Everyone has their things that they live by. A lot of people have odd habits or tricks, morals and values, or hobbies and interests, but one of these widespread “things” has become very prominent to me, especially through social media: the passionate hate people have towards country music. Brace yourself for an unpopular opinion because I absolutely love this thing that many others seem to love to hate.
Before I jump into it, I like to consider myself fairly close to expert on country music. I was exposed to country classics like Johnny Cash at a fairly young age by my dad and extended family, but didn’t truly start loving it until about fourth or fifth grade, and from there it’s become my all time favorite. I consider my credentials to be the 37 country artists I’ve seen live and the 5 minute long research speech I presented freshman year (yes, this is the subject I chose). There are so many reasons that it grew on me, and why the country music community is as big as it is, so let’s get started.
The main complaint of nearly every country music hater is the idea that “every song is the same” or “all the songs are about beer, trucks, and boots”. While this may be the case for some songs, country music is really a genre about storytelling and relatability, it just so happens that love, tractors,hunting, fishing, and alcohol are what writers, artists, and listeners can relate to the most, but artists are clearly not limited to these subjects. Jamey Johnson’s 2008 “In Color” the lyrics “If it looks like we were scared to death,/ Like a couple of kids just trying to save each other/ You should’ve seen it in color”, fully encompass the storyline of the song as a grandfather shares his life story through black-and-white pictures to his grandson. This is just one of many songs that tell stories of different aspects or the circle of life without mentioning any of the “basic topics” that are so grieved about.
Another common aspect of this music is pride. This shows through in so many ways from so many different artists and it can be about anything. Pride in self, family, friends, where they’ve come from, where they’re going, and their country. This is one of the main differences between country and some other genres; finding the good in what you are a part of and being proud of it rather than pointing out the negative and dwelling on it. One artist that demonstrates this the best is Toby Keith, and his American Soldier song as he sings, “I’m an American soldier, an American/ Beside my brothers and my sisters/ I will proudly take a stand/ When liberty’s in jeopardy/ I will always do what’s right/ I’m out here on the front lines/ sleep in peace tonight, American soldier, I’m an American soldier”.
When it comes down to it, country music as a whole covers all of the bases because of how many sub-genres there are. From classics like “Chicken Fried” by Zac Brown Band and “Fishing in the Dark” by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band to top hits good for blasting in the car with friends from artists like Thomas Rhett, Russel Dickerson, Dan and Shay, and Morgan Wallen, mellow tunes from Brett Young, Seth Ennis, and Maren Morris, love and wedding songs, sad songs, heartfelt melodies, honkytonk beats and pop-like tunes; these are only some of the variety that country music offers. Really, there is something for everyone.
Country music isn’t good. Bold statement, I know, but before you throw corn at me for not being a true Nebraskan, hear me out. And yes, I know, everyone has different tastes in music and you shouldn’t judge other people’s opinions, but country music is the exception.
First of all, country music is bland and boring. It’s pretty much about the same three things: tractors, love, and loving ‘merica. That’s a pretty big generalization, but am I wrong? I spent an hour listening to a “Country Hits” playlist, and every song had something to do with at least one of these three things.
All of the songs followed the same formula as well. The song starts off with some guitar strumming in the intro. Man with a heavy Southern accent comes in, probably singing about a tractor or a girl. Chorus. Man continues to sing about said tractor/girl, but also includes a lyric about loving his hometown in the sweet South. Repeat the last two steps, and ta-da! You’re on the Spotify playlist, “Hot Country.”
Yes, the same could be said about any other genre, (that’s why they’re called genres) but country music seems to stick to their formula more than the other genres. It almost seems like the country music industry promotes these basic songs more than their “better” music. For example, other genres tend to push their more meaningful music to the top, but the country industry seems to do the opposite. Fans claim country songs are “wholesome” but isn’t that just a way to say they don’t focus on real issues? And yeah, music doesn’t have to be about serious and heavy topics to be good, but it just seems a bit hypocritical of country music fans to call their music heartfelt and pure, and then bash other genres for not doing the same.
Country music has had no growth; it’s just gotten worse as time has passed. I’m not gonna lie, Dolly Parton released some bangers back in the day. Rap, alternative, hip-hop, and basically any genre, have all gone through multiple different eras. They were able to grow and change, to learn what works and what doesn’t. The country music industry hasn’t done anything different or unique, it’s predictable. Music is supposed to be a way to express creativity, but the country music industry has just produced the same sounding music for years now.
All I can say is that people have different opinions, but liking country music is the wrong opinion. Just kidding. But after listening to a solid hour of country music, I’ve come to the conclusion that if I was on a road trip and the two options for music were nails on a chalkboard and Luke Bryan’s entire discography, I would pick the nails in a heartbeat.