Taylor Swift Doesn’t Need Country, Country Might Need Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift’s last album ‘22’ was an interesting piece of work. A solid album with a lot of good music, but it wasn’t fully entrenched in a genre. There were elements of country and full-fledged bubblegum pop throughout the whole album. If you just look at the chart performance of her singles from the album, you can see that half charted big on the pop charts and the other half on the country charts.

Swift’s new single, ‘Shake It Off’, was released Monday with a music video and also the announcement of a new album entitled ‘1989’. If ‘Shake It Off’ is indication about how the album is going to sound as a whole, I doubt that Swift will have much of anything charting on the country side.

‘Shake It Off’ is a fun song and a very good song at that, what it is not is country. That’s okay for Taylor Swift, she can do what she wants and in the pop world she can make a lot more money with a greater exposure to more fans.

If this album does show a full slide over to the pop world, it’ll be a sad day for country music.

Taylor Swift remains one of the few women that can currently get a song to the top of the country charts. Currently there are three women that ‘dominate’ the country charts: Taylor, Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood. Underwood and Lambert had to team up to get a number one single, neither of the two biggest female stars in country have had a true solo number one single since 2012 with Lambert’s ‘Over You’ and Underwood’s ‘Blown Away’.

If the two biggest female stars in the country world can’t do, it really doesn’t bode well for any other women out there. Between Lambert’s and Underwood’s number ones only Taylor Swift and The Band Perry with lead singer Kimberly Perry has reached the top with female voices. Lady Antebellum have reached the pinnacle as well, but they solidly split lead vocals.

It’s not a friendly site for the females when looking at the current Billboard Country Airplay charts. The only true female sound on the charts is Maddie & Tae’s ‘Girl In A Country Song’. ‘Something Bad’ a combo shot by Lambert and Underwood sits at 17 on radio play. Faith Hill gets a little mention at number five as a featured artist on her husband Tim McGraw’s latest single ‘Meanwhile Back At Momma’s’. Hilary Scott has the lead vocals for Lady A’s current number three hit ‘Bartender’, but there is always going to be a small clause on Lady A singles.

To recap, one purely female duo is in the Top 30 songs on country radio right now. Lambert would be on the charts alone if she hadn’t released the duet with Underwood, but nonetheless. If you count Lady A as a half that’s 2.5 songs out of thirty that are solely woman-sung singles.

Country music is finding its way out of the bro-country phase, that the fans brought on themselves, but that’s another story, just fine right now. There’s some really good music out right now, but the diversity that is needed is simply not there. Taylor Swift doesn’t need country music, but country music might just need Taylor Swift.

ESPN: Killing the Dream and Out of Touch

I think every sports crazed human at one point or another has wanted to work at ESPN. Just the thought of wall-to-wall sports coverage makes a grand portion of the population start to drool. If a Disney executive showed up at my door and said that I’d be paid mucho dollars to go and talk sports, I’d probably give it a listen, but I don’t know if I’d accept it. Not anymore.

ESPN seemingly can’t tell the difference between actual controversies and controversies they dream up in their own head. Two things have happened on the airwaves of ESPN in the past couple of weeks that have grabbed outside headlines and each has been handled quite poorly by the network.

First, Stephen A. Smith, commenting on the Ray Rice case, said that women provoke abuse. Smith implied that women are to blame for domestic assault. How can a guy that claims to have so many sources be that out of touch? Maybe it’s the corporation he works for.

ESPN made him tape, TAPE, an apology. Let’s record it to make sure he doesn’t say something else that is so blatantly horrible. Then they later suspended him for only a week. A week. Five working days off from his TV show, First Take (probably more of a vacation not to speak to Skip Bayless for a string of days) and his ESPN Radio show.

The suspension was too short in my opinion. A lot of people were calling for Smith to lose his job and I’d have to say that his punishment should have been much closer to that side of the scale, but ESPN only cares about ratings and apparently people are still watching the TV filth that is First Take.

