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June 8, 2015 7:33 PM   Subscribe

"So last week, when country radio promoter Keith Hill controversially suggested that stations should stop playing songs by female artists, it’s easy to label his actions another example of misogynistic, conservative politics.

However, Hill’s comments are actually indicative of something much bigger and far more troubling: the consolidation of an entire genre of music, and the type of environment this can create. In the case of country, it’s allowed for the repurposing of the genre’s history, and the exclusion of certain individuals."
The Conversation's Clifford Murphy, on why [country radio promoter] Keith Hill’s comments about women in country music cut far deeper than misogyny

The fallout:

  • Keith Hill defends his remarks
  • Sara Evans, Martina McBride, and Miranda Lambert respond
  • The court of public opinion: #saladgate
  • posted by Room 641-A (106 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
     
    That guy is pretty stupid. What a boor.
    posted by Renoroc at 7:39 PM on June 8, 2015 [4 favorites]




    Here's an unacknowledged type of country artists for you: Carolina Chocolate Drops.

    I'm probably an unspeakable hipster because I like bluegrass and old-time and hate the Nashville Sound, but I don't care.
    posted by Countess Elena at 7:50 PM on June 8, 2015 [20 favorites]


    Once again, we encounter that strange and difficult group that lives in a world where reading the newspaper and listening to radio are still ways of getting news and music, respectively. Terrifyingly conservative, in general, and somehow incapable of doing what the rest of us do in our web browsing and MP3 listening: making a personal filter bubble that hurts no-one else.

    Don't want to listen to female artists (although, seriously, why?) then take them off your music player, don't take them off the air. I don't like a lot of country but I'm not going to come into your house and scrub it off your playlist for a whole lot of really, really good reasons.

    But that personal bubble, that's never enough, is it? Why have a separate pool when you could be pissing in the one that everyone uses?
    posted by nfalkner at 7:53 PM on June 8, 2015 [18 favorites]


    From the article:

    When country music promoters, agents, publishers and producers chose to consolidate the genre in Nashville in the late 1950s, they began applying new definitions, new aesthetics and a new history to the music. Even the name “country” is a re-brand: its precedents of “hillbilly,” “folk,” “hill and range” and “western” were eradicated.

    Although I always laugh at the "We've got both kinds" line in "The Blues Brothers", I can definitely appreciate the difference between Country and Western (and much prefer the later).
    posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 7:58 PM on June 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


    I will be happy to take any Emmylou Harris albums his stations no longer require. Idiot.
    posted by Nerd of the North at 7:59 PM on June 8, 2015 [14 favorites]


    I've never heard of Keith Hill, but Keith Hill seems to be in the Keith Hill business, which apparently consists solely of getting people to say the name Keith Hill.

    Keith Hill.
    posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:01 PM on June 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


    The consolidation of a genre of music is far more troubling than misogyny?
    posted by Specklet at 8:01 PM on June 8, 2015 [16 favorites]


    If you're going to criticize the guy, at least be accurate.

    He didn't say that women didn't make great country music, quite the opposite. He also didn't say stations shouldn't play country music by women. He said stations will get better ratings if they play fewer songs by women. Agree or disagree with the politics, but that may be true.

    So he's a capitalist dick, not a misogynist dick.
    posted by alms at 8:04 PM on June 8, 2015 [21 favorites]


    God damn it is hard to wrap my mind around how shitty country music has gotten.
    posted by Stonestock Relentless at 8:05 PM on June 8, 2015 [10 favorites]




    In addition to the above-mentioned Carter family, three words in terms of modern country music: Dolly Fucking Parton.

    Who provides a free book a year to every child in her home county? Oh yeah. Dolly Fucking Parton. Who can blow the doors off whether she's singing Nashville stuff or bluegrass? Oh yeah. Dolly Fucking Parton.

    Fuck all of these Tim McGraw-Keith Hill-Toby Keith racist and sexist motherfuckers who don't actually understand anything about the genre they pretend to represent. Then again, all those names sound more or less the same, because they either create or promulgate the Nickelback of country music.

    Oh yeah, by all means, let's keep women like Sierra Hull out of bluegrass and country music. If that isn't the best bluegrass octave mandolin playing you've seen in a while, then I dunno what to tell you.

    Old Dangerfield at a high tempo on an octave mandolin.

    There's great stuff out there - it just gets buried under the Toby Keith/Tim McGraw garbage that people are stupid enough to like. It's music for people who actively hate music.
    posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:08 PM on June 8, 2015 [46 favorites]


    The first article does a pretty good job of explaining why this is about a lot more than Keith Hill, who appears to be a consultant who tells radio stations how to increase their listener base (i.e. ad revenue). His advice is probably quite sound as far as it goes, and the bigger question is: why is country music radio so white and male? It probably does have a lot to do with the consolidation/corporatization of radio in general -- play the safe bets and rake in the money. (Obviously it also has plenty to do with a culture where the safe bets are white and male.)
    Short of breaking up the radio conglomerates like Clear Channel, I can only hope that independent stations will stake out a place on the dial to play real music, and survive even if they can't thrive.
    posted by uosuaq at 8:11 PM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


    “hill and range”

    Huh! I've never heard that label. If someone told me that's a kind of music they listened to, I'd definitely be interested.
    posted by curious nu at 8:14 PM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Short of breaking up the radio conglomerates like Clear Channel, I can only hope that independent stations will stake out a place on the dial to play real music, and survive even if they can't thrive.

