The appeal of New Country music?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Johnny Action, Sep 9, 2019.

  1. Culpa

    Culpa Forum Resident

    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    But I thought you weren't talking about genuine country music, you specifically stated modern country music. So my question stands.

    But, to paraphrase another poster, I think we already know the answer. :)
     
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  2. Carl Swanson

    Carl Swanson Forum Resident

    I'd only change one word in your reply, from "going to be 'political'" to "going to become 'political'."
     
  3. Carl Swanson

    Carl Swanson Forum Resident

    That is simply . . . unfactual.
     
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  4. Culpa

    Culpa Forum Resident

    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    And in this case the sociology is political.
     
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  5. Culpa

    Culpa Forum Resident

    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    The "study" was political and partisan from the get-go. I think it's pretty obvious that only one side of the aisle would initiate or tout a study about heterosexuals glorifying whiteness, and that only the other side of the aisle is the target of the negative aspects of that study.
     
    Tim S likes this.
  6. Carl Swanson

    Carl Swanson Forum Resident

    I've seen enough just in this thread to dispute that.
     
  7. crookedbill

    crookedbill Forum Resident

    Nobody here has actually read the study since it's behind a pay wall, rather just the very brief cherry-picked summary from a self-professed "social justice" advocacy publication.

    Hey, if anybody wants to pay to access the actual study and post it here, maybe that'd foster more constructive discussion.
     
  8. Culpa

    Culpa Forum Resident

    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Not me, I'm done here. I'm gonna try to find a more sensible thread, maybe that Beatles thread from yesterday where people were complaining about all the homophobic Rutles jokes. :laugh:
     
    crookedbill likes this.
  9. Johnny Action

    Johnny Action Forum President Thread Starter

    Location:
    Kailua, Hawai’i
    Please clarify the assumptions underlying that conclusion.
     
  10. Culpa

    Culpa Forum Resident

    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Please see my reply to Carl, just a few posts up.
     
  11. Johnny Action

    Johnny Action Forum President Thread Starter

    Location:
    Kailua, Hawai’i
    Well, trucks and SUVs are more likely to kill those occupants of smaller cars and pedestrians than “regular” cars are, and their fuel economy ratings are lower, so.....
     
    melstapler likes this.
  12. Johnny Action

    Johnny Action Forum President Thread Starter

    Location:
    Kailua, Hawai’i
    Interesting personal spin you put on it (the whole “code word” thing gives it a sinister aura, for sure). For someone bemoaning others for “politicizing” facts, you seem to have little compunction in doing the same. But with no facts to back it up. Just sayin...
     
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  13. MikeM

    MikeM Senior Member

    Location:
    Youngstown, Ohio
    Well that's fine, except that my post that you're allegedly replying to said nothing whatsoever about the article. I'm not really all that interested in what the article says, and it has no bearing on my assessment of modern country music. I don't need anybody else to tell me how to feel about mainstream modern country music.

    I was addressing, as were most in this thread, the more general discussion of the quality of "modern country" vs. "traditional country" — which you seemed to have a problem with independent of the article in question.

    I notice that you declined to take up my challenge, which was: "If you disagree with [the OP's] statement and others like it and find such statements "boneheaded," I'd love to hear you make the case for modern country being just as good as classic country. Please be specific in your answers. And as I indicated in the post you've replied to, pulling out cult, under-the-radar or Americana artists will not make that point. That is not what the OP (and most other participants in this thread) are talking about." (More on that to come.)


    What is wrong with focusing in on the most visible (or audible, in this case) strain of music with the highest sales and greatest amount of exposure?

    This is sort of a parallel to the old "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?" bit. Not that extreme, of course, but a genre will always be known by its most popular examples.

