Country radio has spurned a great deal of backlash even from its own favorites in recent years.
Miranda Lambert spoke out earlier this year about her weird ongoing relationship with the radio, and country music legends like Alan Jackson have made comments about the sad state of country radio as well, just to a name a few.
Combine that with the radio’s blatant disregard for fan favorites like Tyler Childers, Zach Bryan and Cody Jinks, and it’s made clear that most artists seem to regard their relationships with the radio as tumultuous at best.
And as it would turn out – singer/songwriter HARDY is also in the mix of those who are speaking out about the toxicity surrounding the country radio sound and its “gatekeeping” methods. And he has a handful of #1 singles as a songwriter.
In a casual podcast interview earlier this past summer with the hip-hop recording artist formerly known as Mike Stud, HARDY opened up about the insane restrictions placed on artists and songwriters to meet radio qualifications.
In the beginning, Mike focused on HARDY’s songwriting style and contributions to radio as a songwriter:
“I’d like to hear your thoughts on… or just your mindset on writing songs and why you think you’ve kind of cracked the code of it… You don’t have to give out your secret sauce here… was it like an aha?”
“A lot of people think it happened overnight, but it was super gradual. I mean I was here for eight years before I had any success.”
“I think it’s like bringing your thing to the table, but also like being conscious of writing for the radio… I mean that’s the only way that songwriters make money.”
HARDY added to the conversation that if anyone, especially a songwriter is trying to make a living, then they have no choice but to write for the radio, which adds to the pressure:
“If you’re trying to make a life-changing amount of money, you gotta write for the f*cking radio, dude. There’s no way around it.”
And as previously mentioned, this kind of thinking isn’t original to HARDY.
Instead, with the multitudes of backlash towards country radio, it seems like a lot of people feel the pressure to buckle to the portion of the industry that makes them money… I mean they aren’t writing songs for their health.
As the conversation continued, HARDY was asked if his breakout artistry, touring and releasing his own songs, was an outlet for his own unique creativity.
“So with your artist career… I mean obviously you know how to write a hit, and you cater your songwriting to the radio, because like you said, you can’t really make any money unless you’re hittin’ the radio.
As an artist, are you catering to the radio, or are you kinda using that as an outlet to really dive into ‘this is HARDY?’ Because you can do the songwriting for other people, but is this your outlet to be like ‘f*ck it, I’m gonna be an artist?’”
“Absolutely. Dude, I just, I don’t know man, look… The radio game is very frustrating, and it can be a little slimy. And if anybody out there says it’s not, well, they’re f*cking lying.
The pressure of potentially having a record that doesn’t have a radio hit, like that is like some shit that I do not wanna deal with.
I’m gonna put out music that I like, and if they wanna play it that’s fine, and if they don’t, that’s fine. And if that means that all we’re gonna do is play 3,000 cap rooms the rest of my life, then that’s fine!”
The originality and uniqueness of HARDY is what most fans have grown to love in his artistry, so his answers really come as no surprise.
What is surprising is that a lot of our favorite artists still feel a daunting pressure associated with radio culture and the idea of radio-worthy content, even when that ranges outside of their own personal styles.
HARDY represents a small percentage of artists who also double as successful songwriters and who can have their own artistry without catering directly to the country radio brand. But he stands in a small tier of people.
His hands are in so many things that his impact would be hard to completely ignore, even if you aren’t a fan of him as an artist. Mike shared similar thoughts:
“You’re in a cool spot man, because even if you came out with a heavy metal album and everyone got all pissed at ya, they got no idea that they’re listening to “God’s Country,” and you’re still listening m*therf*cker, you’re still listening to HARDY!”
He ain’t wrong.
But with songs like “Wait In The Truck” it’s gonna be hard for country radio to completely ignore Hardy.