Six Songs That’ll Make You Change Your Mind About Country

When I say yee, you say haw.

It seems within pop culture that the go-to music genre to hate is country, and I truly don’t understand why. I understand that some of the traditional country artists like Willie Nelson and George Strait may not be so appealing to the millennials of today, but the contemporary country music coming out today are producing banger after banger after banger, and I feel if people gave it a chance, they might actually come to liking it.

From artists like Kacey Musgraves to Chris Lane, Lady Antebellum to Little Big Town, there is a touch of country out there for everyone; you just need to know where to find it.

And that’s where I come in. I’m going to point you in that right direction so you can #GiveCountryMusicAChance and I guarantee that you’ll like at least one of the songs on this list.

Without further ado, here are six country songs that’ll make you change your mind on the genre.

1. High Horse by Kacey Musgraves

If you know me, it should come to no surprise to you that my first entry on this list is a Kacey Musgraves song because I stan the absolute fuck out of her. I told my hip-hop, RnB and rap-heavy brother to give this song a go and he ended up loving it!

High Horse comes from Kacey’s latest album, Golden Hour, which won a shit ton of awards for how iconic it is; this track is country infused with disco, catchy pop tunes, and is just overall amazing. If you want to dip your toe into country music, this is a good song to start off with.

2. If I Know Me by Morgan Wallen

I have to thank my handsome friend Faz for this recommendation as he was the one that introduced me to this ultimate banger. I added it to my playlist as soon as he showed it to me and I have not regretted it at all.

This song comes from Wallen’s debut album If I Know Me – which should give you a hint that this album was named after this iconic piece of art – and features a knee-tapping beat, easy to follow lyrics, and some impressive vocals from the man himself. If you’re into pop male artists, then you’ll probably like this song.

3. Take Back Home Girl by Chris Lane ft. Tori Kelly

Are you a fan of a love ballad? Then you’ll like this one!

This song was my introduction into Chris Lane, who has quickly become one of my favourite artists. Featuring some unsurprisingly stunning vocals from Tori Kelly, Take Back Home Girl comes off Lane’s most recent album, Laps Around the Sun; this song is a beautiful love story that your parents will love with a heavy RnB influence on the otherwise country song.

4. Tennessee Whiskey by Chris Stapleton

The fact that Chris Stapleton won a shit ton of awards with his debut album Traveller, which this iconic song comes from, should give you a fair idea of how great this song is.

A remake of Dean Dillon and Linda Hargrove’s hit, Tennessee Whiskey features the (pardon the pun) smooth vocals of Stapleton with his unique and powerful voice. If you’re into blues and lounge music, then give this one a go.

5. Snapback by Old Dominion

A song that was definitely written about Nikki Bella and her iconic snapbacks my introduction to Old Dominion, Snapback is country’s version of someone like Trey Songz singing about how beautiful this girl is and how much he wants to date her.

With a catchy chorus, and lyrics vividly that describe Nikki Bella the woman in question, this pop-infused country song has a laidback, easy-going upbeat vibe that could turn even the most anti-country person into a believer.

6. You Look Good by Lady Antebellum

The lead song from their seventh album, Heart BreakYou Look Good was the reinvigoration that Lady Antebellum needed in their career after their somewhat-success of their previous album, 747.

You Look Good has the unsurprisingly amazing and contrasting vocals of Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott, but also has a new funky jazz influence that Lady Antebellum haven’t really channeled before. This daring change was a huge success as this is easily one of my favourite Lady A songs of all time.

So if you’re looking to add a bit of country spice to your playlist, but don’t want to get into the hardcore country style of music (just yet), give these songs a listen and I guarantee you’ll be playing the country music channel more.

– by The Black Widow

Artist of the Month: Little Big Town

I know there is a recurring theme of country musicians featured as our Artists of the Month, but bear with me.

Even if you aren’t a country music fan, if you watched the most recent Grammy’s, you’ll have a fair idea of who Little Big Town are. They are the group of four (two men and two women) that won the Grammy for the Best Country Duo/Music Group Performance for their hit song Girl Crush, and they also had the honour of performing that song on stage.

Introducing February’s Artist of the Month… Little Big Town!

Much serious in one picture.

Much serious in one picture.

In a music genre that is so behind the times traditional, it should come as no surprise that Girl Crush certainly pushed the barriers and stirred a lot of controversy between country music fans even though it shouldn’t because it’s the 21st century. If you hear the song playing, you will envision a story of a woman being obsessed with another woman and wanting to be her lesbian lover. If you actually listen to the song, though, you will witness a story of a woman who is in love with a man who is actually with someone else, so the first woman wants to be the second woman so the man will love her instead. Sounds like a standard love song, right? Well, with lyrics like “I want to taste her lips, yeah ‘cos they taste like you“, it’s easy to see some would think why this song is about same-sex romance.

