Was 2013 an awful year for Country Music?
A friend recently sent me a youtube video that claimed to highlight why country music was "awful" in 2013. I love country music, and this video did not change that, but it did highlight certain themes in country music in a way that made me laugh. I like most of the songs the video features, but I didn't fully realize how popular songs about trucks, girls in tight jeans, old dirt roads, and moonlight were this past year. The video layers clips of top country songs featuring these themes in a way that would seem reduntant and paints today's country singers in a limited light. I've got a couple points I think will be of interest.
1.) What's wrong with trucks, old dirt roads, and sunsets? The featured songs were all big hits, so clearly, although there may be similar verbage and overlapping topics, the lyrics and rythem must be resonating with the audience. If they didn't like it, they wouldn't buy it. All of these artists are concidered to be at the top of their game.
2.)It's COUNTRY music! Of course the music will reflect the lifestyle of those that enjoy it. I wouldn't turn to a gospel station and be suprised to learn that the songs are based in religion. Much like anyone tuning into rap should have certain expectations of what they will be hearing. There will be reoccuring themes in any genre of music.
3.)While the video samples music from the past year, those themes have been consistant throughout country music's history. Don't believe me? Let's take a quick jog down memory lane: John Denver 'Take Me Home Country Roads'; Patsy Cline 'Walkin' after Midnight'; Joe Diffe 'Pickup Man'; Red Simpson 'I'm a Truck'; Oak Ridge Boys 'American Made', Rhett Atkins 'That Ain't my Truck'; Mel McDaniel 'Baby's Got her Blue Jeans On'; and Buck Owens 'Truck Driving Man'. Seeing a trend? Every one of these songs talks about blue jeans, trucks, moonlight, or country roads. These topics are staples, and will always be found in country music.
4.) While those are popular topics and easily relatable, country music isn't defined by those alone. Other common themes in country music are trains, Texas, rain, cowboys, farming, family, work/jobs, America, love and heartbreak. And country doesn't shy away from the hard topics either with songs about cancer, death, addiction, suicide, domestic abuse, poverty, parenting, and religion.
So while the video is an amusing mashup of recent hits, don't let one video dictate your impression of country music. Sit down and listen to a variety of artists, pick out a few songs from each decade, and then decide for yourself what you think of the music and it's reoccuring themes. And if you don't know where to start, tune into KDHL- we've got a great mix of country music!