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Rick Diamond/Getty Images

March Blog Rodeo: A Love Affair For The Ages

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Why does mainstream media seem to be so in love with Country Music today? I’m exploring this question from the fan perspective as I am not a member of the music industry, nor do I have any type of musical background from which I can draw. I asked friends and acquaintances why they thought this to be the case. The following, is what I have garnered.

Let me start this analysis by saying this: I understand and 100% agree that the Country Music of today is not the country music of twenty years ago and is definitely not the Country Music of fifty years ago. The bottom line is that my Country Music is not my grandpa’s Country Music and most likely, my kids Country Music will not be the same as my Country Music. I understand and accept that fact, music changes over time as does the tastes of the American public.

It seems that every time you turn around there is another reality show on TV. Many of them have to do with talent searches, i.e. The Voice, American Idol, X Factor, and America’s Got Talent. Let’s take American Idol as our example. I was in high school when AI first debuted, and I do not remember many, if any, contestants that came from a country music back ground, at least not the first year. The contestants that I remember came from a Rock, Rap, Pop or R&B background or influence, but each had their own unique sound, which is something that is required in the music business today.

In the past few years, these talent search shows have given us many of today’s country music stars. Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Kellie Pickler, Casey James, Bucky Covington, Lauren Alaina, and Scotty McCreery are all alumni of Fox’s his reality show American Idol. So why is it that the mainstream media loves Country Music and Country Music singers? Part of the reason is that Country Music is relateable. Whatever feeling or emotion you may have at any given time, there is a song that sympathizes with how you feel. Not to say that other genres do not have the same types of songs and emotions, some people are just drawn to Country Music for comfort and sympathy.

Another reason the media might love Country Music goes back to what I said earlier about the Country of today, not being the Country of yesterday. True, in the past there have been ‘crossover’ artists. Kenny Rogers is a perfect example of this. However, it is more common for artists to blur the lines between genres. Kelly Clarkson of American Idol is a perfect example of this. When she appeared on AI she did not have a specific genre that she fit into and when she won the talent search, she was signed as a Pop act, however her biggest musical influence was Reba. Since winning AI, Kelly has released several Country singles, some on her own and others with Country stars such as Jason Aldean, Vince Gill and her idol, Reba.

As I said previously, I asked friends, family and acquaintances why do you think mainstream media is more in love with country music today than they ever have been in the past? Why do you think more and more people like country music? Here is what some of them had to say:

Shiloh R. of Indiana said:
“1) it relates to real life. Whatever you’re going through there is a song that a person can really relate to. 2) I can understand the lyrics.”

Kimberly S. of Mississippi said:
“Country music has changed so much over the last few decades. I love the old stuff…and most of the new stuff! But I think the real draw is that the songs tell stories. You hear one and think ‘that song is about me! That’s my song!’ Country music (new and old) is really the only genre that has that.”

Jenifer B. of Ohio said:
“It tells a story, and life lessons, if people listen to the message.”

And then there are those who do not appreciate the path that Country Music has taken and feel that Country music of today is not true country music, like Steven P. of Wyoming:
“The mainstream doesn’t like “real”, old school country. Johnny Cash, Waylon [Jennings], Merle [Haggard], etc. wouldn’t be “stars” today. Most of the stuff today has a “pop” sound and is irritating. ‘I was country when country wasn’t cool!’”

Randi F. of Ohio had this to say:
“The sound is changing to appeal to mainstream listeners. It’s the same companies producing the some music…I still love all of it though!”

Some might disagree with Steven who said that Johnny Cash, Waylon and Merle would not be stars today. There are still a lot of country music fans, who like the modern sounding country, but they also know that Johnny, Waylon, Merle and others like them, all paved the way for today’s Country stars. In their time, they too broke the rules, not to say there were not those who didn’t like or approve, but they would not have become the stars they were, and still are today, if they themselves had not taken chances and stepped outside the proverbial mold of what Country Music is.


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