Texas vs Pop Country

Growing up in Texas, country music is what  I have listened to just about my whole life. Now by all means, I do not consider myself a complete connoisseur of country music, but, I have been around it enough to distinguish the difference between a Texas country and a Pop country artist.

nutty brownTo begin, in my opinion, country music has evolved over the years into what now could be considered pop country.  This includes upbeat tunes with a band in the background, with a strong emphasis on the instruments and not so much the vocals. To me, artists that fall under this category would be: Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, Florida Georgia Line, Eric Church, Lee Brice, Keith Urban, Carry Underwood, Lady Antebellum, and many more. These are the faces of what the country would consider country music nowadays. In no way, shape, or form am I trying to take anything away from them. I listen to all of them and love all their music. I am actually currently listening to Florida Georgia Line as I write this. But, these artists have a completely different sound then that of Texas Country music. Pop country has taken away the traditional country music and has made it more hip. Which is understandable due to how our culture has attracted to this pop country and taken it as “Country”.  But in my opinion, Texas Country is what keeps the traditional country music and sound alive.

To help you with some Texas country artists heres a few: Aaron Watson, Randy Rogers Band, Josh Abbott, Zane Williams, Turnpike Troubadours, Eli Young Band, Josh Gridder, Wade Bowen, and many others. Although most of these names sound very familiar to those of you from Texas, I could guarantee most country fans outside of Texas have never heard of most of them. One of the main differences between the two types of country is the sound and voices.  Texas country artists, for the most part, have a more rough  and raspy sounding voice. Their music is usually slower paced with less instruments. In Texas country, it usually consists of a drummer, guitar, violin, and banjo. Some songs Texas country songs will just consist of the artist and guitar, as it was in older country. Pop country will have these as well as electric and steel guitars which give it a more upbeat and rock sound.

One main difference between the two types of country is the venue in which they perform.  Texas country artists most of the time perform at outdoor venues in front of a crowd no larger then about 2,000 people. Some venues such as Floore’s Country Store, Nutty Brown Cafe, Gruene Hall, and Midnight Rodeo are popular places for these artists to perform. On the other hand, pop country artists perform at bigger venues such as sports arenas in much bigger crowds. KEITH-URBAN-IN-CONCERT

In retrospect, Pop and Texas country are both great to listen too. Pop country has just taken a little of the traditional sound out of country music but is still pleasant to listen too. Texas country keeps things more simple with lyrics and sound as the country music used to be.


Filed under Country Pop, New Traditionalism, Texas

4 Responses to Texas vs Pop Country

  1. Tom Oren

    I really like the topic of your post. I think it is really interesting and gives the readers some things to think about.
    While I think you give great examples of different country artists, do you think that it is “Pop country has taken away the traditional country music and has made it more hip” as opposed to that is what society demands, and those artists changed their sound in order to supply to that demand?
    While I agree that these artists have a more “pop” sound, I still think it is important to recognize that they didnt start as pop, but throughout time have changed and shifted (which is ok).
    I like how you defined Texas Country and Pop Country in your own opinion, which helped me understand your stance better.

  2. Ramie Payne

    I completely agree that there is a difference between mainstream country music and country music. Maybe I’m biased because I’m from Texas, but I think that Texas country is better than mainstream country because, like you said, Texas country sounds more like how country used to sound. Texas country has little pop influences, includes classic country instruments like the banjo and the steel guitar, and there is never any auto-tune or rapping. Josh Abbott band and Turnpike Troubadours are probably my favorite Texas country bands because their lyrics are deep and meaningful and their songs can range from slow and calm to upbeat and fun. I think this is another thing Texas country musicians do well. They’re very dynamic and can make a range of music that I enjoy listening to no matter the setting or what mood I’m in.

  3. Zane: I appreciated your post because it helps me understand the difference between “Nashville” and “Texas” country. Although I have lived in Texas for almost ten years now, I still haven’t entirely figured that one out. I think the difference is not one of subgenre but commercialization: “Nashville” artists like Brad Paisley and Keith Urban are looking to make huge hits and play huge arenas, but “Texas” artists like Cody Johnson and maybe Kacey Musgraves are more interested in creating music they personally relate to and building relationships with their fans. Of course, I have always wondered if “Texas” artists would give up their authenticity for the chance of making it big in Nashville. The celebrity life is an attractive one! — Dusty

  4. Gerrit Cook

    I definitely think there is a difference between Texas and Pop country. Most musicians are encouraged to produce as many albums as possible so the labels can make more money. An artist who spends more time on an album shows that he/she cares more about the music than the money. Personally, I can’t stand Keith Urban because he puts way too pop in his songs. We have been trying to figure out what is country and what isn’t. Your post really helps put that identification into perspective. Thank you for including some bands that I haven’t heard of. Now I have to check them out.

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