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Monday, December 07, 2009

Anything but Country

As my fellow bloggers have pointed out, people seem to love all types of music except for country. So in today's Monday Music Moment, I question why this is the case.

I think that people don't like country music because of the singers.

Some country music sounds like standard pop music if you replace the singer with a contemporary pop star. I think Taylor Swift proves this point in a way. Her music is considered "country" still, but her glorious tunes are spread all over Billboard: she has been dominating the country charts for a long time now, but she currently has TWO singles in the top 20 of the Pop Songs chart.

So how does T. Swift manage to appear on the country and pop charts at the same time? Well she is a fantastic songwriter, so that helps, but I think her voice is a big part of it. She doesn't sound country really. She has no accent and she doesn't use verbal markers that people associate with Southern American English (i.e. "a-" attached to a verb, short front vowels sounding similar, etc.). One reason I like Taylor so much is because I think she starts to prove the point that some country music isn't really as country as some people think it is.

Now trust me, there are some bad country songs. I think another problem with country music is that people think it all sounds the same. And I think there is a certain type of country music (performed by Toby Keith [ugh sick!]) that does all sound the same. This is the wannabe-humorous type of country that is usually really cheesy and becomes dated about three months after it's released.

But I think if more people listened to country music, they would find that its not that different from other types of music that they're probably listening to. And really, if people like "anything but country," why do they listen to classical, jazz, African tribal, flamenco, and chamber music and not give country music a fair shot?

Anyway, here's the real point of this post: I am in love with these two country songs right now.

First, Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now"



And second, and a little more "country" I suppose, is Nicole Kidman's hubby Keith Urban with"'Til Summer Comes Around." I love whiny singers!



So if you are one of those 'everything but country' people, please, tell me:
what is it about country music that you don't like?

36 comments:

Polt said...

Out here in the rural south centreal Pennsylvania region, i grew up around country music. We've got more country music stations on the radio that all other kinds of music stations put together. And yeah, I don't know how I go without tearing my hair out either.

I dont like country music, because, well, I don't like it. Just like I don't like pop music, like I don't like much jazz, and why I'm not a fan of opera. It just doesn't appeal to me. The way alternative music, and espeically Brit Pop does. ANd yes, I have heard it, quite a BIT of it actually, so I can say I don't like it.

I DO however like older country music: Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, some Loretta Lynn, that kinda stuff. But really, nothing past, say, 1980.

HUGS...

that's J-O-S-H said...

I think that a lot of peepz are turned off by country music due to stereotypical social stigmas...like all country folkz are backward-azz homophobic racist hickz. And while I think that modern day country is MUCH MUCH MUCH different then the classix of the genre, I like the way it has evolved yet still kept the "specific-to-the-singer-yet-still-open-to-the-audience" accessibility of the lyrics.

Ryan said...

I like some country. While it's definitely not my favorite genre, it's also not my least favorite.

Jere Keys said...

I'm not technically an "anything but country" because I also refuse to spend any time listening to hip-hop, house, reggae, or new-age soundscape experimental stuff. Not because there aren't occasional good songs in any genre, but because the payoff is so low compared to the avalanche of shitty music.

Also, regarding country, I find the themes and culture of Country music to be alien and uninteresting. Knee-jerk patriotism, romanticizing rural communities and working class people, the almost pathological exclusion of people of color... none of these are things that draw me in.

Milo said...

<3 Dolly Parton!

that's J-O-S-H said...

I don't understand when people describe their tastes by limiting out entire genres. They seem to do it to show themselves as some sort of high authority on the world of music when in actuality it just comes across as pompous an uneducated. Anyone who really understands the fundamentals of music should really be able to at least appreciate all genres for what their strengths are and what provides them their popularity.

And no Jere, I am not writing this to you.... Just wanted to clarify that right outta da gate. :)

hoteltuesday said...

Polt: Oh, I already knew there was that "I only listen to music that is funky and played out" excuse. And I knew you would pull it :P

Josh: Exactly right! Country music is NOT about farming and hanging clothes on the line outside!! Also, I think people confuse country with 'bluegrass' and stuff.

Ryan: Who do you love?! Martina McBride? Taylor Swift? ME TOO.

Jere: That's not what most country music is about. You should listen to better country music if the last time you gave it a shot it was about patriotism and racism. That stuff resides in snooze city and obviously I don't listen to any music from that wretched place! Try Martina McBride!

Milo: I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU?! Classic.

Ryan said...

I haven't heard much of Taylor Swift's stuff, but I have liked what I have heard.

I enjoy Rascal Flatts and Kenny Chesney, and Chard Brok had a song that I liked on the countdown that I had to listen to four times a weekend while working as a cashier in high school.

Jere Keys said...

