Why The Agent Dislikes (Modern) Country Music

Ladies, gentlemen, and fellow enbies: everything wrong with modern Country music in a single image.
Source: Best Top 10

So, I may have gone on record more than a few times voicing my displeasure with the state of the genre of music we know as Country. Most of that is due to my boss’ insistence on playing a Country music station at work EVERY. SINGLE. GODDAMN. DAY.

Now, I realize that a lot of people can be VERY sensitive when something they love gets criticized. And you know what? I totally get it. When you love a particular art form enough, any attack on it can feel like an attack on you personally. It’s the main reason why we nerds get into such heated debates about our passions (that and debate is fun and healthy).

But I don’t like feeling like I’m just singling people out with malicious intent. If I ridicule something you love, it’s because I’ve found something questionable or objectionable about it that ruins my ability to enjoy it; not because I think you are an inferior person for enjoying it. So, let’s discuss my rationale for why Country music repulses me so.

Firstly, I want to make it clear that it’s mostly the turn that modern Country has taken – not Country as a whole – that perturbs me. Granted, I have issues with Classic Country as well, but that’s mostly an unfortunate byproduct of my upbringing. My parents raised me on Classic Rock and Hair Metal. When your life’s soundtrack consists of Aerosmith, AC/DC, and Kiss, everything else seems soft and unengaging.

But, even then, I’m still neutral to Classic Country at most times. Compared to the stuff we get today though, the likes of John Denver and Johnny Cash may as well be Freddie Mercury to my ears. Being assaulted with today’s Country has had the effect of allowing me to reassess those old-timey tracks with a more favorable ear.

Really, my disdain for modern Country comes from what seems to be its two largest modern sub-genres; Bro-Country and Country Rap (AKA; Hick Hop).

The problem that I have with these classes of music is two-fold. Firstly, the subject matter never seems to change. This was a (slightly less prevalent) problem in Classic Country as well with its performers working on the unchanging theme of, “my life sucks, but I’ll get by with enough booze.”

In today’s country scene, they dial that up to eleven. Nearly every song I hear coming over that radio is about A) glorifying alcoholism, B) Objectifying women, or C) turning to alcoholism to cope with the loss of an objectified woman. So not only is it infuriatingly repetitive, it repeats an equally infuriating theme. When the modern country station I have to listen to needs to sneak in pop tracks that are over 10 years old to spice it up, you know the genre is getting stale.

Secondly, the thing that Bro-Country and Country Rap have in common is the reliance on Rap-style production and themes. And as much as I loathe the word “cultural appropriation,” I can’t shake the feeling that it may be at play here.

To be clear, not all of these artists are apeing Rap to keep their careers afloat because it’s just how pop music sounds today. Hell, you can even make a legitimate case that Rap and Country have a common cousin in Talking Blues. Plus, with Rap dominating the sound of Pop Music and with Country being the number one radio format, the two were bound to come together eventually.

However, Rap is a lot more than just a style of music. It’s one of the “4 pillars” of Hip Hop. Rap, along with DJing, Break Dancing, and Graffiti, form the basis of an entire culture of artistic expression that defined life for countless people that, while not possessing great monetary wealth, were rich in history and pride. To take that for yourself for no other reason other than, “because the kids like it,” is kind of disrespectful – especially when you boil it down to a couple of tired and problematic tropes.

So, in conclusion, modern country is a tired, old, cliche-ridden genre that shamelessly rips off other, more popular genres without understanding the societal weight of the art form it’s attempting to emulate and it really needs to take a few steps back to reassess its current position in life before I start considering it good art.

And while I’m ragging on music genres, all of the above applies to Contemporary Christian as well (saved me writing a future article there).

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Meghan Trainor’s Is Bad Advice For Women (And Insulting To Lonely Men)

Well, I teased it last week. I might as well say for real this time; I have no trust or faith left in Meghan Trainor as an artist.

What started as a few misgivings I noticed in All About That Bass devolved into anti-male insults in Lips Are Movin’ and again into outdated 50’s patriarchal family values in Dear Future Husband. But I feel that it’s her latest offering, , that encapsulates everything wrong her message as an artist.

