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Green River Ordinance Not Country Enough, According to Billboard

Green River Ordinance Not Country
Rick Kern, Getty Images

A new album from Texas band Green River Ordinance is not country, according to Billboard. Sales of Fifteen were not included in the trade publication’s Country Albums Chart, a judgement call made by Billboard.

Saving Country Music lifted the lid on the story with interviews from Green River Ordinance’s manager and quotes attributed to Billboard’s country chart manager. According to a post on the band’s Facebook page, Fifteen would have checked in at No. 7 on the Country Albums Chart this week, and it would have been the top-selling debut album. Instead, Fifteen was included on the rock and folk charts.

Which chart an album is included on matters, as it’s more impressive to say you’re No. 7 on the country chart than it is to say the same about the folk chart.

GRO’s manager, Larry Murray, insists his band has operated as a country band for years, although they’re described as “Alternative Pop/Rock with a Southern twist, Country, Folk, and Americana” on their Facebook page. They did begin as an alt-rock and pop group, but since 2012 they’ve been been recognized as country by websites like Taste of Country. A review of their single “Red Fire Night” recognized a “fiddle-heavy bluegrass mix” and tight harmonies, calling it a “country jam.” The Ft. Worth band includes banjo, mandolin, guitars and harmonica amongst their instrumentation.

Murray points out that the album’s pre-order was in the Top 10 on the iTunes country chart, and that “Red Fire Night” received airplay on country radio, including iHeartMedia’s Country House Party. This alone does not mean a song or the album it comes from is country (Mumford and Sons’ “I Will Wait” also charted on the radio, but the album wasn’t included on the Country Album Chart), but other outlets believe they are country. Spotify added the song to two country playlists, and “a week ago, Green River Ordinance was in Billboard’s Country Weekly as the No. 1 Texas country music song on the TRR.”

The omission clearly irks Green River Ordinance. In a Facebook post promoting their Feb. 6 appearance at the Grand Ole Opry, they write, “Doesn’t get any countrier than it’s gonna get at the Grand Ole Opry this Saturday night!” The band say they haven’t gotten a clear explanation as to why they were not included, other than it was a judgement call. Representatives for Billboard did not return requests SCM made for comment.

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