‘I don’t care what you think’ appears to be the universal mindset for 2016. From the election to Country music, the world is witnessing a changing of the guards when it comes to holding back opinions.
The Country music industry is one built on hospitality and rare outspokenness. However; that foundation was rattled when Country artist, and former rock band front-man, Aaron Lewis dropped a pipe-bomb on today’s biggest Country names: calling out multiple Country stars by name who he believes are “choking the life out of country music”.
Onstage at a biker festival in Colorado, just before performing his new single ‘That Ain’t Country’ Lewis said:
“I’d like to thank Sam Hunt – oh, I know, he’s so pretty to look at…I’d like to thank Luke Bryan, for most of his stuff – he surprises me every once in awhile. I would like to thank Dan + Shay. I’d like to thank Cole Swindell. And every other motherf**ker that is just choking all the life out of country music.”
Lewis was hit with immediate backlash for his remarks by popular country radio host Bobby Bones. In the midst of the fiasco, Bones tweeted out the following:
Bones brought Lewis on his radio show shortly after to clarify the comments. A civil conversation ended with both men remaining stand firm in their words.
Does this foreshadow Aaron Lewis’s future in Country? With a rocky history of drug addiction, relentless touring with Staind, and a life similar to those of the quintessential rock star, is Lewis the edge that has been lacking in Country?
Since the resurgence of Country music, the genre’s sound has slowly pivoted from traditional banjo / steel guitar based songs into cookie cutter rock songs about partying. Lewis, a New England native who grew up listening to the traditional stuff, had no problem publicizing his appreciation for his influences at his live performance.
Compared to comments on any YouTube video, twitter beefs, and Election 2016 views, Lewis’s comments are nursery rhymes. But because Country has always been a peaceful neutral zone, it’s understandable why the industry reacted with surprise.
What’s interesting about the whole situation is it comes at the same time as the release of Lewis’ recent album ‘Sinner’. Lewis, who is a veteran of playing the music industry game, might have created his own hype. You know, there’s no such thing as bad press.
According the The Boot, Sinner is the Album of the Month for September 2016. It’s hard to remember the last country album that had this much buzz surrounding it’s release. Sinner is Lewis’ third release as Country artist – maybe it was do or die for Lewis’s career as a Country artist. Perhaps his management needed something to spice things up – it is business and controversy is certainly good for business. If this was Lewis’ plan all along, it seems to be working well.