Despite having a proudly loyal fanbase, My Morning Jacket has never had a hit. At least not in conventional terms. Their most recent album, 2011’s Circuital, peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard 200, but lead single “Holdin’ On to Black Metal” couldn’t creep past No. 36 on the alt-rock charts, and it was nowhere to be seen in the Hot 100. “I’m Amazed” should’ve been huge, but unless you’re the Black Keys, there’s no place for a fuzzed-out, Kentucky-fried stomper on top 40 radio. Instead, MMJ had to settle for changing Stan Smith’s life.
Jim James & Co. will release their seventh album, The Waterfall, next month, and they’re already making the press rounds. In an interview with Rolling Stone, James sounds like he’s come to terms with their lack of mainstream love, saying, “Having a hit would be awesome, but I don’t know if it’s meant to happen.” In addition to saying that pop radio is “a waste of time,” he added, “I feel like modern country is deliberately dumbing down the human race. They’re deliberately making people take glory in being uneducated and racist, and it’s just sad. I think it’s absolute mind control.”
Let’s take a look at the current Hot Country Songs chart: At the top is Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time,” a weepy, talkative ballad with the pacing of Train’s “Meet Virginia,” followed by familiar arena-filling names like Little Big Town and Florida George Line and five, count ’em five, songs that reference drinking in the top 10. I wouldn’t go so far as to call any of the singles “racist” (“Accidental Racist” is nowhere to be found). They are more muscular and tattooed and Taylor Swift-y than the radio-country James grew up with, but there’s a difference between taking glory in outward bigotry and “pandering,” which is what’s going on. Modern country knows what country fans want to hear, just as Netflix was keenly aware that House of Cards would be a hit.
It’s algorithms, y’all.
Via: Rolling Stone