Unwarranted attack on country music

Third place, opinion writing

When somebody asks an acquaintance what music they listen to, a pretty standard response is: “Oh, I like everything–except for country.”

Everyone is quick to say that they hate country music, and yet when old Taylor Swift comes on or “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver plays, they have no problem busting out into song and dance.

While swearing off all country music sounds good in theory (there are some pretty questionable songs, including “Drunk on a Plane” by Dierks Bentley), people don’t seem to realize what they’re missing out on. By vowing not to listen to country, they miss hundreds of feel-good songs and quality tear-jerkers.

Each country song falls into one or more of these four categories: girls, trucks, beer, and fishing. While those topics are admittedly not the best nor do they have the most depth, they definitely could be worse. For the most part, the songs provide some happy, mindless listening, and when Jon Pardi sings about his cute country love in “Head Over Boots,” it’s impossible not to fall in love with the genre.

The Southern lilt, the acoustic guitar, the occasional banjo–what more could you ask for? Sure, the lyrics aren’t perfectly crafted, but the heart’s there. And either way, not much is going to sound too serious with a Southern accent.

While country music itself is amazing, a new trend that artists seem to be enamored with is combining this already perfect genre with pop, creating awfully synthesized music with a singer using a Southern accent–for example, the atrocity that is Luke Bryan. When he was simply a country singer, his music was passable, but now that he’s attempted to merge into country-pop, he’s unlistenable.

This change could be argued to have started with Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise,” which with its feel-good tune and fast-paced tempo was a song that everybody can’t help but love, so there’s hope that the shift won’t completely ruin the country music genre.

Even knowing all the wonderful aspects of country music, the question remains: why does everyone claim to hate country even when there are so many exceptions to their general dislike in the form of both artists and songs?

People hate it because the anti-country fanbase perceives country music as being less intellectually advanced and more conservative than other genres.

Most country artists don’t dare to speak out politically against the conservative views of this fanbase because of what happened to the Dixie Chicks, an all-girl country band from Dallas, Texas, that was popular in the 1990s and early 2000s.

The Dixie Chicks criticized President George Bush during his time in office, and from then on the primarily conservative fanbase refused to listen to their music.

In 2003, right before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the lead singer, Natalie Maines, said that the group did not support the war and that they were “ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.”

Listeners believed that Maines’ words against President Bush were unpatriotic, and got country stations across the US to stop playing their music with threats of boycott. Before this, they had the biggest concert attendance for country music, and after they had to cancel all of their tours because they could not sell tickets.

However, country artists are becoming more politically active, criticizing President Trump and writing songs that show their support of the LGBTQ+ community.

So while the fanbase may be more conservative, the artists (including Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Tim McGraw) are displaying more progressive views concerning love, gun laws, and Trump.

But despite the recent changes in country music, people still seem to despise it with a passion. The only time that anyone can stand to listen to country music is if it has already been deemed socially acceptable by the public–which is why it’s okay to love old Taylor Swift.

But arguably the most important aspect that country critics seem to forget is simply how much fun it is to sing with a Southern accent. It’s impossible to use one and not be in a good mood.

With its lighthearted music and fun accent, it’s hard to see why people dislike country music. But even facing unnecessary criticism, country will continue to produce amazing music until the world is forced to recognize its appeal.