I’m laid back in the dentist chair having my teeth cleaned. The radio is on the PA system. It’s country music. After several songs I realize: 1) I can’t tell who any of the singers are; 2) they are all male; 3) they all sound alike, and 4) it’s the same song, if not the words, the melodies and rhythm. Over and Over.
Entertainment Weekly has done a nice job (complete with music videos) of chronicling the brouhaha that broke out this year over country music. What it is. What it ain’t. And who’s finally saying something about the sorry state of country music.
I think it’s Alan Jackson who observed: there aren’t any country radio stations anymore. They play country-pop (Taylor Swift and Keith Urban) or bro-country (Florida Georgia Line) or what I call truck-country. But they don’t play Alan Jackson.
I have no problem with Swift’s and Urban’s talent. Or their music. Just don’t call it country. Call if pop.
I’m not sure what to call the ditties that spew forth from the drink-beer drive- trucks pick-up girls-in-cutoffs songwriting machine other than embarrassing. Really. In reading the article and viewing/listening to the clips, I was embarrassed for these men: Jason Aldean singing “1994.” Blake Shelton’s “Boys ‘Round Here.” Montgomery Gentry’s “Titty’s Beer.” If that one doesn’t say it all, then nothing does.
My new favorite Kacey Musgraves said what I’m saying:
It’s a little embarrassing when people outside of the genre ask what I sing and I say country. You automatically get a negative response, a cheese factor… My favorite compliment ever is when someone says, “I hate country music but I love your music.”
So, yeah, when asked what kind of music I play, I often hem and haw and say: real country, or Americana, or country folk. Or all of the above.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the designation, “Americana,” came about because artists like Kacey didn’t want to be associated with the country of radio.
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