I’ve been hearing a lot of complaints lately about how country music doesn’t sound like it used to anymore. I agree. It doesn’t. The country music of today is more heavily influenced by pop and rock, even hints of folk at times. Country music doesn’t sound “country” anymore, they say. I disagree. The styles of country music over the years have changed so much, who’s to say which style is country and which style isn’t? I’m sure people in the 80s were saying how that country wasn’t “country” because it didn’t sound like it did in the 60s, just like the people of today are saying that current country isn’t “country” because it doesn’t sound like it did in the 90s. It’s an endless cycle. Music in general is always evolving, influenced by things that influence the artist – lifestyles, interests, trends, etc.
A new artist breaks onto the music scene, peaks interest, makes a couple albums, becomes popular…then what? Usually after the second or third album, they get too comfortable and predictable with their material that they start looking for a different direction. Why? Isn’t the saying, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it?” Yes. However, no one wants to listen to five albums of the same thing. That would be like doing the same Mad Lib over and over and just plugging in different words. Eventually you would get tired of the story…no matter how good it was.
If no artist ever tried anything different, imagine what the musical world would be like. Maddening. We would have no new styles, no new genres, no nothing. Just one repetitive, monotone drabbing up and bogging down a creative, changing outlet. Plus, what kind of an artist would only strive to hit what’s comfortable and stay at that level?
If country artists of today made music that sounded like it did in the 80s or 90s it would sound just like that – music of the 80s and 90s. It would sound dated and old. Not that I’m saying that country from those eras was crap – for me, 90s country is king – I’m saying that we’ve already been there and done that. Leave the 80s and 90s in the 80s and 90s. Today’s country should reflect today. I want to hear what “now” country sounds like. I don’t expect it to sound like “then” country.
I asked my husband once about what age he thought we would get tired of hearing new music. When we hit our 40s? 50s? To be honest, I hope I never tire of new music. The thing about it – especially in country music – is that while the style of music may change, the themes remain the same. Through all the changes in country music, what has remained constant? They’re all still singing about the country lifestyle – love and heartache; drivin’ fast and drinkin’ cold beer; and havin’ fun and raisin’ hell. As far as I’m concerned, as long as artists are still singing about all the things that country fans know and love, they’re country in my book.