It’s been almost 4 years since I wrote a blog entry basically asking myself if country music still had my attention. The genre was (still is) rather new to me and so was blogging. Since I recently started blogging again I decided to check-in and ask myself the same question.
Does country music still have my interest? Do I still like the genre? The answer is: Yes. However, within the 4 years of my last check-in blog the genre has drastically shifted to a more pop/hip hop sound. As a result, my tastes have also shifted. Even as a new fan of country music I still feel like commercial country has suddenly alienated me. I feel as though the sound has changed so much that I don’t even recognize what’s considered to be genre defining anymore.
I was and still am able to handle the bros, such as Blake Shelton. But what I can’t get over is some of these new pop singers that are pushed into being labeled “country”, as if it’s easier to break into the music scene by using this false disguise. Has the pop genre gotten so full that it’s spilling over into other genres of music? Ok, so some record execs and suits are using this tactic to make loads of money, fine. But what really baffles me is how the audiences are buying it!
You can’t tell me that broccoli is a dessert just for the sake of “diversity”, but that’s the exact excuse I’m hearing. Labels are difficult enough to use but they serve a purpose, so that things can be easily categorized. In our brains we catalogue EVERYTHING, it’s what humans naturally do. It’s the same if you go into a store where produce is over here and dairy is over there. However, what’s happening is that country music is slowly being stripped of its identity.
This is the struggle I have when asking myself if I still like country music because at this point the lines are blurred. The definition isn’t as clear anymore. Basically I’ve come to the conclusion that I tend to prefer a more traditional country sound, which at this point is essentially “alternative country”. Or even something with a more rock feel (obviously).
I just listen to a song and decide whether I like it or not. I’ve always been that way. For example, Jason Aldean has a new single out right now titled “Drowns the Whiskey” featuring Miranda Lambert. I love this song and I think it’s the perfect combination of old and new, added to the fact that it’s a duet (something missing in the genre as of late). Speaking of Miranda Lambert, her latest album The Weight of These Wings is incredible! This two disc collection showcases here singer/songwriting abilities better than past efforts. Don’t let the hype behind Miranda fool you into believing that she has no substance.
Another worthy release from earlier this year is Sparrow by Ashley Monroe. Another incredible songwriter who is criminally underrated and under appreciated but yet she clearly releases great country music!
While some of the more experienced country musicians are adapting to the new pop/hip hop sounds to keep up with trends, it’s refreshing to know that some artists are keeping their integrity. I thought that when Chris Stapleton won a bunch of CMAs in 2015 that we would see a shift in commercial country but I’m honestly not seeing it. At least not on a grand scale because most true country singer and songwriters aren’t in the limelight, getting snubbed by radio and awards shows.
So admittedly I do like a mix, it just depends on the song. However, I would like to see country music genre to find its identity again and stop catering to such a specific audience. One thing I do know is that I will always find a new artist that I’ll enjoy or that one incredible song that I love. But, at least for now, I may have to actually search for it…