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Kings of Country Music and the Future

Posted on 04 December 2011 by editor

Taylor Swift

By Brandon Jonson

When a genre of music becomes popular it seems that it is distorted in every way possible so that everyone can fit into the genre and market it to the masses. This is what is happening now with country music as you had the success of Taylor Swift who is a mix of country, pop, and folk but she was definitely not the first country act to use a pop edge to make her point and gain new fans.

As country music came into the forefront in the early 90’s it had always before been seen as only something that those who lived in rural America could listen to and was seen as corny to many of the so called mainstream music fans. The early 90’s country music brought artists such as Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, and of course the funny but catchy Billy Ray Cyrus song “Achy Breaky Heart.” It only continued throughout the 90’s with over twenty pop influenced artists logging top ten hits.

There have been many artists who have started their careers before the country music pop revolution and still maintain relevancy. You could argue that these are the real artists of country music as they have not followed trends but instead stood up to the test of time and still create music that is as popular as ever. You cannot start mentioning these types of artists without talking about artists such as George Strait, Alan Jackson, and more. You also have newer country artists who are more traditional such as Brad Paisley who is selling out tour dates all over the country and has been for years now. To call Brad Paisley newer is a stretch as he has been in the music industry for almost two decades now but if you compare him to George Strait and others he is fairly young.

There are many new country music artists who have been popping up for a year or so and then fade into oblivion where you do not ever hear a mention of their names. There have been a few country artists as of late who seem to be in it for the long run such as Blake Shelton, Ashton Shepherd, Miranda Lambert, and others. It is tough in the music industry today to stay relevant and have a successful career. This is why Taylor Swift’s story is so intriguing because even though she is not completely country she still has many country values and a slight twang in some of her songs but yet still appeals to a massive fan base of mostly younger listeners. The lyrical content of country has not changed over the years as it is still about love, hard times, and family but that is something that will probably never change in country music.

Brandon Jonson is a writer for a business and product review site that has an Instyler Review [], Ally Bank Review [], and more.

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Alan Jackson Leaves Label

Posted on 20 January 2011 by editor

Arista Record's Alan Jackson

It’s official.  Alan Jackson – a staple of country music – and his longtime label Sony/Arista Records have parted ways.  The move is not a huge suprise as Alan himself had acknowledged the previous contract had ended.

According to the label’s official statement, “Sony Music Nashville wishes to thank Alan Jackson for their long association and the many hit records achieved as a result of that association. In an amicable parting, Sony confirms that Alan has delivered his final recordings to the company and wishes him well.”

The next question is – after 50 million records sold – will Alan segue to a new home elsewhere or just write off into the sunset.   Many think he’s headed to Zac Brown’s label after the success of As She’s Walking Away.

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You Get What You Give – Zacs New CD

Posted on 19 September 2010 by editor

It’s been about three years since there’s been new music from Zac Brow.  In that time he’s banged out five breathtaking country songs that all went to number one.   He’s won a New Artist Grammy and most importantly he’s still selling a ton of copies of the Foundation.  In a market where album sales keep shrinking Zac Brown (with Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum) is about the only one in country selling anything.

This week  Zac Brown (he’s adamant about wanting the Band part in there) The Zac Brown Band releases it’s second studio album called “You Get What You Give” – named after one of Zac’s tattoos – not a song title.

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Let It Go” Zac Brown, Wyatt Durrette 4:37
2. “Knee Deep” (featuring Jimmy Buffett) 3:23
3. “No Hurry” 3:46
4. “I Play the Road” 4:19
5. “Cold Hearted” 3:47
6. “Whiskey’s Gone” Brown, Durrette 2:46
7. “Quiet Your Mind” 3:40
8. “Colder Weather” Brown, Durrette 4:33
9. “Settle Me Down” 3:21
10. “As She’s Walking Away” with Alan Jackson Coy Bowles, Brown, Durrette, Levi Lowery 3:43
11. “Keep Me In Mind” 3:34
12. “Who Knows” Brown, Joel Williams 10:02
13. “Martin” 5:06
14. “Make This Day” Brown, Nic Cowan, Durrette, Cee-Lo Green 4:02

The new songs are another blend of songs that remind some of Garth Brook’s soaring lyrics and hard core regular guy-ness.  It’s worth the price of the cd just to hear him change lines on the fun “Knee Deep” with Jimmy Buffett or with felow Georgia hero Alan Jackson on the hit lead single “As She’s Walking Away” – a slam dunk at country radio where it may just revive Jackson’s fading stature.

In the past months Brown has touted the thisnks the new collection is even BETTER thann the Foundation – a tall order – but at first listen he may be right.

“You Get What You Give” is sure to satisfy fans that have been starving for something NEW from the newest of the music superstars and this album gives them lots to chew on.  Expect jaw dropping first week sales number achieved the old fasion way.

