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Essie Accolades

Promoting and Recognizing Real Country Music of the 21st Century

Essie Accolades is a venue for recognizing and promoting the best of real country music in the 21st century.

The Essie Accolades Platinum designation honors single performances in the 21st century and those artists whose career exemplifies the highest degree of real country music.

The Essie Accolades Gold designation is given to real country songs that would be a number one hit contender in a world of real country music. 
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I Am Absolutely Outraged!
September 3, 2021

I haven't listened to country music radio in a very long time. Why? Because an overwhelming majority of the songs played on country music radio is not country music! But, from time to time I would check the latest country music chart and sample the songs in the Top 40. Well, I stopped doing that also, because it was depressing to see how much pop music has hijacked country music radio.

Today, I decided to check the Billboard Hot Country Chart just to see what was going on these days in country music. It didn't take but a mere minute after sampling the number one song when I was stunned and outraged at what was listed as the number one song in country music, and worse yet at that position for seven weeks in a row! Really? What in the hell is going on? Listed at number one for the seventh week in a row was Walker Hayes' song "Fancy Like." YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME?! That song shouldn't even be considered for air play on country music radio and it is number one?

I know music, all music, evolves over time and real country music of today does not sound like country music of the 50s and 60s. But, it's still country music! Modern real country singers like Mo Pitney and Curtis Grimes (just to name a couple) are great country artist! I am so disgusted that Walker Hayes and his song "Fancy Like" is number one on the country charts. I am stunned it is even classified as country.

Compare the two songs below and tell me "Fancy Like" is country. Mo Pitney's song below is solid country music and Mo's song "Til I Get Back To You" would be a number song on real country music radio.

Fancy Like by Walker Hayes          Til I Get Back To You by Mo Pitney 

There could not be a better example of what is wrong with country music. "Fancy Like" is number one and "Til I Get Back to You" is not even played on country radio. I'm sure George Jones is turning over in his grave and I bet George Strait is as stunned as I am that a song like "Fancy Like" is even played on country music radio, let alone at the top of the country charts.

The above is exactly why I have created this website.

I did find one bright spot on Billboards Hot Country Chart: Lainey Wilson. A great voice and she reminds me a lot of Lee Ann Womack, nothing wrong with that! Check her out: Things A Man Oughta Know  Keep it country Lainey, you sound great!

The Hijacking of Country Music

My childhood home never echoed the music of pop, or rock and roll, as our home and car radio was always tuned to a country music radio station. As I was growing up, it was my Mom (Essie) who played the country music greats of the 50s and 60s on her record player. Because of her love of country music, my country music roots are deep and strong. 

Country music has come a long way from the first country music recording star Jimmie Rodgers of the 1920’s and 1930’s to today's so-called country super stars Sam Hunt and Kane Brown.   

On today’s country music radio, pop music or something new, and not country, has taken over the world of country music radio. Much of today’s Hot 40 Country songs are no more country music then George Straight is rock and roll. The country music industry has betrayed real country music artists and fans by pushing “country pop” into the world of country music.

The Eradication of Country Music

The 21st century producers and executives in the country music industry are utterly destroying, eradicating the country music genre. They are the ones that promote and instruct what is played on country music radio.

I don’t believe producers and executives have a lack of understanding of what constitutes real country music. It simply comes down to money. It is said that money is the root of all evil. The evil producers and executives in the country music industry could care less about real country music. They only care about the bottom line.

Yeah, I know they well say they do care and what is now being played on country music radio is the evolution of country music. Well, that would be a lie. They are the ones changing the definition of country music to fit what is more popular, therefore, pop music.

As country music grew from “hillbilly music,” to Country and Western, to just plain Country, country music grew in popularity. But it still wasn’t the most popular music.

Today, so-called country music on country music radio is becoming more popular and accepted by more people, especially with the younger generation. The younger generation is willing to spend money on today’s so-called contemporary country music.

Okay, pop music sells and real country music not as much. It still doesn’t change the fact that real country music is a dying genre on country music radio as the result of the assisted suicide of the country music genre on country radio stations by country music producers and executives.

What is pop music? Pop is short for popular, and pop music is defined as music with wide popular appeal. Pop music stars use to be singers like Frank Sinatra, Perry Como and Bing Crosby. Of course, pop music today is nothing like pop music of the 50’s, and that is okay, because pop music is, by definition, music of wide popular appeal and varied styles of music and it changes with time.

Popular appeal may be any style of music. In theory, true country music could be pop music of wide popular appeal, but, in reality, real country music is not a style of music a majority of people would enjoy or appreciate.

So what exactly is country music? Country music has a certain style of signing, a definitive sound of music, a clarity of words with a story, and an identifiable melody. Country music is sometimes hard to define, but, when you hear it, you know its country music. Of course, that only works if you understand what real country music is.

Like pop music, the evolution of country music was inevitable. But, when the music of country music changes into something unrecognizable as country music, is it still country music? I don’t think so.

I believe the standard for country music, a way to judge a song to be country or not, was set by the great classic songs and country singers of the 50’s and 60’s. The modernization of country music of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s brought country music a wider appeal, but, at the same time it kept the basics of country music.