I could complain about how she’s sold out and traded in the 50’s classic rock sound for a generic ‘angry girl’ pop sound, but this isn’t about her sound. This is about the text and subtext of her work; what she wants us to do with our lives as a society and how she’s demonstrably wrong.

So let’s waste no time. I’m going to breakdown Trainor’s lyrics to prove that she A) genuinely hates men and B) doesn’t know how feminism works.

“I think it’s so cute and I think it’s so sweet/How you let your friends encourage you to try and talk to me”

Wait, that’s a charming trait to you? Most people I know would take having to be goaded to do something as a sign of cowardice or lack of character. It’s not an accurate assessment I grant you, but it is the prevailing knowledge.

Also, please remember this; it’s going come back to bite her in her bass (*obligatory reference achieved*)

“But let me stop you there, oh, before you speak”

You might want to remember this too because she’s about to make a bunch of snap judgments on this guy without exchanging two words with him.

“My name is no/My sign is no/My number is no”

Okay, so this is ACTUALLY a good message to preach. After all, it’s important for everyone – men, women, and otherwise – to know that they have the right to refuse to put up with sexual harassment. I have no problems with this. It’s how she’s going to try to preach this word that bugs me.

Also, and I realize how petty a complaint this is, but has ANYONE worth being taken seriously ever used the phrase ‘what’s your sign’ unironically? I’m sorry, but I hear people treat that like a legit pick-up line and want to immediately want to deduct 20 IQ points.

“First you gonna say you ain’t runnin’ game, thinkin’ I’m believing every word”

That’s a pretty big leap in logic considering you stopped him before he could even speak to you. For all you know, you left your purse at the bar after your third Long Island Iced Ted and he just wants to return it.

“Call me beautiful, so original, telling me I’m not like other girls”

You know what Meg, You’re right. I shouldn’t pay you unoriginal complements. I should just tell you that you’re a sloppy bitch with the face of a bulldog and be on my way.

I understand the feeling of being approached by an undesirable. I really do. But even I’m not such a dick as to throw a legit compliment back in someone’s face. Are you telling me there was no more gentle way to turn this guy down? ESPECIALLY when you consider that you know he’s already so emotionally frail and nervous around you that he needed his friends to encourage him to even speak?

Actually, no. You don’t even KNOW that he was going to pay you a backhanded compliment because you shot him down before he got a word out.

“I was in my zone before you came along, now I’m thinking maybe you should go”

Well, how the hell did I know what you wanted? I’m not psychic; I’m human. We talk and communicate in order to exchange thoughts and ideas. Are you seeing the problem here, yet?

Wait, this song implies that we’re at a club. If you didn’t what to socialize with people, why the F*** are you in a social setting? If you just wanted to get drunk and dance with friends, you could have done that with fewer interruptions and less money with a bottle of rum and your Spotify playlist in your overpriced seaside house in Nantucket, Massachusetts.

“Blah, blah, blah, I be like nah to the ah to the no, no, no”

You know what OTHER phrase makes me deduct IQ points from you? ‘Blah blah blah.’ Not only does it sound childish, but it also implies that the speaker is closed minded and unthinking.

Seriously, Meg, You would have been better off saying ‘Yadda yadda yadda’ at this point.

“All my ladies, listen up/If that boy ain’t giving up/Lick your lips and swing your hips”

HOLY S***, that is TERRIBLE advice!

Girls, listen to me. Generally speaking, directed lip-licking and booty shaking are signs of sexual interest. So when you flirt like that with someone and then IMMEDIATELY shoot them down, you aren’t being some unstoppable valkyrie; you are mercilessly taunting a total stranger.

Now, for the sake of argument, let’s say Trainor is right and this guy IS a massive douchebag trying to get in her pants. What do you think a large, aggressive, primitive thinking and sexually frustrated human is likely to do when the woman of his affections taunts him with the fact that he ain’t getting any?

… Yeah, let that sink in. And if it’s not you because there are too many people around to get away with it, he’ll find someone just like you.

Congratulations, Meg. You just made the Men’s Rights Activists look right. Now we have to deal with even MORE of their ignorant garbage.

