Music

Country Radio Is Killing Off Guitar Solos

In order to appease short attention spans, country music makers are shaving seconds off of songs by cutting out guitar solos.

It’s a sad day in the music world.

Contemporary country producers making music for the radio are finding themselves hacking guitar solos down to mere measures. Why? Because apparently the “average listener” can’t be bothered to listen to anything longer than 2 bars if it doesn’t have lyrics or a vocalist speaking directly to them.

Really?

Country artists who are known for their virtuosic playing ability are having their talents censored. Listeners are being made unaware of the actual depth of their artistry.

Flickr/The USO
Flickr/The USO

Unfortunately, it’s all about dollar signs. Shorter songs mean more time on the radio. Which means more songs or ads can be played, which means, you guessed it, more money.

Now, not to make country radio the enemy here. There are still a lot of good people in the radio world who value artists and aim to move the world forward with music.

So who do we blame? Who do we wave an angry fist at for simultaneously taking our music away and insulting out intelligence?

As it turns out, it’s hard to tell.

In a Billboard article, music industry consultant Joel Raab weighs in on the matter:

“…listeners’ attention spans are shorter and shorter, and if they start getting bored with whatever it is that we’re doing — whether it’s a musical riff, or something we’re saying, or too many commercials — it’s too easy for them to go somewhere else,”

Flickr/Jackie.h
Flickr/Jackie.h

Ah, so it’s radio after all!

But wait. There’s another factor to consider: Editing takes place in the studio during the recording process. Meaning, producers and music makers are making the decisions to cut solos down to the fewest notes possible before the song is even released.

So it’s the producer’s faults! Those greedy, money hungry jerks!

Before we go burning any Nashville producers at the state, think about this for a moment: Maybe, really we are the problem?

But we love music! How could we be the ones responsible?

Just hear me out.

We all know that country on the radio today is pretty much pop music. Genres intermingling and creating new, innovative music is a good thing. It keeps our musical culture expanding.

For a long time, pop has been shamed for creating shorter attention spans. For being the dumbed down average of all the music everyone is consuming. Catering to the masses and the lowest common denominator.

While degrading, can all agree that’s at least somewhat accurate.

This is the age of instant gratification. And our most popular music reflects that.

Songwriter and producer Ross Copperman accurately sums up the current state of country songs: “I think that 2:35 is the new 3:30. Under three minutes is country gold right now.”

The new Thompson Square single, “Trans Am” at one point had a prominent guitar solo, but it was cut out in favor of keeping the song below three minutes.

 

When the songwriters of Brett Eldridge’s “Lose My Mind” were first writing the tune, they mulled over the idea of adding a solo in the middle of the song. That idea was quickly dashed. Again, to keep the song under three minutes.

Even Eric Church’s recent rock epic, “The Outsiders” is happily faded before the minute long distorted jam session at the end of the already lengthy track.

“I think we half-way expected it,” says Church’s long-time producer, Jay Joyce.

This is the state of our music. Less music is more. If it’s not short, it won’t play, because nobody will listen. We’re too busy checking our notifications at stoplights and calling ahead of the meeting we’re on our way to, while directing our virtual assistant to read aloud our emails, all while merging onto the interstate and gunning it to 80 miles an hour because we took ten minutes to watch the news this morning and now we’re late for said meeting.

So rest in peace, the guitar solo. We simply don’t have time for you anymore. We’ll play you over and over again in our memories and our streaming music apps. We’ll miss you. Or no, not really. What’s on the Top 40 this week?

Next: 12 Songs That Question the State of Country Music 

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Country Radio Is Killing Off Guitar Solos