I’m about as average as a person can get. My height and features are right in the middle of the bell curve, except for those few years in elementary and middle school when I was fat, but even then I was right in the average weight of fat kids. Even more bland than my body are my interests and consumptions. Everything I’ve ever eaten has been well vetted by others before me. If I watch a movie or TV show it’s one I saw multiple mainstream ads for. By far though, my music taste is the most average thing about me. I never had Napster or Limewire growing up. I just got Soundcloud last month so I could listen to my two best friends’ new track (listen to it here). Every song I have I either got off iTunes or burned it from a CD which means it was already discovered by someone long before I found it. With my music taste as average as it is then, I have to wonder, is it my fault I don’t like modern country?
I guess I ought to define how I define modern country. To me it’s any mainstream country song that’s reliant more on the performance of the song by the artist than the music itself. I like to simplify it by saying anything that came out during or after Luke Bryan’s “That’s My Kind Of Night.” I know there were plenty of outliers before then, but to me those were experimentations in differentiation, and they still very much adhered to the traditional tenets of the genre. “That’s My Kind Of Night,” is the first time I remember watching a country artist perform an entire song without an instrument in their hand. It’s the first time I remember the music shifting away from the music and to how well the artist can perform it. It’s when, to me, music became less about music and more about the marketability and attractiveness of who was singing it. It’s when country music stopped sounding like it was created acoustically in the back of a tour bus, or alone in a hotel or house, and more like it was artificially produced Jurassic Park style in a lab by a team of country music scientists.
I guess that’s the central issue for me. None of the modern songs I hear sound authentic. They’re too polished, too produced. It’s like listening to a robot who created what it thought country music should sound like. It also doesn’t help that many of the latest modern artists all look like they turned to country because being the starting quarterback at Texas wasn’t working out. I mean really, do they pluck these 6’2″ blue eyed crew cut dudes named Walker Hunterson or Jon Patterson off trees?
I just don’t connect with it anymore. Maybe that’s because they’re not singing to me anymore. I know I definitely don’t relate with a single song about kicking muddy boots off so I can get down with a tan leg queen while I turn up a bottle of Fireball. I’m also probably not the guy to sing a song about abusing whiskey shots because you walked into the only honky tonk in town and saw her with him. My relationship is great, no need for that here. That’s not it though because I like the old songs that sing about that. Give me “Neon Moon,” any day. That son’g sad as shit but you better believe I’m not skipping past it. I’ll go a little newer and tell you right now that if you put on “Here For A Good Time,” I’ll gladly dance with ya. So what is it then?
It’s not like the old stuff is particularly niche by any means. Look through my country list and you’ll find some of the biggest names. George, Alan, Tim, Tracy, Keith, Brooks & Dunn, plus the biggest names in Texas country like Randy, Wade, Aaron, Jason, Turnpike, and even mainstream newcomers like Chris and Ryan. I don’t get it. I’m a proven consumer of the mainstream, of the sort of music crafted in Nashville for artists who sell out sports stadiums six months before the concert date. I’m one of millions of consumers of these songs, and at one point in time started and finished my day with the country radio on because I loved everything that came out of it.
At some point though, that changed. I don’t want to say it changed for the worse because as much as we bitch and moan not every one of those guys traded their weather beaten Martin in for a bench machine and ripped jeans. Some of them genuinely like that style, enjoy creating music within it, and enjoy being talented at it. I don’t want to shit on those guys, it’s not their job to bend their style to me. But I’m a little sad, because it’s reached a point where I don’t look for new country anymore unless I know the artist already. That sucks. I love country music, but for some reason, and I don’t know if it’s my fault, I don’t like modern country.
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