Enrico: I didn't say it was "about" racism, I said there's an almost pathological exclusion of people of color from the genre (this is where my sisters point out "that one black guy" which is the exception that proves the rule). There's a big difference. The knee-jerk patriotism that dominated Country music post-9/11 may have died down, but the political notions are still simmering under the surface. How is that Dixie Chicks comeback getting along? And beyond all that, I still find nothing inherently romantic or better about rural living (a.k.a. living in "the country") because I am a big-city boy at heart, so the Western/Southern imagery and marketing that dominates the genre has no appeal.

Josh: you make two assumptions that don't hold true. 1) you assume that because I define my tastes by genre exclusion that I cannot articulate the so-called "strengths" of the genre that lead to its popularity. Popularity alone doesn't mean that something has admirable traits (see: Rush Limbaugh). I may also see and understand the appeal, and yet still find it unappealing to my personal tastes in music. 2) You claim that by defining musical taste by genre exclusion, my (I know, not me specifically) purpose is to "show [myself] as some sort of high authority on the world of music." Frankly, where do you get that from? Where have I claimed that my musical tastes are more valid or more authoritative than those of anyone else? Why make this assumption when it's equally or more likely that I'm simply expressing a personal preference without regard or concern for whether I persuade you?

that's J-O-S-H said...

Jere: I was serious. My comment wasn't about you.

Michelle M. said...

I do like some country music. Love Dolly. But she's so cute/talented she could make anything sound good. The few songs I do enjoy are more of the crossover stuff. I am not into the twanging. I used to work with someone who played country on the radio nonstop and it made me want to drive spikes into my ears.

Jere Keys said...

Josh: I know. But to respond to your points, I spoke as if it was. It's a new habit that springs up from 3 months of debating hypotheticals in law school.

that's J-O-S-H said...

Jere: [second word in the title of 19th track off of Christina Aguilera's "Stripped"]

hoteltuesday said...

Jere: Dixie Chicks comeback = 5 Grammys for Taking the Long Way (including Album of the Year).

Michelle M.: I didn't know everyone loved Dolly. Do you like her version of I Will Always Love You better than Whitney's?

Josh: Way to reference the song you GOT WRONG in my quiz.

Mel said...

Considering I was brought up on Hee Haw and Porter Waggoner, I'd never cop to not liking country (Whitney's remake of "I Will Always Love You" will never, ever hold a candle to Dolly's original). What I don't like, though, is the majority of what passes for country these days. Agreed on Toby Keith - if I wanted jingoistic racist bullshit, I'd turn on Rush Limbaugh.

My tastes run primarily along two lines - old school twangy, honky-tonky country/western and traditional Appalachian styling (including bluegrass). Love me some alt+country, because they tend to play with these sounds, and I love a lot of the newer artists who have turned back to these sounds and freshened them up.

Ryan said...

I'm listening to Dolly Parton's 9 to 5 right now. When it finishes, I will go shopping for someone's present.

If I have time, I may watch 9 to 5 tonight.

Michelle M. said...

Enrico - "loved" Dolly? She's not dead! I think both versions are great. Dolly's version is sweet and yearning. I like Whitney's version, it's powerful, but I think it it doesn't have the emotion that Dolly's has.

Ryan - I love 9 to 5! There were rumors that the ladies were going to reunite for a sequel, but I think that's stuck in development hell.

Jere Keys said...

Josh: I can't decipher your code, so I assume you mean "in" from "Genie in a Bottle" the only song I can think of that isn't "Lady Marmalade"

Enrico: I'm not sure that winning Grammy awards is a reflection of anything. I mean, Album of the Year? This is an award that has gone to MTV Unplugged: Tony Bennett and Christopher Cross. I haven't even heard of the 2009 and 2008 winners (Raising Sand and River: The Joni Letters). You're better off making the popularity/sales argument about the Dixie Chicks comeback - to which I respond that relatively little of that success can be attributed to a traditional Country audience and reflects more of a widespread shift in mainstream political thinking that sought to embrace the band ostracized by its original fan base.

hoteltuesday said...

!!!!!!! RIVER: THE JONI LETTERS = covers of Joni Mitchell songs = AMAZING! Corinne Bailey Rae (love her) covers "River"

goblinbox said...

I have actual cowboys in my family. I even have an uncle who wears huge silver belt buckles and shiny Western-cut shirts and leather vests and cowboy boots.

My grandfather wore cowboy boots until the day he died.

Most modern country has a lot of pop, R&B, and jazz influences.

But I still say I don't like country, and less than 1% of my music library can be classified as "country." (The 1% is all Willie Nelson and Hank III.)

I think many of us associate stupid ignorant hillbillyism with "country music," and like to think we're smarter and more cosmopolitan than the typical country music fan.

Jere Keys said...

But why get covers when the originals are still so awesome? Anyway, I don't doubt that anything with the Joni is going to be awesome, but I still never heard of the album before or after that year's Grammys.

