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Thread: Midland controversy

  1. #1
    Carrie Guru Claire2004's Avatar
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    Midland controversy

    Midland is the upcoming country trio, who recently had success with their single "Drinkin' Problem". They just released their debut album On The Rocks, and from what I've read the album is quite good, and the music is traditionally-leaning.

    Link to the iTunes page for the album: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/on...s/id1272415003

    However, the band recently got into a bit of controversy when the Trigger from Saving Country Music questioned their "authenticity" and called them out on how they're allegedly selling themselves as a band who paid their dues performing in small bars and dives in Texas, though he conceded that their music is good. Even Shane MacAnally, the producer and the cowriter of the songs on the album, became involved in the issue. Here are the links to his 2 blog articles about the topic:

    http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/de...-bull****ters/

    Midland?s Songwriter & Producer Pretty Much Just Admitted They?re Manufactured | Saving Country Music




    The issue is starting to gain attention already, and I've seen other artists sharing and retweeting this article. Fortunately there are people who came in to defend the band.

    Here are some links to articles in defense for the band:

    How Midland Epitomize the Authenticity Debate in Country - Rolling Stone

    The Truth About Midland


    A tweet from Jason Isbell:

    @JasonIsbell
    Strength of the song determines whether or not a "backstory" means anything. I don't care where you cut your teeth, rather their sharpness.

    From Sam Gazdziak, a contributor for the Country Universe:
    John Prine was a Chicago mailman before he started singing. Do we need to debate his "authenticity" or can we accept good music as it comes?

  • #2
    Carrie Guru Claire2004's Avatar
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    I absolutely hate the way their authenticity is being questioned. Why can't we enjoy good music? Why do we have to question where that music came from? Why do we need all musicians to pay their dues before achieving success? It's as if the purists want to box all the musicians into one tiny category - those who paid their dues. Anyone else not going by this requirement is automatically fake.

    I guess I'm being super sensitive about the subject, because authenticity is something that's also being questioned about Carrie especially in her early days. Even now there are purists out there who won't accept her because she did not pay her dues, she catapulted to success via AI. That's unacceptable to them.

    This whole made me want to buy their album from iTunes just to spite the holier than thou's lol.
    lolita55, lizcarlo and rainbow1 like this.

  • #3
    Insane Carrie Fan lizcarlo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Claire2004 View Post
    I absolutely hate the way their authenticity is being questioned. Why can't we enjoy good music? Why do we have to question where that music came from? Why do we need all musicians to pay their dues before achieving success? It's as if the purists want to box all the musicians into one tiny category - those who paid their dues. Anyone else not going by this requirement is automatically fake.

    I guess I'm being super sensitive about the subject, because authenticity is something that's also being questioned about Carrie especially in her early days. Even now there are purists out there who won't accept her because she did not pay her dues, she catapulted to success via AI. That's unacceptable to them.

    This whole made me want to buy their album from iTunes just to spite the holier than thou's lol.

    I agree its annoying. If they did do it that way great. If they didn't do it the "old fashion way" that doesn't make them any less authentic and talented.
    Claire2004, brenda218 and lolita55 like this.

  • #4
    sco
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    Quote Originally Posted by lizcarlo View Post
    I agree its annoying. If they did do it that way great. If they didn't do it the "old fashion way" that doesn't make them any less authentic and talented.
    The Saving Country Music crowd would probably call out George Strait as not being 'authentic' enough if he was breaking through today since he doesn't write all his own songs. While they do sometimes have valid points about the labels and their homogeneity, their holier than thou attitude is really annoying which is why I don't read that blog.
    lolita55, Suellen, liz278 and 2 others like this.

  • #5
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    3 words I'd use to describe SCM - obnoxious, pretentious,sanctimonious

    and I am so sick of them,and people on this board at times, using 'mainstream' like its a dirty word.
    Ridiculous

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  • #6
    Junior Carrie Follower DazzledByCarrie's Avatar
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    I agree with what you all are saying. However, I think a lot of the issue isn't so much where they came from, but the fact that they have been lying about it (or atleast stretching the truth.) It doesn't really bother me, but I can see why it does bother other people.
    lolita55 likes this.

  • #7
    Carrie Guru pklongbeach's Avatar
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    If they played some clubs they can say they played clubs. If they played some bars they can say the played bars..... This continues to be such an arrogant and ignorant debate in country music. Its as if someone saying "I played football in high school" suddenly elevates them to some level of American Living that is above the average and that we can somehow imagine that they lived a privileged and exception existence that has elevated them to a higher status than the rest....

