Blog Rodeo: Everyone Loves Country Music

It may be hard to believe, but once upon a time, you had to trek down to a record store if you wanted to purchase new music. You’d have to buy a full album and you could only listen to the radio stations that were broadcast in your area. There was no iTunes, no iHeartradio, no Spotify. Heck, there wasn’t even a Napster. Additionally, there were no camera phones, no gossip blogs, no reality television and certainly no Twitter. It’s crazy to imagine a world without all of these things, but once upon a time, it existed.

In that world, it would be nearly impossible for a kid from New York to be exposed to country music. While the mainstream scene was full of Backstreet Boys & Britneys, cowboy hats and boots would’ve seemed out of place. That “country western” music had no place on MTV, no one cared who Shania Twain was dating, and “Amazed” by Lonestar was the most country of ¬†country music we’d ever hear.

Fast forward less than fifteen years, and New York now has a country radio station, Taylor Swift‘s rotating boyfriends are national news & it’s no longer unusual for a country concert to sell out Madison Square Garden. Anyone anywhere in the world can go on iTunes to download that oddly catchy “merry go round song” they heard a snip of, and then they can pop on over to Spotify and stream the whole album. The world has evolved through technology, and likewise, so has country music’s role in the mainstream.

Nowadays, country music has become just as embraced by the mainstream as Sweet Brown, the Harlem Shake and Grumpy Cat. Maybe it’s a hot fad that will pass quicker than one can say Joe Diffie, but it seems much more likely that it’s here to stay. I have to admit that I waiver between being thrilled at its sudden popularity and availability, while battling a slight disappointment that everyone else has discovered my best kept secret. It was only a few years ago that I was able to show up an hour before showtime and grab a front row spot to see Luke Bryan at New York City’s Bowery Ballroom. Now, I’d have to sell my future firstborn to nab a similar spot.

There are many factors that have contributed to the mainstream public’s sudden love affair with all things Nashville. For one, Blake Shelton is now a household name, and although many country purists sneered at him being named “Entertainer of the Year,” in many ways, he’s country’s best and most well-known ambassador. When he started on “The Voice,” there were many people who had no idea who Blake Shelton was, but his aw-shucks personality and country boy charm have won over a whole new audience of teenyboppers, housewives and good ol’ boys alike. Taylor Swift has had a similar affect on preteen girls with her crossover schtick, and it’s not unusual to hear Carrie Underwood, Hunter Hayes or Lady Antebellum on your favorite Pop radio station.

On top of all of that, country music’s current leading men (Luke, Blake, Jason Aldean, etc) all have similar qualities that only serve to broaden country’s appeal. They are handsome, yet earnest, bringing in a plethora of female fans with their good looks and sweeping love songs. Yet, at the same time, they sing about trucks and partying and beer, making them appeal to men as well. They aren’t polarizing like boybands or hard rock bands, they’re safe enough for parents, yet edgy enough for college kids. They Bible thump enough to appeal to the conservatives, but seek revenge and party hard enough to appeal to those a little more liberal. They’re the best of every world.

With country music’s surge in the mainstream only hitting its stride recently, I think that it’s safe to say that it’s only just begun. In my last “Blog Rodeo” post, I predicted that this would be the year of the crossover, and I truly believe that will continue to be the case. We’ll continue to hear Hunter on pop, Kelly C. on country, Kellie P. on “Dancing with the Stars” and collaborations like ¬†Florida-Georgia Line and Nelly. Combine all that with Blake & Keith as reality show judges, Jason & Kenny playing stadiums, and country award shows pulling in huge ratings, and. it seems country is hitting its stride in a big way. It’s safe to say that country is more than being embraced by the mainstream, it has BECOME the mainstream.

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