The Adverse Affects of Mass Media on Country Music

So, I was going to give the blogging thing a rest for a couple of days but I can’t help myself.  I stumbled across a complete gem, doing some casual stalking research on the upcoming UK release of yet another country music movie, Country Strong.  

Chris Martin, of Coldplay fame, has been quoted in saying ” I would still give my left testicle to write anything as good as OK Computer,”  and, in light of his latest songwriting contribution to Country Strong, his left testicle is very, very safe.  The song, Tennessee and Me, at first listen is a pretty country love song, the instrumentation is good, lap steel, nice Tim McGraw, Live Like You Were Dying Album feel, and a perfectly adequate melody and vocal performance from both the lovely Tim McGraw and Gwyenth Paltrow.  On second listen however, the lyrics shine out as Martins blissful ignorance of the beautiful simplicity of country songs.  “On” and “Wrong,” “Bad” and “Had” are simple, granted, however it has none of the sincerity and beauty that country is all about.  It sounds cheap and tacky.  And in an age of Taylor Swift’s and Carrie Underwood’s, that’s something we need to steer clear of.

This however, is the true gem.  I youtubed Country Strong, and saw Leighton Meester singing  Words I Couldn’t Say.  I took a listen because I know Words I Couldn’t Say as a Rascal Flatts song (writers are: Gregory Becker/Steve Robson/Tammi Kidd).  It was fine.  I have nothing much to say about this song, but I thought I would check out her other music.  This came up:

Can somebody please tell me that this is a joke?  I’m not familiar with the male vocalist, but I can see why.  He’s laughable, and his vocals are not strong.  Leighton on the other hand, who could be a successful musician in her own right has taken to prancing around in provocative outfits to get attention.  She doesn’t need that, and it’s a shortcut to a short-lived career.  She shouldn’t have to completely change genre (as in go country) for a film to make a name for herself.  She is a good musician, and if she wants a place in country music, I’m sure she could have it, if she stuck to it and was sincere.  That’s that country is about, sincerity.

Fame has become synthetic.  Walk the Line allegedly tells the story of Johnny Cash, but it’s made into this romantic love story, complete with happily forever after that never actually happened.  Check out Hurt, his last single; it wasn’t as perfect as the film made out.  Johnny and June struggled throughout theirs lives with addiction.  Being a musician is not and was not easy and it should not be portrayed as such.  What I’m trying to say is that Johnny Cash was raw and real, that was him, and Hollywood stripped that away.

Not only is Music unrightly glorified in film, it’s also in TV.  Carrie Underwood is the product of glorified karaoke: American Idol.  Yes, she is a good vocalist.  but it ends there.  Where has the creativity and passion gone?  Television is trying to distance music and creativity, music in the media is a glossy, polished product, looks, personality (or lack of it) come before sound, which has also been airbrushed to oblivion.  Did anyone else see the Black Eyed Peas Superbowl performance?  Even with autotuning it was out of tune, if I had seen an un-signed band give a performance like that i would have laughed them offstage. 

The thing about country music is that it is simple.  It is, as Harlan Howard said “Three chords and the truth,” but it is not childish or any less valid as a music form; they are songs about love and loss, not lust as you may find on Radio1.  The artists are respected for their music, not looks.  They are genuine, I believe every word they sing.  There’s also a feeling of community, that I have never seen in another genre, just look at the opry.  and Nashville itself for that matter.

In short, listen to country music.  there is no need to mix it with other media.  I’m not saying don’t ever have country music on tv or film, look how well O, Brother Where Art Thou? went down, and I’m a huge fan of country music being on TV, I just prefer not to see music exploited on reality TV.

Anyway rant over.  Good night, and tune in next time for more music musings….

Love xx

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