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The Worst of 2011!

You call that music?


By: The staff at Strictly Country


The best part about being on the staff of Strictly Country is having the ability to listen to all that country music has to offer. It is Strictly Country's policy to review all material sent. This can be a wonderful policy when you get to hear some of the most beautiful music. This can also be a difficult policy to follow, especially when you get to hear every Tom, Dick and Harry who believes that they have the talent to sing.


You may not agree with our list, which we understand. However, we challenge you to one thing - that is take an album, any album, and listen to it on a regular CD player. Now take that same album and listen to it under studio quality headphones. By listening to the album under studio quality headphones, which you can purchase at any store, you are hearing the album as it was recorded. Trust us when we say - there is a huge difference! The best example is found in Miranda Lambert. When her music is played on any player, she sounds good. But, when you listen to her music using studio quality headphones, she is actually screaming throughout every song.


At Strictly Country, we pride ourselves in reviewing an album without any music industry influence. Therefore, we provide the truth in regards to the music.


That said, here is our list of the worst songs and albums of 2011.


There are a few albums that just barely made the cut. Therefore they are not included on this list.  These albums include:

Burns & Poe - Burns & Poe
Temptation - The Waifs
The Edge of Heaven - Rick Krauss
Lucy Angel - Lucy Angel
Wag More Bark Less - Chas Sandford
Send It East - J.D. Bauman and The Boot Band
This Life Ain't For Everybody - Eric Lee Beddingfield
Take The High Road - Blind Boys of Alabama


Now here are the albums that made the cut for our list of the Worst Songs and Albums of 2011... 


We begin with two notable albums that are teetering on whether or not they belong on our list. The first belongs to Lady Antebellum with their album Need You Now. We love the vocal talent that Lady Antebellum maintains. However, when you listen really close, their base line melody is the same throughout every song. Thus, making the entire album sound like one long song. The same goes for the Eli Young Band and their album Life At Best.


Throughout the year, we heard many artists who released albums that had the same base line melody throughout the entire album. It is almost as if this is the new standard in the music industry. The albums that fall under this category include Bless My Sole by Angel Band, Unraveled by Bryan Burke Band, Wrapped Up Good by The McClymonts, Raise My Glass by Mickey And The Motorcars, and Angels & Devils by Sarah Darling. Have we become a society of zombies when it comes to our choice in music? We thought so with those albums!


In 2011, we were introduced to several new artists. Like EG Kight and her album, Lip Service. Throughout the album, we could not find any hint of her emerging out of the 1970's lounge singer style. Another lounge singer that we were introduced to was Chris Pickering and his album Work of Fiction. Chris intrigued us with his vast vocal talent. However, his choice in music was simply awful.


Where as Connie Kis is another on a long list of want-to-be's. Her self entitled album features a very limited entertainer, vocally. There is one song on this album that calls for a high note and Connie is unable to deliver. Thus making the song sound horrible.


Then we come to a nobody who is trying to raise funds for a legitimate cause. Bryan D. Jones released Picnic In The Meadow to help raise funds for Hope's Promise. Jones would be lucky if he raised even $1 from this album.


Many albums that we listened too this year contained music that was performed well, but just did not stand out enough to alert us to take a listen. This is the case with Amy Black's album One Time.


Then again, we came across several albums that had no vocal talents. The Roys are a Bluegrass duo that perform with no emotion. Their album, Lonesome Whistle, consists of several songs that almost sound like they were taken from more notable songs.


This year we came across a lot of entertainers who have the vocal talents but lack the piazze or emotions to give their music life. Stoney LaRue's album Velvet was one of those albums. Another entertainer with the same problem was Matt Gary. In reviewing his EP, I'm Just Sayin', we found that he had the talent to sing the fast paced songs but lacked the emotions to sing the ballads.


Where as Brandon James' album, Down In the Sand, features a man who wants to be a country singer and ends up being more of a Las Vegas act. He has some talent to pull of the fast paced songs but has no emotions to sing the ballads. 


We came across Russell Hitchocock's duel album Tennessee: The Nashville Sessions. This album was so boring, we could almost use it as a way to fall asleep at night. Donna Hughes' album Hellos Goodbyes & Butterflies is another one that will put you to sleep.


The album that surprised us the most came from Thompson Square. You can not be in this business without hearing some hype about certain entertainers. When it comes to Thompson Square, it's all hype and no talent what so ever! The same goes for the soundtrack to the movie Footloose. When will Hollywood realize that you can not take a rock-n-roll iconic movie and allow country music singers to perform in it? All we can say, is go buy the original movie and soundtrack!


