Pop Country is “Cruising” Right into Boredom
Love. Sadness. Dirt. Beer. Trucks. Country music has long been the music of the workingman. Dealing with tough, familiar themes with the twang of the banjo has led to country music being an international sensation. In recent years, a new genre called pop-country has taken over most of the mainstream airwaves. It is exactly what you’d think it is: country music with an auto-tuney mass-market twist. I would like to start this article with a statement: I hate when people say something is too mainstream or popular. This type of statement is often associated with “x is so bad these days; I wish it was back to the good old days.” Most people grow out of this after the angsty high school days but it’s is an important clarification before I start writing an article that gets very close to “ugh so mainstream” territory. I will be putting country music I love in throughout this article to show I am writing out of love. Ok, self-check done.
Despite what most college students in the Yankee North might think, country music has consistently been America’s bestselling and popular music genre for the last decade. Country music is the most listened to radio genre in the United States. Country superstars are household names: Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban (Australian by the way), and back to Johnny Cash. The volume of country music being put out now is higher than ever.
Recently, pop country has emerged as the triumphant form. Pop country has been the only style to get its hits not only on the top country charts, but also into the overall top charts. Some of these include “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line and “Jesus Take the Wheel” by Carrie Underwood. A multitude of other artists have become popular even out of the normal country scene. Luke Bryan and Hunter Hayes have had tremendous cross platform success. But it gets down to the main issue: the music is not very interesting.
On YouTube, you can find videos of mashups and remixes of country songs showing how identical they are to each other. Intros, choruses, and guitar riffs flow into each other as if all the songs were written at one meeting. Some notable offenders include: Kenny Chesney and Blake Shelton.
It is really living true to the name of pop music to have this Nickelback-like repetition between all the songs. You might be asking, “Jason, isn’t pop music guilty of this in almost all top songs?” Well, yes obviously. I just don’t really care about most pop music enough to put up a stink. I like country music. I want it to not get complacent. It found a formula for success and money: beer + guitar riff + “Oh yeeah” = $$$. Hell, if I had a formula that was this successful for the stock market I would probably not change it.
This doesn’t mean all pop country is bad. There is some that I really like. I am a fan of Jason Aldean, Darius Rucker, and Blake Shelton. Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, and Kenny Chesney have some awesome songs as well. The point is, in the general scheme it is beginning to blur the lines of every song.
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