Six Times Kacey Musgraves Gave The Musical Middle Finger To The Status Quo

Kacey Musgraves singing into a microphone
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Kacey Musgraves is one of a kind.

She’s never gotten the mainstream recognition she deserves in the country genre, and it looks like she may be starting to make the transition to the world of pop.

Her current label UMG Nashville, and the non-country label Interscope Records, recently inked a deal to work together on marketing and distribution for her upcoming album. Though no details of said album have been officially announced yet, Kacey mentioned earlier this year in an interview she had something coming at some point in 2021.

While this new deal signals the beginning of a transition for Kacey, I can’t say I’m all that surprised. She’s kind of been an outsider in country music since her very first album, Same Trailer Different Park, was released in 2013 and included controversial songs like “Follow Your Arrow.”

I would say it’s all in large part due to the fact that she’s always made bold statements in her music. The native Texas is known for being polarizing, and unfortunately in a genre that often paints a certain picture of what’s “acceptable” or not from a mainstream perspective, that just doesn’t work.

Or at the very least, it certainly isn’t going to get you much air time on the radio.

I talked about all of that more in-depth previously, so I don’t want to rehash it all here, but rather focus on a few songs where she called out stereotypes and expectations unapologetically that I really appreciate.

Her spunk and willingness to be honest and wear her heart on her sleeve is what I love most about her. I’m going to miss having her in a dedicated, decidedly country space a whole hell of a lot, but at least we have a few gems to hang on to as she embarks on this transition.

Here’s a list of six times Kacey told the honest truth about how she felt and gave the middle finger to whatever expectations were placed on her:

“High Horse”

The Dolly-esque play on “9 to 5” in this music video says it all. Kacey’s tired of her boss’ shit and she’s gonna let him know. Though not her most controversial song by any stretch, it’s a fun sing-along track with a relatable message about people who bring the mood down. As she suggests in the song, don’t we all now someone like that?

“Good Ol’ Boys Club”

I love this one because it encapsulates all of the feelings she has towards the Nashville establishment and the way so many artists get where they want to go. Like a lot of industries, there’s a certain network that, if you can impress, you’re gonna climb the latter a lot faster.

Of course, a lot of the time it means sacrificing parts of yourself and your values you don’t really want to. If you want to know how she really feels about all of it, just look at the lyrics:

“I don’t need a membership to validate
The hard work I put in and the dues I paid
Never been to good at just goin’ along
I guess I’ve always kind of been for the underdog”

“Biscuits”

I feel like we all know someone we’d love to send this song to. Though that would probably be really rude, it’s refreshing to at least be able to sing about it. She makes references to what she prefers to smoke and a few other deliciously searing remarks about people minding their own business that I couldn’t love more. As catchy as it is, there’s a bunch of truth packed into it:

“Pouring salt in my sugar won’t make yours any sweeter
Pissing in my yard ain’t gonna make yours any greener
I wouldn’t know about the rocks in your shoes
So I’ll just do me and honey you can just do you”

“Pageant Material”

I don’t know if on the surface level people would consider this song super bold, but it is. There’s honestly not much that is more controversial than breaking rules when it comes to tradition in the south. I really haven’t heard a better song that speaks so directly to this topic in such an innovative, creative way. It’s one of my favorite songs for that reason. Her opening verse is one of the most relatable things I’ve ever read:

“There’s certain things you’re s’posed to know
When you’re a girl who grows up in the south
I try to use my common sense
But my foot always ends up in my mouth”

“Follow Your Arrow”

Aside from my number one on this list, I don’t think it gets any bolder than this. Not surprisingly, it didn’t do very well on the radio charts. But in my opinion, it’s one of her very best songs.

It hones in on the idea that no matter what you do in life, your decisions will elicit criticism from someone, so it’s in your best interest to just do whatever the hell you want. Ain’t that the truth?

“Merry Go ‘Round”

The song that really launched her career and earned her a Grammy award as her debut single in 2012, you’d be hard pressed to find another one quite as cynical, but that’s the best part about it. It doesn’t romanticize the lifestyle so many people choose due to the sheer fact that they feel like they’re “supposed” to.

Even almost 10 years later, I often find myself running to this song over and over when I need to know someone else understands how I feel about the whole thing. It’s a clinic on songwriting, too:

“We think the first time’s good enough
So, we hold on to high school love
Say we won’t end up like our parents
Tiny little boxes in a row
Ain’t what you want, it’s what you know
Just happy in the shoes you’re wearin’
Same checks we’re always cashin’
To buy a little more distraction”

Here’s to hoping she takes this same honesty over with her to her next venture.

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