Posts by Chris Willman
- Chris Willman at Yahoo Music3 days ago
Never in contemporary times has there been a year where the Best Song category was so strong — and relevant to younger viewers, even — that the Oscars were actually glad to put the nominated tunes on the telecast. That didn't keep the show's producers from severely abridging most of the songs. But we've come a long way from the Debbie Allen production numbers of olde when the show has music fans actually looking forward to U2, Pharrell Williams, Karen O, P!nk, and Idina Menzel (or, as she's known to John Travolta, Adela Dazeem?).
They all acquitted themselves like winners, though some made a bigger impression on tech-award-wearied viewers than others. We reviewed the performances and ranked them from least to most galvanizing...
- Chris Willman at Our Country7 days ago
In a genre that prides itself on being real, Dierks Bentley remains among the real-est, whether he’s doin’ a lot of leavin’ or a lot of rising. With this week’s release of his seventh album, "Riser," Bentley again proves himself one of the best and most relate-able country stars we’ve got. It’s a collection that covers even more territory than usual, including the subjects of being a parent, losing a parent…and, not to stray too far from the country music zeitgeist, partying.
We sat down with Bentley in Nashville last week for a conversation about the new album and how it changed direction mid-stream (or almost at the end of the stream, actually). In the first installment of our two-part interview, he talks about how a project that started out being heavily influenced by his father’s death ultimately came to be a more upbeat affair, for reasons both commercial and personal.
RAM COUNTRY: Speaking of "risers," your single “I Hold On” has been a riser on the chart.
BENTLEY: Yeah. A slow riser. That’s the way I am. That describes me perfectly.
- Chris Willman at Our Country12 days ago
It's a perennial question in Nashville: Who's gonna fill their shoes? But with the focus more than ever on hunky young talent, the question these days is really: Who's gonna fill Florida Georgia Line's shoes?
If there's a good answer to that, you're sure to find it at the annual New Faces show at the Nashville Convention Center. Traditionally the climax of the Country Radio Seminar conference, this dinner concert with arena-ready production values showcases the five freshman acts that radio programmers have voted the most likely to succeed. It's an honor nearly as coveted as winning Best New Artist at the CMAs or ACMs. And it's also a chance to prove to the FM gatekeepers that they'll beat the sophomore jinx.
For 2014, four of the five performing honorees — Brett Eldredge, Tyler Farr, Charlie Worsham, and Thomas Rhett — were male, showing the continued difficulty women are having breaking through in the genre. The fifth, Cassadee Pope, further established that TV contest boosts remain the best bet for females trying to break the bro-country ceiling.
- Chris Willman at Our Country12 days ago
Blake Shelton is definitely “Doin’ What She Likes,” if we can refer to the collective country music listenership as a big ole she . He’s currently tied with Brad Paisley for the longest streak of consecutive No. 1 country singles, with 10… and he’s poised to break that record if “Doin’ What She Likes,” currently sitting at No. 8 on Billboard’s country airplay chart, continues its inevitable trajectory and becomes his 11 th chart topper in a row.
“You almost feel guilty sometimes,” says Shelton. (And if you believe that, you’ll believe Pure B.S., to cite one of his album titles.) “But it’s easy to get over that when I think about back in the day where I was just struggling to get something on the radio.” Now, his problem is finding time in-between tapings of The Voice to fly back into Nashville for No. 1 parties, like the one this week that celebrated his two most recent toppers, “Boys ‘Round Here” and “Mine Would Be You.”
- Our Country15 days ago
When CeeLo Green mentioned his exit from "The Voice" on Ellen DeGeneres's show, he wasn't faking the spontaneity of the announcement. At least some of his fellow judges were caught unawares, including Blake Shelton. "He said that?" Shelton responded, when asked about it at a small radio roundtable in Nashville Wednesday afternoon. The country star had just gotten off a plane with his wife, Miranda Lambert, and no one had alerted them to the news yet. But his reaction was more mildly surprised than shocked, and he made it clear he'd seen it coming.
- Chris Willman at Yahoo Music16 days ago
No matter how many iconic roles John Travolta takes on in his career, there are a few of us who will always prefer to remember him not in a white disco suit, with a skinny tie, or even donning a housedress, but in a turtleneck. Which can only mean that, on the occasion of his 60th birthday, we come to celebrate John Travolta, music star .
It's true that he hasn't exactly been emphasizing his pop aspirations since 1977, the year when he released his second and last full solo album. Yet, as Edna Turnblad would attest, even without attempting a Top 40 career in earnest, Travolta can't stop the beat. Whether he's singing and dancing on screen ("Grease," "Hairspray") or just one of the two ("Saturday Night Fever," "Pulp Fiction"), we associate him with musical moments more than any other contemporary actor. Which makes his once-a-decade-or-so efforts as an Actual Recording Artist all the more fascinating... and sometimes puzzling.
[Related: 14 Unforgettable John Travolta Moves]
- Chris Willman at Our Country29 days ago
Maria McKee is warming up to the subject of this band she used to be in… a few decades ago. “I guess sometimes the reason why I can be a little churlish around the whole Lone Justice thing is because it was so bloody long ago. It makes me feel like I’m 500,000 years old!” she laughs. Fortunately, for anyone actually doing the math, “I just started so young” — as in the very tender age of 18, which is how old McKee was when This is Lone Justice: The Vaught Tapes was recorded.
- Chris Willman at Our Country1 mth ago
Good news: One of the most feisty, fun, rip-roaring country albums of all time has just been released. And it only took 30 years for it to finally come out, but don’t let that put a crimp in your two-step. The collection of vintage demos that’s been dubbed This is Lone Justice: The Vaught Tapes , 1983 sounds as fresh as the day it was made, regardless of the three decades of dust that gathered on songs like “Dust Bowl Depression” before it saw the light of day.
- Chris Willman at Yahoo Music1 mth ago
To everything there is a season, as Pete Seeger — the bridge between Ecclesiastes and the Byrds — famously reminded the world.
Seeger’s death Monday at 94 reminds us that without this folk godfather, we wouldn't have had Joan Baez, early Bob Dylan, mid-period Bruce Springsteen, or John Mellencamp... or very much of the 20th century's socially conscious music as we knew it. He was the modern era’s gentlest —yet, in his way, loudest — rager against the machine.
- Chris Willman at Yahoo Music1 mth ago
Let's face it: Hardly anyone outside the music business cares who picks up which trophies at the Grammys since the real "winners" are whoever unofficially triumphs in the Best Performance on This Particular Telecast category. The show's producers certainly recognize that, since they managed to shoehorn 21 performances into Sunday night's show.
Behold, our ranking of those musical numbers, from best to weakest:
1. Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age, Lindsey Buckingham, and Dave Grohl: "Copy of a"/"My God Is the Sun" Who cares if the network used Josh Homme's song to hurriedly run end credits over at the three hours, 45 minutes point? This was a truly inspired idea for a severely rocking jam session, from the moment the Fleetwood Mac guitarist's inimitable picking backed up electro-god Trent Reznor's vocal musings. Better some serious rock 'n' roll as a brief wake-up call at the tail end of the show than none at all.