    Joe Bussard is a good place to start.
    posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:15 PM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Saving Country Music--where the argument for a long time has been that the dreadful rise of the bro country et al is not due to a lack of talented women but rather sexism + clueless and/or lackluster marketing & development of female artists--has had some good coverage of this ridiculousness (summary: the problem goes deeper than Keith Hill--he's the bearer of bad news about how the genre is collapsing in on itself--but he also is WRONG about the genre). I particularly appreciated this: Starry Eyes & Honky Tonk Angels: How Women Originally Won Equality in Country Music.

    Anyway. The Americana Music Awards this year are full of awesome nominees (even if Sturgill inevitably--if justifiably--sweeps it all) and represent some of the best of the genre/subgenre. Rhiannon Giddens's solo album blew me away. She covered Dolly Parton like a boss. Actually, she covered everybody else like a boss too, and then wrote her own excellent song to close up the album.
    posted by mixedmetaphors at 8:20 PM on June 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


    Well, a near total exclusion of women (except as decorations on videos) has always worked well for Heavy Metal.
    posted by oneswellfoop at 8:21 PM on June 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


    Fuck that guy.
    posted by valkane at 8:26 PM on June 8, 2015


    Maybelle Carter
    June Carter Cash
    Rosanne Carter
    Naomi Judd
    Wynonna Judd
    Kitty Wells
    Patsy Cline
    Dolly Parton
    Jeannie C. Riley
    Loretta Lynn
    Tammy Wynette
    Dixie Chicks
    Lucinda Williams
    Emmylou Harris
    Reba McEntire
    Bonnie Raitt
    Trisha Yearwood
    Mary Chapin Carpenter
    Deana Carter
    Shania Twain
    Faith Hill
    LeAnne Rimes
    Lee Ann Womack
    Jo Dee Messina
    Martina McBride
    Taylor Swift
    Carrie Underwood
    Miranda Lambert

    but women country radio artists don't bring in revenue?

    (and that's just off the top of my head)
    posted by sallybrown at 8:26 PM on June 8, 2015 [30 favorites]


    Oh yeah, by all means, let's keep women like Sierra Hull out of bluegrass and country music.

    posted by mandolin conspiracy


    eponysterical
    posted by saturday_morning at 8:27 PM on June 8, 2015 [12 favorites]


    Is this tin-horn tenderfoot sonofa saying stations should stop playing June Carter? I do believe a Man in Black just reared right out of his grave, and brought all of the Folsom Prison Cemetery with him.
    posted by Slap*Happy at 8:27 PM on June 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


    So he's a capitalist dick, not a misogynist dick.

    He thinks that the mere act of playing songs by women will drive down ratings. He's not paying any attention to the calibre or quality of the songs themselves - he's ignoring the quality of the songs entirely. He only thing he cares about is the genitalia of the performer, and he is declaring that "singer has a vagina = people will not listen to it".

    If that's not misogyny, I DON't KNOW WHAT IS.
    posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:28 PM on June 8, 2015 [49 favorites]


    "Even if women were 50% of country music I would only spin their stuff every second record" is a statement that is so completely empty it needn't have been uttered at all. It's pretty incredible what some people will force themselves to have opinions on.
    posted by turbid dahlia at 8:31 PM on June 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


    He's also not a very good capitalist, because he failed to realize that most of the monstrously huge crossover hits in country radio in the past few decades (with the exception of Garth Brooks) have been women.
    posted by sallybrown at 8:32 PM on June 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


    So he's a capitalist dick, not a misogynist dick.

    Well, but the extensive list of highly successful and in-demand female country artists in this thread is pretty good evidence against the claim that women don't draw ratings. If he's somehow convinced himself otherwise, he's not using cut-throat capitalist logic to do it, because cut-throat capitalist logic doesn't agree. He's making that decision based on assumptions about women, and I think that helps guide us toward exactly what kind of dick he is.
    posted by saturday_morning at 8:34 PM on June 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


    Does anyone have any recommendations for modern country music that is 0% twee hipster bullshit, but also isn't just dadrock sung with a Southern accent? Bonus if female vocalist.
    posted by vogon_poet at 8:34 PM on June 8, 2015


    Jeez, whenever things like this come up, why is it so damn hard to find an unedited account of what they actually said? You'd think they only wanted to deal in dumb political abstractions.
    posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 8:34 PM on June 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


    vogon_poet, I don't know what your standards for twee hipster bullshit are, but I would check out Neko Case.
    posted by saturday_morning at 8:36 PM on June 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


    Thanks! This is a good recommendation. I was more trying to avoid like, guys in vests with moustaches.
    posted by vogon_poet at 8:42 PM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Does anyone have any recommendations for modern country music that is 0% twee hipster bullshit, but also isn't just dadrock sung with a Southern accent? Bonus if female vocalist.

