This is an article that I’ve wanted to write for a long time. I just haven’t had the energy to sit down and actually do it, until now. I’ve finally heard enough. Just some fair warning, this could easily turn into a rant… You’d have to be living under a rock to not hear the never ending cries of “this isn’t country!” You can’t read comments on a Facebook post about country artists without “they aren’t country” comments all over the place. Country entertainment site Whiskey Riff even has a satirical t-shirt that says, “That’s not country” because it’s gotten so out of control.
Sam Hunt isn’t country because he wears funky clothes and a flat bill hat. Kelsea Ballerini reminds people of Taylor Swift, so clearly she’s not country. Forget the fact that Hunt is from middle of nowhere Georgia, and has written songs of which no one would argue the “country-ness value.” [“Come Over” recorded by Kenny Chesney, and “We Are Tonight” recorded by Billy Currington to name a few.] Miss Ballerini hails from Knoxville, TN, which isn’t exactly NYC. None of that matters – they aren’t country. Has the sound of modern day country changed from the sounds of the legends? Absolutely. Is it better? Is it worse?
People argue that current stars are a disgrace to Waylon, Johnny, even King George. People want 90s country where Shania reigned as Queen. You know what? Shania sounds nothing like Johnny Cash, yet people consider both to be country. I grew up listening to Reba, George Strait, and The Judds, and yet somehow I’m able to love the disgrace that is known as Sam Hunt… Clearly there’s some sarcasm there, but the point is clear. There is a way to enjoy all varieties of country music.
My biggest problem with this whole argument is the fact that artists are being torn to shreds by “fans.” If you don’t like hearing Florida Georgia Line, change the dang channel! If you like it, turn it up and enjoy. Not a single person is forcing you to listen to something you hate. Between traditional radio, XM radio, iTunes, Spotify, & Pandora your song options are endless… Support the artists you like, but don’t bash those you dislike. These “non-country” artists work their butts off to get where they are. One of my favorites, April Kry, recently posted this on her Twitter:
I couldn’t like that enough! Just give it a chance… You still don’t like it? Change the channel and move on. Can we all just agree to stop crying about something not being country, and tearing these hard working artists apart?
I’ll end with this. I took this photo of a wall in front of the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, and I just love the quote.