The song has stirred up a lot of controversy, but if you just ignore the unnecessary critical attention to the song, it’s actually a beautiful love ballad? Karen’s vocals in this track are actually phenom, and if it were anyone else singing, I don’t think this song would have been as great.

Oh, speaking of, meet the members that make up Little Big Town. From left to right, we have Phillip Sweet, Kimberly Roads Schlapman, Karen Fairchild and Jimi Westbrook (#DamnDaniel), with the latter two of the four being happily married since 2006.

littlebigtown1

Little Big Town were formed in the early 2000s, but their career never really picked up momentum until 2006 with the release of their single Boondocks, the first single from the album The Road to Here, which became their first top 10 hit on the US Billboard Hot Country Songs charts. This was really the catalyst behind their kickstart to stardom, because ever since then, Little Big Town have been a big player in the country music genre, and their star power has only grown exponentially.

My personal favourite Little Big Town song Tornado emerged from their fifth studio album which was called – GASP! – Tornado. While one would naturally think that this song would be about a natural disaster, it actually details a woman’s anger towards her unfaithful man. “Yeah, I’m gonna lift this house. Spin it all around. Toss it in the air and put it in the ground. Make sure you’re never found. Like, damn girl.

It doesn’t seem as if Little Big Town’s momentum is going to be stopped any time soon, so while I’ve got you here, here are a few recommended tracks for your entertainment:

Recommended Tracks
Day Drinking from Pain Killer
Your Side of the Bed from Tornado
Girl Crush from Pain Killer
Pavement Ends 
from Tornado

And I will leave you with the plain and simple music video that shook the close-minded traditional world of country music.

– by Noah La’ulu

Artist of the Month: Sam Hunt

There may be a slight bias as to why this man is the featured artist of the month, but I look to explain something that has been bugging me about him for months.

The featured artist of the month November is Sam Hunt.

Sam is currently in the middle of writing his second album. (SOURCE: official Sam Hunt website)

Sam is currently in the middle of writing his second album. (SOURCE: official Sam Hunt website)

If you haven’t read my review for his debut album Montevallo, you can do so by clicking here. The album is also available for purchase on iTunes.

The year 2015 may very well have been the greatest year in Sam Hunt’s life. Three singles from his debut album have been number one on the US Country and US Country Airplay charts (Leave the Night On, Take Your Time and House Party) and the album was also number one on the US Country album chart and peaked at number three on the Billboard 200 chart, which is an outstanding feat for a rookie country music artist.

On top of this, Hunt has been nominated for several awards this year, including Single of the Year and Song of the Year for Take Your Time and New Artist of the Year at the CMAs. He won the Songwriter-artist of the Year award at the ASCAP Country Music Awards, the Breakthrough Video of the Year award at the CMT Music Awards, and he also took home the New Artist of the Year award at the Taste of Country Music Awards.

Sam’s had a killer year, no doubt, but that’s not what I wanted to discuss.

I wanted to write about why I liked Sam Hunt. I mean, really get to the heart of why I’m such a fangirl of his. And this also leads me to what really annoys me about most of his other fans.

Looking at the image above, there’s no denial that Sam Hunt is a very attractive man. Every box you didn’t even know you had on your “Dream Man Checklist”, he ticks off: he’s tall, dark, handsome, can play guitar and sing well, and he also has an affinity for snapbacks and funky pairs of pants. Yes, I admire his looks and, yes, it does make it easier to like him.

But that’s not why I like him, and that’s what bothers me about other Sam Hunt fans.

All of the comments on his photos across various different social media platforms tend to target one thing about his person – his looks. Fair enough, say and do whatever you want, but when there are so many other impressive feats about this man, it gets kind of repetitive, irritating and monotonous when all one can say about Sam Hunt is “OMG BAE AF”.

Let’s take, for example, the fact that he had a hand in writing every single one of his songs on the Montevallo album. If you’re not aware of how the music industry generally works, the singer does not write their songs; they are given demos sung by other vocalists and written by other smart people, choose whether they want to record that song, and voila. That song is now “theirs”. But Sam took this to the next level and co-wrote each song on his album and on top of that, recorded the vocals. If I’m not mistaken, he also had a hand in the instrument playing, but don’t hold me to that.

That’s talent, right?

On top of that, whether this is intentional or not, Sam is ushering in a new era to the country music genre. The genre of country music is very traditional in the sense that it isn’t too welcoming to change of any kind. Sam’s style of music is different in that while the country roots are evident in his music, he welcomes inspiration from other types of music into his songs. RnB, hip-hop and pop are welcome influences into songs such as Take Your Time and Single for the Summer and while this has caused backlash from country music traditionalists, I for one thoroughly enjoy the change.

