Beville

Beville

Beville is Slacker's country correspondent and host of our New Country First station. A CMA award winner for music journalism, she can't carry a tune in a bucket but spends a lot of her time in Nashville enjoying those who can.

Tim McGraw Honored for “Highway” Milestone

Less than two dozen artists on the planet can boast 34 No. 1 singles, so there was a big reason for Tim McGraw to celebrate this week in Nashville. Friends and colleagues threw a party for the country superstar in midtown Music City to commemorate his 34th chart-topper, “Highway Don’t Care,” which also features Taylor Swift on vocals and Keith Urban on guitar.

Photo by Rick Diamond- Getty

Photo by Rick Diamond- Getty

“I’m a big fan of Keith’s and big fan of Taylor’s. They’re two of the best artists we have, not just in country but in music in general,” McGraw told Slacker and other partygoers, including Urban himself, who beamed at his friend on stage. “Keith is one of those guys who makes everyone look at us here in Nashville, and I’m so proud to have him represent us. And Taylor is so smart, talented, beautiful, and a spectacular songwriter. It was a big deal to have her on this record, and especially a big deal for my three daughters!”

Plaques commemorating the song’s rise to the top were presented to the singer, his producer Byron Gallimore and the “Highway Don’t Care” songwriters, Mark Irwin, Josh Kear, Brad Warren and Brett Warren. McGraw showed as much appreciation for the writers as he did his collaborators.

Brett Warren, Brad Warren, Mark Irwin, McGraw, Byron Gallimore; photo by Thien Phan

Brett Warren, Brad Warren, Mark Irwin, McGraw, Byron Gallimore; photo by Thien Phan

“There are people at 7-Eleven who can sing better than I can, but there are not a lot of people who can write a great song,” he mused. “This town is full of those people. They’re passionate about what they do and work hard at it. The best (songwriters) in this industry are right here in Nashville.”

McGraw’s wife, Faith Hill, was also at the party, as the couple shared a rare night out together in Nashville. They will resume their series of Soul2Soul shows at Las Vegas’ Venetian Hotel and Casino in October. McGraw is also working on a new movie but is keeping mum on details, joking that he’d lose his role if he said anything about it just yet.

Listen to McGraw’s latest No. 1, “Highway Don’t Care,” here.

 

The Top Five Hits on Twitter

Screen Shot 2013-08-16 at 1.10.01 AMQuick: Tell us what your newest favorite song is and why in 140 characters or less.

Twitter has become a major player in the music business, with millions of users tweeting about what they’re listening to and sharing songs with their followers. Slacker has our ears open to what’s chirping, so we’ve created a Twitter Top 50 station to bring you the most popular tunes on the social network.

We update the station every Wednesday to reflect the current Twitter “Superstars” chart, which counts down Twitter users’ most listened-to tracks. Check out which hits are getting the most tweets this week by tuning in here.

While you’re listening, here are our favorite five hits from Twitter Top 50 this week:

1. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, “Can’t Hold Us” (featuring Ray Dalton): “Looking for a better way to get out of bed,” raps Macklemore in this caffeinated track. Dude, just play your own song. The energy in this collaboration is infectious and anything but cliché. Just try to keep your hands down.

2. Bruno Mars, “Treasure”:  It’s vintage Michael Jackson meets ‘70s disco when Mars croons about the woman of his dreams. The harmonies on this track rival anything on the singer’s stellar debut album, and if it’s possible to out-sexy himself, he’s done that too.

3. Cher, “Woman’s World”: Note to Madonna: this is how you stay relevant. Cher’s new girl-power anthem fits right in any dance club mix alongside Ke$ha, P!nk and other pop tarts half her age. The first single from her 26th studio album, this track reminds us why Cher has been a musical force to be reckoned with for almost half a century.

4. Hunter Hayes, “I Want Crazy”: In the lyrics of this song, we learn that country music’s newest heartthrob isn’t a fan of vanilla relationships – he’s more of a rocky road guy. In the melody, we hear the multi-instrumentalist play guitar, mandolin, banjo, fiddle and drums. This song proves why he should’ve been voted Biggest Flirt and Most Likely to Succeed in high school (which was just a few years ago).

5. One Republic, “Counting Stars”: When a commercially successful pop/rock band tries to sound more indie, it usually doesn’t work. One Republic proves the exception with this song, which relies just as much on its introspective lyrics as it does a catchy beat.

Check out all of these songs and more on Slacker’s Twitter Top 50.