“Thank you in advance, I don’t wanna dance/I don’t need your hands all over me/If I want a man, then I’mma get a man/But it’s never my priority”

Okay, I could reiterate how you don’t ACTUALLY know this guy’s intent and the paradox of being anti-social in a social setting, but this is significantly better. We’re back to the message of sexual independence and not owing anyone anything in regards to sex. Awesome. Can we stay on this path?

“I was in my zone, before you came along, don’t want you to take this personal”

Of course not…

Meg, when you flat-out admit that you knew how nervous I was to speak to you, make massive assumptions about my intent, and then actively build up my confidence just to break me down again, HOW AM I TO TAKE THAT ANY OTHER WAY THAN PERSONAL?

Also, please stop saying, “… in my zone.” You’re just reminding me of Kanye West and you have enough problems without being associated with an egomaniacal rapper… though that may be an apt description if you keep on the path you’re on now.

“I’m feeling/Untouchable, untouchable”

And speaking as someone who was routinely targeted by bullies throughout his public school life – including having his hand broken, being thrown head first into a concrete wall, and being wheeled out of school with a concussion – THAT’S when you need to be most on guard.

Nothing will get you in more trouble than acting like you’re indestructible. You start to overestimate yourself and are more likely to treat others as beneath you. All it takes is one person to get sick of your pompous B.S. and you’re headed for a fall.

Also, this bridge is infuriatingly repetitive. Like, to the point where it feels a lot longer than it actually is.


So, all that being said, how should you ACTUALLY handle a pushy prick at the bar?

Well, for starters, be on guard while maintaining a respectful atmosphere. Let them say their piece and if you aren’t interested, politely decline.

If they press the matter, don’t be afraid to seek help. This is something these Faux-Feminist anthems tend to leave out since the authorities that could help (bartenders and bouncers, in this case) are typically men. And, “we can’t have men around to aid the cause of women. That would make us seem hypocritical and won’t sell albums. Sorry, can’t hear your logic and legitimate concerns over the sound of all this MONEY!”

So to conclude the longest rant I’ve ever gone on,  I hate this song and, by extension, the woman who sings it because they promote a ‘us versus them’ mentality to sexual politics, give potentially dangerous advice, and think that the best way to combat gender discrimination is to objectify the other side even more than what they were inflicting on you.

I can’t be the only one that sees the folly in acting like this; emulating the worst aspects of arrogance and cruelty found in the people we can’t stand. Even if you do buy into Trainor’s ‘boys are stupid; throw rocks at them’ mentality, do you really want to live in a world where the only way to be respected as a woman… is to act like a man?

Return of the Crappy Carols: Three More Terrible Christmas Songs

Last year, I gave you a short list of songs attached to the Christmas season that are guaranteed to kill my holiday spirit. However, if you thought that was all I had, prepare yourselves for another unfortunate lump of coal in your stocking. I have three more tinsel covered turds to ruin the mood.

Honestly, I’m not trying to ruin the holiday for anyone. But, if I can reach at least one musician and convince them to not pump out dreck like this, than that makes Christmas that much more merry for all of us. That said, let’s begin.

The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late) – Alvin and The Chipmunks

Good lord, I hate The Chipmunks. I hated them before it was cool to hate them. Hell, I hated them before it was cool to LIKE them.

It’s not hard to understand why I despise them so deeply. With their halfhearted covers of classic pop tunes sped up to a dog whistle-like tone, they’re the unholy union of Kids Bop and Auto Tune that physically hurts me to listen to. And when I say “physically hurts me”, I mean no exaggeration, stomach-souring, eye-twitching, muscle-spasm-inducing pain.

All of these problems are on display in this song. In fact, this one is made all the worse by being an original song as opposed to a cover; showing how terrible the writing is without the guidance of another.

What’s more, it has nothing meaningful to give us. It’s just three ‘kids’ talking about the toys that they want for Christmas with no regard for the joy of giving. Is my life really enriched by a song promoting the already over-hyped commercialism of the holiday? No, of course not.

It’s not the most offensive song – Christmas or otherwise – but it IS one of the few that drive me to such irrational rage that it makes me want to beat some unfortunate soul to death with some other unfortunate soul’s body.

