Two days ago, I published a piece about the uproar over Keith Hill’s comments about male country artists being the “lettuce” in the salad and female country artists being the “tomatoes” of country radio. You can find the article here:http://www.beyondthestagemagazine.com/in-defense-of-keith-hill-kind-of/
No matter what, country radio undoubtedly shows a preference for male artists over female artists. This playlist is meant to shine a spotlight on female country artists making good country music as well as future stars in the making. Check them out.
Little Toy Guns – Carrie Underwood
This song marks Carrie Underwood’s return to country dominance after taking to time off to have her first child, and it is a collection of all of the things that made Underwood a star. Her powerhouse voice is on full display here and the storytelling is powerful and emotional. It tells the kind of story that resonates and that stands out on country radio.
Mama’s Broken Heart – Miranda Lambert
This song has become one of Lambert’s biggest hits on country radio, co-written by fellow tomatoes Kacey Musgraves and Brandy Clark with their collaborator Shane McAnally. It is another story-song about defying traditional expectations for women and being able to express themselves in an authentic, emotional way. This certainly has parallels to women on country radio and how women can be successful while also expressing themselves in an authentic way musically. This song is very strong and filled with cleverness, wit, and an urgency that endears us.
Weight of the Load – Ashley Monroe
Ashley Monroe has emerged from being the lighter voiced Hippie Annie of the country trio The Pistol Annies with Lambert to becoming a star in her own right. Her quivering soprano is the perfect vehicle for this song of support to a struggling friend from her new album The Blade that is sure to make a lot of bloggers’ lists for best albums of 2015.
Ain’t No Man – Angaleena Presley
This song has an old soul but a very modern sensibility. It harks back to the age of Loretta Lynn and Kitty Wells, using a more traditional medium but expressing ideas that are very real and contemporary. This is a soulful, passionate song that was the perfect start to Presley’s debut album American Middle Class.
Dime Store Cowgirl – Kacey Musgraves
Musgraves has unexpectedly become the country artist for people who don’t like country, because her style runs so directly counter to contemporary country. She, like Presley, harks back to a more traditional country style but still pushes forward contemporary ideas with a real urgency. This song doesn’t quite show off her sense of humor, but is instead a perfect showcase for her “aw, shucks” humility that endears her to so many.
Stripes – Brandy Clark
Musgraves’ frequent collaborator has become a star in her own right when her debut album 12 Stories was released to almost universal critical acclaim. This song was the lead single from the album, and is a hilarious farce about a jilted ex-lover who would kill her ex if only prison garb were more flattering. The dark humor is a running theme in Clark’s work and would add a whole lot of diversity to country radio’s stylistic range.
Fly – Maddie & Tae
This duo made headlines with their debut single “Girl In A Country Song”, pulling the pin out of the grenade and starting a discussion about the bro country trend and whether it respects women. However, their second single, “Fly”, is perhaps a better indication of this duo’s staying power. Not only is this the kind of song that would get huge play on Radio Disney’s new country format, it has a universality about it that would endear it to the parents of the kids who would want to come to their shows. Their debut album, Start Here, is on its way, and is sure to make significant headway.
Take the Keys – Leah Turner
Leah Turner is essentially country music’s Bonnie Tyler, with her deep, raspy voice giving an extra sense of urgency and passion to every song she sings. This song, her debut single, is very strongly written and delivered by Turner and adds to the diversity of country music out there. This song sounds a lot like other country songs by male artists but still presents a good story with an emotional component that shows that women in country do not have to shy away from contemporary trends in order to reach an audience.
Better Than You Left Me – Mickey Guyton
Mickey Guyton is a true star. Not only being a woman of color in country music, she brings a soulfulness to her vocals that evokes Yolanda Adams, one of Guyton’s chief musical influences. This song, her debut single, made history as the most added single across country radio playlists, despite or perhaps because of the fact that it sounds nothing like anything else out there right now. It leans towards the blues of Etta James while still maintaining the immediacy and emotion of a Dolly Parton song. Plus, her vocals are nothing short of outstanding here. Expect big things from this one.
My Mistake – Cam
We are on our way to Cam Country with this song from this one named singer. A sassy, fun song dedicated to a one-night stand, this song oozes personality and skill of storytelling and also shows off her soulful voice. Definitely an artist to watch as she releases more material.
Dibs – Kelsea Ballerini
The golden girl herself, in the flesh. After having her debut single “Love Me Like You Mean It” hit #1 on country radio, she is back with this new single from her album The First Time. Singing about men the way they do about women, this come-on is catchy, flirty, and fun. It’s the perfect song for summer, so hopefully this golden girl gets some more gold with this song.
Waterproof Mascara – Sheryl Crow
This is a bit of a bonus track for this playlist from Sheryl Crow’s country album Feels Like Home, but it was worth including on this playlist because it is that good. Seriously. This song gives me chills up and down and Crow’s pleading delivery as well as the emotional content of the lyrics give it an emotional punch unlike anything I have heard in recent times. Really, check this one out.