(NOTE: Music That Sucks is the correct opinion of the author. If you disagree then you are mostly likely a card-carrying member of NAMBLA.)
This induction into MTS chronicles the career of the man who has apparently sold more albums overall than any other solo performer in history. It is also the first induction from the Country music genre. I don't know about you, but I'm hard pressed to find another redneck more deserving.
Garth Brooks was either born Garth Troyal Brooks or Troyal Garth Brooks (my sources differ on this, not like it's big fuckin' deal anyway) on either Feb. 2 or 7, 1962 in Tulsa, OK. His mother, Colleen Carroll, was a minor country singer in the 1950's who recorded for Capital Records. This, and a love a Country singers like George Strait along with sucky rock music like fellow MTS inductees KISS, planted the seeds for the career that would beckon the homogenization and downfall of any credibility Country music might have had.
After graduating from Oklahoma State University in 1984 Garth headed to Nashville, the Mecca of Country music, to make it big. The stars and heavens must have been in their correct alignment however, as Garth flopped big time and headed back to his home in Stillwater, OK. Brook's wife at the time, Sandy Mahr, supported him by doing various menial odd jobs while Garth honed his whole act, which is allegedly blending Country and Rock together.
Brooks would make a return trip to Nashville in 1987, signing with Capital the following year. In 1989 he released his eponymous debut album, which is headlined by his first number one single (on the country charts) "If Tomorrow Never Comes". This single is a sign of things to come, Brooks' ultra slow drawl rings like a monotone, putting the learned listener to sleep (or driving him crazy) faster than a boring science teacher on a humid summer day near the end of the school year. Critics began to hail Brooks, and fellow '89 rookie Clint Black, for their "ability" to combine Country and Rock and create a "whole new genre". On the Rolling Stone's Garth Brooks page they have several genre's listed, including "Country/Pop" and "New Country". Allow me to set everyone straight: there is no way to "blend" Country and Rock. If it is twangy, depressing, and the men singing it are wearing those dumb-ass hats, it's fucking Country!
After receiving accolades within the ranks of Country music (which seems to be a world unto itself), Garth unfurled his second freak flag of an album, 1990's No Fences. It was with Fences that Brooks started infesting the pop charts. The album gained enough steam to make as high as #4,as well top the Country charts. The major singles of note off this album are "Friends In Low Places", a ditty that puts the "honky" in Honky Tonk, and "The Thunder Rolls". "Rolls" tells a story about a wife getting smacked around by her husband, and the video for the song received airplay on MTV and VH1 as well as Country stations like CMT and TNN (The Nashville Network, which transformed itself first to The National Network then to Spike TV once both Country tv stations were owned by the same media monolith, Viacom). Brooks took home six Academy of Country Music Awards for No Fences, which sold over sixteen million copies, and paved the way for Brook's third album to start off with two million advance orders sold.
In 1991 Brooks released Ropin' The Wind, which became the first album to debut the top of both the Pop and Country charts. He would repeat this "feat" with The Chase (1992), and In Pieces (1993). Garth immitators sprang up out of nowhere, as this "New Country" sound began to drown out the cries of old timers who lamented the passing of the days that had gone by. Much like Corporate Rock did to Rock in the mid 1970's, this wave of "New Country" that Brooks was leading began to destroy the heart of the genre. The "Big Nashville Machine" sound was taking over, and it became even harder to distinguish one Country act from another.
Allow me to go off an a bit of a tangent, so to speak. I am not, nor have I ever been, a fan of Country music. That does not mean that I do not know Country, or what is good Country. If I didn't, I wouldn't be doing this induction. This would quite possibly be an induction for Country as whole. Good Country music has a "down-home" (forgive the tired cliche) feel. It is emotive and quite artistic when you give it a close listen. It is also very gritty and unpolished. Listening to any of Johnny Cash's albums will give you a good idea of what good Country is supposed to sound like. Brooks, and his contemporaries, are over-polished, over-produced, and mechanical sounding. It's as if every twang was meticulously plotted to be placed at the precise second it shows up on a song. This leaves no room for anything remotely artistic to make its way to an album cut (not like Brooks could be would know musical art if it sliced off his shiveled testicles).
As 1993 rolled around Garth sang the National Anthem at Super Bowl XXVII, lulling the crowd, and apparently the Buffalo Bills in a stupor as they wound getting decimated by the Dallas Cowboys by a score of 52-17. Dallas, being the Cowboys, were most likely immune to the musical poison spread by Brooks singing what is already a crappy song. Brooks began showing up on the covers of such magazines as Rolling Stone and Time. He also started making headway onto the small screen with appearances on a Barbra Walters ABC special as well as the NBC news magazine show Dateline. He has also made many appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and had guest shots on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, The Rosie O'Donnell Show, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and Donny and Marie among countless others. Big Brother is watching you, and he never takes off his stupid hat.
Brooks' tv exposure would not be limited to guest shots. He would also have his fair share of television specials. The first, This Is Garth Brooks, aired on NBC in January of 1992. He would have a total of eight specials on the peacock network from '92-'99, each of them drawing very high ratings. In 1997, at what seems to be the peak of his popularity, Brooks put on a concert in New York City's Central Park, drawing a crowd estimated to not be far from the one million mark. Many people may be wowed that a Country act was able to attract so many New Yorkers to a concert, but once you learn such key facts such as: it was a free concert, and the concert was being aired on HBO, this feat doesn't seem so impressive. The special for the concert beat all of the major broadcast networks during it's time period, drawing almost fifteen million viewers. Meanwhile Brooks' albums were still flying off the shelves. Sevens (1997), and Double Live (1998) topped both the Pop and Country charts just as their predecessors did.
So there's Garth Brooks, on top of the musical world. He's the modern day Midas, everything he touches turns to gold. It appeared that there was nothing that could knock Brooks off of his perch....except for Brooks himself. In 1999 Brooks had an idea, and when you are a souless puppet controlled by record executives without an artistic bone in your body, having an idea is a bad thing. No one had the balls to slap some sense into King Garth, thus Chris Gaines was born.
Chris Gaines was a fictional Rock star created by and portrayed by Brooks. An elaborate backstory was created. Gaines began as a member of music group that was disbanded after the suicide of its lead singer. Gaines went solo and his "career" skyrocketed to superstardom. An album, In...the Life of Chris Gaines was made, supposedly a compilation of Gaines' greatest hits, and featured Brooks sporting long bangs (Garth is balding in real life) on the cover. A phony VH1 Behind The Music was made, all apparently in prepartion for a movie that was planned but never saw the light of day. Not even the most inbred Brooks fan bought this shit. The album "only" sold two million copies and was scoffed at by Rock and Country fans alike. After the release of another Country album, Scarecrow, in 2001, Garth Brooks announced he was going to retire. During this time he divorced his longtime wife and began a relationship with bland Country skank Trisha Yearwood.
On a closing note: Listening to Garth Brooks is the musical equivalent to having to spend the rest of your life using both a catheter and colostome bag, and having them both explode on you simultaniously. To long time fans of country music fans who long for the time before Brooks, I truely feel for you. Hank Williams Sr. is spinning in his grave.
Garth Brooks, music...that sucks!