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Discussion: “Are Fad Artists Becoming To Much Of A Fad?”

March 18, 2008

Many of the latest a greatest stars in country music have made their home here as the result of their rising popularity due to exposure through modern technological advances. Gone are the years of country music where the most popular artists and most successful acts came from 10 or 20 years of hard work in bars and venues to work their way up the ladder. Of course country is still experiencing many of these very talented acts, but lately a new breed of artist has jumped onto the scene that is giving these guitar playing Nashville wanna-bes a run for their money. These are the “fad artists”. Now no one can stand by and say that these artists do not have the talent to get to the top without the help of such venues as myspace, American Idol or Nashville Star, and lord knows they have given us some of the best singers in today’s world, including the wonderful Carrie Underwood, the beautiful Miranda Lambert and the infamous Taylor Swift, but is it possible that these artists are drawing to much attention from the once great power of these bar patron singers? Now that’s not to say that every country singer is a bar patron or had to work their way up that way. Many have earned their popularity through other means as well, but only lately have artists begun to spout from Internet connections and TV reality shows. So I pose this questions…are fad artists to much of a fad and overthrowing the world of country music or are they blending right in.

Its not easy to sit there and say “well I don’t think Taylor Swift is deserving enough” or that “Carrie Underwood is just a phase”. Look at what they’ve accomplished. Carrie has never missed the #1 spot on any chart and has dominated every award she was up for and even successfully grasped an invite to join the Opry. Taylor has made waves with younger fans and scored a #1 album from a top 3 debut, a rare and amazing feet. Of course these are only two examples of artists who have made country music a popular venue for so called “fad artists”. These acts have all proven their worth to the genre, but again is it possible that they are preventing the talent that has worked so hard to get here from shining? Josh Gracin scored a #1 single and a top notch debut album while Jack Ingram, ten individually recorded albums later, can barely hit the top 20 these days and barely made a top 5 album with his latest record. Both seem to have equivalent popularity but even with Gracin’s slumping success he seems to score a bigger following in the end. Kellie Pickler , despite her lacking a top ten, has overshot most of countries female artists and probably places a strong third to Taylor and Carrie in a list of top country female singers today while other great talents like Ashton Shepherd and Sarah Buxton absorb a similar following with much less success. You can compare and contrast all day long and in the end you still have a large group of very talented and deserving artists, but only a few of them are receiving appropriate recognition due to their connections to popular technological venues and the other is shunned a little more because they don’t have that specific advantage.

Miranda Lambert is a strong example of how fad artists are great for the genre. She played at bars and other areas of tradition for country climbers and still she made stardom from Nashville Star as both a songwriter and an artist with two highly rated #1 albums and a very strong fan following that has made her one of countries biggest female vocalists despite radios seeming rejection of her songs. Its not to say that acts like Taylor and Carrie are undeserving and should have worked harder. This is not the case. The case is simply that these artists are just as deserving as the artists that are being looked over. Miranda fits into both groups which allows her to blend quite nicely and actually pose a role model for both venues of choice. But if you look at the big picture, Taylor thanks myspace every time she gets the chance, Carrie thanks idol, it all comes back around. These artists are much more popular because of media attention and a younger crowd that seems to enjoy those venues. Miranda, by the way, is the only successful Nashville Star contestant that has ever hit radio. Carrie is the most popular and successful American Idol star. Taylor is one of the many very successful myspace stars out there. Its up to ones own personal opinion to decide whether the artist or the venue is “staining” country music or if its all just an illusion brought on by controversy and that all the artists are given equal attention and opportunities and its just a coincidence that the “fad artists” are hitting all the right marks. No matter which way you look at it you must concede that the media attention given to those precious few has allowed them much more exposure to start their careers than others who have yet to be discovered and may be more talented. One of the biggest conflicts in today’s genre is why is Carrie scoring #1’s when Miranda is barely getting top 20’s? Again that’s hard to say, it could be Miranda’s lack of media attention compared to Carrie, it could be the popularity of their reality shows differ, it could even be just artist popularity difference in the ears of the beholders. No matter what the case it still goes to show that “fad artists” are dominating right now and are seemingly making the competition a lot harder for those who have made it the hard way.

