by Ryan Cox ’18
My motto for those who claim to be staunchly against country music is this: if you do not like country music, you just have not heard the right song yet.
Country music is one of the most diverse genres of music, and that is a large part of its appeal.
Some artists are traditionalists, some lean a little bit rock, a little bit pop, but others have arguably pushed the boundaries a little too far, straying from the roots of what makes country music great.
Harlan Howard once defined country music as “three chords and the truth.” Artists like Loretta Lynn and Eric Church embody that. You would be hard-pressed to find songs like “Coal Miner’s Daughter” or “Mr. Misunderstood” in any other genre of music. The greatest country songwriters write from a personal place, and connect with listeners because of their honesty.
That is why it is so frustrating to see artists like Florida Georgia Line, Kane Brown, and Sam Hunt rise like rockets to the top of the charts. They lean far too heavily toward R&B and hip-hop, turning country music into the stereotype that it must suffer today: lifted trucks, skinny women in daisy dukes, and a cold can of Bud Light.
They are entertaining, sure, but are they really country songs? Florida-Georgia Line recently toured with Nelly and the Backstreet Boys, despite still branding themselves as country artists. How is that a country concert?
This manufactured “bro-country,” as it has come to be called, has marred the name of country music.
Songs like “What Ifs” and “Body Like a Back Road” follow the same pandering list of content. Like pop music, it makes country all sound the same.
Many artists now use pre-recorded, synthesized tracks, rather than recording with a band, taking away another honest element from production. “Unforgettable” by Thomas Rhett is missing that unmistakable country sound altogether because of its prerecorded background track, yet it stands at number four on this past week’s Billboard Country chart.
Current country seems to have become more pop than country, more about entertaining a crowd of screaming fans.
The bro-country trend needs to cool down (maybe with one of those cold Buds they keep singing about). It has turned country music into somewhat of a joke—a manufactured and over-produced genre that makes it no different than anything on the Billboard Hot 100.