Your Take: Strength in Numbers
On Tuesday, Blake reviewed Sara Evans’ new single “A Little Bit Stronger,” sparking a debate about some of the songwriters responsible for many of country music’s modern hits.
The tune is part of the catalogs of in-demand Nashville songwriters Hillary Lindsey and Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott, whose names are closely related with other of-the-moment songwriters Ashley Gorley, Chris Lindsey, Jeffrey Steele and Aimee Mayo.
Commenter Kyle took note, offering up his thoughts on these “genre-defining” songwriters:
It’s always interesting for me to see who the “hot” songwriters are at a given time, and how their style affects what’s being put out. Right now, everyone and their mother seems to want a Akins/Hayslip/Davidson song, and everyone and their mother wants a Hilary Scott/Lady A song. Unfortunately, I think that’s resulting in a lot of hooky but production-driven, inconsequential, simple songs that you get the feeling will be quickly forgotten.
I don’t have anything against Hilary – I think she’s a great writer for her age – but I don’t think she’s good enough to be in that genre-defining position, nor do I think those other three are. Hopefully somebody who packs a little more punch steps in and gets hot soon.
Country music has a history of developing close-knit songwriting communities – from Harlan Howard, Bill Anderson and Dallas Frazier to those listed above – that often work together and are behind the sound and trends of their generations’ popular artists. Commenter Fizz, however, expressed his thoughts that this approach increases the homogenization of the music:
If you have the same small group of people writing most of the hits, then SURPRISE! they’re going to sound pretty similar. For real! Of course, folks could always write their own damn songs, but I guess that’s just me attempting to apply rock aesthetics to country music again.
In the same thread, Jon countered that diversity doesn’t automatically equal supremacy:
Why is greater diversity intrinsically preferable? If fabulous results can be produced by small pools of songwriters (like, for instance, back in the 50s and 60s), then why is having a small pool of songwriters a bad thing? Greater diversity sure hasn’t produced stellar results on a song-by-song basis, like when you have 5 or 6 or 7 names on a song, has it?
What’s your take? Do a small number of hit-producing songwriters warrant less diversity and variety available to country music artists and fans? To answer Jon’s question in the thread, is greater diversity intrinsically preferable, with more quality results?
Also, to Kyle’s point, is the current crop of hot songwriters helping or hurting the industry? Who are the up-and-coming songwriters that country fans should keep an eye on?
- Barry Mazor: I'll have to see if Dr. Green's ever read 3 Lives; it's a good book.
- Juli Thanki: Rose is a rose is a rose is a yellow rose of Texas. I smell a terrible concept album!
- Barry Mazor: Pigeons on the grass, alas.. Come-a kai-yai yippy, yippy ay.
- Ken Morton, Jr.: Barry, thanks for the great sentimental look at Winchester. I will admit that he is an artist that was largely …
- Arlene: Thanks for this article, Barry. It's not often that an artist brings another performer to tears during a guitar pull. …
- Leeann: At any rate, I'll still look forward to his next album, because I'm a fan of his music.
- Leeann: Yes, if he had said that, I'd be with him, but e lumped all of country music, including the Grand …
- mrsandy: My understanding is Emmylou's concert was cancelled was because her 92-y.o. mother passed away.
- Erik North: I would have to say that, even though I agree that JTE does generalize about country music excessively, I also …
- Leeann: I think he generalized way too much, too black and white. He reminded me too much of Ryan Adams, who …