“That’s not country.” Country music has become the most popular genre in America, and it seems as though each and every individual fan has their own definition of “country,” and in reality, that’s how it should be. The phrase of “being country” is completely subjective whether you want to accept that or not.
Of course George Strait is country, by most folks’ definition of the term. Here’s the thing however, many new fans don’t listen to the legends, so for them, guys like Dustin Lynch (whose new music I don’t listen to) are the ultimate country stars. As much as it may chap your ass, that’s the way it is and the way it will continue to be. There is no definitive scale of country-ness. I was born in Northern Indiana and currently live in Chicago – I can confidently say I know more of the genre’s history and happenings than 99% off the people who talk shit about a song or artist not being “country” enough. Am I not country because of my geographic location? I am country, and I define my own version of country. I have one rule, you give every artist a chance from an objective stance. Don’t allow your upbringing or surroundings to dictate whether you become a fan of a new song or artist – that’s the ultimate disservice to yourself and something that hurts your ability to appreciate different expressions of art.
Fans got angry when they found out Sam Hunt wrote, and originally sang, William Michael Morgan’s #1 hit “I Met A Girl.” Fans said the song and delivery reminded them of a young George Strait with WMM’s version, but HATED accepting the fact Sam Hunt wrote the hit. You can appreciate the writing of a guy like Hunt without going to his concerts or buying his albums, but when you deny the talent, when you place your unsupported claim the song is not country, you are swinging and missing. Your point is not valid and has no substance behind it. Sorry, folks…
What gets really unsettling revolves around the fans not saying what they truly mean, hiding behind the keyboard. Now, we see it most whenever Kane Brown releases a new video or song. A recent comment to a video we posted said “we might as well call Lil Wayne country now.” You don’t have to be professor of sociology to understand those arguments start to point to race, which sucks to see. Take Kane Brown’s voice for what it is, a killer deep country voice. All the other noise around a guy like that can be just that, noise. Sometimes it’s nice to view and listen to an artist through a lens, and avoid distractions. You can then appreciate the work. After that, feel free to dig deeper and say I do or don’t like XYZ about that person, that’s how you properly give credit and offer an educated stance on a piece of work.
Is Kane Brown my go-to? Far from it. But, if he does release a “country” song, I’ll say so. If he releases something that sucks, I’ll say so.
The curve of the bill on your cap, or the fit of your jeans, or the brand of boots you wear does not make you country. It never will. Country comes from an honesty and part of your life you’ll never let go of. Everyone has their own country story, but nobody has the correct definition of “country.” Do me a favor and give every new artist a chance in 2017 before you write them off because of the way they look. Dig deeper, and see country for why it’s so great – everyone has their own story.
** I appreciate the folks twisting the words I wrote here. You know country music when you hear it, and when you don’t. The point of this was to shed light on some of the double standards, and the idea that “country” is a physical look, or what’s in your closet. Cheers, y’all.
Whiskey Riff is the most entertaining country site…ever.