    I'm... where to... what is this I don't even know?

    Here's some Rachel Brook.
    posted by Slap*Happy at 8:42 PM on June 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


    And Gillian Welch.
    posted by entropone at 8:42 PM on June 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


    Miranda Lambert. Angeleena Presley. Laura Cantrell.
    posted by Mothlight at 8:45 PM on June 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


    I mean Dolly Parton has written something like 3,000 songs that have been published by mainstream methods, that'd keep you busy a while, and when you get bored you could tune into her specials for the troops where she names her boobs "Shock" and "Awe." And when you're bored of THAT you could go to Dollywood where my grandparents once accidentally saw a naked production of "Hair" with Garth Brooks in the seats in front of them.

    Anyway Dolly will keep you entertained for quite a long time.
    posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:46 PM on June 8, 2015 [22 favorites]


    Then again, Jean Shepard, and quite a few grand ladies you might recognize. (SLYT)
    posted by datawrangler at 8:51 PM on June 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


    "accidentally"... I supposed you're expected to believe that?
    posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:55 PM on June 8, 2015


    I like Dolly's eagle preserve.
    posted by clavdivs at 8:56 PM on June 8, 2015


    "Does anyone have any recommendations for modern country music that is 0% twee hipster bullshit, but also isn't just dadrock sung with a Southern accent? "

    Honestly lots of jazz and folk vocalists -- Lorraine Feather, Stacey Kent, Dar Williams -- are obviously in conversation with female country vocalists (as well as female pop vocalists like Adele). And there are worse ways to spend your weekend than listening to nothing but the Dixie Chicks, who are underappreciated as giving voice to a more complete female lifecycle, with marriage and miscarriage and parenting tiny infants in their standards.

    And, honest to God, Taylor Swift, who is this generation's Dolly Parton; she is an amazingly gifted songwriter, regardless of how you feel about her performances.
    posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:57 PM on June 8, 2015 [12 favorites]


    I'm assuming he has statistics to draw on (which may not be true), in which case it's the listening audience -- and whatever's shaped their tastes -- that's the problem, and he's just a tool. (I'm sure we can all agree on the latter point.) If musical quality alone drives ratings, I don't know how you'd explain a lot of what gets played on the radio. /snob
    posted by uosuaq at 9:01 PM on June 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


    Lydia Loveless
    and
    Lindi Ortega

    And hell yeah to Rachel Brook.
    posted by Seamus at 9:08 PM on June 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


    Does anyone have any recommendations for modern country music that is 0% twee hipster bullshit, but also isn't just dadrock sung with a Southern accent? Bonus if female vocalist.

    Old-country as all fuck right here.

    I suppose you could find it hipster, but if this is hipster then get me to Starbucks.
    posted by Palindromedary at 9:09 PM on June 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


    So he's a capitalist dick, not a misogynist dick.

    They're not mutually exclusive things.
    posted by el io at 9:18 PM on June 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


    I'm just here for the recommendations.

    (Because seriously, this guy? Fuck him.)
    posted by rtha at 9:40 PM on June 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


    The only good thing about this bullshit is that it eventually informs me about artists I didn't know about.
    Thank you for the Sierra Hull clip. Thank you mandolin conspiracy.

    No one has mentioned Gillian Welsh ( a huge fav of mine) or Allison Krauss or Lucinda Williams or Suzy Bogguss (unless I missed them.) All stars on my playlist
    posted by cccorlew at 9:43 PM on June 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


    The dude even commented in the TheBoot.com article comment thread...trying to threadsit, if you will.
    posted by aydeejones at 9:47 PM on June 8, 2015


    If the 90s counts as modern, thenJunior Brown is virtually twee free.
    posted by bonobothegreat at 9:51 PM on June 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


    You know, he's probably not wrong, in the sense that mainstream country radio has pretty much already alienated the portion of its audience that doesn't want to only listen to songs about trucks, girls, God, America, and trucks.
    posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:02 PM on June 8, 2015 [7 favorites]




    No one has yet mentioned Dixie Chicks' Taking the Long Way in this thread, and while it may be unnecessary to mention it here in the first place, if you don't find something pleasing on that album there's something wrong with your ears
    posted by dramatriangle at 10:30 PM on June 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


    Hill originally told Country Aircheck, “If you want to make ratings in country radio, take females out … Trust me, I play great female records, and we’ve got some right now; they’re just not the lettuce in our salad. The lettuce is Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, Keith Urban and artists like that. The tomatoes of our salad are the females.”

