A week and a half ago, I made a post about “all-inclusive” mindsets of country music and how such mindsets are harmful not just to country music, but to all music in general. This post will focus more on how the mindsets have directly affected country music, and maybe, what might happen to fix it.
Somewhere around the mid-2000s is when country music started adopting this "all-inclusive" mindset. I don’t know if anyone can point to a specific artist or song, but like I stated at the beginning, the problem isn’t about one artist or one song. But whatever kicked it off, it happened. And all of a sudden, anyone who wanted to could put out a country album, because that was what was "in." And it's only gotten worse.
But look at it further. If that mindset didn't exist. If we didn't have the Sam Hunts and the Florida Georgia Lines and the Luke Bryans, if the industry didn't market anything and everything as country, simply because the artist happens to mention Johnny Cash in one song (I’m looking at you Brantley Gilbert), where would our overall mindset be? Brantley Gilbert and Luke Bryan would be filed under rock where they belong, and Florida Georgia Line would be laughed out
When these two idiots are considered country, you know country music is in trouble.
In a post regarding Tim McGraw’s new album late last week, I mentioned a couple of duds McGraw had put out over the past two to three years. And sure, no matter what the current state of country music might be, a song like "Lookin' For That Girl" would still be terrible, but would we despise it as much as we do now? Or would we look at it as experimental and say, "sure, it's bad, it failed, let's just hope he doesn't do it again." We might even get a chuckle out of "Truck Yeah" as something a bit clichéd, but nowhere near as bad as we know they are in country's current state. I mean, say what you will about those two songs, but overall, McGraw still puts out solid albums and largely sticks to what made him a country star in the early 90s to begin with. Plus, he did follow up "Lookin' For That Girl" very quickly with "Meanwhile Back at Mama's." And I honestly believe that, despite “Truck Yeah,” Two Lanes of Freedom was one of the best mainstream albums of 2013.
Is there any way to get this mindset to go away? Maybe what we can hope will happen is that, in a few years, another genre will become the "in" genre to be a part of, and this phase can die out. The best thing that could happen for country music right now is possibly for its mass-popularity to fade so that the crap can be weeded out and the good country music that still does exist can move back to the forefront.
I realize that hoping for another genre to experience what country music has seems contradictory to my statements that such mindsets are harmful to all genres. Perhaps that’s not what I’m wishing for. Perhaps until there’s an active way to fix this situation, the best we can do is to hope that another genre gets its turn so that country music can cleanse itself. If what is happening is inevitable due to the fact that marketers are always going to do what makes them the most money, then maybe for country music to experience its cleansing, then the derision that comes with popularity might need to be passed on to another genre for the time being.