<p>Dixie Chicks</p>

Dixie Chicks

Credit: Columbia Records

Ten years later: What we learned from the Dixie Chicks controversy

Do men get a free pass for much harsher crimes? Why is Natalie Maines rehashing it?

It looks like the Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines is still not ready to make nice. On Sunday night, she tweeted:

As you may recall, 10 years ago on March 10, the Dixie Chicks were on tour in London.  Under President George W. Bush’s command, the U.S. was preparing to invade Iraq under the alleged belief that Saddam Hussein was hiding “weapons of mass destruction.”  Like many people in the U.S.  and the rest of the world who opposed the war from the start, more than 1 million Brits had marched again the impending invasion. Maines looked out over the audience at Shepherd’s Bush Empire Theater and said, “Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.”

That’s it. Since then, the level of discourse between politicians has sunk so low that it’s hard to believe it even registered a blip. It was painful to watch as the press piled on and she had to make an apology that felt forced and ultimately did no good anyway. Her fellow Dixie Chicks, Emily Robison and Martie Maguire, publicly stood by her as they watched their career go down; Innocent bystanders standing too close to the flame

I remember exactly where I was when I learned of her remarks. I was in Texas at South By Southwest in Austin. I remember reading about it online that night and having that feeling of “This is either going to blow over” or “This is going to be a disaster.” It was that kind of hold-your-breath feeling, like when you watch a baby fall and you wait to see her reaction to see how spooked she is before you react.  Sometimes the baby gets back up and laughs, and sometimes the exact same fall can provoke screams and an avalanche of tears.

Maines’ comments were a country career killer. The reaction was swift, brutal and ongoing. It included stations boycotting the group and fans burning their CDs.  Regardless of whether one agreed with her views, the unofficial blacklisting, which continues to this day, was a ridiculously knee-jerk overreaction in a format that wraps itself in jingoistic patriotism often defined in one very narrow, conservative way with little tolerance for opposing views.  And I say that as a great fan of country music.  But its long-held embrace of this vision of America that no longer exists, if it ever did other than in the movies or on “The Andy Griffith Show,”  is antiquated and damaging.

The Dixie Chicks

Contrast country radio’s response to Natalie Maines’ comments, in which she merely expressed her opinion, and a relatively mild one at that, with how R&B and pop radio treated Chris Brown, who actually broke the law and horribly abused a woman in 2009. He’s been welcomed back into the fold with all kinds of back-slapping and merriment. Hmmm.

Plus, for all the cries of Un-Americanism that occurred when Maines criticized Bush, the same rules clearly don’t apply to criticizing Obama. Otherwise, how do you explain Ted Nugent? Yes, Hank Williams Jr. got dumped by ESPN in 2011 for comparing Obama to Hitler, but those remarks were far more egregious than anything Maines ever said and no classic country stations pulled his music for any duration.  At least Maines’ comments never required the Secret Service to launch an investigation they were so incendiary.

Does that tell us something about how female artists who voice an opinion are considered too strident, whereas their male counterparts don’t fall under the same confines?

 The Dixie Chicks made one more album, 2006’s “Taking the Long Way Home,” which included the song “Not Ready To Make Nice.” The tune addressed the Iraq controversy in this verse: “And how in the world/can the words that I said/Send somebody so over the edge/That they’d write me a letter/ Saying that I better shut up and sing/Or my life will be over.”  The song received little country airplay.

The tune went on to win song and record of the year at the 2007 Grammy Awards, while “Taking the Long Way Home” won album of the year. It was a clear mandate from the mainstream Grammy voters that they supported The Chicks both musically and politically.

A 2006 Cecilia Peck-directed documentary, the excellent “Shut Up & Sing,” chronicled the ordeal. Maines, who, to be honest, does not always come off as particularly likable (and God only knows what prompted her to open back up this can of worms via Twitter yesterday), vacillates between incredulity and anger that her words caused such a firestorm. Indeed, a decade later, it is really impossible to believe that the statement caused so much destruction.

So how have things changed? In the country world, sadly, I would say not at all.  If anything, country artists are even more close-mouthed today for fear of offending their fans in the fly-over states, many of whom are conservative.  I’ve had conversations with country superstars who were Obama supporters and yet they would no more announce that publicly in 2008 or 2012 than they would insult your mama. Sometimes, even playing at Obama’s White House is enough to set off reactionary fans.

In fact, I know of no way to make a country artist clam up faster than to ask him or her about his political views. They will voice their support for the troops (Make no mistake about it, country artists have really done wonderful work that way and many of them put their lives on the line going to perform for the troops), but that’s about it.

Maines’ solo album comes out in May and, as one would expect, she’s staying a country mile away from country radio. The set, “Mother,” leans more toward rock. Maybe all her Twitter talk was simply a way of calling attention to herself.

