When was the last time you listened? I listen every day, and I have no idea really what country music is today, do you? I think we can both sit here and name a whole bunch of differing descriptions of modern country music, and we would probably both be right. It's bro country, it's 70's classic rock, it's hip hip country, it's power chord country... these are all words that get thrown around. It think it's going through a bit of a identity crisis.
I heard on the radio (NPR of all places) that Big Machine (Taylor Swifts record label) and Cumulus Radio are teaming up to form an "oldies" country music station. Basically because the older artists like Garth Brooks and Shania Twain have no real place in the current country music landscape. And this makes sense to me. County music has become just about the only musical outlet for all angst ridden teenage boys (albeit white teenage boys), and the boys brought their girlfriends along too. For whatever reason, the general public has decided that rock/alternative music is dead... we haven't found our next Nirvana, and maybe we never will, and country music scooped that audience up and ran with it. And in the mean time I can only imagine that Willy Nelson is scratching his head. To quote Shotgun Willy, "you can't make a record if you aint got nothing to say", maybe he was wrong, it certainly appears so. I don't blame the old guard for wanting a place on the playing field, and I hope they get there, and soon.
I will also mention that there is practically no room for female artists in todays current landscape, which is a shame... there are some great ones (check out Miranda Lambert for an artist and Victoria Banks for a songwriter... two super talented ladies).
For someone who just moved here, being a songwriter and a studio owner, it's an interesting view. I'm on the "inside" looking in, but still from an outsiders perspective. I can't help but be influenced by it all, and I can't relate to (let alone write) most of the tunes that are on the radio right now. But every now and again, something good shines through, something that catches my ear, and I think, yes, there is still a place at the table for people who write with sincerity. I just have to look through the beer can and chevy truck haze... but those songs are out there. Music still comes down to emotion, and at the end of the day, it is emotion that sells it.
Here is what I like about country music. I like a good time/feel good/summer time party song, despite what I wrote about above. I can't fault anyone for wanting to shut the brain off every now and again and just enjoy the moment. So when a song goes there and sells the summer time party vibe, I'm in, but it has to be smarter. The songwriter and artist have to care more than just rhyming beer can with summer tan. I also love how there are no "musical" boundaries really, when I'm building a track for someone, or writing a tune myself, I can borrow from Jackson Brown as much as I can borrow from Dre, and it's all good. That to me speaks of endless creative potential. And at the end of the day, country music emanates from Nashville, and Nashville has always been a song city, and always will be. It's all about the song, and music that is based on the craft of songwriting will, in the end, always steer true.
What do you like about todays country music? What do you dislike?