The Worst Albums & Songs
(This article was printed in the January / February 2009 issue of Strictly Country Magazine.)
One of the toughest things to do in the music industry is to review albums with an open mind. Granted we all have our favorite entertainers, songs, and albums, but sometimes these can turn us off.
It is Strictly Country’s policy to review all material sent. This includes every album, single, video, book, etc. in regards to country music. Our job is to report, with an open mind, the pros and cons on all material.
In any given year, there are thousands of albums released in country music. We often receive albums that make us question their validity.
To insure that each album is given a fair chance, we play them on three different players. The first is a studio quality player with headphones. The second is a state of the art sound system. The third is on one of our computer systems. Each sound system can and will be different. Therefore, it can make an album sound different. However, it is our experience that if an album sounds bad on one system, it will sound bad on another.
With that said, here is Strictly Country’s list of bad albums and singles of 2008...
We begin with an album that is a toss up. It was a difficult choice to add this album to the list. This album truly depends on the listener. Carnival Ride by Carrie Underwood has been known to break chart records. However, when you truly sit down and listen to it it almost sounds like an intense screaming match between two people. At times, Carrie is able to draw out her emotions with a soft and gentle vocal. But, then she continues the song with raised, high pitched scream. When you break it all down, we believe that this album is more pop then country. Perhaps, someone should settle Ms. Underwood down so that she can find her true vocal talents.
Nothing turns us off then a new talented artist who releases a debut album with previously recorded hits by well known entertainers. This is the case with Thompson Ward’s Porch Funk. Thompson Ward has taken the style of music that Big and Rich created and turned it into something far better. However, their debut album contains two huge hits that were previously released by major entertainers, including one by Jerry Reed. We would certainly like to see another album from these boys. One that is theirs and not someone’s idea of a hit album.
The next album is Wake Me by Jonalee White. This album is the perfect example of a want-to-be pushing really hard to make it in this industry. Jonalee has vocals, but she is trying so hard to sound like all of the other major female artists, that it’s making her sound bad. If she were to forget entertainers like Shania and Martina, to truly focus on developing her own style - perhaps her music could land on the radio.
Where as our next album, For All The World To See by Becky Schlegel, is the complete opposite. This album contains some of the most beautiful instrumentals mixed with stagnant vocals.
The list continues with JoDell’s More Than I Ever Dreamed. This is one of those albums that sounds like it was recorded in someone’s garage. It’s albums like this that make program directors cringe.
Speaking of cringing, one album that makes all of us cringe in agony is Rio Rocko by Rio Rocko. As soon as we heard this one, we knew it had cd coaster written all over it.
From there we come to our first single on our list. "Devil In The Mirror" by Richie Fields, is more like a devil in the ears.
Trust us, this list gets better. Have you ever heard a local singer who believes that they have it all, but truly has nothing? Randy Thompson’s Further On album is one of those. Listening to this one reminds us of the old vinyl records we grew up on. It sounds like this was recorded in the back of a truck traveling down a highway. Randy’s vocals are shaky all the way through the entire album.
Our next album, Heritage by The Youngers, was totally sold on the idea that it was produced by John Carter Cash. Now, we are not knocking John. It’s just that if you have to sell it like that then there is no substance within the album.
Our next album hails from our own neighborhood. The Last Cowboy by Shane Wyatt. How can you be the last cowboy when you grew up in the mid-west? Yes, we do have cowboys here. But, we call them ranchers or farmers. Shane is as fake as the title of his album.
Keep On Believin,’ by Julie Ingram, says it all. If we were to hear this on the radio, we would believe that this was performed by some teeny bopper. This album contains no heart or soul, especially no stylistic direction.
What our next album needs is definitely more time! Time better spent on someone who can perform their own songs. Vince Hatfield tried to entertain us with his A Little More Time.
Richie Fields tries to entertain us again with another single, "Man Enough To Cry." This song is more like you need to be a man to not listen to this.
The list continues with Kate Campbell’s Save The Day. Many songs contain beautiful lyrics written in rhythm. But when you have an entire album that rhymes, it sounds like a kindergartner wrote it.
We feel sorry for the people who wrote the next single, "I Wanna Live Like That." This song is truly a beautiful song. However, allowing an entertainer like April Taylor to record it brings this song to the bottom of the circular file or near the top of our list.
The number seven and six on our list of bad albums and singles comes from the same artist, Zane Lewis. Zane’s music sounds like he wants to be a hard core rocker at one point then at another point he sounds like he wants to be a country bad-ass. Sorry, but your vocals have neither! Perhaps if we have a few drinks and then listen to you, maybe you’ll sound better. However, we highly doubt it!
Coming in at number five is Amanda Henkel’s self entitled album. Thank God this was only an EP of five songs. Here is another artist who has big dreams and no vocal talent!
Number four on our list of bad albums comes from a scary artist by the name of Tracylynn. Her album, Close The Door, truly scared us. However, we do not judge a book by it’s cover. Then again, we had to cover this cover. With an open mind we took the time to listen to this entire album. By the end, we wished that we could gain back the time it took us to listen to it. This album features a young female who, like many times before, has big dreams and little - actually no vocal talent. If you want to see a scary face, look this one up.
Coming in at number three is Call It Destiny by Jim Pollard. The best way to describe this album is that here is a hippy who has smoked way to much dope! Like the swirl of smoke that leaves the joint, there went his talent.
Coming in at number two is Monte Montgomery’s debut self entitled album. At first glance we believed that this was another one from the legendary Montgomery musical line. However, we were wrong. Monte doesn’t even have one ounce of talent that John Michael or Eddy Montgomery have. In fact, I would adventure to say that Monte is hoping to play off the legendary Montgomery name.
Which brings us to the worst album in country music of 2008. The album to receive Strictly Country’s CD Coaster Award is (drum roll please) Steve Richard by Steve Richard. When we received this album, we were excited. It looked like it had potential, in a country bad-ass sort of way. However, our excitement was lost after he began to sing. Steve’s vocals are best described as someone who had his throat slashed while smoking a cigarette and downing a shot of tequila while trying to sing. Trust us, it’s that bad. It is so bad, that it truly takes energy to listen past the first song. It makes us wonder, who could actually sit in the recording studio without laughing, or cringing, long enough to record this crap? Seriously? How much money would it take? No amount of money would make me sit in the studio to listen to this man.
Well there you have it! Strictly Country’s list of worst albums and singles of 2008! What will 2009 bring? Hopefully better music than 2008.
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