On This Date: Kacey Musgraves Releases Her Sophomore Album ‘Pageant Material,’ AKA Her Best Record

A person wearing a crown

PAGEANT MATERIAL IS KACEY MUSGRAVES’ BEST ALBUM.

I said it.

I guess I could’ve done with out the all the capitalization, but I’m very passionate about this.

We all know Golden Hour is by far her best-selling, most commercial record. It took home top honors at the Grammy awards and launched her career into superstardom beyond the world of country music.

Then, there’s her first album Same Trailer Different Park, which put her on the map in the genre back in 2013 with awesome songs like “Merry Go ‘Round” and “Follow Your Arrow”.

But, there’s a little record in the middle there called Pageant Material that is pure gold. It was released six years ago today, on June 23rd, 2015 and remains one of my favorite’s of all time.

It was so good, in fact, that it was nominated for a Grammy that year and debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 chart.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out why it’s not more popular. Especially for women who love country music, I feel like it’s everything that’s good about the genre. It’s funny, witty, deep and introspective. I think we all have a handful of albums or songs that change the way we think about music and life, and this one easily makes that list for me.

If I’m trying to get one of my friends into country or want them to find a record they can really sink their teeth into, it has to be this one first.

Kacey takes on subjects from a small-town raising, to following your dreams, to life, expectations and disappointments in a way that people don’t usually talk about those things. I think it’s one of the most polarizing things about her, she tells it like it is.

Pageant Material says a lot in 13 tracks. She has such a poignant and satirical take on her life experiences where she almost becomes caricature of herself and the songs are just over-dramatized little stories she’s lived filled with her signature, sarcastic commentary on it all.

If you’re a drama queen like me, you really can’t ask for much else.

Another part I love about it is that she has this beautiful way of saying exactly what’s she’s thinking whilst always keeping her southern manners and raising in the back of her mind. All of these big, unconventional ideas come out as if you’re sitting at a table with her enjoying a cast-iron skillet of cornbread and sweet tea to chase it down after church on a lovely Sunday afternoon.

Or maybe we should go with “Biscuits” instead of cornbread… see what I did there? I can’t think of a single person in the world who wouldn’t relate to that song. Minding your own damn business is pretty underrated these days.

I also appreciate her willingness to take aim at the Nashville establishment, notably in “Good Ol’ Boys Club”, and then proceed to follow-up on it in the next track “Cup Of Tea”, where she essentially doubles down on the idea that she’s going to be herself regardless of what anyone else thinks.

There’s even a neat one on there called “This Town” that opens with Kacey’s late grandma, who was a nurse, telling a wild story about one of the patients at the hospital she worked at.

Then, there’s one of my top three favorite Kacey songs ever called “Dime Store Cowgirl.” It’s a shimmering anthem about owning who you are and celebrating where you come from regardless of where life might take you.

Of the title-track “Pageant Material”, another absolute gem and one of the best songs on the whole record, she says:

“‘Pageant Material’, I wrote this one with Luke Laird and Shane McAnally and at the time writing it, I didn’t know that it would become the theme of the record or, you know, the title-track, but the song just kinda made me laugh.

I love old country songs that had a sense of humor and this one’s just kind of a sarcastic little kind of jab at myself for not always being pageant perfect, as a lot of times I feel like women are kind of expected to be when they’re in the spotlight.

So we just had fun with it and I just got to really think about, you know, my Texas roots and growing up there and always being around these beauty pageants and that whole scene. And then later, it became the theme for the record.”

If you loved Golden Hour but haven’t really listened to this record before, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

You’ll thank me later, I promise.

Oh, and in my opinion, it also features one of the greatest album covers of all time (and a pink vinyl… more points for that):

“Pageant Material”

“Biscuits”

“Dime Store Cowgirl”

“This Town”

A beer bottle on a dock

STAY ENTERTAINED

A beer bottle on a dock