The Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards is returning to Las Vegas for its 54th year this April.
The nominees include an impressive list of some of Nashville’s biggest stars and new artists. However, the night’s most coveted award, Entertainer of the Year, is especially eye-catching for the wrong reasons.
The nominees are all male.
This is especially shocking considering Kacey Musgraves walked away with four Grammys this year, including the highest honor of Album of the Year. These were earned at an award show that considers all genres of music.
So why are country women constantly fighting for a place in the country music industry?
People argue that men simply put out better music than women and that most prefer men anyway.
Yet, the comments on the ACM’s Entertainer of the Year Instagram post prove that is not the case.
There has been a growing trend across the years of country music favoring men.
Take the infamous “salad” reference in 2015 by radio consultant Keith Hill, for instance.
“Trust me, I play great female records and we’ve got some right now; they’re just not the lettuce in our salad,” Hill said. “The lettuce is Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, Keith Urban and artists like that. The tomatoes of our salad are the females.”
He went on to say, “If you want to make ratings in country radio, take females out.”
Taste of Country examined the dwindling number of women being played on the radio and reported that of the 89 artists who charted a song in 2017, 14 were solo women (
or 15.7 percent), compared to 59 men (66.2 percent) and 16 duo or groups (18 percent).
Clearly, some people believe that women lack excitement and draw when it comes to attracting listeners, but that opinion is hardly representative of all country music listeners.
Women are often credited with not only having better vocals, but better songs overall.
Additionally, women consistently put out unique, heartfelt, creative and catchy songs.
A quick comparison of lyrics will offer some insight on this opinion.
Luke Bryan’s “Kick The Dust Up”, released in 2015, has the following chorus:
“We go way out where
There ain’t nobody
We turn this cornfield
Into a party
Pedal to the floorboard
Eight up in a four-door
Burnin’ up a back-road song
Park it and we pile out
Baby, watch your step now
Better have your boots on
Kick the dust up
Back it on up
Fill your cup up
Let’s tear it up, up
And kick the dust up”
Next, look at the chorus for “Burning House”, a powerful debut single released by Cam the same year:
“I’ve been sleepwalking
Been wondering all night
Trying to take what’s lost and broke
And make it right
I’ve been sleepwalking
Too close to the fire
But it’s the only place that I can hold you tight
In this burning house”
These songs are drastically different from one another and show the difference between the so-called “Bro-Country” that has taken Nashville by storm and female artists.
It would be unfair to throw the men of country music completely under the bus. In fact, Luke Bryan also released a heartfelt song about loss and heartbreak called “Drink A Beer” that is incredibly powerful.
And many men do put out strong, meaningful music every year. However, that is not what is playing on the radio.
What is playing on the radio is song after song detailing beach trips, trucks, dirt roads, beer and beautiful women. It seems like every man has a song about one or more of these subjects.
Meanwhile, songs like “Love Wins” by Carrie Underwood, “Rainbow” by Kacey Musgraves and “GIRL” by Maren Morris are getting limited airplay on the radio and remain low on the charts.
But there has been a huge shift in the industry lately.
The women of country music are banding together to support one another.
The “Song Suffragettes”, whose tagline is “Let The Girls Play!,” brings only up-and-coming women on stage every Monday. Artists such as Carrie Underwood, Maren Morris, Cassadee Pope, Cam and more are speaking out about the underrepresentation of women in country music. Popular country radio personality Bobby Bones makes an effort to play women’s songs frequently, even playing songs by only women all day last March on International Women’s Day.
Every ounce of support moves women closer to equality in the country music industry. It is time that country radio acknowledges that there is enough room for both men and women on the airwaves.
Women have been fighting for equality for years.
It’s your move, Nashville.