    If in 1973 I made the statement (and I did) that rock 'n' roll has taken a turn for the worse and become overdone, bloated and pretentious and lost much of what made me fall in love with it in the first place — and then added "except for Big Star, Blue Ash and a few other non-mainstream bands that haven't sold squat and are never played on the radio," my second statement in no way negates my first one. Or to paraphrase what I said earlier in another context, the existence of Big Star and Blue Ash didn't magically make Uriah Heep suck less.

    The fact is that, as a whole, there are considerable differences in the approach of mainstream country artists and independent or under-the-radar ones. I don't see what's wrong in looking at those differing approaches separately. "Radio hits," you might say, are a genre all their own — and they also just happen to be the examples of modern country that are most heard, both by country and non-country listeners. And the latter includes folks like me, who take great pains to not tune into mainstream country radio, but can't avoid the stuff when we go out to eat at a restaurant or shop at a store that blares it over the Muzak system.

    Is it at all surprising that this is the country music that is referred to with the greatest frequency?


    I will grant that this statement has been true for at most the last decade and a half, with the advent of online streaming services, satellite radio, etc. But up until that time, radio airplay and sales derived thereof were paramount. And though I don't have figures at hand to prove it, I suspect this is still true of modern country more so than any other genre.


    So what? The majority of country artists I revere have been dead for some time now. What does that have to do with the quality of the music they produced? Why can it not be used as a basis of comparison with contemporary artists and styles?


    Sure. And each of us is free to investigate the music of these artists — or not. It's our choice. But it's my observation that there is for the most part an inverse relationship between a modern country artist's popularity and the quality of his/her/their music.


    I'm still not getting what is wrong with looking at one batch of homogenous music with many clichéd, formulaic aspects — a batch that also happens to be the most prominent in terms of sales and radio airplay — and saying "This really isn't very good — and here's why." And then going on to look at a separate batch with different characteristics and saying "This, on the other hand, is excellent — and here's why."

    How is this any different from looking at Little Richard and Pat Boone in 1956 and making a similar assessment? Both were ostensibly doing rock 'n' roll. Saying Pat Boone sucks didn't in any way tarnish Little Richard.


    This is a very true statement, and it's also one of the keys to why "popular" modern country sucks so badly. It's also why classic country, on the whole, tends to be better. Yes, there's always been a music industry and a radio industry to an extent, but by and large most of the greatest artists were, first of all, distinct and identifiable rather than interchangeable, and secondly, often composers of their own songs. And they managed to succeed quite handily while being largely true to themselves, as opposed to pawns in some game.

    Seems to me a genuine country artist who wasn't in control of his or her game would get out of the game, figuring that musical integrity was more important than big bucks. Have we seen much of this?


    Now here's a news flash for you, and I'll pose it in terms of a challenge. Find me a fan of modern radio country who gives a flying **** about what any "social advocate" or "sanctimonious rockist music critic" has ever said — ever. They like what they like, or at least have been conditioned to like.


    I have no problem with Americana and beneath-the-radar artists identifying as country. But they're not selling in large numbers to the mainstream country audience, but rather to a different audience altogether. I'd be surprised to learn that the typical listener to the modern equivalent of a Top 40 Country station has any music whatsoever in his or her collection by such artists. Like it or not, they are different types of artists with different audiences. And in most cases (e.g. "independents"), they're getting to the marketplace in very different ways. Many are succeeding, but on a much smaller scale than the big guys of the genre.


    Throughout music history, there has frequently been a division between music that is "popular" or "commercial" and that which is "critically acclaimed" but not popular with the masses. Sometimes, you get music that is both. But in the big picture, I have no problem with listeners liking and identifying with any kind of music. But I also have no problem with saying that, for me, this stuff sucks and is not nearly as good as that stuff over there.


    Well, I've been trying here to have a discussion that is "genuine" and leans away from "superficial." I'm still waiting for you to join it! And though (as you can see) I have quite a lot to say, I don't feel that the accusations in your third sentence apply to me in any way.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2019
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  14. deredordica

    deredordica Music Freak

    Location:
    Sonoma County, CA
    The article states, "At the same time, subtle but clear references to whiteness in country lyrics, such as mentions of red or blond hair, freckles, blue eyes, and sun-tanned skin, were far more common in the 2000s and 2010s than in the 1980s or 1990s. Mentions of racially ambiguous features, such as brown eyes, did not increase over this same period." Sounds like he could be talking about Don Henley.