    Because of course the most popular salad is... lettuce with no tomatoes?
    posted by Segundus at 10:32 PM on June 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


    If old time floats your boat, check out Uncle Earl:

    My Epitaph

    Brown's Dream
    posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:54 PM on June 8, 2015


    *sigh*

    Saying you better not play two female artists in a row isn't the same as saying you shouldn't play female artists.

    Saying some stations play too many female artists for their ratings isn't the same as saying everybody should play fewer female artists.

    Saying too much of something is bad for business isn't the same as saying any of it at all is bad for business.

    Saying something is bad for business isn't the same as saying something is bad. (it would be bad for their business if they played Mozart I think)

    Saying a condition exists isn't the same as endorsing it.

    Correcting (some) binary misconceptions about what a person said is not the same as agreeing with what that person said.

    This is a hot one, no?
    posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 10:54 PM on June 8, 2015 [12 favorites]


    No one has mentioned Gillian Welsh ( a huge fav of mine)

    Mine too, though country music usually isn't my thing. Makes Radiohead's version of Black Star sound wrong.
    posted by ctmf at 10:55 PM on June 8, 2015


    The consolidation of a genre of music is far more troubling than misogyny?

    I don't think that's what he's saying. Here's the full quote (emphasis mine):
    However, Hill’s comments are actually indicative of something much bigger and far more troubling: the consolidation of an entire genre of music, and the type of environment this can create. In the case of country, it’s allowed for the repurposing of the genre’s history, and the exclusion of certain individuals.
    I think he's saying that the misogyny is even worse than it looks because this isn't just about new women artists who can't get airplay (which is SOP anyway) but that the consolidation is actually threatening to erase the extremely rich legacy of women in country music.

    (At least that's how I read it, and why I thought this would make n interesting post.)
    posted by Room 641-A at 11:34 PM on June 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


    Once again, we encounter that strange and difficult group that lives in a world where reading the newspaper and listening to radio are still ways of getting news and music, respectively. Terrifyingly conservative, in general

    This is just such an odd statement.

    Blue collar workers all over the country listen to radio at work because it's the easiest way to provide music in garages and warehouses and other job sites that is relatively strife-free. Earbuds are generally discouraged in most such settings, and trying to establish a regime of who gets to play "their music" for the day or whatever is generally a source of conflict for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is "your favorite band sucks". Creating the personal bubble you speak of simply is not practical for many.

    And your characterization of this group of people is troublesome.
    posted by hippybear at 12:38 AM on June 9, 2015 [19 favorites]


    >> Hill originally told Country Aircheck, “If you want to make ratings in country radio, take females out … Trust me, I play great female records, and we’ve got some right now; they’re just not the lettuce in our salad. The lettuce is Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, Keith Urban and artists like that. The tomatoes of our salad are the females.”

    > Because of course the most popular salad is... lettuce with no tomatoes?

    What seems finally to becoming clear is that this Hill chap made a quite nuanced comment about how stations could best maximize their listenership (yeah, die capitalist scum, but whatever). That is: you need to, as with any salad, optimize the ratio of ingredients relative to your audience/guests (tounge-firmily-in-cheek). Not throw *all* the tomatoes out.

    What seems to have happened is this comment was edited down to make the most click-baitey misogynistic* soundbite possible - but I guess these are the times we live in. I bet this guy is kicking himself for breaking the golden rule of never speaking to the media.

    *Just to dig myself a very deep hole anything vaguely misogynistic is like rocket fuelled clickbait these days. This is just a observation. I think it reflects the current zeitgeist that people are finally realizing that women should not and will not take this shit any more.
    posted by Beware of the leopard at 1:12 AM on June 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


    hippybear: And your characterization of this group of people is troublesome.

    And that is why I deliberately conjoined it with the newspaper comment, to identify the choice inherent in such bubble construction, rather than making an attack on the terrifyingly put-upon American working class who have little choice and rapidly diminishing hope.

    I've worked those blue-collar jobs with the shared radio, in the agricultural and defence sectors. I got into education to try and provide an unlimited future for the same people you're accusing me of mis-characterising.

    Please don't twist my statement into something that it's not.
    posted by nfalkner at 1:55 AM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


    If you consider "strange and difficult" and "terrifyingly conservative" as non-mis-characterzations, then all I can do is shrug.
    posted by hippybear at 2:04 AM on June 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


    “Now, that may come off as arrogant. "

    You gotta admit the dude's a master of understatement.

    It's kinda like we used to say back in the '60s, "what goes around comes around" or maybe "Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.” I remember when "country & western" stations (in California, anyway) never played female artists outside of a couple novelty songs by "The Maddox Brothers and Rose" (they kinda threw Rose in there at the end for novelty.) Oh, we'd all heard of Patsy Montana, but you could turn the radio on every day for ten years and never hear her. Then Kitty Wells snuck in through the back door of Hank Thompson's "Honky-Tonk Angels" and Patsy Cline walked in after midnight, and pretty soon every station you tuned in had females singing about being "Honky-Tonk Girls" or scandalizing the PTA meeting, and d-i-v-o-r-c-e and "The Pill..." Why, you couldn't shut 'em off. And you know what they said in the industry to explain it? "Most country & western listeners are women, and they want to hear more of the woman's side of things."

