Plenty of fans have argued alongside them, saying that the genre is merging into pop, rock and hip hop styles and becoming unrecognizable, in addition to covering subject matters that are far more throwaway and cliche than many fans are used to, including “laundry list” tracks that just seem to list stereotype cliches and buzzwords one after another.
Kacey Musgraves was the first, country’s slightly-to-the-left neo-traditional golden girl who’s famous for covering taboo and controversial subject matters, she told a magazine that everyone who sings about trucks should just stop, because nobody cares. Trucks being one of the aforementioned cliches, this was a hit with many tired listeners (including me!).
Then Gary Allan spoke out, saying that Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood weren’t country, and that much of the mainstream was now pop (although failing to mention that his music had undergone a change recently too). He said he felt like they were making music for a format and a demographic now, and that they had lost their genre.
At the end of last week, Zac Brown was the latest to make some comments, and his have been the most substantial so far. His 6-piece band Zac Brown Band are genre-bending and are known for their melting pot of influences, particularly those such as reggae/ska and Caribbean sounds, but Zac had a lot of very valid points. In an interview he said, ““There’s not a lot of the country format that I really enjoy listening to. What we do is not necessarily traditional country, but we play all of our own instruments, we write the best songs that we can, and we put harmony on the songs, we have a real band… a lot of it’s just about subject matter. We really write about real life, songs that come from life and our heart. To me country music has always been the home for a great song. If I hear one more tailgate in the moonlight, daisy duke song, I’m gonna throw up. There’s songs out there on the radio right now that make me be ashamed to be even in the same format as some other artists.”
He went on to say, “Now, there are still great artists that are in the country format and there’s still artists to that do a great job with a song that care about their lyrics and it’s not just mindless dribble. [But] you can look and see some of the same songwriters on every one of the songs. There’s been like 10 number one songs in the last two or three years that were written by the same people and it’s the exact same words, just arranged different ways.”
Luke Bryan‘s latest single ‘That’s My Kind of Night’ has been very polarizing within country music, creating a divide between fans due to its lyrics and musical content. Zac Brown said of it, “I love Luke Bryan and he’s had some great songs, but this new song is the worst song I’ve ever heard. I know Luke, he’s a friend. I see it being commercially successful, in what is called country music these days, but I also feel like that the people deserve something better than that. Country fans and country listeners deserve to have something better than that, a song that really has something to say, something that makes you feel something. Good music makes you feel something. When songs make me wanna throw up, it makes me ashamed to even be in the same genre as those songs.”
However, he did have some positive things to say. Despite my own reservations about Sheryl Crow coming to country music, Zac said, “This week, I’ve been listening to Sheryl Crow‘s new record. There’s really the most country song that I’ve heard since like George Jones back in the day on her new CD. She wrote it with Brad Paisley, it’s called ‘Waterproof Mascara.’ It’s sad to me to think that country music won’t even play that because they’re playing dance club songs that have cliche country lyrics in it.”
There’s so much in what Zac said that I 100% agree with, and I am one of the bloggers fighting this battle against bad music, so it feels so satisfying to hear someone with his profile say something! What did you think of his comments?