Ryan said...

Michelle: How are things in your neck of the woods? I passed through a neighborhood with its power out on the south end of North Clairemont. The winds are heavy here on the coast.

Michelle M. said...

Ryan - windy and rainy. A lot of leaves/branches on the ground, but not bad. It's veeery cold, though.

Craig said...

I actually enjoy the more popular country music like Garth Brooks and George Strait. We would listen to them on long car rides with the family and my Dad was a big fan (along with Gospel, sigh) and I ended up enjoying it. Young minds are so easy to manipulate!

Polt said...

guys, just because I don't like something doesn't mean I think I'm superior over those who do like it. I don't like brussels sprouts, but that doesn't mean I look down on people that do.

And I don't believe I'd call Keane, Coldplay or Muse 'funky', nor are they 'played out' since they're both releasing albums still. Albums that, by your popularity measuring stick, do rather well in sales. But if you don't listen to Muse, I don't think you're inferior. I just think you're a bit deprived. :)

HUGS...

that's J-O-S-H said...

Muse is good aka i heard two of their songs and liked them. Keane makes me sad cuz my ex played them non-stop. Coldplay...well, coldplay. I put them in a group of bands along with u2, rhcp, green day & the beatles.

On a rando note, i like putting mah muzak library on random and have all the genres get clustereffed. One second it's the goo goo dolls, then it's broadway showtunes. Next it's missy elliott followed by deftones, pink floyd, hellogoodbye, janis joplin & assorted "american idol" loser. Top it off wiff a dash of dashboard & a sprinkle of bjork and i'm a happy camper!

Garret of Jim and Garret said...

Wow. Lotsa comments like ya touched a nerve or something. :-) I like some country. I do have a large variety of music interests. I'm all over the board.

hoteltuesday said...

goblinbox: My uncle was gonna be a country singer. He was about to sign to the label Garth was on but then he fell in love and his girlfriend asked him to choose between a career and having babies by her, and he chose the latter. He's still plays at family events all the time. And yeah, lots of my family members wear cowboy boots.

Ryan/Michelle M.: It's freezing! I rode my bike to work and that made it worse. I was crying I was so cold (and my tears turned to ice).

Craig: My mama played Reba McEntire a lot when I was young and I still remember the words to some of her older stuff ("Fancy" and "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia" were my faves.

Polt: Ugh sick! Whoever said YOU were acting superior? And I like Keane and Coldplay. Didn't love Hopes and Fears, but Under the Iron Sea was pretty great!

Josh: I rarely put my iTunes on random. But I love when I do and really sad music like "Calm Under the Waves" is followed by really upbeat/amazing music like "I'm Hot" by Rhonetta J.

Tam said...

I don't mind "modern" country. Taylor Swift is fine if a bit syrupy for me in my old age. But I don't dislike her. Dixie Chicks have had their moments, Keith Urban and a few others. I dislike the old twangy stuff. "Yer cheatn' heaaaaaaart". Ugh.

I don't like it in large doses because too often it does all sound the same and after an hour of twang with guys in their boots and hats stomping it up with their geetars - I'm going nuts. But mixed in with some other stuff the "crossover country" if you will is fine for me.

john said...

I'm not a fan of country music. To me there is something about the way the music is arranged and played as well as the vocal harmonies that don't appeal to my musical tastes.

I won't say that country music doesn't have its virtues, but simply that I haven't listened to enough of it and have only found a few songs that I like. I do own some, but very few songs.

hoteltuesday said...

Tam: Dixie Chicks moment = "Not Ready to Make Nice" right? LOVE that song. But I do love dramatic songs.... Oh, and their version of "Landslide" was pretty good since that song is so well-written and beautiful....

john: I love harmonies! I don't notice anything diff about country harmonies, but if you aren't a fan of them in general, then you might not love my album that's gonna drop next year. I'm sure it'll be full of 'em.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE LOVE Taylor Swift!! When I listen to her I feel 16 again!! :o)
Talita/TJ

ps I also love carrie underwoods version of "I told you so".

john said...

Enrico: I like harmonies, but there is something about the sound of the very limited amount of Country songs I have heard that I don't like. I can't really describe it, but there is a quality, that for the lack of a better word, sounds twangy for me.

Now don't jump all over my use of twang and yell at me and make me cry, then die, then get dragged to hell - perhaps featuring Josh and one of more of his cats. I said I couldn't describe it well.

mkf said...

a texas boy, i grew up back when what was left of country music still existed; now it's nothing but pop music with an affected twang.

shame this pale imitation's all your generation will ever know.

Anonymous said...

i love country music, my fav group Rascal Flatts. I also like Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood and many others. I don't like the cheesy songs, but If i every feel like crying country music is were i go.


gabi

Kristen said...

I love how you incorporated a linguistics lesson into your explanation of country. Felicia would be proud :)