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It ain't the meat, it's the music

Country Standard Time Editorial, September 1997

Once upon a time, in the pre-video days, music mattered more than image. Nowadays, artists and their handlers seem to cultivate an image for the fans to latch onto. That is accomplished by videos and the packaging contained in CDs and tapes.

Unfortunately, we seem to be seeing more and more of this attempt to market artists at the expense of what they really should be about - their music. One would think the music was secondary.n A few very recent culprits: Lorrie Morgan and LeAnn Rimes.

Morgan just released her brand new album, "Shakin' Things Up." And while the music may be competent enough, what Morgan once again seems to be trying to sell is sexiness.It would be naive to suggest that music is devoid of any sexuality. Clearly, country songs often suggest that as does the energy of the music. But what is disturbing here is that Morgan goes one step beyond. In several very suggestive photos, she has her shirt open, about ready to expose her breasts.

What does this have to do with her music? A publicist for RCA Records, Morgan's label, said the artist approved all photos for the album. Maybe so. But that seems to be missing the point. The label, unfortunately, is presenting Morgan as more of a sex kitten than an artist.

As for Rimes, one of her videos presented her in a Marilyn Monroe- type pose with her outfit swirling in the wind in a sexy pose. Tanya Tucker, herself, of course, once a teen star, recently said she worried about how Rimes would be presented. She indicated promoting Rimes through sexuality was something to be careful about.

Tucker is right. With both Rimes and Morgan, there clearly seems to be more of a concern with marketing the sexuality of the women than their music. Women have made great strides in country in recent years - and not for being considered a piece of meat. And ultimately if their music doesn't cut it, the sex quotient won't make the albums sell. It's the music that should and does matter.