Country radio has a female problem. This isn’t breaking news or a shocking development. Most country radio fans have realized for a while that if your name isn’t Miranda or Carrie, your chance at having a career at country radio is slim to none. Sure, Jana Kramer, Kacey Musgraves, and Mickey Guyton have had hits here and there, but nothing substantial. Kacey couldn’t even turn multiple CMA wins into a radio career. This is where Cam enters. Cam is a west coast singer who started out as a songwriter. Her single “Burning House” is setting the charts on fire right now. Can Cam spin this into a string of hits and make a name for herself? That remains to be seen, but for now, we can enjoy one of the best songs at country radio right now: “Burning House”.
Cam wrote “Burning House” with Jeff Bhasker and Tyler Johnson. She literally lived the words of the song, as she had a dream about an ex-boyfriend being trapped in a burning house. As always, the songs that come from the heart end up being the best ones. The quiet, sparse accompaniment is in stark contrast to the majority of country radio, and that’s why it works. The song has heartfelt lyrics and a story, but it is hardly the best story we’ve heard in the past few years if you listen to more than the radio. However, country radio is so devoid of substance that any song with soul is looked at as a game changer. That is not in any way a knock on this song. It is very well done and well written. It’s a criticism on country radio that this is a jolt to the system, not just what we should expect. In any case, Cam found a market of people looking for a song with substance and got it out to them and now she is reaping the rewards. Good for her. “Burning House” is an excellent song and should be up for some hardware come next award season. There simply isn’t any other song with meaning that has been a big hit lately.
So the million dollar question is whether Cam can keep this up or if she will be another also-ran female. That answer will be up to the suits and Cam herself. For one, most country females have been getting the shaft when it comes to singles. Look at examples like Kacey Musgraves and Miranda Lambert. Kacey can only be saddled with singles that perpetuate her reputation as an anti-establishment hippie, while the absolute worst songs from a great album in Platinum have been released as singles for Miranda. If they can let Cam express herself and not try and pigeonhole her, she has a shot. Clearly fans resonate with her heartfelt sentiments. Don’t ignore that. Let her go and see what happens. The only concerning thing is her history with pop music. One of her producers, Jeff Bhasker, is known for his work with Beyonce and Bruno Mars rather than Haggard and Jones. Cam was originally pursuing a career in Los Angeles rather than Nashville. She has a cut on the latest Miley Cyrus album. I’m not saying Cam can’t make good country music. All I’m saying is that you can’t fake country music. If Cam wants to make great country music and it comes from her heart (like “Burning House”), I have her back 100%. If she wants to be a star and will use any means necessary to do so, I won’t be a fan. I don’t want to make predictions yet, but her pedigree is something to at least keep an eye on. Hopefully it ends up being a moot point, but we will see.
One thing that all the speculating and debating about women in country can’t do is create a song. We can blame radio, producers, artists, writers all we want. The point is that for a female to break through the radio, they need to first have a great song. As many have proved, that’s not always enough. But, without the song, nothing else matters. Cam has the song. “Burning House” is as good of a country single as you will hear in 2015 and deserves all the praise it has been getting. Time will tell what this leads to, but for now let’s congratulate Cam on her great song and enjoy it. “Burning House” is one of, if not the best song on radio right now.