Platinum recording artist and neo-traditionalist Zac Brown has some choice words for his good friend Luke Bryan and his latest country hit "That's My Kind of Night." As the second single from his gold-debuting record "Crash My Party," Bryan's new anthem borrows pop and hip-hop influences, something that is all-too-common in today's contemporary landscape. Brown's distaste for modern country music goes far beyond Bryan's latest work. In fact, he admits that there is very little on radio that he enjoys.
“What we do is not necessarily traditional country, but we play all of our own instruments, we write the best songs that we can, and we put harmony on the songs, we have a real band…a lot of it’s just about subject matter," he tells Barbara Beam from 93.7 JR FM in Vancouver, defending his band's evolving sound. "We really write about real life, songs that come from life and our heart. To me country music has always been the home for a great song."
He continued, “If I hear one more tailgate in the moonlight, daisy duke song, I’m gonna throw up. There’s songs out there on the radio right now that make me be ashamed to be even in the same format as some other artists.”
Despite his criticisms for most of the mainstream, he does assert there are still plenty of artists making great, listenable music. He says, “Now, there are still great artists that are in the country format and there’s still artists to that do a great job with a song that care about their lyrics and it’s not just mindless dribble."
The tunesmiths behind these hit songs were not immune to Brown's bold statements. “You can look and see some of the same songwriters on every one of the songs," he laments. "There’s been like 10 number one songs in the last two or three years that were written by the same people and it’s the exact same words, just arranged different ways.”
As far as Bryan's latest entry, Brown doesn't hold back. “I love Luke Bryan and he’s had some great songs, but this new song is the worst song I’ve ever heard. I know Luke, he’s a friend. ['That's] My Kinda Night’ is one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard. I see it being commercially successful, in what is called country music these days, but I also feel like that the people deserve something better than that. Country fans and country listeners deserve to have something better than that, a song that really has something to say, something that makes you feel something. Good music makes you feel something. When songs make me wanna throw up, it makes me ashamed to even be in the same genre as those songs.”
However, the band frontman does find hope with one of country music's latest releases. He praises, “This week, I’ve been listening to Sheryl Crow‘s new record. There’s really the most country song that I’ve heard since like George Jones back in the day on her new cd. She wrote it with Brad Paisley, it’s called ‘Waterproof Mascara.’ It’s sad to me to think that country music won’t even play that because they’re playing dance club songs that have cliche country lyrics in it.”
Recently, fellow musician and vocalist Gary Allan expressed similar sentiments about the state of modern country music, taking Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift to task for their pop leanings. "I would say they're pop artists making a living in the country genre," Allan boldly alleges of Swift and Underwood's catalog to Larry King. "I also feel like we lost our genre."
He continues, "I feel like I don't make music for a genre anymore. I did 10, 15 years ago. But since the Clear Channels and the Cumulus and all the big companies bought up all the chains, now it's about a demographic."