So a decade later we seem to be no wiser and no more tolerant of opposing political views.  I wish instead of flippantly mouthing off on Twitter (Typical follow up: someone tweeted back “You’re a dumbass,” Maines responded “You are”) Maines had written a serious piece about what she had learned from this experience 10 years down the road.  I’m not  sure the rest of us learned anything.

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<p>Bruno Mars</p>

Bruno Mars

Credit: FOX

Music Power Rankings: Bruno Mars and Justin Bieber top the list

Carly Rae Jepsen and Mariah Carey make this week's edition too

1. Bruno Mars: It took awhile and a big boost from Amazon, but Mars is locked out of the top spot on the Billboard 200 no more as “Unorthodox Jukebox” reaches No. 1 12 weeks after its release.

2. Carly Rae Jepsen: She and Train both pull out of playing the Boy Scouts Jamboree over the organization’s band on allowing  openly gay members. Add in her great mash up of “Call Me Maybe” with Nine Inch Nail’s “Hole in My Head” and we bet  Canada’s sweetheart’s phone was ringing off the hook.

3. Justin Bieber:
Between getting sick at his Thursday night show, fighting with paparazzi, and leaving his own birthday party, he’s had a tough time since he turned 19. Being an adult is no fun. Even when you can afford all the toy.

4. Randy Blythe: The Lamb of God lead singer is acquitted of manslaughter in  the Czech Republic, following the death of a fan whom he allegedly pushed off the stage.

5. Mariah Carey:
The “American Idol” judge unveils not only the video for “Almost Home,” but for her 12th fragrance “Dreams.”  Soon, her  number of perfume lines will surpass her No. 1s.

6. Rolling Stones: As they continue into their 50th year, they get thisclose to announcing what will likely to be around 18 U.S. dates, plus headlining UK’s Glastonbury festival.

7. Bruce Springsteen: A year after the city of London rudely interrupts his and Sir Paul McCartney’s duet mid-song, The Boss agrees to go back and play Hard Rock Calling. We bet no one pulls the plug this time.

8. Marco Rubio:
  In this week’s strangest moments, Florida Senator Marco Rubio name drops Wiz Khalifa and Jay-Z , heralding them as “modern day poets” while he filibustered.  So hilarious, yet so, so wrong.

9. Apple: Eager to get its long-expected internet radio streaming service off the ground, the giant offers labels a royalty rate of .06 cents per stream, half of what Pandora pays. Labels consider the deal rotten to the core.

10. Bleecker Bob’s:
After 45 years, the quintessential indie record store is closing. The New York space will become a frozen yogurt outlet because there aren’t enough of those already on every damn corner.

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<p>Luke Bryan</p>

Luke Bryan

Credit: Jeff Bottari/AP

Luke Bryan and Jimi Hendrix head to the top of next week's Billboard 200

Forty years after his death, Hendrix's music still resonates

Country artist Luke Bryan scores his first Billboard 200 No. 1 next week as “Spring Break... Here To Party” looks like a lock for the top spot. However, the big news is who comes in at No. 2:  Jimi Hendrix.

Bryan’s set will sell up to 130,000, while Hendrix’s “People, Hell & Angels,” a new set of unreleased studio tracks, will likely sell up to 70,000 copies, more than 40 years after the guitar legend’s death.

Those are the only two debuts in the Top 10:  Last week’s No. 1, Bruno Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox” drops to No. 3, while Mumford & Sons’ “Babel” is No. 4. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s “Heist” will be No. 5 with sales of up to 30,000.

Rihanna’s “Unapologetic looks good for No. 6. However, after that--and with three days left before the chart closes--it’s too close to call for Nos 7-10: Florida Georgia Line’s “Here’s To The Good Times,”  Now 45, Imagine Dragons’ “Night Visions” and Andrea Bocelli’s “Passione” are all slated to sell between 22,000 and 25,000, according to Hits Daily Double.


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<p>John Mayer</p>

John Mayer

Watch: John Mayer's new video for 'Something Like Olivia'

Is Olivia a guitar or a woman? Does it matter?

B.B. King has his Lucille, John Mayer wants his Olivia. In Mayer’s new video for the gently swaying “Something Like Olivia,” it’s never clear if he’s longing for a woman or a guitar (or perhaps both).  Should Katy Perry be jealous? 

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Snoop Dogg</p>

Snoop Dogg

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Snoop Dogg laments loss of Mr. Magic, Tupac Shakur on new track, 'Heaven'

Loping tune inspired by loss of his No Limit labelmate

Snoop Dogg has released a new track that laments all the people he has lost in his life over the years. “Heaven,” which opens with a calliope organ before giving way to Snoop’s very autotuned vocals, is a tribute to his No Limit Records buddy Mr. Magic, as well as to Nate Dogg and Tupac Shakur. Mr. Magic, (a.k.a. Atwood Johnson) and his wife, Chastity, died in a car accident over the weekend.

[More after the jump...]