Fairytale Of New York – The Pogues Featuring Kirsty MacColl

This is supposed to be charming?

I really don’t get how this one ever got popular. It’s not happy, it has nothing to do with the values that we attach to Christmas, and it seems to go out of it’s way to be as mean spirited as possible.

This is one of those songs that could never be made today, but the fact that it was made with Christmas in mind while telling its bitter story and using its more ‘colorful’ language is absolutely mind-boggling to me regardless of the time in which it was made.

I really don’t think I need to justify my hate very much here, so I’m not going to comment on it any further. I would say that all you need to do is hear the song for yourself to understand, but that would require you to actually listen to it and I’m not that cruel.

The Christmas Shoes – NewSong

Okay, before we get too deep into this, I want to make it clear that this isn’t about “the Christ in Christmas.” I could sit here and rattle off how practically everything about this holiday was taken from some other celebration and that it has no place in modern Christianity, but pretending that means anything in this context a load of crap and we all know it. The fact is that everyone, regardless of faith, has the right to celebrate whenever, however, and for whatever reason they please as long as it’s not disruptive to the lives of others.

Are we clear?… Good, because this is the worst piece of music to crawl out of the gutters of the Contemporary Christian genre.

I guess this is just one of those songs that you need to say your prayers every night to appreciate, but it just sits wrong with me. I have to imagine that, if I were a devout Christian, I would be highly offended by the idea that The Great I Am would be so cold as to commit the premeditated and painfully slow murder of my mother and tell me to make my last act of love making sure she’s wearing a sweet new pair of Chuck Taylors when she gets to the pearly gates so he can use me to teach some wrinkled, rusted, rural country scrooge the true meaning of Christmas.

It wants so badly to be an uplifting message about love, kindness, and charity, but it just comes off as needlessly dark and depressing. And on a day that should be happy (and is often already depressing enough with the difficulties of shopping), I just don’t want it around me.

A Long Over Due Retraction: Minaj vs. Trainor

What did they used to call it? “The shiniest of two turds?”
Source: junkee.com

I’ve been putting this off for too long; not for fear of admitting I was wrong, but because I always had something else on my mind that I wanted to say that got in the way.

So, way back in September of last year (has it really been that long?), I criticized Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda for not being the feminist message that it portended to be. However, I made the sorry mistake of saying that Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass was able to keep the theme of booty pride while retaining a more girl friendly atmosphere.

Well, as a few readers were eager to point out, this was not the case.

Upon repeated hearings and exploring the rest of her body of work, it’s hard to deny that Meghan is just as near sighted as Nicki in terms of the definition of feminine.

Nowhere is this more clear then when I finally found a line in All About That Bass shaming petite framed girls by calling them “skinny bitches.” There was also the line where she explains that she “[Shakes] it like I’m supposed to do.” Again, we have the problem narrowly defining what as woman should and shouldn’t be. What if a girl doesn’t want to show off her butt? Doesn’t she have other avenues she can pursue to gain respect and attention?

Also, when I heard her newer single Lips Are Movin’ – a song about distrusting a lover, I started to notice another uncomfortably off-key message of empowerment; promoting women by shaming men. I get that the stereotype is that men are sex-crazed jackasses, but so-called “slut shaming” works both ways and when you say that you “know [we’re] lying ’cause [our] lips are moving” is not only painting with a broad brush, it’s also painting in a very offensive shade. And if it wasn’t cute when the Spice Girls did it, it sure as hell isn’t cute now.

So, yes – I was demonstrably wrong about Meghan Trainor. She is not the saint of female empowerment that I gave her credit for being.

That being said, she is still LEAGUES above Nicki Minaj in terms of likability. Where Nicki is aggressive about her sexuality to the point of trying way too hard to impress, Meghan is more reserved which has the effect making her seem more sweet and good-natured.

Also, and this purely a matter of personal preference, I find Meghan’s 1950’s throwback sound more tasteful and gentle on the ears than Nicki’s ripping-off and butchering of an ACTUAL female empowerment anthem.

