By Rebecca Harrell
Though country music has become somewhat popular to hate, the genre can be judged independently on its musicality, integrity and overall substance.
Country roots were planted and bloomed in the south, but as entropy continues to expand the universe, so does our musical vocabulary. What I mean by this is that anyone from anywhere can listen to country music, regardless if they relate with the dirt roads and rodeos or not.
Now the nucleus of my problem with today’s country is not who listens to or creates it; it’s what we continue to consider as today’s country that is wrong. New artists that are hitting the charts have the wrong idea and old artists are adopting the new sound. In turn, this disappoints the country world they once had space in.
At the top of the country Billboard charts for several weeks stands “10,000 Hours” by 2019 Grammy award-winners Dan + Shay. The upbeat love song is a simple combination of the same cheesy chorus lines and a few verses that features Justin Bieber.
If you browse any created playlist of today’s big country, you will be swarmed with the same copy/paste keyboard created beat and acoustic guitar riff.
Country music today is artificially-made with a southern accent thrown on top to try to blend in.
I mentioned in the first paragraph, the geographical location of country music and what it originated from. The Carter Family is one of the earliest country music groups in the early 1920s from the Appalachian area.
Their music is pure bluegrass country, reflective of the lifestyle they lived. There is an obvious difference in sounds from classic and modern artists like Dolly Parton and Alan Jackson, who are natives to Tennessee and Georgia, and newer artists like Gabby Barrett and Jimmie Allen, from Pennsylvania and Delaware.
These artists create country music without the country backstory. They cannot create artificial experiences that true country artists incorporate into their music, such as living on a farm or in a small southern town, simply because they did not experience it.
The only topics of conversation they can write about are love, heartache and common struggles suitable for any other genre. Why take country?
My point is, modern country artists have transformed their music to keep up with the new wave of pop. The Zac Brown Band has been an unfortunate victim of this trend. As they rose to fame with the evergreen “Chicken Fried” in 2008, we were also blessed with beautiful tracks such as “Cold Hearted,” “Toes” and “As She’s Walking Away.”
11 years later, the band released a complete 180 with the album The Owl. The band has taken this pop sound masked by a southern accent to pose that country sound.
Other prisoners of this crime are Blake Shelton and Jason Aldean. Listen to “OMW” – arguably one of the worst songs I have ever heard by the Zac Brown Band— and compare it to any of the three songs I mentioned early by them to distinguish the difference in sound I described.
Whether you are a fan of country music or not, there is an undoubted difference in the old and new country sound, barely passable as country. The problem is not the music or the artist; it is the genre this music is categorized in. Classic country music has been uprooted and must be restored to save itself.
Featured image by Ralph David via Canva.