What’s Up with Country Music?

I listen to a diverse amount of music. I able to switch from Bowie to Bon Iver at will. My iPod (I know, they’re ancient things) I have rap music, classic rock, all the way to experimental music. But there is one type of genre I cannot get myself into, and it is Country. Now, before I say anything else, I am for the most part impartial to Country, I do not love it, nor do I hate it, but that is why I don’t listen to it. Country doesn’t invoke the type of emotion a hardcore guitar rift on Free Bird or the piercing and emotional vocalization of Florence and the Machines do. I do not consider myself a music nerd, I am far from that, but I do think that Country, in itself is a type of genre that doesn’t seem to have a sweet taste to my ears. There are a few things that I consider to be on my music list, and think Country misses the mark.

The first and foremost fact is that Country doesn’t add value to me, or the music scene. Let me explain. Many types of music genres have popped out of oppression whether parental, racial, or generational. A few examples include rock, which found itself popular within young teenagers who wanted to escape from their family. Or look at punk rock, which repeats the same mantra above, but with more raw and jarring emotion. It is easy to see that the roots of popular music genres of blues, soul, rap, and even gospel can be attributed to the oppression of African-Americans. What I mean to say is in our modern music genres they are all created out of a need to escape, namely a coping mechanism for that generation. While it isn’t necessarily true for all music genres, the roots of many can be traced back to the historical need to escape.

I am open to listening to Country’s background popping out of oppression, but as of now, I cannot make that connection. Because of this, I am not emotionally invested in Country, even if I enjoy a Country song, I will not add it to my music, partially because I don’t get anything from it. Now my second point is important for the genre as a whole, especially because of its intended audience. I think, and don’t get me wrong, I’m not always right, but I believe that Country music specifically caters to rural areas, and more specifically white people. What’s important to note is that I rarely see a non-white person listen to Country. Not that it doesn’t happen, but it isn’t as common as that same person listening to rap, rock, or even pop. And in a country where the minorities are becoming the majority, I do not find Country to be a viably sustainable music genre. Seeing as city populations and minorities increase, I can only be led to assume that Country will inevitably meet its end.

When that will be is a question of how quickly cities will increase in size, but my point is more to the fact that there is only so much “ear space” a person has. This means that if a person is listening to rap, then that is one opportunity that Country has failed to capitalize on.

Let me take a real world example of Country being phased out. Today we know Taylor Swift as a pop icon, but she had started in Country. Whether she recognized it or not, a Country audience isn’t as far reaching as a pop audience. She took the opportunity to transition from Country to pop, and I think this transition was very apparent in her album titled Red. It contained some pop and some Country music,  while her most recent album, 1989, is filled to the brim with pop bangers. And now Taylor Swift has captured audiences she never would have thought of if she continued pursuing Country.

So for Country to continue as a music genre, its audience either needs to grow, or it needs to cater to its audience. But if it catered to its audience, what we know as Country will not be Country. It will become, or already is, a niche music genre that is past its prime.

And if none of these reasons sway you, I don’t listen to Country music because I don’t like it.

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