Have you heard of the excellent country music songwriter by the name of Ben Krahne? Well, you’re on his website right now, so take a few minutes and listen to some of his fantastic music on the homepage here. Nashville California is a fan site, more than anything, for true fans of country music. But this isn’t just a shill piece for Ben; this is a piece about all of that unknown talent out there in the world of country music. How many artists do you know outside of mainstream hit country music radio? How many songwriters have you heard of who remain undiscovered?
A lot of people have it in their mind that the only good country music they’re going to find is the type of country music that turns into hit songs on the radio. But everyone knows deep down that that’s a preposterous notion. Sure, you might love Blake Shelton or Luke Bryan’s latest smash hit singles, but you also know that they have great songs on their albums. You’ll listen to them again and again and wonder why more people aren’t talking about track #12 on Blake’s 3rd album! So, you know, if you’re a fan of music in general, not only hit radio country music, that much of the music you like isn’t blasted through radio speakers every day.
Just walk that back a step further. Now imagine it’s someone who hasn’t been lucky enough to catch their big break, or their songs aren’t pop-like and mainstream enough. You’ll still find a lot of gems out there, especially with country music songwriters. Here are a few reasons that you should be listening to amateurs who haven’t caught their big break yet.
1: Undiscovered Talent
Do you think Led Zeppelin was any less talented before they were signed? Imagine how long country music legends like George Strait and Alan Jackson were performing music before making it big. Would you really suggest that a song Prince George sang in 1978 wasn’t as good as one he sang in 1998 once he became King George? By finding undiscovered songwriters, you’re finding undiscovered talent. In fact, it’s your support that can help them make it big.
2: Deeper Writing
By hit country radio standards, that are very cookie-cutter and pop-like, commercial songs all seem to be shoved into this same template of short verse, chorus, short verse, chorus, chorus, chorus. They’re made to be catchy and to get stuck in your head. But to pay attention to the lyrics, most aren’t saying anything at all. The #1 hit country song of the year, Fancy Like, goes, “My girl is bangin, she’s so low maintenance. Don’t need no champagne poppin’ entertainment.” Okay, some may like that, but it’s pure commercial cookie-cutter, made for radio, derivative wording. Nothing deep or meaningful. Whereas with undiscovered songwriters, they write more from the heart, with true feeling.
3: Less Restrained
Speaking of the cookie-cutter model used by hit country radio today, there are many topics that writers won’t touch on, or words they won’t say, or themes they won’t use, because then their songs won’t get picked up. Understandable, but still antithetical to what country music used to be – a fearless form of truth-telling. Amateur writers are still willing to deal with these topics in their music.
Maybe you’re truly a fan of hit country music radio and don’t want to give undiscovered writers a chance. But we’ll just leave this here: Go ahead and listen to a few of Ben’s songs on the homepage and then honestly tell us that it’s not great music.