Lets just hope we don’thave to wait another three years for more.

Grade: A

Download: I Play The Road – a raucos yet bittersweet

Link to Zac on iTunes

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Zac and Alan New Video

Posted on 12 September 2010 by editor

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Alan Jackson’s Mansion on The Block

Posted on 01 November 2009 by editor

Arista Record's Alan Jackson

Arista Record's Alan Jackson

You may not be able to plunk down the $38 Million it would take to pick up Alan Jackson’s Tennessee mansion… but it’s pretty fun to dream and look at these surprisingly detailed photos. It’s called Sweetbriar and it’s been home to Alan, his wife Denise and his 3 daughters for 12 years now.

No word on where they might want to move but you could see downsizing from the 135 acres might be more manageable.

Imagine – Jackson bought the Franklin, TN property over a decade ago!

Since then he’s had a run of BIG country hits second only to George Strait.  But Alan also gets all his songwriting money.   That can pay for a bunch Uhauls.

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Alan Jackson Hits Through Another Decade

Posted on 07 June 2009 by Bill West

Arista Record's Alan Jackson

Arista Record's Alan Jackson

A Brief History of Country Music Legend Alan Jackson
By Brandon Jonson

Many consider him one of the kings of country music and others consider him a living legend in music period. Born in Newnan, Georgia in 1968, Alan Eugene Jackson would go on to sell over fifty million albums and growing as his career has spanned over three decades now.

Beginning in the 1980’s when influenced by the new type of country music that was considered new traditional at the time and now is considered just traditional country as the new modern country music is a more pop influenced sound. During the 80’s Alan Jackson influenced the whole country music scene being known for playing some of the top country dance music and being able to turn the next song into a slow story telling ballad. This is what has made Alan Jackson so versatile in his career and having the longevity that many never see. Even though Alan Jackson was always a very popular figure in country music he didn’t reach huge mainstream success until his song “Remember When” in which the music video for the song featured his wife, Denise, and their two daughters. As well Alan Jackson has named George Jones as a huge influence on his career.

During the 90’s Alan Jackson continued his success blending in modern country with his traditional style of honky-tonk. Through this time and into the 2000’s he has charted over fifty number one hits. In his career he has received or been nominated for numerous awards such as CMA, ASCAP, and won a Grammy Award for his song “When the World Stopped Turning” which was about the events on September, 11th. In a career that has spanned over twenty years with number one hits starting in 1990 and continuing with his latest number one hits in 2008 with “Country Boy” and the dance hit “Good Time.” Already a member of the country music hall of fame, Alan Jackson shows no sign of slowing down in his legendary career.

Alan Jackson of course still plays today with his last album charting just as many singles as those past. As well the song “Good Time” from his newest record not only set the world record for the longest line dance but also was named one of the top dance tracks of the year. Alan Jackson will go down as a legend in music history and shows no sign of stopping.

Brandon Jonson is a writer for the country music publication Nashville4U as well as freelances for various regional publications.

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Country Music’s Top CDs Of 2008

Posted on 23 December 2008 by Bill West

One walk through the magazine rack at the grocery store will prove to you it’s been Taylor Swift’s year in country music. She’s on at least three major publication covers this week. She’s also on the big CD “top seller” lists too. in fact, this years best sellers in country music include Swift along with Sugarland, Kenny Chesney, the Eagles and, as always, Garth. But there are a few other 2008 releases that have really made an impact on the popular country landscape this past year. Don’t miss giving these disks a listen. And, yes, this list also includes the newly anointed superstar Swift.

Jamey Johnson released “That Lonesome Song” this year and it was a big risk for the Mercury Records label. The singer songwriter takes some bold leaps and exposes some very personal lyrics that cut to the bone of the traditional country fan. The hit single “In Color” is just the start to the depth of the paint a picture lyrics. Johnson has also backed the material up with one of the best performances I’ve ever seen on the normally country averse David Letterman show. Johnson is the songwriter behind the George Strait CMA Song of the Year “Give It Away” and some are already calling “In Color” a Song Of The Year contender. That is if another single off this rustic release doesn’t top it in 2009. Jamey Johnson - That Lonesome Song

Alan Jackson makes this must have list with the crowd pleasing “Good Time. Not only is the title track an undeniable hit he also follows it with “Small Town Southern Man” and “Country Boy.” When it comers to mainstream radio hits Jackson has cemented another two years of material from which to draw. All with infectious singalong hooks. Best of all the music is all traditional – keep ‘em coming back – country. Less hype. More twang. Alan Jackson - Good Time

