Eric Church Created Controversy The Right Way
How quickly things moved from some ruffled feathers on Monday, to a sincere apology on Tuesday. Even so, Eric Church has people talking and talking about him. Now, his statements in Rolling Stone about his disdain for reality TV shows and the people on them, and subsequent apology to some of the people he offended by them, have made him more of an outlaw, like Hank Jr., but not an outcast like the Dixie Chicks.
I posed a question comparing Hank and the Chicks last year. I saw major comparisons in Hank's comments to Fox News likening the President to Hitler and The Dixie Chicks infamous speech in England about being ashamed from being from President Bush's home state. The overwhelming response was that Hank was more in the right, not because of what he said, but how he said it.
In Eric Church's case, he has indirectly bashed some the industry's biggest stars from Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson to Chris Young and Miranda Lambert, by saying things like:
“Honestly, if Blake Shelton and Cee Lo Green f—ing turn around in a red chair, you got a deal? That’s crazy. I don’t know what would make an artist do that. You’re not an artist.”
Miranda, who took Eric on tour a couple years ago, did not find the comments amusing, responding on Twitter:
“Thanks Eric Church for saying I’m not a real artist. Or @kelly_clarkson, @carrieunderwood & @KeithUrban,” she said. “You’re welcome for the tour in 2010.”
Even our very own night girl, Lia got a little personal in her Tweets, saying:
"You are welcome to come on my show anytime to discuss @ericchurch. But you've stood me up so many times I've lost count-won't wait by phone" and "@blakeshelton you at least call often and show love and respect to other artists. Dear friend...."
Since all this mess started, Eric Church has done one thing that Hank or The Chicks never did and that is say, "I'm Sorry." His camp released a well-constructed apology that will hopefully smooth things over:
"The comment I made to Rolling Stone was part of a larger commentary on these types of reality television shows and the perception they create, not the artists involved with the shows themselves. The shows make it appear that artists can shortcut their way to success. There are a lot of artists due to their own perseverance that have gone on to be successful after appearing on these shows, but the real obstacles come after the cameras stop rolling. Every artist has to follow up television appearances with dedication towards their craft, but these shows tend to gloss over that part and make it seem like you can be ordained into stardom. I have a problem with those perceived shortcuts, not just in the music industry. Many people have come to think they can just wake up and have things handed to them. I have a lot of respect for what artists like Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, and my friend Miranda Lambert have gone on to accomplish. This piece was never intended to tear down any individual and I apologize to anybody I offended in trying to shed light on this issue. I am grateful for all of the artists and fans that have supported me along my journey and certainly did not mean for my comments to undermine their talent and achievements."
In my opinion, this was the high road from Eric Church. It may not be enough to calm down all the fans and artists for which he ruffled feathers, but it will quench the fires before they spread out of control. Let's face it, he just said what many other artists are afraid to. I have mentioned shows like American Idol to many artists that just roll their eyes. It's understandable that the artists that work hard and build a fan base, like Eric, would feel slighted by the folks that made it via TV. It's a much easier and quicker avenue than some take, but it can work. To be honest, this isn't something new. American Idol wasn't the first TV show that helped new acts get noticed. Stars like Sawyer Brown and LeAnn Rimes appeared on Star Search in the 80's and 90's and made it big from there.
Eric Church is by far one of my favorite artists at the moment, and it doesn't surprise me that he dislikes the "reality" rise to fame. He told me that in a round about way a couple weeks ago. (Why couldn't my interview be the controversial one? Thanks Rolling Stone!) I guess it really bugs me when artists hate on other artists who are popular, no matter the reason. It's all about the fans, and they will ultimately decide who they like and don't like. Plenty of fans liked Eric Church, me included, when his music wasn't quite "the norm." He's kind of seen as a modern day "outlaw" in the business, and this media attention only furthers that. Fortunately, the backlash has been handled correctly, and this may only be a good thing for his image. I only hope this blip doesn't turn into more off-the-cuff comments, because that could be harmful to his career. Now that he's a successful selling, touring, and radio artist, it's time to co-exist with his peers, and respect their success, because in this fickle industry, it may not last long.