    Its hogwash!! And so is the continued argument of "I played smoky bars"......!!!!!!

    (to say this strikes a nerve with me is an understatement when you consider who it benefits and who it hurts!!)
    lolita55 likes this.

  • #8
    sco
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddkat View Post
    3 words I'd use to describe SCM - obnoxious, pretentious,sanctimonious
    That's AWESOME and oh so true.
    lolita55, rainbow1, liz278 and 1 others like this.

  • #9
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    Has anyone listened to Midland's new album? It is absolutely fantastic! I love every song on it. It really does sound like something that came out of the 80s or 90s, yet still has such a modern feel.

  • #10
    Ultimate Carrie Fan Farawayhills's Avatar
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    Reading something like this, on the day Tom Petty died, is really something probably best avoided - but as the publicity surrounding Midland (albeit, perhaps, mainly in some of their photo-calls and live performances) touches on developments in the 1960s & '70s that I regard as very important in the development of Country Music - and, also, I'm afraid, because a couple of the responses on this board do come across - whether intentionally or not - as veiled attacks on people who challenge the dominance of the commercial Mainstream in general, beyond the specifics of the articles linked to - I feel I should make a few general observations in reply, from my own point of view.

    Regardless of the detail on Midland's origins, or discussions of their musical "authenticity", in the Triggerman's articles (which I've only skimmed), the controversy that's broken out among some Country fans on-line seems to focus on two rather different (and perhaps more central) points that don't seem to have been specifically noticed here - firstly, that Midland seem to have been "tailored" for a mass market, if not "created" as a group, by the Music Row "machine", probably in response to a perceived demand to broaden the styles being promoted in the Mainstream; and secondly, that, in doing so, Music Row is ignoring the numerous bands that are already, and in some cases have been for a long time, performing more Alternative styles, and are not getting significant airtime or mass media attention. In other words, the accusation is that the current Establishment is only prepared to broaden the styles it is prepared to promote, if it can do so in a way it can shape and control.

    Two powerful figures in the current Mainstream - Scott Borchetta (as label chief) and Shane McAnally (as producer) have been seen as the key players in shaping and promoting Midland as a mass market band. Borchetta is an admired and commercially successful label head, whose father ran an independent label, but whose own career, while retaining a notionally independent status, has been closely interwoven throughout with UMG. His efforts have extended to promotion of "niche" music, but some of his mass marketing activities have been criticized, and he has been identified with the "genre homogenization" of Country.

    I'm more concerned, though, to defend Shane McAnally, who had a short career as a recording artist, circa 2000, and thus knows the ups and downs of signing to major labels, and the need to reinvent, when circumstances change. He is now a strong presence in songwriting and record production, as well as a CMA director. The point I'd make is that any figure of influence in the commercial sphere has to work for, and with, a variety of styles and demands. A person in that position, or with those aspirations, can't be expected to devote all energy to particular niche demands, at the expense of all others. Yes, he could be said to have given us Sam Hunt, and Old Dominion - but those are popular acts, who help to sustain the mass market relevance of the industry. He also helped write Carrie's "Keep Us Safe" - a highly personal and sensitive song, different from most of her album work, but probably close to her heart. He also collaborated with Miranda Lambert on a number of occasions, including the remarkable "Vice", a defiant and uncompromising response to the tabloids (and, somewhat bizarrely, also wrote, Dierks Bentley's "Different For Girls", which takes a diametrically opposite view of the expected reactions of a woman - but really proves the point about the need for music professionals to be flexible in catering for a variety of demands). One of Shane's most memorable associations, for me, has been with Kacey Musgraves - crafting her two critically acclaimed Mainstream albums as both producer and songwriter. And I'm not sure why people expect an artist not to undergo an element of career, image and stylistic guidance in promoting them to a mass market audience. I've followed Kacey since back in the My Space era, and both her two teenage "cowgirl" albums, and the independent singer/songwriter album she made with help from Rick Lambert (the father of her then boyfriend) have been largely forgotten in moving to a larger audience. This is surely to be expected - if the Alternative bands that some fans regret are not being played were to be signed to a major label - I'm pretty sure the "machine" would attempt to shape them too. I understand the frustration - but diversity probably requires an element of commercial realism.
    I tend to agree with one of the posters on Saving Country Music, who feels that the Triggerman has misinterpreted an interview quote by Shane McAnally, which he saw as particularly Machiavellian in manipulating Midland as a power-player creation - but which she sees as saying that he'd been waiting for a band with enough talent and commitment to express the type of music he'd long hoped to include in Mainstream offerings.