    Now we have Hill: "Women spend more time listening to country radio, and statistics show they enjoy hearing male artists more than women. Trust me..."

    Sure thing, Keith, you betcha.
    posted by carping demon at 2:20 AM on June 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


    A couple years ago while waiting for an oil change I was reading through a magazine like Field & Stream, and in the front letters section someone had written in asking/complaining about the state of modern country music. The magazine's opinion as I remember was along the lines of how there's so much money in the business these days that the managers and producers and other suits just have too much of a role in making sure that every hit song and singer is designed and market-tested to every last dollar of revenue. And that, sadly, these days Patsy Cline would probably be considered not attractive enough to be a country music star.

    But they ended it with something like this: “the days when you could make a number one country song with three chords and the truth are probably over.” And I had to just stop reading—that might be the single most insightful thing about music ever written.

    I even googled it to see if they were quoting something famous, but it seems original. How much good music, from how many different genres and time periods, could be described that way? Punk, rap, folk, blues… not to rag on the complex and fancy stuff, which I love, but I think it's a great concept to slice the universe of all music across a different direction and think about a different kind of genre: the three-chords-and-the-truth music. I'll always like that genre, no matter what genre it's in.
    posted by traveler_ at 2:38 AM on June 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


    Wait what? "three chords and the truth"... that is not original at all. tvtropes explains the origin of the quote and how Bono sort of blew it up, and lots of other things associated with that concept.
    posted by hippybear at 2:49 AM on June 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


    Harlan Howard formulated the oft-quoted definition of a great country song: "Three chords and the truth." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harlan_Howard.
    posted by carping demon at 2:54 AM on June 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


    If anyone's here for recommendations, the feminism and country music primer linked in the Related Posts is another good place to look.
    posted by chaiminda at 3:36 AM on June 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


    Does anyone have any recommendations for modern country music that is 0% twee hipster bullshit, but also isn't just dadrock sung with a Southern accent? Bonus if female vocalist.

    I'm a country music dilettante, but I love the album Alison Krauss did with Robert Plant, Raising Sand. And the soundtrack to "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" is a great place to start tracking down some great artists, older and newer (Alison Krauss among them).

    However, I can't guarantee there's not twee hipster stuff in there, we are talking about a soundtrack to a Coen Bros. film after all...
    posted by dubitable at 3:49 AM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Rich Smorgasbord, you are my new Metafilter hero.
    posted by hwestiii at 4:18 AM on June 9, 2015


    "Wait what?"

    Wow, that was incredible. I mentioned googling it as sort of a pre-emptive hedge against some trivia expert who was sure to show up and tell me how that saying was actually first coined by J. Obscure Wordsmith or something. I must have misspelled something drastically, or just dreamt I searched the phrase, or something. Because yeah that TvTropes pages is literally the first hit when I re-search it now.

    Oh well. I'll redeem myself tomorrow with that FPP I've been working on about this really tasty Central American food called xocolatl!
    posted by traveler_ at 4:47 AM on June 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


    You know, he's probably not wrong, in the sense that mainstream country radio has pretty much already alienated the portion of its audience that doesn't want to only listen to songs about trucks, girls, God, America, and trucks.

    No kidding. Thank heavens for streaming music, because the local country stations seem to play 90 percent bro-truck songs and patriotic odes to tractors, all carefully produced and packaged.
    posted by Dip Flash at 4:55 AM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


    I don't always listen to country, but when I do it's Crooked Still.
    posted by Foosnark at 5:05 AM on June 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


    Nothing twee nor dadrock about Sturgill Simpson, unless dad's been dropping acid and having visions of reptile aliens.
    posted by HillbillyInBC at 5:14 AM on June 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


    I don't hear a lot of female voices on my local "classic rock" and "alternative" radio stations. Surfing the dial, I didn't hear a single song with a female voice on the radio this morning, not even on the college station. Yesterday, though, I heard "Message of Love" by the Pretenders on the college station (unexpected, and great at max volume) and "Dreams" by the Cranberries on a soft rock station (meh). Two songs total.
    posted by koebelin at 5:45 AM on June 9, 2015


    Somebody find Lacy J. Dalton, so she can take care of this Wild Turkey.
    posted by jonmc at 5:49 AM on June 9, 2015


    He said stations will get better ratings if they play fewer songs by women. Agree or disagree with the politics, but that may be true.

    So he's a capitalist dick, not a misogynist dick.


    But "may be true" is not the same as "is true". If it's true it's true and we can deal with that, but the assumption that it's true is an opinion, not a fact, and it's a misogynist opinion, not a capitalist opinion.
    posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 5:55 AM on June 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


    90 percent bro-truck songs and patriotic odes to tractors, all carefully produced and packaged.

