Probably to your surprise, the worst music in America isn't being made on "American Idol," even though that would be a good guess. It's not Wayne Newton in Vegas, for the sixteenth consecutive decade. No, the worst music in America is actually being made in Nashville, and it's airing on your local FM dial.
This past week I've been painting my house. It's boring, tedious work that really makes one appreciate a college degree. While I've been sitting, standing, kneeling and looking up, brush or roller in hand, I've had an old boombox playing in the background. As monotonous as the physical activity itself has been, listening to the dreck that's been coming out of the nickel speakers in that boombox has been downright brutal.
It's easy to not pay attention to lyrics when you're focused on something else. You just let the music play and get a melody in your head. Unfortunately, painting is a rather mindless activity. As such, it's hard not to pay attention to what is actually being sung.
Without question the majority of songs on Top 40 country radio these days are treachly bromides about the importance of country, god and family, almost always in that order. In fact, the station I've been listening to has a station ad that proclaims "We say 'God Bless America.' If you don't say this, this isn't your channel."
Ah, patriotism. In the post-9/11 worldview held by Top 40 country, nothing says patriotism like blind allegiance.
Anyway, song after song after song consists of nothing more than some manufactured voice singing as deeply as possible about loving America and what it stands for, loving god, and raising kids. Female singers take a sassy tone and usually sing about relationship problems. Needless to say, the women of country radio actually make the genre halfway worthwhile.
Oh, small towns and growing up in small towns are favorite topics also.
You would think the songwriters creating this garbage get handed a card of acceptable song topics when they hit the Nashville city limits.
I understand that people want to listen to songs that make them feel good, and I'm sure a lot of the audience for this music works outdoors with their hands. But since when did that become an excuse to not face reality?
The reality is, this country has engaged in some pretty shady activities, not just in the past seven years but in the past 200 plus. If you don't believe me, or you refuse to believe that, find the closest Indian and strike up a conversation. For starters.
I'm not going to bag on god, for two reasons. One, I believe in god, and two, I also believe in karma. If I say anything critical here, at the least I'll get a speeding ticket today. Just remember, the loudest Christians are usually the weakest.
And finally, being married and having kids is great and all, but why do we need entire songs about how to be better parents or a better husband? If you need some two-hit wonder's songwriter telling you how to be a better person or spouse, you should sit down right now and engage in some self-analysis.
I would listen to another station, but Top 40 is Top 40. If I hear Sara Bareilles' "Love Song" one more time I'm going to stick a screwdriver in my ear. And you would think, with several decades' worth of choices, classic rock stations would find a way to not play "More Than A Feeling" every single day. But it's not to be.
So I'm stuck with country radio. America, god and family. In that order. What a drag.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.