    What the author claims are references to "whiteness" sound more like merely an expansion of his "objectification" claim, that is, a focus on females' appearance. In other words, new country is becoming more and more like classic rock. I mean, most country artists are white, so most of their depictions will tend to be of white women. "Write about what you know," and all that. There could absolutely be a link between new country music and a rise in white supremacist and sexist attitudes, but the evidence given only seems to support the latter. Again, however, that just makes new country more like Warrant and Led Zeppelin, doesn't it?
     
  15. crookedbill

    crookedbill Forum Resident

    Dude, the OP didn't just post his opinion on "new" country apros of nothing. He posted a divisive article that sited a dubious study (which we can't even access) and used that as a jumping off point to claim that "old" country is better than "new" country. But, you say we should ignore the article altogether?

    I didn't take you up on your "challenge" because I didn't want to get into a subjective pissing contest but, hey, I hate to disappoint. Here goes. . . .Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, and Tyler Childers. Three "new" country artists who are just as musically talented as, and in some cases better than, many "old" country artists.

    These aren't obscure artists either. All started independently but they've all sold out arenas, all have won prestigious industry awards, all have performed on national TV, and at least one is multi-platinum in sales. But, yeah, none of them get significant radio play but seem to do just fine on their own. They've already put their stamp on the genre, among the pantheon of older artists.
     
  16. KJTC

    KJTC Forum Resident

    Location:
    NYC
    Country music had always been a primarily radio-driven singles format, so there was little distinction to be made between what country music was and what was on the radio.

    New avenues of exposure over the past three decades, starting with music video outlets and continuing through internet marketing and streaming, have widened the scope of the genre considerably. Kacey Musgraves and Jason Isbell have a valid claim on being mainstream country music, given their success at retail and on the road.

    Radio is largely a wasteland right now, but it’s never mattered less.
     
    crookedbill likes this.
  17. Wombat Reynolds

    Wombat Reynolds Jimmy Page stole all my best riffs.

    Location:
    Atlanta, GA, USA
    gosh.

    a west coast blaaaagh hates country music and calls it out for being "white".

    a simple click of their website side menu reveals a section on "social justice".

    Lets just say I'm not surprised.

    I dont really like modern country, but not for any of the idiot reasons in that "article".
     
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  18. KJTC

    KJTC Forum Resident

    Location:
    NYC
    It didn’t require an academic study to know that country radio acts have moved in the objectification direction while female artists, who dominated the dial in the nineties, have mostly disappeared from rotation. It’s already been brilliantly satirized!

     
  19. True, but what gets played on "country radio" still defines exactly what *I* think of when I think of what (supposedly) "country music" has become. Not because I actually hear any of it on (actual) country radio.

    But the country music I hear at least weekly on the P/A in Target (yes, Target(?!) - right here in *urban* Washington DC, in the densest (population density) and single most ethnically diverse zip code in the entire District, no less!) -- I'm pretty sure that what I'm hearing has got to be the same crap that modern country radio is playing. (Same too with the Walmart here in central DC, not 3 blocks from Union Station, and less than 10 blocks from the US Capitol building).

    Point being that for people like me, who only hear any sort of country music only very occasionally, the much greater majority of it is going to be pretty much what's on the radio -- WAY than any of the more classic (or at least pre-1990's) styles.

    Same too with the "country hits" station on our cable-box (which I might accidently stumble across). In other words, I'm kind of hard pressed to think of really ANY sort of source of country music listening that ISN'T going to be of that "modern" (craptastic) variety -- other than maybe some of the NPR "Americana" shows that I have hear a bit of a time or to.