    What's this? Contemporary Country is recapitulating the Stalinist tractor movie?
    posted by octobersurprise at 6:10 AM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Yo, this is the dude, y'all: http://www.keithhill-theunconsultant.com

    And, not to put too fine a point on it, he's a dinosaur. Who cares what he says? Who cares about the radio stations (wait, are there still radio stations?) that listen to him?

    He and his kind are dying out. And yes, I know it seems slow, but it takes time to weed out the dinosaurs. The world has long since moved on from this guy, and from radio. But he's one of those people who don't get it.

    Totally irrelevant. Do not give him the time of day.
    posted by gsh at 6:24 AM on June 9, 2015


    Bobbie frickin' Gentry
    posted by The Card Cheat at 6:44 AM on June 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


    Eyebrows McGee: And when you're bored of THAT you could go to Dollywood where my grandparents once accidentally saw a naked production of "Hair" with Garth Brooks in the seats in front of them.

    Did he save an empty seat next to him for Chris Gaines?
    posted by dr_dank at 6:56 AM on June 9, 2015


    Recently I've enjoyed:

    - Valerie June
    - Shovels and Rope (though they are rock/southern-y)
    - farther back, the Loretta Lynn record with Jack White (Van Lear Rose) is great

    I used to play in a country band that trawled some of the classic styles, and man, the guy stuff that dominates radio today doesn't ring true to me at all. It's just too sanitized and Stepford-husbandy and over-polished. Blah blah my new $40,000 truck down by the lake blah blah. It doesn't *have* to be about drinking and cheating, but it is just too clean and fakey for my tastes.
    posted by freecellwizard at 7:27 AM on June 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


    Tangentially related (because he's not a woman!) I went to see Dwight Yoakam recently ... do yourself a favor and do that. Fantastic, great band. In contrast the up-and-coming SC openers looked like indie rockers but sounded like the worst, most pedestrian country radio schlock. I weep for the future.
    posted by freecellwizard at 7:29 AM on June 9, 2015


    I'm actually wondering if this is because - so, okay, guilty pleasure, I sometimes listen to country music in the car these days now that I live somewhere where radio stations have lots of it - there's been a recent song out, by a woman artist, that is basically turning up her nose at shitty country songs about women - and it's gotten a lot of airplay.
    We used to get a little respect
    Now we're lucky if we even get
    To climb up in your truck, keep our mouth shut and ride along
    And be the girl in a country song

    Well, shakin' my moneymaker ain’t ever made me a dime
    And there ain't no sugar for you in this shaker of mine
    Tell me one more time, "you gotta get you some of that"
    Sure I'll slide on over, but you’re gonna get slapped (Hah!)
    I'm not familiar enough with it to call out all the references being made in it, but a lot of it is pushback against specific songs also being played.
    posted by corb at 7:35 AM on June 9, 2015 [7 favorites]


    also it is awesome. Feminist country music is WIN.
    posted by corb at 7:36 AM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Previously re: "Girl In a Country Song," corb. It's pretty awesome--is it making it on the radio now?
    posted by sciatrix at 7:37 AM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Does anyone have any recommendations for modern country music that is 0% twee hipster bullshit, but also isn't just dadrock sung with a Southern accent? Bonus if female vocalist.

    Crooked Still. Woefully under-appreciated.
    posted by jbickers at 7:47 AM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


    Not only is it making it on the radio, it is being played every few hours on the radio station I listen to. It is EVERYWHERE and it is GREAT.
    posted by corb at 7:54 AM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


    What makes me angry is that he speaks as if he is an authority and as if he has good research to back up his claims. Until you show me some good research, I'm going to assume he's just another sexist asshole, promoting sexism with false evidence. Screw you, mister.
    posted by theora55 at 8:12 AM on June 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


    My son is a huge country music fan. In the last couple of months he has steered me towards Alynda Lee Segarra's band Hurray for the Riff Raff-- here's her devastating response to domestic violence, The Body Electric. Watch the video and weep.

    and Kasey Musgraves, who wrote the current feel-good theme for my working days:

    If you save yourself for marriage you're a bore
    You don't save yourself for marriage you're a horr..... ibble person
    If you won't have a drink then you're a prude
    But they'll call you a drunk as soon as you down the first one
    If you can't lose the weight then you're just fat
    but if you lose too much then you're on crack

    Damned if you do and you're damned if you don't
    so you might as well just do whatever you want so

    Make lots of noise! Kiss lots of boys! Kiss lots of girls if that's something you're into!
    When the straight and narrow gets a little too straight, roll up a joint
    Or don't
    Just follow your arrow wherever it points!
    posted by jokeefe at 8:19 AM on June 9, 2015 [16 favorites]


    So he's a capitalist dick, not a misogynist dick.

    I'm still not sure why people would want to draw a distinction between "misogynist" and "marketing to misogynists".