On the topic of change, this is where I have to mention that I get daily Google alerts every time Sam Hunt is mentioned on the web. I like to think of it as stalking dedication as a fan. Receiving these Google alerts in my e-mail inbox daily, I get to read a lot of articles that mention the country musician that other fans might miss, and some of them have a very common theme: “Sam Hunt has a black back-up guitarist! Wow! Much shock! Many horror!” I’m sorry but it’s 2015. It shouldn’t be that noteworthy that Sam has a back-up guitarist who is black (Tyrone Carreker, if you’re interested in looking up this talented guitarist). These same articles also talk about Sam’s personal style as if they’re watching a dog walk on its hind legs, to borrow a quote from Mean Girls. Sure, he isn’t wearing Wrangler jeans with cowboy boots, but why does that prove to be a topic of discussion? There isn’t anything unusual about the way he dresses. I love his style personally.

Through his music, the way he dresses, and even who he chooses to have in his band, Sam is ushering in a revolution in country music, and on top of his enormous amounts of talent and absolutely charming personality, that is why I like Sam Hunt. Not because his biceps are huge (kiss me!) or his award-winning smile, but the fact that he is changing the country music genre, and for someone like me, that is very liberating. Hopefully as Sam’s career continues, the minds of country music fans will open and they’ll see their beloved music in a totally different light. I mean, even today, women in country music still aren’t treated the same as their male counterparts. This shouldn’t even be a problem.

Recommended tracks
Take Your Time from Montevallo
Break Up in a Small Town from Montevallo
Single for the Summer from Montevallo
Cop Car from Montevallo (FUN FACT: he originally co-wrote this song for Keith Urban)

You can follow Sam Hunt on social media at the following links:
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

– by Noah La’ulu

Review: Sam Hunt’s Montevallo

Artist: Sam Hunt
Album: Montevallo
Release date: October 27, 2014
Label: MCA Nashville
Genre: Country pop

Montevallo is the debut album for country music artist Sam Hunt, whose songwriting skills were featured on several country stars’ songs, such as Keith Urban’s Cop Car and Kenny Chesney’s Come Over.

samhuntmontevallo

First thing’s first, Hunt may be the very definition of a modern country man. His use of electronic synth arrangements and palm-to-knee slapping rhythm makes him immediately stand out from other male country music artists who choose to have a more traditional sound. His music is unlike any other in his genre and his contemporary look on “what is country” is definitely featured on the album. It’s also interesting to note that Hunt co-wrote every track on the album.

Montevallo may sound a bit “typical” for a first time listener. A majority of the tracks featured on the album are in some way about a woman and leaves a lot to be desired regarding Hunt’s diversity as an artist. While some of the songs feature a generic approach to the characteristic “country song about a woman”, Cop Car, for example, has a different way of expressing his feelings towards a woman which proves to be a nice touch to the album.

Hunt has his own unique sound which makes him stand out from other country artists. The catchy lyrics and quick-paced dynamic use of instruments in his debut single Leave the Night On dare to appeal to those who aren’t typically fans of country music. The pop-inspired hit would fit comfortably on the Country Music Channel as it would on MTV. Leave the Night On has a typical “bro-country” theme to it (country songs by men about getting drunk, girls in tight jeans, etc.) however it has its own charming appeal that’ll make your fingers tap and your head bop, and not roll your eyes and mutter “It’s just another country song”.

The way he mixes normal speaking with an outburst of song in Take Your Time and Break Up in a Small Town is an odd touch to his album, and I’m not too positive that’s a good thing. It kind of sounds like a musical where the character is engaging in dialogue and then randomly busts out into song and we, as an audience, are expected to think that is completely normal. It’s a unique twist to the typical song format, and for that, I applaud him for trying something new. However, these tracks that would otherwise be great listens with deep, emotive lyrics and a great sound, are mainly outstanding for the wrong reasons.

An interesting track to make note of on Montevallo is Single for the Summer; it’s probably the only track on the album that doesn’t have any typical country music traits to it: there are no mentions of drinking beer in the lyrics, and the quick strums of an acoustic guitar are also absent. This song has an almost dreamy sound to it with an electric synth-like sound and a slow, fading ending that makes you feel as if you are gradually dozing off to sleep. This daring track doesn’t seem fitting for a country-pop album but happens to be one of the best songs on the album for the sole purpose that is something very different that Hunt has tried and subsequently nailed as a music artist.

Overall, Montevallo is a step in the right direction for Sam Hunt that can be easy listening for all sorts of people, ranging from diehard country music enthusiasts to mainstream pop music fans and anywhere in between. His unique twist on modern country-pop music definitely makes for a great sound that can be repeated with a glass of white or a schooner of beer.

Or a bottle of water. If that’s your thing.

– by Noah La’ulu