Bad Country Music Is Good for Good Country Music
There’s a lot of country music out there that sucks. That’s because there’s a lot of country music out there, period — so much that it’s not really a genre anymore; it’s a parallel musical universe unto itself. To wit, Rolling Stone, People and Billboard all have devoted Nashville editions or sections, the town has inspired its own prime-time soap opera (Nashville, natch) and non-country luminaries (Black Keys, Jack White, et al) have flocked to Music City in droves.
Some country music doesn’t even sound like country music, such as the country-rap (aka “crap”) stylings of Jerrod Niemann and Pitbull, or the ear-bludgeoning butt rock of Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert’s aptly named “Somethin’ Bad.” There’s poppy country, electro-country, rockin’ country, psychedelic country, boy-band country, schmaltzy country, converted tween CW star country, and country country.
In other words, country’s not just country anymore, with even the dreck — especially the dreck — liable to reel in fans the supergenre wouldn’t have 20 years ago. The good news is that virgin ears can be positively steered, given the right sonic sherpa. To wit, a novice country music fan can graduate rather swiftly from Taylor to Miranda to Kacey to Lucinda. Then, once the topsoil’s been sown, Muths and McMurtrys await upon deeper discovery.
Most drinkers sucked down wine coolers and vodka-crans before they developed a taste for smoked porter and Manhattans. Points of entry are just the beginning; it’s where you end up that counts. Let’s not forget that Kenny Chesney was perhaps Kacey Musgraves’ most ardent early supporter, and if Pitbull gets you to Parsons, then I can drink to that all night.