This originally appeared as a blog post at the Victoria Advocate on June 17, 2015.
Carrie Underwood’s awards take at the CMT Music Awards last week got me thinking about the state of women in country music. In the current era of bro-country and watered-down Budweiser drinking lyrics, it’s hard to find substantive lyrics sung by (or on many cases, written by) women. So I took a look at some of the awards shows of the last year.
Last week, Carrie Underwood won three awards at the CMT Music Awards, bringing her total from that particular awards show to 13, the most out of any artist.
Speaking of Miranda Lambert, she won Female Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year and Song of the Year at the 50th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards earlier this year.
And speaking of the ACMs, Lambert has won the ACM Album of the Year three times since 2010, and the only male artist to win the ACM Album of the Year since 2010 has been Eric Church. You could count Lady A in 2011 for “Need You Now,” but for the sake of argument, let’s say it’s a female-led group. They won Group Video of the Year at the CMT Awards for “Bartender.” And while we’re on the subject of female-led groups, Little Big Town took home the ACM for Vocal Group of the Year.
The #1 song on the Billboard Hot Country Chart this week is Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush,”which is in fact not about lesbianism but is instead about the jealousy one woman feels towards an ex’s new girlfriend. There are only two more songs by female artists in the Top 25 of that list, but both of them fall in the Top 10. Those artists? Carrie Underwood and newcomer Kelsea Ballerini.
I could throw out more statistics and awards, but I think my point is made. Women in country music have consistently proven that they are as good as, if not better than, their male counterparts. So why do we constantly get country songs with lyrics like the ones in Florida Georgia Line’s “Sun Daze,” with nuanced lyrics like
Girl you know you’re the life of my party
You can stay and keep sippin’ Bacardi
Stir it up as we turn on some Marley
If you want you can pet on my Harley
I’ll sit you up on the kitchen sink
And stick the pink umbrella in your drink
Or in Billy Currington’s latest, “Don’t It,” which is at #6 on the Billboard charts:
Baby, if you want a
Good time we can get on it
Take a shot or you can sip on it
Find a floor and we can dance on it, slow song it
Far as I can tell that finger a’int got no ring on it.
And to add more fuel to the fire, the recent #SaladGate controversy illustrates the industry’s trend.
Radio consultant Keith Hill was interviewed by country music publication Country Aircheck last month, where he said this: “If you want to make ratings in country radio, take females out…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.”
Naturally, this drew the ire of many female artists and fans alike. Underwood’s “Little Toy Guns” and Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” are the only two songs on country radio right now that paint female characters as more than just sexual objects, and Ballerini’s “Love Me Like You Mean It” flips the bro-country trend on its head by objectifying a man. If that’s the “tomatoes” of country radio, then we need more tomatoes.
New Music This Week:
Jason Isbell, “Something More Than Free” off of the upcoming album of the same name
Kacey Musgraves’ “Dimestore Cowgirl,” from the upcoming album “Pageant Material”
Ashley Monroe’s “I Buried Your Love Alive” from her upcoming album “The Blade”