 

Florida Georgia Line Announces Dates for First Headlining Tour

FGL_Hi-Res_Photo_8.29.12-1024x682It’s been a long time since an act has shot to superstardom as quickly as Florida Georgia Line. The country duo, comprised of Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley, signed their first major label record deal just one year ago … and what a year it’s been! They have already scored quadruple platinum sales of their debut single, “Cruise,” which stayed at #1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs Chart for a whopping 19 straight weeks, and their debut album is closing in on platinum sales. That’s on top of ACM and CMT award wins and yet another chart-topper with “Get Your Shine On.”

After opening two of the hottest tours of the year, Taylor Swift’s Red Tour and Luke Bryan’s Dirt Road Diaries trek, the guys’ next road trip will feature their own name at the top of the bill. This fall, Florida Georgia Line will embark on their first headlining run, the Here’s to the Good Times Tour 2013. “This is another dream of ours coming true,” says Kelley. “I couldn’t be more excited and more proud of the tour.”

Kicking off Oct. 3 in Brookings, SD, the trek will hit 32 cities before wrapping up Dec. 14 in Kent, WA. (See below for a full list of cities and dates on the tour.) Colt Ford will open, along with Tyler Farr on select dates and Dallas Smith on alternate dates. The first show to go on sale – the Oct. 19 stop in Lexington, KY – sold out in just 23 minutes.

While we wait for this fall’s high-energy shows, savor the rest of summer with Florida Georgia Line on our Country Summer station. Along with “Cruise,” you’ll find several other songs on the station that are perfect for an August road trip, including Brad Paisley’s “Beat This Summer,” Easton Corbin’s “All Over the Road,” Jake Owen’s “Summer Jam” and more.

Click here for a full list of tour dates and listen to Florida Georgia Line’s hits on Slacker’s New Country First and Country Hits now.

Jennifer Nettles’ Solo Album Merges Mix of Influences

179521_569869983053192_436173243_nDynamo country duo Sugarland has always incorporated a hodgepodge of influences in their platinum-selling music, blending country with pop, rock and soul, and even going so far as to cover Beyonce and Pearl Jam. So it’s no surprise that when lead singer Jennifer Nettles stepped out on her own to make a solo album, she colored outside the country lines.

“I started writing for this project a few years ago, leaving myself open as a writer and not wanting to stagnate, not wanting to become a caricature of myself,” the singer told Slacker and other music industry friends at a recent party previewing her upcoming album. “I wanted to take the risk of recreation, and that’s what this record turned out to be.”

Teaming with famed rock producer Rick Rubin and recording at his Shangri-La Studios in Malibu, Calif., Jennifer didn’t have much of a rulebook to play by when it came to making the album. But she was adamant about one thing: keeping production to a minimum.

“Rick is wonderful at capturing the most live sound that we can,” explains the 38-year-old musician. “We have all this technology, but it’s a performing art that’s meant to be experienced live. And to capture that live performance sound is sometimes illusive, especially with technology now because you can auto-tune it to death.”

While its track list incorporates influences ranging from gospel to classic rock, the yet-to-be-titled album will most surely be embraced by country radio. In fact, its first single, “That Girl,” serves as a long-awaited response to country queen Dolly Parton’s iconic tune, “Jolene.”

“It’s the story of a woman who doesn’t realize that the person she’s just been with has somebody else,” says Nettles. “And then when she does, she calls her immediately and says, ‘Even though I had my eye on this guy, I don’t want to be that girl. I don’t want your man.’ Consequently, we’ve taken to calling it ‘The Ballad of Jolene.’”

Another song that will fit right in on country radio is one the lauded vocalist co-wrote with ‘80s and ‘90s pop legend, Richard Marx. “Know You Want to Know” is a toe-tapping tune that pokes fun of the magnification of celebrity through social media and tabloid journalism. (It’s certainly a far cry from “Hold On to the Nights” and “Right Here Waiting,” so Nettles jokes that Marx is quite proud of stepping outside the box himself, as well.) Other songs previewed at the party in Nashville included a soulful cover of Bob Seger’s “Like a Rock,” along with a few touching, powerful ballads written by Jennifer.

Jennifer Nettles’ “That Girl” is set to hit country radio on Aug. 19. There’s no word yet on a release date for the full album but in the meantime, check out Sugarland and other hits on Slacker’s New Country station.

The “55 Best Ideas in Music History” Station Rewards Risk-Takers Who Expanded Our Musical Palates

55 BEST IDEAS IN MUSIC HISTORY2“This is never going to work.”

That was the recurring theme when it came to creating Slacker’s brand-new station, the “55 Best Ideas in Music History.” The brainchild of music historians (and two of the funniest guys we know), Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum, this station counts down the creative curveballs that left lasting impressions on the music world. Most of these ideas warrant a big, fat “I told you so” from their respective artists, as they started out as pipe dreams that others swore would never work.

