era, but I want to do some more research into that before I proceed.
Also, some more inspiration from this list came from Farce The Music's "The Kiss Of Commercial Death".
("Exploring the Classics" (ETC) is an ongoing series in which I highlight and discuss an album from country music's past that is of particular noteworthiness due to general acclaim, influence, historical import, commercial success, or some combination thereof. While in many instances I'll be revisiting albums with which I've long been familiar, in others I'll be experiencing these works for the first time. What albums count as "noteworthy" is obviously highly subjective and determined at my discretion, but I'm not too strict about it. I do, however, feel that these are the works that tell the story of country music and all of its many roots and branches.)
While George Jones was an outstanding vocalist and responsible for many of the most iconic songs in the country music canon, the truth is, unlike some contemporaries such as Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson, he rarely excelled at making great albums. He was extremely prolific, typically releasing two or three albums a year at the demand of his labels, and this frequently resulted in the need to record songs that were less than great. He's pretty much the quintessential example of a "singles artist" whose genius is most apparent on compilations. However, he occasionally did hit upon a great batch of songs, and 1974's The Grand Tour, released at the height of George's fame when he was married to Tammy Wynette and charting in the top 10 with regularity, is easily one of the best albums he ever made.
Fans have been debating what country music is and what it should sound like probably for as long as the concept of "country music" has existed. Between the Nashville Sound and Chet Atkins, the outlaw backlash, the Urban Cowboy fad, the neotraditional movement, the Garth/Shania boom years, "Murder on Music Row", the rise of alt-country and Americana, Taylor Swift winning Entertainer of the Year, "old farts and jackasses", the emergence of bro-country, the out-of-nowhere success of Chris Stapleton and all the other notable events and eras, I'm sure you've heard all the arguments and back-and-forths by now. At this point, rehashing this whole debate is not beating a dead horse, it's exhuming the body and lighting it on fire. But if you'll indulge me, I'd like to give my thoughts on this subject.
I guess the question we have to ask ourselves is, "What exactly is country music?" The biggest issue surrounding this whole debate is that there's no official, objective criteria that determines what is or isn't country. It's not like a deity has descended from the heavens to inscribe the one true definition of country music onto a stone tablet, nor have scientists discovered a new theorem that can be used to irrefutably prove whether a piece of music is or isn't country. Webster and Wikipedia are vague, and talk more about country music's influences and places of origin than what it actually sounds like. Ultimately, it seems people's conceptions of country music vary depending on when they were born, what music they've been exposed to, and what they like.