Over the last few years, country music has certainly expanded beyond the old stereotype of boots, big hair and ten-gallon hats. Artists like Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum have huge pop hits, the Zac Brown Band & Jason Aldean sell out Madison Square Garden and the Scotty McCreerys and Tate Stevens of the world rise to fame via televised talent shows. On the flip side, Mumford & Sons get played on country radio, UK-lite-rocker Ed Sheeran tours with Taylor Swift and Kelly Clarkson performs on the CMA’s. Over the last few years, it has become commonplace for country musicians to dabble outside of their genre, and if January of 2013 is any indication, this trend is only going to continue into 2013.
Interestingly enough, I grew up claiming that I loved all music “except country.” (Seriously – I think I wrote that on my Myspace…don’t judge me, I’m from NY.) However, after being taken to see Rascal Flatts at Madison Square Garden, my perspective on the genre completely changed and I was hooked. Now I’ll listen to anything from Garth to Reba to Taylor to Jason. However, if you were to ask a purist of country music, they’d probably argue that Rascal Flatts is just a boy (err, man) band in cowboy boots, Taylor is a dubstep-loving pop act and Jason’s renegade hick-hop style bastardizes country music. Yet, on the heels of Aldean selling out a show at New York’s Madison Square Garden in mere minutes, I’d argue that the biggest development of country music in 2013 will be the pure magnitude of its reach and ability to cross over, while also openly welcoming those who dabble and stretch the ideas of what typical “country” is.