“55 Best Ideas in Music History” spans several decades and genres, with an eclectic mix of musical gambles. For instance, what was Adele thinking when she made an entire album about one bad relationship? She was thinking all the way to the bank. Trailblazing folk icon Bob Dylan infuriated fans when he dared to plug in on an album and on tour. But adding a little electricity to his repertoire certainly received more cheers than jeers.

Slacker caught up with Craig and Rob, who also host the station, to reminisce on these musical milestones. The guys, who co-authored the hilariously poignant book, I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution, explained to us how they crafted this station and which off-the-wall musical moves shocked them the most.

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Slacker: How did you come up with this list of ideas and songs?

Craig: We thought about shifts that may have seemed unusual or profound at the time, but turned out to be the best thing [the artist] has ever done. We put a lot of hours in, researching and combing through the history of music, and we asked some friends for their opinions.

Rob: Let’s put the emphasis on “asked friends.” We like to crowd source as much as possible, so that other people are doing our work and we’re getting paid for it.

Slacker: A lot of these ideas were huge risks at the time, from sampling animal sounds on a song to publicly poking fun at Justin Bieber. What would you say is the biggest career risk on this station?

Rob: Probably Taylor Swift dating John Mayer.

Craig: Biggest risk for whom? I’d say for him, really!

Rob: We’re talking about a risk/reward scenario. This shows how smart Taylor Swift is. There are lots of other less-smart women who’ve dated John Mayer and ended up miserable over it. She managed to make it work for her.

Rob: Another great example is Fleetwood Mac’s orgy. If you were in Fleetwood Mac and said to a friend, “Hey, what do you think of the idea of us all having sex with each other over a period of years?,” the friend would say, “Are you out of your mind? That’s a horrible idea!” And that’s why you should never listen to your friends. Fleetwood Mac ended up having multiple affairs with one another and then made one of the best rock records of all time, specifically about their affairs.

Slacker: A lot of these musical ideas also led to iconic moments in television and film — for instance, Blue Oyster Cult’s use of a cowbell in “Don’t Fear the Reaper” was hilariously parodied on “Saturday Night Live.” You also reference “Wayne’s World,” “The Sopranos” and “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” on this countdown.  How did the big and small screens become such a big part of this station?

Craig: With “Bohemian Rhapsody” and songs like that, we wanted to tap into popular rock songs from the ‘70s and make you think about them in a new way. Plus, Rob and I think that scene in “Wayne’s World” was one of the greatest scenes in any movie in film history. And in the case of Blue Oyster Cult, it was an amazing parody of “Behind the Music” and gave the band an enormous boost.

Rob: I’d also say that Jimmy Fallon and The Roots help illustrate how we came up with this whole list: realizing we’re idiots. I remember when it was announced that the Roots were going to be Fallon’s late night band. I thought, “That’s a terrible idea. That’s never going to work.” Of course, Fallon and the Roots were right, and I was a moron. So this was a way for both of us to use our stupidity for our own personal gain.

Slacker: A few alter egos made the list, such as Beyonce’s “Sasha Fierce” persona. But why no Garth Brooks as “Chris Gaines”?

Rob: We are both fascinated by Chris Gaines and have to restrain ourselves from not putting him in every list we do. But we’re working on the “55 Worst Ideas in Music History” right now, so maybe he’ll show up on that list.

Slacker: Without giving away your choice for the #1 best idea in music, what criteria played a part in choosing it?

Rob: The decision was once again motivated by laziness. Craig and I co-wrote a book about MTV, and it’s a topic that, for once, we know a lot about. We’d already done the research. Music videos are things we love, so this gets our personal preferences up at the top.

Craig: If you listen to pop radio today, it’s largely centered around urban music. [Our #1 pick] was really one of the primary agents to allow black pop music to become the dominant stream of pop music in America. While Dylan going electric was profound, it didn’t have the affect on music that this video had that still resonates today.

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Check out our new station, “55 Best Ideas in Music History” to hear Craig and Rob’s picks for the risks that changed the course of music, along with their humorous, expert commentary. It’s a history lesson that will actually keep you awake! Also, check out the guys’ cleverly comedic ode to the good old days when MTV actually played music videos, I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution. 