    I've been digging on Linda and Robin Williams album, "The Old Dark Hills" lately.
    posted by Gygesringtone at 8:25 AM on June 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


    "Even if women were 50% of country music I would only spin their stuff every second record"

    ... add math-challenged to the list.
    posted by King Sky Prawn at 8:45 AM on June 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


    He stopped loving her today
    They placed a wreath upon his door
    And soon they'll carry him away
    He stopped loving her today
    posted by The Vice Admiral of the Narrow Seas at 9:18 AM on June 9, 2015


    Hazel Dickens!
    posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:39 AM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


    What makes me angry is that he speaks as if he is an authority and as if he has good research to back up his claims. Until you show me some good research, I'm going to assume he's just another sexist asshole, promoting sexism with false evidence. Screw you, mister.

    Well I know taking someone at that word is a big no-no but he does seem to speak from authority: http://www.keithhill-theunconsultant.com/reference.html and seems to have had quite a few successes: http://www.keithhill-theunconsultant.com/success.html . Not that I have any idea about how one measures success as a "share" on that page but anyway..

    It just seems like this is a fairly old-fashioned* guy who as Rich Smorgasbord made so refreshingly clear made zero misogynistic statements and has been thrown under the bus until "good research" can be shown.

    But I guess I'm just another sexist asshole as I can't prove a negative so screw me.

    * This is emphatically not meant as a dog whistle for "we'll let this gut off for being a set in his ways woman-hater"
    posted by Beware of the leopard at 9:48 AM on June 9, 2015


    The reason why this guy is getting false positives about what people listen to on country radio is people who don't want the country-bro dominated music have been checking out steadily since the 90s as the rise of contemporary corporate country has taken hold. It fit so well with traditional country radio which has internalized that having a token girl singer is good enough. I've stopped giving country radio a chance. I am clearly not the audience it cares about, and I don't NEED country radio to introduce me to new music or to provide a soundtrack I am beholden to. So why would I go back if the last time I listened to a country music station I got 1 hour of (only) dudes singing about beer, nubile young girls, mechanized vehicles, and partying.

    My recommendations for women you should check out that have not been mentioned yet: Brandy Clark. Ashley Monroe. Matraca Berg. Carlene Carter. Allison Moorer. Kelly Willis. Diana Jones. I'll probably kick myself later for leaving some awesome folks out.
    posted by julen at 9:48 AM on June 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


    The reason why this guy is getting false positives about what people listen to on country radio is people who don't want the country-bro dominated music have been checking out steadily since the 90s as the rise of contemporary corporate country has taken hold.

    That sounds like he's getting good data, then. It is one thing to make assumptions about fans of country in general (which is how people seem to be interpreting his statement) and quite another to make statements about the demographic which actually listens to "country-bro dominated" country radio and drives its ratings.
    posted by grumpybear69 at 10:07 AM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


    He thinks that the mere act of playing songs by women will drive down ratings.

    And do we think he pulled this out of thin air? Really, a consultant with more than 20 years in the business, who's logged what by industry standards is a pretty impressive track record - and he can't possibly have any research backing it up, he's just saying this because he's misogynist?

    Whoo.
    posted by kgasmart at 10:12 AM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


    I called him a capitalist dick and not a misogynist dick because -- from the linked quotes and articles -- he sounds like he would have said the opposite if that was his experience. If he thought that playing more women and fewer men would lead to higher ratings, he would have said that. At least that's how he comes across to me.

    There's all sorts of reasons to disagree with him, or to say that there is a higher good than ratings, or something. But you're just being misleading if you claim he says that country music by women isn't good, or wasn't important to the history or formation of the genre. He doesn't say that.

    He's a capitalist dick because he's saying that history isn't important, and that culture isn't important, and the rights of various groups to have a voice and earn a living through their artwork isn't important.
    posted by alms at 10:25 AM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


    It just seems like this is a fairly old-fashioned* guy who as Rich Smorgasbord made so refreshingly clear made zero misogynistic statements and has been thrown under the bus until "good research" can be shown.

    Thanks for clearing that up! Now when a man says that he won't permit work by women to be heard I'll know that he isn't being sexist at all!
    posted by jokeefe at 10:49 AM on June 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


    I shouldn't have used "false positives" as a phrase. It really interfered with the point I was trying to make, which is that this guy's perspective is akin to a self-fulfilling prophecy. The gain greater fidelity from what one local radio station manager described as his core audience (basically young and youngish white men, with the assumption women will just tag along), drawing more folks like that who interact with the station, but drive away other groups of listeners. The management hears from those whose interests are being served, and pivots towards that.

