When you hear the two words ‘country music’ your mind will often jump to an image of a washed up overweight American clinching to childhood dreams of being a star in a cowboy movie while coming to terms with the fact that his wife has left him with nothing but a pack of dated beef jerky to his name. However, to those of us who are happy to look beyond our peripheral association of country music with pick-up trucks and straw hats, there is a small (actually very large) empire we are ignoring.
Country music has come to dominate the music industry in the last few years while simultaneously appearing to be a dated subculture that has no place in a contemporary industry dominated by self-rightousness and narcissistic egos. But, there is a huge straw-like boulder we’re ignoring when we discuss the giants of the music industry (and no, we’re not talking about Mumford and Sons.)
Country expert Callum Poole spoke exclusively to LFM below on the phenomenon so many of us are ignoring.
This coming Wednesday will see the Country Music Awards take place with Nahsville Tennessee providing the back drop for what promises to be a memorable event. Performing at the ceremony will be a host of big names from the genre, including John Pardi, Kane Brown, and Old Dominion to name but a few.
Being a huge fan of country music for a fair few years now, I was thrilled to hear that the BBC will be covering all of the awards as they happen. Radio 2 presenter, Bob Harris, will feature on a two hour long special edition of his country show, taking place on Saturday 11th November, airing from six to eight o clock that evening.
If this years CMA’s is anything like those before, it should turn out to be a fantastic celebration of all things American. Country music to America is what America is to Country music – without each other they simply cannot exist in my mind. The music that originated from the deep south in the 1920s, has gone on to become one of the most popular genre’s within the US.
Forbes online recently stated statistics found by Nielsen, that Country music is simply dominating the American adult audience, with four thousand and two country radio stations recorded in 2015 – a forty per cent increase on 2008 figures. Apparently, when looking for new family cars, those who listen to country are twenty nine percent more likely to purchase trucks, over minivans!
Why has the country scene exploded in the past couple of years then?
I believe that the genre has a certain aspect of relatability simply not found in other genres. For example, not many people can sing about buying a ‘new Bugatti’ or being in ‘da club’ every night with ‘gazillion bitches’. Conversely, if you Spotify a country playlist you will notice one or two recurring themes; pining after an ex girlfriend, beer, bars, horses, a hard days work, oh and trucks – lots of trucks.
When comparing country stars such as Luke Bryan and Miranda Lambert to everyday people, they would not look out of place strolling down a street in Manhattan. Stars of other genres, like RnB’s Chris Brown are the last word in relatable, with their supercars, flashy jackets and bling bling jewellery.
Lyrically, there is often a story to be told through a country song, whether it be heartache or a tribute to long gone trucks of yester year.
Every time I plug my headphones in and select a song, I get transported to somewhere else; suddenly I’m racing down highway 66 in an old Chevy Camaro accompanied by a very attractive country ‘gal’. Other times I may end up in a bar, having a cold one with the boys before telling them how the same ‘gal’ left me for another cowboy.
Those of you that wish to watch or listen to the CMAs, I hope the music performed for you will do the same for you as it has done for me. Country music is great and above all fun, which is hard to find in an industry that more than often enough takes itself far too seriously.
Written by Callum Poole, you can follow Callum on twitter here.