Court Yard Hounds Return With ‘Amelita’

Screen Shot 2013-07-20 at 4.04.15 AMThe future of the Dixie Chicks isn’t looking so bright, but Court Yard Hounds is certainly filling the void. The duo, comprised of Chicks co-founders Martie Maguire and Emily Robison, released its sophomore album, Amelita, this week. The collection not only shows a happier side of the Texas sisters, but also solidifies them as a band, and not just a side project.

While the Hounds’ 2010 self-titled debut was largely inspired by Robison’s divorce from country crooner Charlie Robison, Amelita is the product of more diverse songwriting inspiration. “I’ve been freed of all of those time-heals-everything kind of things,” says Robison. “Now, I’ve opened up to other ideas and ways of looking at life and the world. [Amelita is] not only a more hopeful album, but it’s more fun.”

The Texas-bred siblings wrote or co-wrote most songs on the new album and describe it as country meets adult alternative, meets adult contemporary. While their more organic sound is certainly a departure from the Dixie Chicks, an old memory from the superstar trio’s heyday is what inspired the title track, which is about underage prostitution.

“We were shooting the video [for the Chicks’ “Long Time Gone”] across from basically what was a brothel,” Maguire explains to CultureMap Austin. “Women were standing out in the doorways, and we were so naïve and we were going, ‘Why do all these women have their doors open?’”

Maguire, who takes over lead vocals from her little sister on two of the album’s 11 tracks, insists the Hounds’ sophomore disc reflects a stronger backbone. Starting over again after a multi-platinum-selling, Grammy-sweeping run as the Dixie Chicks was somewhat daunting, as they had to prove themselves again. But in the three years between Hounds albums, their musical confidence has skyrocketed.

“We’ve approached it differently because we felt like okay, we are a band,” says the fiddle player. “We aren’t just two ex-Dixie Chicks anymore, we’re a band and we like our sound and we’re going to continue to do this and hopefully get better at it, and share something new this time around.”

As for the Chicks, neither Maguire nor Robison will come right out and say they’re done, but they do warn to not hold your breath for new Dixie Chicks music anytime soon. Lead singer Natalie Maines released her own solo project, Mother, earlier this year and is busy touring in support of the project. And the Court Yard Hounds are quite content concentrating on their own venture – a musical refreshment after being with the Chicks since 1989.

Listen for Court Yard Hounds on our Americana station here. 

Luke Bryan ‘Tailgates’ in Nashville

When it comes to his whirlwind success, Luke Bryan insists it takes a village. The country music superstar was celebrated at a party Wednesday (July 10) in Nashville, where Slacker joined about 200 music industry colleagues in raising a glass to the double platinum sales status of Bryan’s Tailgates and Tanlines album. Photo by Alan PoiznerThe humble singer used his time in the spotlight to thank everyone from his road crew and co-writers to the head of Universal Music Group Nashville, Mike Dungan (pictured left with Bryan), whom he called a “whiskey drinkin’, partyin’, runnin’ the biggest label in the world kind of guy.”

Tailgates and Tanlines was the eighth biggest-selling album of any genre in 2012 and spawned three No. 1 hits. It was nominated for Album of the Year at both the Country Music Association Awards and Academy of Country Music Awards. Yet selling two million copies of the project is a feat Bryan admits he can’t really grasp.

“I remember when we were celebrating one million. I never imagined getting to two million,” he said from the stage. “It takes so many people to make this happen. Thanks to everyone who helped me do what I’ve always dreamed of. So many people in this room have watched me go from somebody who was so ignorant and naïve to somebody that’s … well, maybe not naïve but there’s still a lot of ignorance. [laughs]”

And a lot of days away from home. Bryan is currently on his sold-out Dirt Road Diaries tour and credits wife Caroline with holding down the fort in Nashville, chasing after their two sons, Bo (5) and Tate (2).

“I want to thank my wife for letting me be on the road and shake my butt,” laughed the “Country Girl (Shake It for Me)” singer. “Caroline busts her butt with the boys and is the perfect wife to let me have this career. We were down in Grayton Beach (Florida) last night, and we had the boys on the bus … Tate was sleeping in the bottom bunk and woke up about what, three times?”

“About 30 times,” Caroline corrected him from the audience.

“Thirty? Well, I was up for two of them,” the singer joked in response, then continuing his little family story with something that might make his youngest child blush in a few years. Bryan was excited to report that Tate “poo pooed on the potty” for the first time last week – another feat to which he credits the tireless parenting of his better half.

Bryan will have very little downtime between his current tour and promotion of his next album. Crash My Party is set to hit stores Aug. 13, and we’re betting it will be another two million-seller. Its title track, which you can hear on our New Country First station, is already No. 4 on the Slacker EQ chart.

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