What happened to country music?

By Noah Nelson, Columnist

In his 2010 hit song “This Is Country Music,” country star Brad Paisley sings, “It ain’t hip to sing about tractors, trucks, little towns or mama. Yeah, that might be true. But this is country music and we do.”

Even as most country songs touch on those subjects and many more like love, loss, friendship, parties and life itself, it seems as though country music isn’t what it used to be. Now, country artists tend to sound more like pop artists than authentic country. 

Country music serves as a whole separate genre within itself and needs to go back to the way it was before it becomes a new kind of pop genre.

In the era of modern country music, artists like Dan + Shay, Old Dominion, Thomas Rhett, Kane Brown, Kelsea Ballerini and many others sound like they should be on pop radio rather than country stations. Even though these artists tend to write most of their own songs, it’s as if they don’t have a clear idea of what country music should sound like. 

Wearing cowboy hats and spurs on boots doesn’t have to be a requirement for making wholesome country music. All an artist needs for a decent country song is a smooth, catchy melody attached to an acoustic guitar, a good drum beat and other assorted instruments that make country songs so popular.

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Country music does not have to travel back to the days with outlaw artists like Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and even others like Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson. Anyhow, these artists and many others who have come along later like Garth Brooks and Travis Tritt have impacted so many of today’s artists. Entertainers like Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Jake Owen, Dierks Bentley and Eric Church continue to strive for that country flavor within their music.

It’s OK for country music to lean toward that pop sound every once in a while, but it shouldn’t all the time. Artists who sound so much like those on pop radio nowadays should maybe consider transferring genres. 

Above all, I applaud country artists who make music within their realm. They continue to stick to their guns and give the fans what they truly deserve: good, wholesome country music.

Noah is a sophomore in LAS.

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