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.


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.


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. 

Slacker EQ Charts for the Week are Here!

play-1Welcome to Slacker’s EQ Charts for the week of July 21st! Take a look here. 

This week on the Slacker EQ, Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” continues to resonate with Slacker listeners across many stations and genres; it’s #1 on the Pop, Hip Hop/R&B, and Overall EQ charts. This appears to be the official song of the summer amongst Slacker music fans. We are carefully watching Anna Kendrick’s “Cups”, and Bruno Mars’ “Treasure”, as they are both very close to unseating Robin Thicke on both the Pop and Overall charts.

The biggest story on Slacker’s EDM chart is Timeflies’ “I Choose U”, which rockets on to the chart to debut at number 11. We haven’t seen such an overwhelmingly positive audience response to a song on this chart since Swedish House Mafia’s “Don’t You Worry Child, “ which went on to top the charts for 10 weeks. Also notable is the debut of Icona Pop’s new single “We Got The World,” which is up 14 spots to land at #49 in its first week of release.

On our Alt/Indie chart, you’ll see Passenger’s “Let Her Go” make its debut at #40. Here we have a song that is a huge international hit, but has gone largely unnoticed in the US. Some of our more enterprising curators started to play the song on their stations, and Slacker listeners have responded favorably. Also on the Alt/Indie chart, Capital Cities’ “Safe and Sound” is presenting the first real challenge for the #1 spot currently occupied by Imagine Dragons’ “Radioactive” that we’ve seen in 6 weeks!

Jay-Z’s “Holy Grail” debuts this week at #13 on the Hip Hop/R&B chart, and if early audience engagement is any indication, this is headed to #1. Meanwhile, Avenged Sevenfold makes a huge debut on the Rock chart with a new song from their first album since 2010; “Hail to the King” checks in at #23 in its first week of release. Clearly the Slacker rock audience has been awaiting the return of A7X!

Finally, Slacker listeners powered a new number one on the Country chart. Brett Eldridge’s “Don’t Ya” is the most engaging country song on Slacker this week, narrowly unseating Luke Bryan’s “Crash My Party.”

Slacker’s EQ charts are powered by the people—these are the songs that millions of Slacker listeners positively engaged with the most. Check back next week to see which songs Slacker music fans push up the charts! Make sure to also check out our Slacker EQ Top 40 station, updated every week based on our EQ scores. Not sure what the EQ score is? Read more here or check out our nifty infographic here.

Selena Gomez Grows Up with New Album of the Week

SELENA-472x472Selena Gomez has graduated from Disney princess to club queen with her new album “Stars Dance.” Led by the top 10 hit “Come & Get It,” her first solo album is full of EDM-leaning dance pop that is perfectly suited for summer fun.

From the throbbing bass of the dance flavored “B.E.A.T.” to the all star hit “Like a Champion,” this album has a solid mix of dubstep, house and even Bollywood like influences.

“Stars Dance” is Slacker’s Album of the Week. Listen here!

Loufest Music Festival’s All Star Lineup Promises to Rock St. Louis

Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 9.32.43 AMThis year the Loufest music festival is rocking St. Louis once again – with a new weekend and an all star lineup that will play on three stages for the first time in the festival’s four-year history.

The Killers, Wilco, The National, Robert DeLong, Alabama Shakes and many more will be at the St. Louis Central Fields in Forest Park September 7-8, 2013. The full lineup is available for Friday here and Saturday here. 

The line-up isn’t the only hot item at LouFest this year. The festival will offer some of the best food St. Louis has to offer through a curated Nosh Pit and LouFest-goers can stroll through Market Square to check out art, threads, and stylish accessories from the St. Louis creative community and beyond. As an added bonus, attendees who trade in a bag of recyclables will be rewarded with a commemorative shirt as part of the innovative (and green) Rock & Recycle program.

LouFest-2013-453x580 (1)

More information and tickets can be purchased at and stay tuned for information and contests as the Slacker Tour prepares for Loufest! In the meantime, listen to all of this year’s artists at Slacker’s Loufest 2013 station here. 

