Today, instead of a review which is my normal modus operandi, I want to write something a bit different. I posted several months back questioning why pop fans are so insistent that they like country music, citing several of the “arguments” that they give to defend such claims.
Go onto a YouTube video of one of the big hits by today’s top “country” acts: Sam Hunt, Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan. Scroll through the comments and look at how much their fans will vehemently claim “This is country music,” and citing the same tired arguments I discussed in that older post. “Music changes,” “it has to evolve to survive,” “this is MODERN country,” etc. etc. etc. and then further on down the line.
Spend some time on the videos. Hell, start an argument with them if the mood strikes you; it can be quite entertaining to see their reactions.
Done with that? Good. Now, head over to a George Strait video and see if you can find any arguments as to whether or not its country music.
You’re not finding any, are you?
That’s because when music is country, it’s clearly country, and there’s no question about it. That’s not to say that there’s not some infusion of genres – no Jason Isbell may not be traditional country, there may be a blending of some sounds in there. But the roots and the foundation of the music are clear.
Fans of country music are not coming out and saying that Florida Georgia Line isn’t country music for no reason. If they were really country, it would be evident – it wouldn’t need to be vehemently defended by their fans who simply want to be part of an in-crowd. If they were really country, that would be present in their music, not in their label, and we wouldn’t need their fanboys and fangirls to try to convince us of it. It wouldn’t be necessary, it would just be known.
Of course, they’ll try to convince true country fans that we’re just averse to change, that we can’t accept the new. We’re just “haters” in their minds. Sometimes, they’ll even go so far as to accuse us of being “jealous” of the success of these artists.
But that’s clearly not the case. There is plenty of new country music that’s out there (“it’s real, and it’s SPECTACULAR”), even if in Gary Overton doesn’t believe it actually exists.
Hell, some of it even exists in the mainstream. Say what you want about a couple of Tim McGraw’s trend-chasing songs (“Looking For That Girl” and “Truck Yeah” were terrible), but as a whole, McGraw’s music has always remained firmly country. Sure, it’s not traditional, it’s got a modern sound to it, but McGraw is connected the roots and history of country music, and continues to put out pretty solid material. And while you may find such debates on the quality of those two aforementioned songs on their respective YouTube videos, go to almost any other McGraw video on YouTube, and you’re unlikely to find heated debates as to whether he’s “really country.”
Because once again, real country music is shown in the music, not in the label that is placed on it by a group of marketing executives. And those who try to say that someone like Sam Hunt is in the same genre as Wade Bowen are fooling only themselves.