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Why the anti-Lady Antebellum hatred?

January 2, 2011

I will be the first to admit that I don’t listen to modern country music. I just don’t like it. It all seems over-rehearsed, too poppy and I guess as a New Yorker might say “done already!” I honestly don’t know who is at the top of the country charts. I can’t tell one blond country super star from another. And I absolutely detest the Sunday Night Football song (with all its US-über-alles, pro-Washington, DC over-tones done by some talentless (at least as far as I can see) female “country” star. And this is coming from a proud Southerner with deep roots in Dixie who loves everything Hank Williams, Sr. ever did. That was a real country music star, even if he died long before I was born – so I don’t want to hear the hate from modern country music fans! lol

That will have to suffice as an introduction to this piece where I wonder why do so many people hate the country-pop band Lady Antebellum? Here is a typical slam against them from Slate:

Scott and Kelley are attractive in a blank way that fails to impress itself on your memory: pretty gal with blond mop, tall dude with close-cropped beard. Their voices are likewise blandly serviceable. Kelley’s slightly huffy tenor and Scott’s fluttering soprano serve entirely as a means to an end—to navigate efficiently from verse to chorus to bridge and back again—the principle evidently being that any hint of character or charisma would fatally sabotage a song. The only thing about Lady Antebellum that raises eyebrows is its name, which turns out to be a bait-and-switch. When I first popped their 2006 debut in my CD player, I assumed were like Montgomery Gentry—country good-ol’ boys, belting out burly regional pride anthems with a Confederate flag or two draped over the drum riser. But Lady Antebellum aren’t redneck in the slightest and only nominally country.

As far as I can tell from those brief moments when my radio dial accidentally hits one of the pop-country stations and those soul-less sounds fill the cab of my truck I would have to say that last part about being “nominally country” applies to almost every Nashville singer out there these days.

But still, why is Lady Antebellum hated by so many music critics? There are plenty of Nashville pop-country acts, why focus on this trio in particular?

I think the above quote gets it right – the name and the reference to the Old South. In our modern world this is simply not permissible any more than belching during a church service would be (although maybe in New Jersey that is alright these days, I just don’t know).

Slate continues:

In this environment, Lady Antebellum’s charisma deficit has become an asset—just the thing for listeners who want simple, tuneful songs delivered with a minimum of fuss and no information age distractions…. In 2010, Lady Antebellum are a novelty act: superstars with zero star power.

Actually, the above might be appealing in an era of attention-starved young people like Britney Spears (ok, I guess I’m showing my age by referencing Spears – I suppose she too is “done already!”) using on-stage lesbian kisses and made-for-paparazzi head-shaving events to drum up tabloid columns and ticket sales.

But back to Lady Antebellum, if we scroll down and look at the some of the comments posted about the above-linked Slate article a few are rather revealing. One commenter (Slate Nym) writes:

“They’re a group from Nashville who sing slight, pretty songs about falling in love and breaking up.”  
Apart from the bit about being from Nashville, this pretty much describes every single pop song ever made. Therefore I think it’s safe to assume that the bit about being from Nashville is what’s really bothering the author.

Another, Michael Streiffert, writes:

An all-white, southern rock band whose name glorifies the pre-Civil War South. Ick.

I think these two commenters, though they might not be able to get along in a honky-tonk together (in truth, I doubt Mr. Streiffert would be caught dead in one considering his comment) hit the nail – or the snare, as the case may be – right on the head!

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