What Is Wrong With Country Music These Days?

When I was younger I was a fan of country music and for the most part I still am. I spent my younger years listening to the likes of Alan Jackson and George Straight and some of the older singers when I grew in age. There is something that I’ve always liked about country, apparently I’m not the only one. If you look at the numbers for radio ratings in Tucson, country music is always at the top.

Something happened within the last decade to country music that has turned it into a pop sensation, and that is just wrong in so many ways.

Here is the formula for Country music’s demise:
1 Serving of Jimmy Buffet.
1 Serving of Spanish words, that remind us of places like Cabo and Cancun.
1 Serving of Kenny Chsenee.
2 Serving of country singers that want to be rappers.
8 Serving of American Idol.
5 Serving of 14 year old girls that love country music.

Lets first address the Jimmy Buffet issue. I like Jimmy Buffet, I like “Cheeseburger In Paradise,” it’s a good song. But you can only sing about being a beach bum as a country singer for so long before it just gets old and I start longing to hear about cotton fields back home.

The use of Spanish words in country songs is fairly common, the first time I really heard any Spanish in a song was in George Straits “Easy Come, Easy Go.” “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash has a slightly Mexican flavor to it, but that’s not my problem. Its when we start using Spanish words in relation to places like Cabo or Cancun, or some boat in the middle of the ocean, with our feet in the sand, and a beer in our hand, ah, sickening.

Kenney Chesnee appears to take advantage of this whole beach bum style country. But when is enough, enough? How many times can you write that song about hanging on the beach with your buds before every song sounds the same. Far too many people have followed this formula and it gets pretty redundant after a while.

For some odd reason country music has decided that it would like to ditch the fiddle for some bling. Why artists like Big and Rich and Trace Atkins insist on writing music about “Budonkadonks” and saving a horse and riding a cowboy is beyond me. I don’t mind humor in songs, a lot of people can pull it off, but when you start making buffoons out of yourself it just gets old. Unfortunately people listen to this buffoonery.

American Idol. If anything has contributed to the death of good country music it is American Idol. These people get up there and sing songs that aren’t country songs with a southern accent and call it country. Don’t get me wrong, I love blending genres, but some of it just doesn’t work. Carey Underwood is a great singer, but I don’t think she compares to a good song by Reba, and I’m not even really a fan of Reba.

The transformation of country music into pop music has really contributed to its demise. For guy’s like me that want to hear sad songs with the steel guitar and a good fiddle, Taylor Swift just isn’t doing it. I think that with pop and rap music’s extreme popularity, those who want to actually hear instruments and a band but can’t handle hard rock or indie music have ventured over to country music. And country music has bent over backwards to appease these people, who tend to be 14 year old girls.

There are alternatives to the pop-country that is in the mainstream. You have the emergence Texas country, with artists like Pat Green, who play a more acoustic version of country rock, but even he‘s beginning to move more to the mainstream. They tend to follow in the footsteps of artists like Jerry Jeff Walker. You can always turn to Alt-Country, which is a blend of alternative rock of all sorts and country music. Older bands like Uncle Tupelo and The Drive By Truckers have been doing if for a while. Alt-Country can also be folkish, people like Ryan Adams fit into this mold. One of my favorite Alt-Country bands is Lucero. These people tend to follow in the footsteps of Pearl Jam on the alternative side, Bob Dylan on the folk-rock side and John Prine on the acoustic side. It is fair to note that the hardcore fans of Texas Country and Alt-Country probably don’t like each other too much, though I enjoy both. Alt-Country tends to be more political, while Texas country is not.

Maybe we won’t see too much true Country music hitting the mainstream anymore, but it would be great to see it come back. Instead we are stuck with songs about how great it is to sit on the beach with a beer in your hand, all true, but an over used formula.


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