Zac Brown had to swim against the current to make his debut big label debut stick. He did it without a big label and without Nashville. The Zac Brown Band’s “The Foundation” is a refreshing new attitude for country music. It’s a jam band pickin’ tropical kinda Bob Marley Jamestaylor-ish sound with singalong lyrics. It could define a “Georgia Country” sound. Despite being an outsider in Nashville (Brown had to pull Chicken Fried from the Lost Trailers after they leaked their version without permission) Browns lead single rose to the top of the radio charts and camped at number one despite having his original label (Live Nation) implode. Now that he’s broken the ice with listeners watch for a few more big songs to come to radio (next up the hard but fun to decipher “Whatever It Is”). There’s a reason Kid Rock says is the cd he listens to over and over in his car with his family. It’s just great. Zac Brown Band - The Foundation (Deluxe Version)

Another artist breaking barriers is Darius Rucker. His “Learn To Live”
has received a warm embrace from the country community mainly because its good material made even better with his rich vocals. “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It” became a quick number one and “It Won’t Be Like This For Long” looks to have the same potential. Other possible future big hits include “All I Want” (featuring the picking of Brad Paisley) and “Drinking and Dialing.” Darius did something that other country converts like Jessica Simpson and Jewell have failed to do. Country crossovers have baggage in the eyes of programmers but everybody still loves “Hootie music”. Oh yeah… It also feels good to finally have an African American in the format. Darius Rucker - Learn to Live

Lady Antebellum has created a new sound for Country music too. Their self titled debut is pop music disguised as good young country with great vocals and an extra dose of charisma from the group. Don’t miss the mega ballad duet
“All We Ever Had” that is reminiscent of Joe Cacker and Jennifer Warren. It’s a good example of the power vocals of Hillary Scott (daughter of “Does He Love You” Linda Davis) and Charles Kelley (brother of singer Josh Kelley.. hubby of Kathrine Heigl). Finally a new country group that’s young but not over processed. Lady Antebellum - Lady Antebellum

Finally, Taylor Swift deserves the accolades she’s been receiving lately. It’s almost unfathomable to have an teenage country superstar that writes all her own stuff. She did it with “Fearless” . Teens relate because there’s truth in the lyrics… Moms remember when… and Dads are happy to have some good girls still out there in the Paris Hilton obsessed world. Swift can veer a bit too pop for some but somehow with an 18 year old voice is expected. The table is set for her to take over the world and with that comes the risk of flaming out. But for now it looks more like she’ll have longevity with a strong single (White Horse) to ride into 2009. Next up: selling out arenas. Taylor Swift - Fearless

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CD Rreview: Good Time

Posted on 29 February 2008 by Bill West

Alan Jackson really pegged the name of his new cd. It’s called Good Time and it just could be Alan Jackson’s defining work which is a bold statement considering Jacksons career spans decades over years.

After a few forays straying from tradional country (the bluesy Alison Krause “Red On a Rose” and the sucessful “Precisous Memories” collection of Hymmns) The new CD hits stores Tuesday and is produced by longtime collaborator Keith Stegal and is pure Alan.

So what’s unique about this album. First off, it’s the first entire CD on which Alan has written every word. There are seventeen tracks. Pretty impressive.
Secondly, all the songs are new, unique, and sound like big Alan Jackson hit songs. It’s real deal country music.

I’ve never been a core Jackson fan. I’ve always simply just liked his ditties like “Little Bitty” and even duds like the more recent “Talking’ Repair Song Blues.”
But tracking through “Good Time” on a long drive yesterday I found myself singing along to almost every single song on the disk. These are songs I’ve never heard before. Alan’s writing some powerful hooks.

The vocoder craze continues in the lead track with the sing along “G with an O an O with a D a T with an I an M with an E that spells good time.” It’s a fin way to start and a likely radio hit if released.

Alan blazes through “Small Town Southern Man” – already a big hit on radio. Slows it down for the clever and well written “I Wish I Could Back Up.”

After that expect solid drinkin’ songs (“If You Want To Make Me Happy”); island songs (the solid “Laid Back in Low Key – Cay); and even his true country version of Nineteen Something (“1976″).

Another highlight is the somber “You’ve Got Me Right Where I Want You” I can’t believe that lyric has not been written before.

This is a great way to fight single song downloads. Just make every track on the CD a keeper. No filler here just pure country that guarantees Jackson’s prominence on country radio for another two years. Listening beginning to end lives up to the album’s name.

Alan Jackson has sold more than 49 million albums, has penned 21 of his 31 #1 records, and is the most nominated artist in CMA history. The three-time CMA Entertainer of the Year topped the album charts not once, but twice, in 2006, with the success of Precious Memories and Like Red on a Rose. GOOD TIME is his first album of all country material since 2004’s WHAT I DO.

My Grade: Solid A
Don’t Skip: “I Still Like Bologna” – Better than a cliché “WWW Dot Memory” the song takes a real country look at tech and appreciation for life’s simpler pleasures.
Fast Forward: Past “Country Boy” – a slightly forced and cartoonish Jackson song.

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