As a lifelong fan of country music (more than 60 years), it saddens me to admit country music, real country music has been forever pushed aside and left to survive in small honky-tonks across the nation or hidden in the depth of the internet waiting for those like me searching for that true country sound.

What has pushed aside true country music from the fame of the country music hit parade on the radio to the bargain bin at a discount store; or, buried deep in the search engine of You Tube? Pop music and money! Real country music singers and songs have been pushed aside for so-called country pop. As a result, country music radio has been forever changed into something unrecognizable as country music.

Real country music radio has gone silent and is now primarily a staging format for singers not quite pop and certainly not country. For example, fourth season American Idol winner Carrie Underwood has become a superstar in what is now called country music. Her debut album "Some Hearts,” released in 2005, is one of the fastest selling debut albums in country music history.

She is a three-time Female Vocalist winner of both the Academy of Country Music (ACM) and the Country Music Association (CMA). She became the first female singer to win back-to-back ACM Awards for Entertainer of the Year (2009/2010). By the way, the ACM, CMA and even CMT have sold out to pop music and no longer represent real country music.

Carrie Underwood is a great vocalist. What disappoints me is that after her first couple of real country releases, she quickly migrated to doing songs that are clearly not country. Her songs are more suited for the “Pop” charts.

The success of Carrie Underwood’s pop songs on the country charts is not because true country mu-sic lovers are buying those songs, it is because of the appeal to pop music lovers. By the way, there is nothing wrong with pop music, it just isn’t country music.

Carrie Underwood's success in charting pop music on the country music radio charts opened the gate for others to follow. Such as Kelly Clarkson’s remix of her pop hit, “Mr. Know It All,” as a country song. That song entered the Country Music charts at number 38. I decided to check it out on YouTube.

Who decided the remix of “Mr. Know It All” was country music? Having the so-called country mix of “Mr. Know It All” listed on the country music charts is like having a Pentecostal minister preaching at a Catholic Church. That would go over like a hot air balloon flying over hell---it just doesn’t work! 

Clearly, the decision to place Kelly Clarkson's  so-called country mix of "Mr. Know It All" on the country charts must have been made by those in control of such a decision while under the influence of who knows what.

Those in charge of country music (executives, producers, and promoters) have promoted true country music almost into extinction. How? By fostering acts like Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, The Band Perry, and yes, even one of the hottest groups in country music, Florida Georgia Line, as country music.

Come on guys, are you serious? Country music has a particular sound and quality. None of the artists I mentioned above has "that sound," and they do not belong in country music.

By the mid 2000’s, Carrie Underwood, Sugarland, Big & Rich, Taylor Swift and Rascal Flatts started the trend of pop country being played on country music radio. By the year 2010, the pop country sound began to dominate country music radio.              

I am not a one-dimensional music lover. I do enjoy some of the so-called new country artists. I happen to like a few of Taylor Swift's earlier songs. The group Rascal Flatts have a great sound. I even think one of Carrie Underwood's songs, "Before He Cheats," is a great song.

In other genres, Susan Boyle and Brooke White are great. It’s a real delight listening to Lisa Kelly of Celtic Woman. I enjoy listening to Michael Buble---he’s a nice change of pace. Of course, I love the 50’s and 60’s Rock n Roll and if you promise not to tell anyone, I enjoy listening to “elevator music.”           

I know my view about the state of country music will not in any way slow down the hostile takeover of country music by pop music. Pop music has taken hold in the country music industry and changing the fan base and definition of country music forever.

                                                  ~ Gene Johns
                                                     Founder, Essie Accolades

For some great contemporary real
Country Music, click on the link below.
It will open in a different tab.

Real Country Music Artists
of the 21st Century
You May Have Never Heard Of

"Country fans need to support country music by buying albums and concert tickets for traditional artists or the music will just fade away. And that would be really sad.”    ~ George Jones

The Best Country Music Song of All-Time!
                          (The story, the music, the vocal)

Looking Through the Eyes of a Fool 
by Buddy Jewell
    This is what Country Music is all about!
 
The song below is a close second to Looking Through the Eyes of a Fool, for being in the spotlight as the best Country song ever. It is a great song in the tradition of real Country Music:
 

Artists Of Then, Now & Forever - Forever Country


One of the most underrated country singers of the past - Jim Glaser with one of his best songs:


I believe if George Strait was starting his music career today, he would not make radio air play. He's too country. I believe Mo Pitney should be the next George Strait of country music and be a super star. However, he will never get air play on today's country music radio. See if you agree how good this guy is:


Tenth season American Idol winner Scotty McCreery is a real country singer. I believe he won American Idol because the other singers (pop) split their votes allowing Scotty to win. Don't get me wrong, Scotty deserved to win because he is a great country singer. Yet, in today's music environment Scotty winning American Idol was a surprise.

Scotty's first single release after winning American Idol was "I Love You This Big." It didn't do well on the charts. I believe his producers and management made a mistake in not releasing "Write Your Number on my Hand." That is a great song but perhaps it is too country. 


Country music has been taken over by snap tracks:


Alan Jackson and the State of Country Music


The video below is about the evolution of Country Music. Although there are about a half dozen or so songs that do not belong in this video, for the most part it is a good audio documentary of the history of Country Music