    Country radio's been shedding people for years as both the music industry and radio has homogenized the music and listening experience. With the rise of digital and satellite options, being able to keep a young audience seems like a particular coup, and keeping a young male audience makes many country radio managers feel like they're winning and that they are in touch with what the "country fan" wants, when in reality, they're missing a big chunk of the audience they could have.
    posted by julen at 10:59 AM on June 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


    I grant you I am not a country station's target audience, what with being an urban Eastern coastal intellectual librul and all, but I have been known to enjoy some country music. I have two Dixie Chocks albums and Shania Twain's greatest hits on CD. I sing Gretchen Wilson at karaoke. "This One's For The Girls" makes me cry a little. I'll sing and dance badly, so badly, to "I've Got Friends In Low Places" even when people play it at weddings, for which it is hilariously inappropriate. But you know, classics like that and "Save A Horse, Ride A Cowboy" aside, I can't remember the last time I heard a song from a male country artist that I thought I'd want to hear a second time. Maybe a friend's Zac Brown Band CD on a road trip? Surely there's been something decent since the last Trace Atkins song I liked. Maybe what I really like is the pop crossovers. But a look at the top of the charts right now isn't very inspiring when you remove the women.
    posted by maryr at 11:05 AM on June 9, 2015


    Singer Maggie Rose has a fair and thoughtful response but ultimately disagrees:
    I am careful to use the term Country radio and not Country music. They are not one in the same. The demographic of the Country radio listener has been consistently described to me as being predominantly female, ages 18-34, who prefer a heavily male playlist. Consultants have their ways of monitoring radio listeners to come up with that conclusion. However, that profile is at odds with what I witness. What I see on the road at my shows all over the country is a diverse audience: male, female, young, old. Their iPhones have playlists with songs from every genre. Shout it from the rooftop: The country fan is not one dimensional! And, fortunately, neither am I.

    On preview, julen nicely summed up what I was going to say about that. I'll just add that I think everyone here understands the economics of catering to the status quo. Even if he's not a misogynist he's a big part of the patriarchy problem in Country Radio.
    posted by Room 641-A at 11:15 AM on June 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


    I called him a capitalist dick and not a misogynist dick because -- from the linked quotes and articles -- he sounds like he would have said the opposite if that was his experience. If he thought that playing more women and fewer men would lead to higher ratings, he would have said that. At least that's how he comes across to me.

    I'm sure he thinks that way about himself, and that's the way he presents himself. That doesn't mean his advice isn't shaped by biases that in turn are shaped by the culture around him. I'd argue that the guy is failing as a capitalist dick because of his unexamined assumptions about women in country music.

    For a long time, the common wisdom was that women don't play computer games, and that if you want to be successful you market to teenage boys. You'll STILL get people REALLY high in the industry saying that. The fact is, more adult women play video games than teenage boys. Think of all those industry experts who left huge amounts of cash they could be making sitting around, all because they knew that marketing towards women wasn't worth it. The same exact scenario is playing out in comic books, movies, literature, sports, and tech devices. The same thing happened with women as news anchors and djs.

    You'll forgive me if I'm a bit skeptical about gatekeepers dismissing women as either creators or as potential audience members for purely profit driven reasons.
    posted by Gygesringtone at 11:25 AM on June 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


    Not to keep harping, but did y'all see Dolly's performance at Glastonbury last summer? What an amazing musician, and woman, she is.
    posted by workerant at 11:26 AM on June 9, 2015 [8 favorites]


    I've linked them before and most their music isn't what most people might think of as country, but when Rising Appalachia throw down on a country tune, they nail it. I just love those old-time harmonies.
    posted by ob1quixote at 11:42 AM on June 9, 2015


    Does anyone have any recommendations for modern country music that is 0% twee hipster bullshit, but also isn't just dadrock sung with a Southern accent? Bonus if female vocalist.

    I jumped ahead to offer my recommendations, so apologies if these are repeats.
    Hurray for the Riff Raff
    Caitlin Rose
    First Aid Kit
    Skyline Motel
    and obligatory link to Kacey Musgraves.
    posted by missmerrymack at 11:51 AM on June 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


    [Couple of comments deleted. Folks, the point about whether the guy is saying the market is like this vs should be like this has been made, and if other folks still think his remarks objectionable, they're free to do that. Best to let it rest there rather than going around and around with the same points.]
    posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:51 AM on June 9, 2015


    The internet seems a little more open-minded when it comes to contemporary women in country:

    CMT's List
    Radio.com

    I admit I had to actively exclude search terms like "sexy" and "hot" to get decent results, which was disappointing.
    posted by grumpybear69 at 12:03 PM on June 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


    There's also an entire subgenre of country that I really love that is 'women singing about murdering or getting back at their violent spouses or boyfriends'.
    posted by corb at 12:08 PM on June 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


    Eyebrows McGee: "I mean Dolly Parton has written something like 3,000 songs that have been published by mainstream methods, that'd keep you busy a while"

    She was really good in 9 to 5, too. She had potential as an actress, I think.
    posted by Chrysostom at 1:25 PM on June 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


    "Even if women were 50% of country music I would only spin their stuff every second record"

    Here's what makes this misogynist. Nobody, EVER, ever EVER ever, would ever say "Even if men were 50% of country music I would only spin their stuff every second record." Men are the default -- male country artists are just country artists. FEMALE country artists, though? They are special and marked and deserve to be closely watched and carefully rationed.
    posted by KathrynT at 1:26 PM on June 9, 2015 [16 favorites]


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