Jason Aldean will be named artist of the decade at the Academy of Country Music Awards on April 7. It is hard to get excited about the announcement. Not because there are better options out there, but because there . . . really aren’t. Alabama or George Strait he ain’t, but who else deserves the award? Aldean may have played a role in hick hop and bro-country going mainstream. But I wouldn’t blame him here for spawning imitators any more than I would blame Tolkien over at the other site for spawning imitators.
The blame for hick hop and bro-country deserves to be spread around. All of those other musicians. The radio stations that promoted it. The fans who bought it. Better to blame musicians who know better—who have shown they can make serious country—then blame someone who isn’t just slumming it. If we can forgive Jamey Johnson for writing Honky Tonk Bandonkadonk—and Trace Adkins for recording it!—then we can forgive Aldean for Dirt Road Anthem.
Besides I like (not love) Dirt Road Anthem. Aldean is no Bubba Sparxxx, but Dirt Road Anthem is a catchy, fun song. It’s one of the few country songs from the last decade that (1) got heavy radio play, (2) I remember well, and (3) actually like.
I am not particularly interesting in taking my defense much further than that. I pulled up Aldean’s Wikipedia page, and I don’t recognize the bulk of his #1s. I don’t recognize a lot of #1s these days. I walked into Luke Bryan and Billy Currington concerts one rodeo season not entirely sure that they weren’t Jason Aldean.
In a country radio landscape that is a vast wasteland, the man with three good songs is king.
Dirt Road Anthem is off Aldean’s album My Kinda Party.
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