    There again, (in my mind), that's Americana -- which is something entirely different than the "bro country" nonsense. Which, I'm afraid, is what "country music" has become (in the minds of most), based on the kinds of exposure I'm sure people have ready access to (see my prior few paragraphs).
     
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  20. KJTC

    KJTC Forum Resident

    Location:
    NYC
    I agree with you completely regarding what’s being pushed on the radio and by the major labels. That’s always been what’s considered mainstream country music. There are more acts outside of that bubble that are being successful than ever, but you do need to seek it out. I guess that is a fundamental barrier that doesn’t exist for the bro country stuff, which often must be actively avoided.
     
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  21. MikeM

    MikeM Senior Member

    Location:
    Youngstown, Ohio
    First of all, speaking of clichés, someone who starts his reply with "Dude" goes down in my estimation right off the bat. I hate to tell you this, but saying "Dude" is not a magical substitute for ignoring nearly every point I've made in response to you so far. Seems to me that if you had the courage of your convictions, you might respond to some of the challenges to them. Just ignoring them doesn't make them go away.

    Secondly, do you honestly think the OP had no opinion on new country whatsoever until the very moment he read this article? Seems kind of unlikely to me. I don't believe he was told what to think, any more than you could be.

    And thirdly, there have been a myriad of posts in this thread that have made no reference to the article at all. The existence of the article in question is in no way essential to having a conversation about modern vs. classic country music. It's a shame that you seem so fixated upon it. If, as you say, it's so wrong that "Social advocates, industry goons, and sanctimonious rockist music fans and critics (not unlike those posting in this thread) chop up genres, and set up the goal posts - dividing music into "good" and "bad", not by virtue of the art itself but whatever socio-political meaning is derived from it," then why give one example of this so much power over you? Why not instead focus, as I've been trying to do, on "the art itself"?


    And these three (and the number of songs they've charted with) represent what percentage of the total number of artists who've made the top country charts over the last, let's say arbitrarily, five years?


    That's great, and I'm happy for them. But how does this change the fact that the overwhelming majority of modern radio country is still clichéd, imitative crap?
     
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  22. MikeM

    MikeM Senior Member

    Location:
    Youngstown, Ohio
    Exactly one of the many points I made in my earlier post (which was, not surprisingly, ignored).
     
  23. AND, to be perfectly honest, my sense is that close to 70% of the (admittedly small amount of) modern country music I encounter randomly in this world seems to be of the 'bro country' variety.

    Which is to say at least a majority of what I'm guessing anyone else might randomly heard is all the same sort of radio-friendly country-pop crap that I think most of us here are in some sort of agreement about (generally).

    And thus the population at large is likely to either 1) love that stuff, and eat it right up, or 2) really dislike it, but also in part because of their perceptions about the kinds of people (and maybe their politics too).

    I don't doubt that back in Kansas City (where I lived for 17 years), there's PLENTY of folks that like "country radio" just fine. I also know that there's plenty of people here on the east coast (or certainly in the younger, more urban areas) that have no use for "country radio" for reasons both musical, and socio-political.
     
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  24. Wombat Reynolds

    Wombat Reynolds Jimmy Page stole all my best riffs.

    Location:
    Atlanta, GA, USA
    I dont know about that.

    I spend a little bit of time listening to the big modern country music station in Atlanta, for no other reason than to familiarize myself with stuff that I might have to learn.

    They play a good deal of female artists on the station. I would hardly say they have disappeared from rotation - at least from that station's perspective.

    Objectification. What a pantsload. Its hilarious how people can say that with a straight face here and yet if you criticize rap or hip hop for the EXACT SAME THING...

    oh my.
     
    Earscape likes this.
  25. Brian Mc

    Brian Mc Forum Resident

    Location:
    Denver, CO
    The article linked to in the OP is a piece of S**t, just like modern country music. If anyone actually believes that racist propaganda piece, then I can only feel sorry for you.
     
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