    On the controversy, I'll let the last word rest with a Twitter poster, who said:
    "one more Midland thing: all the guys complaining about 3 men getting something easily that u might deserve more-try being a woman for a day"

    Turning to Midland themselves, from what I've heard, I think their style may be a little too Neo-traditional for my personal tastes - but I think it's a positive development that the Industry is supporting them, and that they're being played. I suspect, though, that some of their promotional material may be intended to make fans on my wing of the genre think of Gram Parsons, Chris Hillman, & co - and I'm not sure the music quite goes with that image (at least for me). Live performance videos from that era seem to be rare on YouTube - but here's one I found, which I think shows the visual reference (apologies for the quality of the film - it probably helps a bit if the viewer is as high as they sometimes were, lol)



    To see how things have changed in the intervening years, here are Steve Earle, with a now more mature Chris Hillman, performing another Flying Burrito Brothers' song, "High Fashion Queen".
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TxFL1pI8m8
    It's a good tribute, but it also shows how Outlaw Country has progressed, with a more pronounced Rock/HonkyTonk feel, and less of the jingly sound and Western Swing touches of the original. ("The Weight of These Wings" is one of the very few contemporary albums I can think of whose song choices include touches which span the whole stylistic range of half a century of Alt Country, from Hippie Fusion, right up to Garage Band progressive.)

    I'd conclude by saying that, in my view, Nashville Country badly needed the injection of Alternative Roots-influenced styles in the '60s and '70s - and, again, does today. Both the music and the choices available to fans would benefit, in my opinion - but the world, and the artistic sphere, inevitably change - and it can't be done with the same musical styles. It's the ethos and spirit that count for more than the stylistic purity. But Midland can certainly play a part, and if you want more practical diversity, there seems no point in quibbling over whether Music Row is involved in providing some.

  • #11
    Carrie Guru
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    response from Wide Open Country to the SCM article - The Truth About Midland

    seems SCM left out a few things that didn't support their narrative

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  • #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddkat View Post
    response from Wide Open Country to the SCM article - The Truth About Midland

    seems SCM left out a few things that didn't support their narrative
    I'm glad this person wrote a rebuttal in regards to triggers article. Kyle seems like a nice person but he is not objective at all.

    He has this idea of what he feels country music should be, and so he thinks that he is right, and people who disagree with him are wrong.

    I hope one day that he comes to the realization that country music is extremely diverse and has room for a Chris stapleton and a Sam hunt.

  • #13
    Ultimate Carrie Fan Farawayhills's Avatar
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    As ever, people will have to make up their own minds - but, for what it's worth I'd rely on Wide Open Country for information far more than I'd ever rely on Saving Country Music.

    (And if you like Jeremy Burchard's article, you might also like to see the tribute he's written for Tom Petty
    http://www.wideopencountry.com/tom-petty-helped-shape-many-corners-of-modern-country-music/
    Claire2004, lolita55 and rainbow1 like this.

  • #14
    Ultimate Carrie Fan Farawayhills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lolita55 View Post
    Kyle seems like a nice person but he is not objective at all.

    He has this idea of what he feels country music should be
    To be fair, I admit I don't read him enough to be sure - but on what I have read, I rather doubt that he does have a consistent, or practical, idea of what he feels it should be. He's denied that he's a traditional purist (though many of his regular readers and comment posters seem to be). He says he wants to see originality and integrity, in music that shows depth of substance and independence, regardless of whether its predominantly traditional or predominantly progressive - but he's been distinctly luke warm, at best, in reviews of people like Carrie, Miranda and Margo Price - who know how to draw on tradition, but can't be simply pigeon-holed as "traditionalists" - but who do show those qualities of originality (often, in my opinion, more than some "traditionalists", who, to put it bluntly, seem to be content with basically recording very similar styles over and over again.)

    To my mind, he poses - but doesn't reconcile, or offer a consistent solution to - the dilemma that he simply seems to want independent artists to replace the Mainstream, lock, stock and barrel, without facing up to the fact that if they did, they would immediately come under probably irresistible pressure to satisfy Mainstream demands (without which, the whole edifice would collapse). In my opinion, the depth and integrity he wants is only likely to be nurtured, firstly, if artists are allowed to perform, and audiences allowed to find, the styles they want in co-existing market niches, and, secondly, if the artists who show the talent, ethos, and commitment to maintain that sort of integrity in combination with commercial success and larger fan bases are given more support than he seems willing to give them.
    rainbow1 likes this.


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