Now, before anyone loses respect for me due to the above statement or decides my opinions about country music are no longer valid, please understand that title for what it was. Also, understand that we all are music lovers first, before genre lines ever come into play. I say this because I have seen comments on other sites saying people who profess love and/or knowledge of other genres do not care as much about country music as those who love country exclusively. So, as ridiculous an opinion as this might be, I felt I should address it before making my main point.
Yesterday, (August 24th),
Saving Country Music
published an article containing some of the preliminary results of a study conducted by McMaster University. The university is studying the open-mindedness of music fans of specific genres to other genres. In other words, if someone listens to mostly country music, are they more or less likely to also listen to other genres? According to the study, country fans rank fourth in open-mindedness among the ten genres studied. The most interesting early finding was that rap, dance, and pop fans are the three most cloes-minded groups. In other words, people who listen to these three genres are not likely to be open to other music. Also, the study highlighted some “asymmetrical pairings” between certain genres. One such pairing was country and pop; country fans are more likely to listen to pop, but pop fans won’t share that love for country. So, those fans who become “country” fans because of Sam Hunt won’t suddenly start listening to Kacey Musgraves, but a country fan who likes Taylor Swift might then develop a taste for Katy Perry.
This explains why, in its effort to please the close-minded pop fans flooding “country” music, country has all but forsaken its roots. Heaven forbid a fifteen-year-old be subjected to the lyricism of Cam’s “Burning House” when she could learn about partying and sex from Luke Bryan’s douche masterpiece “Kick The Dust Up.” Country singers even go so far as to call actual country music boring and paint the fans as close-minded old people, all for the sake of keeping their fickle pop fan base happy.
So if we’re not making Kacey Musgraves fans out of Sam Hunt groupies, what is this wave of bad pop music actually doing? Well, this is what happened in my case. I grew up with country in the 90’s and 00’s. I liked most country and even the pop country of early Taylor Swift. By 2010, country radio was becoming one tailgating song after another. The country that I loved, which used to feature steel guitars, fiddles, and storytelling, now came with hip-hop beats, rap, and lyrics about clubbing. I didn’t know about all the country I could be listening to; all I knew was country radio. In my mind, country had died. I tried to like the bro country and pop country, but I grew more and more frustrated with it until last year, when I decided that if country was dead, I should find something else to listen to. I had listened to so much bad pop music that I welcomed good pop music. Even their club songs are better than country’s club songs. If I have to listen to that anyway, I’d certainly rather hear Nicki Minaj’s “The Night is Still Young” than Luke Bryan’s “That’s My Kind of Night.” I’ll always love country more, but when your choices are pop and worse pop with a twang, you take pop any day. During that time, I came to appreciate a considerable amount of pop music. I am extremely grateful for sites like SCM and Country Perspective that helped me find good country music again. Country music is still alive and well, and for that, I can be thankfull. Country music is still my favorite genre because it carries lyrics of substance, but as a music lover first, I am glad in a way that I was open to pop. (I guess that’s what comes from being an open-minded country fan.) I am certainly glad that is not all I have the choice of listening to though. These days, I would say I listen to about 80% country and 20% pop. I have always liked a little music from other genres as well, including rock, Christian, and r&b, but country and pop are the two I listen to on a regular basis. Having said that, I still hate most of the crap on country radio because it is bad pop and worse country.
The alarming thing is that my case seems to be more common than it should be. People argue that Sam Hunt or Taylor Swift can bring someone into country, and then this person might suddenly start liking Ashley Monroe and Alan Jackson. This sounds ridiculous on the surface, and now a study has backed it up. Also, pop fans are by definition listening to what is popular; in other words, someone who is introduced to “country” because of Sam Hunt is generally not going to go seeking Ashley Monroe and Alan Jackson. And seeking is what they’d have to do, because God forbid country radio play anything with substance. It seems far more likely, then, that someone who likes Ashley Monroe and Alan Jackson but who doesn’t hear anything except bad pop music on the local country station, would switch the station in exasperation and develop an appreciation for whatever is playing. I imagine there are a lot more people who have Ashley Monroe and Nicki Minaj in their iTunes library than those who have Ashley Monroe and Sam Hunt. Even more than that, there are those who have Sam Hunt and Nicki Minaj, because out of the three, these two are the most similar, which says a lot, (and nothing good) about the state of country music. Country fans are not being created by all this pop influence. All that is happening is that more pop fans are being created in response to the bad excuse for pop music that country continues to produce. By catering to the close-minded pop fans, country music continues to lose its identity in favor of being an inferior version of the music these close-minded fans love.
Tomatoes of the Week: Maddie & Tae
Their debut album comes out Friday, so they will be our featured females.
Random Country Suggestion: Miranda Lambert–“Roots and Wings”
Sadly, this wasn’t chosen as a single and we are stuck with “Smokin’ and Drinkin'” instead.
Non-Country Suggestion: Nicki Minaj: “All Things Go”
One of the results of me being an open-minded country fan.