When people think about country music, and they use the term ‘Traditional Country,’ they’re talking about something that has happened in the past. But, when those songs were out currently, they were the freshest thing on the radio. Nobody was saying ‘Let’s go record traditional country.’ They just wanted to record music that meant something to them. Willie and Waylon were getting flack for being progressive at the time because they were mixing it with rock and the outlaw thing. Those guys were just doing what they wanted to do creatively. It’s such a bizarre argument because all those things were fresh back then.
Wait, what? I haven’t a clue as to where Niemann gets off saying that those of us who want traditional country are talking about the past. We’re talking about the likes of Jason Boland and George Strait just as much as we are Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. That just strikes me as incredibly disingenuous of him, and it’s quite the commentary on how weak his argument is. Of course innovation is good no matter the genre, but when you discard pretty much everything but certain subject matter and replace it with elements from other genres, what you end up with is something entirely different.
Speaking of that, and of Jerrod Niemann, at what point do we get to say “this isn’t country music” without pretentious jagoffs like Keith Urban bringing up countrypolitan and the Nashville Sound for the 1,490th time? Because when you listen to crap like Florida-Georgia Line’s “This Is How We Roll,” the Niemann song, and Tim McGraw’s “Lookin’ For That Girl,” it ought to be obvious that those songs are pretty much just top-40 pop/dance music. And at the end of the day, sonically speaking, I don’t really have a problem with that particular genre of music beyond the fact that it’s just not my thing, but it seems that it (along with hip-hop) is completely taking over the genre.
Yes, I know. Why genres in the first place? Which brings me to what I was saying after the hot mess known as Eric Church’s The Outsiders dropped:
I know a lot of people pooh-pooh the idea of genres, but another advantage of genres as a concept (besides what I’ve already pointed out) is that they give you as an artist some sense of direction. And if you discount that concept as an artist, unless you really know what you’re doing — which Eric Church obviously doesn’t — your work is going to come across as more or less the audio equivalent of scribbling in the coloring book. Which is why I thought that line from the title track was so funny, even if it was unintentional:
We let our colors show, where the numbers ain’t. We’re the paint where there ain’t supposed to be paint.
(Yeah, Scooter, it sounds like it. And that isn’t a compliment.)
Of course, the songs mentioned in the beginning aren’t really so much examples of coloring outside the lines as they are of completely hijacking the genre and making it into something else completely — but I’d still be willing to bet that sooner or later they’d make the same argument Church himself did, that “genres are gone in music.” And it’s just as self-serving when anyone else does it, too.