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I’m Giving Up On Modern Country Music

Howdy y’all. It’s been a while. Truth to be told I’ve been in a bit of slump and my inspiration and drive to write has been severely lacking. As November approaches, the days have been getting shorter, the nights are longer and colder, and these bright reds, yellows, and oranges that paint the side of the highway on my way into work each day will soon turn brown and fall dead off the branches they’re suspended from. That almost sounds like the start to a country song. I just forgot to mention my small town, the truck I’m driving, the hours I am working, and talking about something cold on a moonlit Friday night. We could be onto something here.

It’s a tad bit old hat for the yee-haw internet to bitch about modern country and I’m no stranger to complaining about it myself. However, I think I have finally reached the conclusion that country music may be legitimately be dying on me. It took me 14 seconds to write those words in my intro and by today’s standards, that song will be in the top five within a month, guarantee it. Today’s country music is total garbage.

One of my biggest beefs is that the song writing. The songs of today don’t know how to tell a story. Many of country’s classic are just plain, good story telling. “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia”, “A Boy Named Sue”, “Three Wooden Crosses”, “Daddy Let Me Drive”, all put you right into the plot of the story they are telling. I’d wager the last decent story song to come out was “In Color” by Jamey Johnson.

The song writers also have no clue how to express any emotion without bringing in alcohol into the picture. Name one song in the last two years that hasn’t expressed sadness or a broken heart without mentioning a.) an empty bottle b.) a barstool c.) drunk texting/calling someone. Go ahead. I’ll wait. A quality country song knows how to connect with listeners on raw emotion and the core feelings of a human being, not the vices we use to cope with them. Try lining up something like “He Stopped Loving Her Today” with a recent piece of trash to come out from Jon Pardi called “Heartache Medication” and you’ll understand what I am talking about.

At the top of the list of all transgressions modern country song writers have committed is the fact that there is absolutely zero creativity or originality anymore. It’s almost as if all the major hits coming out take their song lyrics from the same exact pool of buzzwords. Pick three out of the following and you’ve got a smash hit in the works:

  1. Redneck
  2. Truck
  3. Hard work
  4. Ex-girlfriend or boyfriend
  5. Alcohol
  6. Fields full of (insert crop)
  7. Moonlight or sun coming up
  8. Dirt road
  9. Church
  10. Older country artist that produced infinitely better music than the artists singing the song

This may come across as hyperbole, but you can’t escape the cookie-cutter bullshit of modern country music. It’s terrible. Look at any of the top selling artists out there that continuously vomit up chart topping hits and it’s all the same jargon. Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean could wipe their ass on a sheet music, and it would be a #1 for at least a week. Because all these guys are picking from the same pool of themes that ALWAYS manage to put up numbers, we’ve reached a point of saturation in modern country. The result? “Nothing to Do Town” by Dylan Scott. I mean good for this dude breaking into the scene, but that song is three minutes of plagiarism. For real. Someone needs to stand up and say something but given the current demand for hot garbage I don’t see that happening until everyone wakes up and realizes they are listening to the same song over and over.

Not only do most hit songs have the same theme, they sound the same because the artists of today are clones. I can’t tell the difference between Chris Lane, Thomas Rhett, Brett Young, Cole Swindell, Sam Hunt, Jordan Davis, Mitchell Tenpenny and probably six other artists who have had hits in recent times. If you have any resemblance of a southern draw and do not currently have bronchitis, you can be a country singer. Take a listen to any of the up-and-coming artists with major hits the last two years and it is scary. I’ve never taken pride in my ability to name a song and artist within the first few beats of a song but if I can’t tell who you are when you start singing, we’ve got a problem. We need at least have some originality in to the sound if every song is about drinking moonshine around a fire with a girl.

Now you’re probably reading this thinking, “Whoa guy, just stop listening to the radio and you’ll be good.” I’ve got a 35-40min commute and call me old fashioned, but when I’m rolling down the interstate in my F-150 I like to listen to the radio. And if a man can’t drink a cup of black coffee and listen to good country music on the radio on the way into his long day of work, then that’s a damn shame. Country boys don’t use Spotify, so I guess that makes me rednecker than you.

All sarcasm aside, I can’t remember the last time I listened to the radio for more than two songs without switching stations to the one of the other three country stations channels on my preselects, so I may be giving up on today’s country. I may be shuffling through the same playlist of songs for the rest of my life. And you know what? I think I am okay with that.  

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SmallCollegeGuy
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SmallCollegeGuy

I mean, yeah, you’re not wrong, but just remember that there is a whole lot of country outside of what is played on the radio. Want good songwriting? Look no further than Jason Isbell’s If We Were Vampires, Cover Me Up, Elephant (if you really want your heart torn out) or the Turnpike Troubadours’ Diamonds and Gasoline, The Funeral, The Bird Hunters, The Housefire. There are a myriad of artists with more rock if that’s what you’re looking for as well–Shane Smith and the Saints, Whiskey Meyers, and hell, Mike and the Moonpies are just plain fun to listen to.… Read more »

lakehouse_dreaming
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lakehouse_dreaming

Have you heard of Cody Johnson? Or if you want more southern rock influence check out A Thousand Horses.