The Top 13 Pop Songs of 2013…So Far

The anthems, the dance floor smashes, the songs that make the bedroom shake – we’ve got the top 13 (being that it’s 2013) pop songs of the year so far. We are only halfway through the year and the list was already almost too difficult to narrow down.  Here we go….

robinthickeRobin Thicke featuring Pharrell & T.I. “Blurred Lines”
The official (said by me) song of the 2013 summer because not only does this song make you want to take your clothes off but you want to dance your bootie off! Mr. Thicke and his buddies get into some serious sexy and dirty business…hey hey hey.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis “Can’t Hold Us” / “Same Love”
Coming from my hometown of Sea-Town, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have taken this world by a (no pun intended) Seattle storm with songs that frankly, mean something. It’s really hard to pick a best song from their forceful album “The Heist”. But these two songs in particular have made tremendous impact on not only the industry itself but with civil rights. Taking a stand with their beliefs make their force unstoppable.

calvin harris 2Calvin Harris featuring Florence Welch “Sweet Nothing” 
Not only has 2013 been the year for DJ/Producers but this has been Calvin Harris’ year for sure. “Sweet Nothing” pairs Calvin with the ubër talented lead singer of Florence And The Machine with a build up of all build ups that cries of unfulfilled love.

Bruno Mars “Locked Out Of Heaven”
If I was a Grammy voter “Unorthodox Jukebox” would be my bet for best Pop album of the year. “Locked Out Of Heaven” screams with the super catchy, sing-a-long, get up out of your seat that stacks up with the best.

Zedd featuring Foxes “Clarity”
If you’re into EDM (Electronic Dance Music) then you know Zedd by his producing and DJing skills. But did know that he’s remixed songs for superstars Black Eyed Peas and Lady GaGa? He’s got skills to pay the bills. Anton Zaslavski aka Zedd created one of the hottest songs on the dance floors this year in full fist-pump style.

Drake “Started From The Bottom”
With his “whole team here”, Drake drops his story of the hard-work, determination and grind that took him from the Toronto streets to half a million for a show.

daft punkDaft Punk featuring Pharrell & Nile Rodgers “Get Lucky”
Who doesn’t love disco mixed with a little Pharrell and a funky Nile Rodgers baseline? I do, I do!!! We waited over 10 years for their futuristic sounds, space masks and man did they deliver with this one. The jury may still be out on the “Random Access Memory” album but this song was an instant classic.

Justin Timberlake “Mirrors”
As all child stars do, they grow up! We’ve seen Justin grow from teen boy band member to the biggest Pop superstar in the world. “Mirrors” follows Justin’s real life in finding his true love or his better half aka Jessica Biel. One of the best love songs of the year for sure!

Baauer “Harlem Shake”
In the social media world that we live in nothing can compare to the user created videos that made this song an internet smash.

swedish house mafiaSwedish House Mafia “Don’t You Worry Child”
Any rave kid or EDM head would have been jumping up and down with glow sticks in hand at the super DJ groups “One Last Tour”. An anthem of child hood days, heartbreak and the memories that are everlasting in life. Even though Axwell, Steve Angello, and Sebastian Ingrosso are no longer together this song will go down in Swedish house history.

P!nk Featuring Nate Ruess “Just Give Me A Reason”
I can’t remember the last great pop duet? Can you? With such strong voices and harmonies from both of the singers this song was written by Pink from her broken relationship with now husband Carey Hart. The song is true and is such a great reminder of why P!nk is and has been a force to be reckoned with.

Chainz “F*ckin’ Problems”
One of the best pop songs of the year you say? How can you not turn up this jam and not act like you have the same problem as all rappers on this song. I’d like to have problems like that. JK!

Icona Pop “I Love It”
Okay okay I don’t have to say a whole lot here because it’s pretty obvious right? When you hear this song, you turn it way up and just want to crash a car into a bridge right?!?

Check out all these songs on Today’s Hits on Slacker and let tell me what song is your favorite of 2013…so far?

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. 

Justin Timberlake’s “Take Back the Night” is the Song Stuck in Our Heads

JT-472x472The power of Justin Timberlake’s talent elevated his latest release, The 20/20 Experience, from a soulful R&B album with an infectious groove to a major pop event. It turns out the second part of his musical journey, The 20/20 Experience: 2 of 2, won’t be out until September 30, but we already have the first single.

“Take Back the Night” gets into the groove and stays there. Between the slick lead vocals from Timberlake and the hook heavy bass line  – this single is bound to be another hit in JT’s arsenal.

Check out “Take Back the Night”  here and listen on demand – it’s the Song Stuck In My Head on Slacker.


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