Then sometimes you come across an album that has the instrumental talent, but lacks everything else. This is the case with Rodney Parker & 50 Peso Reward's album Live In The Living Room. Trust us when we say that live in our office is much better than this one.


Even Christmas music is not immune to to horrible talent. When Ben Gregg released his Christmas single "Gifts," we were stunned. Let us put it this way, if we were the song writers on this one, we would sue the hell out of this entertainer for destroying our song.


Do you know what happens when a new artist hits it big? Many other want-to-be's try to emulate that artist. This is the case with Jessica Ridley and her album Fit To Be Tied. Jessica tries to hard to emulate Taylor Swift that her vocals just come out sounding horrible!


Whoever keeps going to local honky tonks and telling the singer or band that they should record an album, should be shot! Gary Nichols is one of those entertainers. His album, The Way We Do It Down South, features a very untalented man.


The same goes for Lacey Brown's EP Let It Go. The title says it all on this one. This is one that has the instrumentals, but Lacey does not have any vocal talent!


Sometimes it all comes down to the production of the album. The cost of recording an album begins at $25,000. The higher the cost, the better the album. The lower the cost, well you get crap. Autumn Letendre recorded an album called Raise Your Flag, in honor of her husband who was a United States Marine Corps. Captain. This album was recorded in mono tone. Who in today's technology records an album in mono tone? Now mix that with Autumn's lack of vocals and what you have is simply crap! Autumn we thank you and your husband for his service. But, please - do not record another album!

GI Jams Volume 1: The original music of our U.S. Military Artists was another album performed by and dedicated to our Veterans. However, we feel sorry for those who sang on this album. The entire album was mixed and produced so bad that we cringed as we listened to it.


We found the same situation in Midnight River Choir's Welcome To Delirium. We would rather listen to Opera then this one again.


Then sometimes we receive an album that contains the most beautiful music. Music that captures the heart of every instrumentalist. Music that is totally destroyed by the singer. Sorry, but we just can not call Mary Beth Cross a singer. The title of her album says it all - In My Right Mind. Yeah maybe.


When we were introduced to Kermit Lynch, we found out that he was part of the music scene as a song writer and the front man for many bands. Today he is a wine importer. Really? His album is filled with cover songs from some of the Top entertainers throughout music. Really? You had to record an album full of covers? Are you stupid? Go back to your wine. You're going to have to sell a lot of it to pay for this one!


Now we come to the worst of the worst. We begin with Jadi Norris and his album Make Hay. Jadi sounds like he has ADD. Everything about this album stinks.


Speaking of stinking, Elvis Lloyd Carden is no Elvis. Think of the most backwoods, uneducated, non-talented man and that is what you get with his album Life.


What always turns us off an entertainer is when they re-record someone else's song. This is the case with Coldwater Canyon Band and their album Nobody Knows. We can tell you nobody knows how to sing! Especially, in their version of a George Jones song "White Lightenin'."


Sometimes you just can not understand the singer. This is the case with the Steve Palmer Band and their album Apparition. Enunciation is the key to being a good singer. This album, is one for the burn pile! Then again, God will condemn us for polluting the air.


The same goes for Ray Stephenson and his single "Farmboy." This is a fairly decent song, but Ray butchers the entire song.


When we heard Bob Schneider and his album A Perfect Day, all we could say was you have to be smoking something to even consider this talent.


We now come to the Top or really the five Worst Albums of 2011.


We begin with Barn Doors And Concrete Floors by Isral Nash Gripka. Everything that could be wrong with an album is wrong with this one. From the lack of vocals to the off instrumentals, all we can say is that we had to wash our ears out after listening to this one.


For the past few years we have had to endure the garbage that Jonalee White calls music. This past year she released another album called Sugar. All we can say is go back to the rock you crawled out from under and stay there. You have no talent!


When we listened to Michelle Turley's single "My X Husband," all we could say was 'you suck!' It's that bad!

Kevin Skinner was the winner of America's Got Talent. Really? Well America does not have talent, especially when you listen to this guy! All we can say is don't even go near this album - it stinks!

If we had an award for the biggest idiot it would go to Vince Hatfield for re-recording a popular KISS song called "Beth."


Drum roll please! The CD Coaster Award for worst album of 2011 is CJaye LeRose and her album Date With The Tub. CJaye's vocals are very similar to that of a screaming three-year-old. It's so annoying that it could be used as a torture devise during war. Homer Simpson's girlish scream sounds much better than the vocals of this untalented hussy. We ask, actually we beg CJaye to never ever sing again!


That is our list of Worst Songs and Albums of 2011! What will 2012 bring? Hopefully better music!

(This article was printed in the January / February 2012 issue of Strictly Country Magazine.)

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