The CMA Awards went down and not everyone was pleased with it. That modern country is basically MOR pop with twangy guitars and occassional fiddle is true enough, but what makes it such a frustrating subject among fans is that the overall quality of its biggest groups, and some of its lesser-known stars, is at best debatable. Certainly, listening to Lee Ann Womack or Sugarland or Keith Urban et al doesn't bring that much pleasure - Sugarland in particular is a textbook case of MOR country and the blandness contained within; their biggest hit to date is Love, Your Baby Girl, a vocal letter from the song's subject matter on her quest to make it in music. It's not a bad song, it's just not inspired - blandly sung, lacking any kind of interesting hook, bereft of what makes songs great.
SheDaisy, to date empty handed in CMAs, is an even worse example - sporting a tough veneer, SheDaisy isn't very tough at all. The Utah-born Osborn sisters have pretty harmonies but dreadful material, all of it composed or co-composed by eldest sis Kristyn. Their first album The Whole Shebang had freshness to it, but their follow-ups have been boring.
And it appears lead songwriter Kristyn Osborn is a little thin-skinned. SheDaisy's most recent hit, the I'm A Believer rip-off Passenger Seat, was the subject of an incredibly stupid article on the Slate website that accused the song and its accompanying album of promoting female passivity - as though the song's subject, enjoying friendship and also life when in love, somehow can be equated with condoning anything resembling a belligerent dominating relationship by a man toward a woman.
Well from the group's new single "I'm Taking The Wheel" it appears such criticism got to Kristyn - which isn't the first time feminazi whining kowtowed a pop singer into concocting a PC follow-up to a mildly racy single. Sheena Easton scored a hit in the late 1970s with Morning Train but came under fire from feminazis who claimed the song promoted passivity and dependance on a husband - and it kowtowed Easton into recording Modern Girl, which made a point of emphasizing its subject lady's independance but still stayed within believable parameters.
Not that I'm Taking The Wheel is a bad song - it actually covers the same ground as Passenger Seat. All the same, Kristyn should have stood up to such critics and pointed out that Passenger Seat contains a positive outlook on life that most people can associate with.
One can trace the MOR-ization of country to the late 1960s and the fusion of California country with rock music. It is here that we find the unheralded pioneer of this fusion, Michael Nesmith. Unlike modern MOR country, Mike Nesmith had strong qualities that remain superior today - a baritone mixing tenderness with genuine force, innovative lyrical content, strong musical hooks, and innovative studio production. Mike's Monkees-era country-rock anthem Sweet Young Thing is an intoxicating fusion of fiddle and fuzztone, a level of quality he maintained throughout his stint with Micky Dolenz and pals and on through his 1970s solo efforts.
Nashville has recently begun mining old MOR pop tunes as covers for modern country songs - here are some song ideas -
Little Red Rider
The Crippled Lion
Silver Moon (Martina McBride would be perfect for this song)
Tomorrow & Me
Two Different Roads
Keep On Keeping On
Roll With The Flow
Some Of Shelley's Blues
And there are more - Nashville needs Nez.