In today’s genre its not easy being an artist from a TV show or an artist from a bar venue. In the end its all the same talent and the most deserving seems to make their mark..or do they!? Does being a reality show star or a myspace star really make that big of a difference over those who have not had the privilege of enjoying such royalties. Acts like George Strait, Kenny Chesney, and Toby Keith keep the traditional spectrum alive, but have American Idol contestants, myspace stars and others made it to hard for an artist to simply release a good song and join the ranks? Its all an open issue and only time will tell whether modern venues have begun their domination and victimized the artists that come from them as the ones to blame or if these artists are just the more talented ones out there.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. bobby permalink
    March 18, 2008 3:06 am

    interesting post and great points. i have been thinking lately about if taylor swift is really good for the genre. i mean, i am a fan of hers, but i dont necessarily think she is someone i want to represent country music to the world. carrie underwood, on the other hand i think is a great addition to the genre. she is enormously talented and i think she will become increasingly country as her career goes on, she has stated that she wants to make country music, and i hope that as her music become more country, fans of her who don’t listen to country might start tuning ina bit more.
    i also think people like josh turner and brad paisley are needed so the genre will not stray to far from it’s roots. i guess there is a balance that is important

  2. Carol permalink
    March 18, 2008 9:42 pm

    Great article and interesting points! Love Miranda Lambert and out of all the women mention she is probably the only “true country” female artist. She hasn’t “crossed-over” to the other geners as the other 3 mention have.

  3. Kent permalink
    March 19, 2008 9:44 pm

    The Idol shows have been interesting for me. American Idol produced Josh Gracin, my favorite country singer (who I wish wasn’t facing the sophomore slump, but seems to be), and Canadian Idol produced my favorite overall artist, Hedley. However, American Idol has also produced some very poor artists. I don’t think Bucky Covington is what we need in country music, for example.

    I think Carrie Underwood is a pretty good addition to country music. I really liked Jesus, Take the Wheel, Before He Cheats, and So Small. She is a very talented vocalist, and continually brings some good songs to the table, even if I’m not always a huge fan.

    Taylor Swift could be a good addition. Her song writing skills, especially with “Our Song” are quite good. I really enjoy the infectious happy feeling of “I’m Only Me When I’m With You”. Her vocal skill will hopefully improve with age, but it’s not terrible or anything now. She also needs to release singles of more variety. The only songs I’ve heard from her are about teen love.

    The comment about Kenny Chesney keeping the traditional spectrum alive is interesting. Sure he has had his moments of brilliance, but I think he is often dull and boring, at least with the vocals anyway, especially on “Shiftwork.” I think think it’s people like Kenny Chesney that are part of the problem with keeping truly talent artist from entering the limelight. They waste their potential on boring and uninspiring songs too often, and somehow continually hit #1. I’m not saying that Kenny Chesney is terrible, I just think he should be very glad that he is so popular, and make better use of it. The same goes for other artists like Brooks & Dunn and Garth Brooks.

  4. March 26, 2008 4:59 pm

    thats it, bro

  5. May 1, 2008 2:32 pm

    I don’t think that just because someone was “discovered” on TV it makes them a fad artist. Fad artists in my opinion are when folks like Snoop Dogg cut a terrible piece of twang that they rap over and call it their country cut and that gets them invited to the CMT awards.
    Carrie Underwood made it as far as she did as fast as she did based on some unbelievably good songwriting. In my opinion if anybody, Martina Mc Bride, Jo Dee Messina, Miranda Lambert, etc… had recorded Jesus Take The Wheel and released it to radio, they would have had a mega hit on their hands. Kelli Pickler is the same, I Wonder is a great song, but could have been sung by anybody.

    Taylor Swift, now there is a girl who deserves it all. She has been working in Nashville since she was 11, going to songwriters nights, etc. She cowrote all her songs, tirelessly promotes herself, and has basically busted her ass on top of being immensly talented. Sorry if she isn’t traditional enough for some folks, but she is strongly country, and I am proud to listen to her.

    And Kenny Chesney has some brillian songs. Clean, infectious, feel good or sad. He’s another that is popular because he is good.

    I wonder if so many purists would have complained about Shiftwork if it had been a George Strait song that just had Kenny as a guest, or better yet, was done by Alan Jackson. In my opinion Shiftwork would have worked for either fo those artists just as it did for Kenny.

  6. zack permalink
    January 6, 2009 9:44 am

    i think music itself is becoming a fad

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