That brings us to the even more recent events of the suspension of Dan Le Batard.

Le Batard is well-known in the Miami area and has now moved on to national prominence on the stages of ESPN TV and radio. Le Batard bought billboards in Cleveland to mock LeBron James in his return to his home state. The billboards say ‘You’re welcome, LeBron… Love, Miami’ with a picture of the two NBA championship rings that James won with the Miami Heat.

ESPN thought this stunt was so horrid that it suspended Le Batard for two days from ESPN TV and radio. Two days for a joke on a billboard. A joke that is actually kind of funny.

Let’s translate what we are really learning from ESPN: saying that women provoke domestic violence is only three days worse than a billboard joke that literally harms no one.

How out of touch are you, ESPN?

Yes, we can have our own views in this country, but there are also views that you can’t let the public know about. Your views have to be ‘politically correct’ in order to not be beaten down with every move that you make. Stephen A. Smith’s comments were far from being ‘politically correct’ and so farfetched that it almost seems like a story from the satirical newspaper/website The Onion.

Dan Le Batard on the other hand made a joke. A joke he’s been talking about openly on ESPN platforms ever since LeBron James officially returned to Cleveland. If you can’t stop your own employee from doing something you don’t want them to do when you have fair warning, that’s a management failure and shouldn’t be taken out on the talent.

Get your head out of your ass, ESPN. Realize what’s a joke, what simply can’t be said and that First Take might be the shittiest thing that’s ever been on TV, which is saying something since we’re living in the era of Jersey Shore and Keeping Up With The Kardashians.

Stop giving the shaft to great shows like Outside the Lines and Olbermann. Stop killing the dreams of intelligent sports nuts. There’s a reason I watch my Canadians.

Minnesota Vikings Shanked The Kluwe Report Non-Release

The Minnesota Vikings are never exactly shining examples of good PR. We could down the list and there would be a lot of things that the Vikings didn’t really have a lot of control over.  For instance, Love Boat was a bad incident, buy boys will be boys and there was nothing the higher ups at Winter Park really could do. That’s not the case in the latest controversy that is brewing in Eden Prairie.

In January, ex-Vikings punter Chris Kluwe released a diary-like post to Deadspin describing what was seen as a very unfriendly environment to the LGBT community and their allies. Kluwe’s post was really damning towards special teams coach Mike Priefer. The franchise said they would investigate.

Earlier this week, the Vikings apparently told Kluwe and his legal team that the team would not be publicly releasing any of their report. On Friday, Kluwe answered back via Twitter and this saga will only keep on going straight into Training Camp and probably into the 2014 season. It is really the Vikings fault this time.

Throw out any way you feel about the LGBT community, so you can think about this issue clearly. Let’s strip it down to bare bones:

Player posts article saying the Vikings did something bad, Vikings say they’ll investigate that something, Vikings investigate, investigation takes a long time, investigation is finished and Vikings say they’ll not release anything.

Doesn’t that seem sketchy?

It sure seems sketchy to me.

By not releasing anything, the Vikings make it seem like they have something to hide. I don’t know if they do and the only people who know that answer right now are probably in Winter Park trying to put a fire extinguisher to this PR fire.

Let’s put this into an everyday situation. Ever ask someone to look up the price of something for you and then they say something to the tune of ‘oh, you don’t want to know’? You know why they didn’t tell you? They didn’t want to disappoint you. The Vikings are making this look like you, me and the rest of the public do not want to know what’s going on in Winter Park.

The Vikings don’t have that luxury. No one in any of the major sports has that luxury, no less an NFL team, nonetheless the NFL team in a town that loves said NFL team way more than any of the other pro teams and college squads.

It’s such a horrible PR move by not releasing anything. Maybe the Vikings found out something that they are not proud of, but it needs to be heard. This report might force the Vikings into doing things that they don’t want to do, but doing things that are not wanted is a much better alternative to having a franchise that will no longer be trusted.