Basically, what I’m straining to get out is this; the difference in insulting between Meghan Trainor and Nicki Minaj is the difference between a put-down from Tyrion Lannister and Dane Cook’s “The Finger” sketch… and if forced to choose, I’ll take being verbally slapped in the face by Peter Dinklage over someone flipping me the bird while bouncing around like an amphetamine-fueled Chimpanzee any day.

Of course, I’d rather just settle on someone that didn’t offend my senses and made me happy.

Three Christmas Songs That I NEVER Want to Hear Again

It was inevitable folks; Christmas time is almost upon us again and that means a return to familiar scenes and trappings. The lights and trees are up, stores are having their sales, and the radio stations are running their Christmas line-ups.

Last year, I went on an exploration of what Christmas meant to me in an attempt to recapture the spirit that I once had as a child. I’m pleased to say that, for the most part it was a success; I’m much more optimistic about the season now then last year and years prior.

However, I still take some exceptions to the canon of Christmas music. While I find myself more tolerant to multiple renditions of Jingle Bell Rock that aren’t even rock music, there are still auditory atrocities that I have no patience for. So, if you’re going to invite me to your Christmas party, please make sure your music playlist doesn’t include the following.

Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer – Elmo & Patsy

Might as well get the obvious one out of the way right now.

This song often tops several peoples lists of the worst Christmas songs made and for good reason – it’s just not funny or, at the very least not funny in the way it should be.

It’s not that I’m offended by the subject; I enjoy dark comedy (hence why I’ve mentioned The Binding of Issac with glowing praise multiple times). It’s just that the joke goes nowhere. It’s says, “Grandma’s dead,” and doesn’t do anything with it. It’s a subject that the now divorced Elmo and Patsy Shropshire clearly weren’t ready to handle.

The droning riff stolen from Jingle Bells doesn’t help matters either. It’s far too blunt and it sounds like it’s trying to pound it’s way through your skull.

If you want a death-as-comedy Christmas carol, I recommend Weird Al’s Christmas at Ground Zero which only delights in becoming more and more grotesque. Unlike this sorry tune which doesn’t know know what to do with the sleigh-hicular manslaughter of a beloved family member.

Santa Buddy – Michael Bublé

I’ll admit it, Eartha Kitt’s Santa Baby is my guilty pleasure. I know that it’s a stupid song about a gold digging woman using her sexuality to con Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick out of more presents, but that stupidity is part of it’s appeal to me. To me, sex is an inherently funny act that tends to get a chuckle out of me. Plus, It’s Eartha Kitt – I just can’t say no to Catwoman.

Basically what I’m trying to say is, if I may paraphrase Kitt herself, I used to have a lot of fun with this song… then Michael Bublé sang it.

Bublé misses the entire point of the song. He reworks the lyrics of the song to remove any and all hints of sexuality from the lyrics because he can’t stand the idea of people thinking he may be gay (which is a shame because a gay male take on Santa Baby might have been interesting) and there by removing what little edge the song had.

Also, by removing the sexual humor and changing the perspective to a male one, the song becomes a story about a greedy douchebag begging Santa for stuff he probably doesn’t deserve. Yup, Bublé unintentionally made the theme song for Jeremy Creek from The Town Santa Forgot.

So, just to clarify, Eartha Kitt was sexy and funny; Michael Bublé is rude and pathetic.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Various Artists

There exist no words to accurately describe the level of discomfort and blind fury I feel every time I hear this song. It is, quite simply, the worst Christmas song ever made and one of the worst songs of all time, purely based on how offensive it is.

Why is this song so bad? Well, the short version is this: there should not exist a Christmas song about DATE RAPE.

No, really; this is a song about a man using the state of the weather as an excuse to keep a woman at his home against her will and despite her pleas to leave. I really don’t think I need to justify my hate much further beyond that. It’s a sexist song on par with, if not worse than, Blurred Lines.

And just in case you think I and my fellow condemners of this song are reading too much into lyrics like, “The answer is no,” and, “What’s in this drink,” bare in mind that when the original writer Frank Loesser scripted the score, he named the female and male roles the Mouse and the Wolf respectively. He used the same language used to describe a sexual predator and their prey.

No means no, people. And I’m saying no to this song.