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Watch: Lady Antebellum's new video for 'Downtown'

Watch: Lady Antebellum's new video for 'Downtown'

Hillary Scott is a girl gone wild with 'Two Broke Girls'' Beth Behrs

It’s a good thing the members of Lady Antebellum have their day jobs because, as their new video for “Downtown” proves, Hillary Scott makes a lousy felon, and Charles Kelley and David Haywood make donut-obsessed, hilariously inept cops. (Plus, why the boys are trying to do New York accents when they’re in Los Angeles is beyond me, but that would be thinking about it way too hard).

[More after the jump...]

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Watch: Dave Grohl, Trent Reznor and Josh Homme jam on 'Mantra'

Watch: Dave Grohl, Trent Reznor and Josh Homme jam on 'Mantra'

Foo Fighter bashes the drums on 'Sound City: Reel To Reel' track

Dave Grohl has has plenty to say for  his new documentary, “Sound City,” about the vaunted Los Angeles studio where such classics as Nirvana’s Nevermind” were recorded. But on “Mantra,” he lets the music do the talking.

[More after the jump...]

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'X Factor's' Tate Stevens reveals cover art and track listing for debut set
Credit: RCA Nashville

'X Factor's' Tate Stevens reveals cover art and track listing for debut set

April 23 release teams Stevens with top Nashville tunesmiths

Tate Stevens, “The X Factor’s” season two winner, will release his self-titled Syco/RCA Nashville set on April 23. Today, he revealed the album art and track listing.

As the listing reveals, the country singer co-wrote three of the 11 tracks on the set. For many of the other selections, he corralled in some of Nashville’s top songwriters, including Rivers Rutherford, Dallas Davidson and Ben Hayslip for “That’s How You Get the Girl,” as well as Bradley Gaskin, a performer in his own right, for first single,  “Power Of a Love Song.”

“Since winning ‘The X Factor,’ we’ve listened to hundreds of songs and set a ton of writing appointments with some of Nashville’s best songwriters. The outcome is a collection of 11 songs I’m really proud of, and I can’t wait to get this record out there.” Blake Chancey produced the set.

"Tate Stevens" track listing

1. "I Got This"
Tate Stevens/Joe Diffie/Wade Kirby/Phil O'Donnell
2. "Can't Get Nothin' Done"
Tate Stevens/Ashley Gorley/Wade Kirby/Phil O'Donnell
3. "Ride It Out"
Tate Stevens/Shane Minor/David Lee Murphy
4. "Power Of A Love Song"
Jeremy Bussey/Bradley Gaskin/Marcus Franklin Johnson
5. "Sweet"
Kelly Garrett/Kendell Marvel/Tim Owens
6. "That's Where We Live"
Carson Chamberlain/Wade Kirby/Phil O'Donnell
7. "El Camino"
Chris Hennessee/Donny Lowery
8. "That's How You Get The Girl"
Dallas Davidson/Ben Hayslip/Rivers Rutherford
9. "Ordinary Angels"
Victoria Banks/Phil Barton/Emily Shackleton
10. "The Last Thing I Do"
David Lee Murphy/Kim Tribble
11. "Holler If You're With Me"
Jeremy Bussey/Drew Davis

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'Harlem Shake' holds steady atop Billboard Hot 100 for 3rd week
Credit: Mad Decent

'Harlem Shake' holds steady atop Billboard Hot 100 for 3rd week

Demi Lovato gets off to strong start

Years from now when folks look back at what was No. 1 this week, will they even remember “Harlem Shake?” Regardless, Baauer’s viral video sensation makes it three weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100.

Its popularity, despite even “The Simpsons” paying homage, seems to be waning as its streaming decreases by 45% this week.  Additionally, digital sales slip by 23%. However, the song,  is building at radio (though it’s hard to imagine it can go very far there given there’s not really a full-length song there). It enters the Pop Songs radio airplay chart at No. 38, according to Billboard.

Similarly, the songs at Nos. 2-4 stay the same this week: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s “Thrift Shop,”  Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man” and Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble.”
Rihanna’s “Stay” featuring Mikky Ekko rises 7-5, swapping places with will.i.am and Britney Spears’ “Scream & Shout,” which falls  5-7.  Drake’s “Started From the Bottom” holds at No. 6, Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie” hangs in at No. 8, while Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven” stays locked at No. 9. Swedish House Mafia’s “Don’t You Worry Child” featuring John Martin climbs 12-10.

Other songs of note: Demi Lovato’s “Heart Attack” storms onto the chart at No. 12, driven primarily by strong sales of 215,000 copies.

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Watch: Justin Timberlake preps to host 'Saturday Night Live'

Watch: Justin Timberlake preps to host 'Saturday Night Live'

He and Kenan Thompson work out some important issues

Justin Timberlake has already proven that he will go down among the great “Saturday Night Live” hosts, alongside Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin.

[More after the jump...]

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