The Demise of Country Music

I stopped listening to country music on the radio a few years ago, right as “bro country” was beginning to become mainstream. I wouldn’t be able to tell you any of the new songs or new artists, but every time I happen to come across a country radio station it always seems to be the same thing: dudes like Florida Georgia Line bro-ing it up and singing songs about their trucks or how country they are. I know that doesn’t describe all country music on the radio these days, but it’s apparent that bro country is what the industry thinks will sell the best. Maybe it’s just my West Texas roots, but to me that isn’t even close to what country music is supposed to be.

Yesterday as I was scrolling through Facebook, through the dozens of stories and articles being “shared” by my friends, I saw one video that really caught my eye and seemed to prove my belief today’s country music. If you haven’t already seen the video I encourage you to watch. It’s kind of eye-opening about the state of country music today.

Pretty crazy, right? That seems like pretty solid proof that Nashville is just pumping out the same song with different words, and people are buying it. That video reminded me of a different video that came out at the end of 2013 with the same concept, but it was a review of more than just six songs:

Whether you like that type of music or not you have to say that video is pretty funny. To me, it is kind of depressing to see country music deteriorate to this state. I guess if that’s what the people want then so be it. I just think that bro country is meaningless and repetitive, and these videos seem to back me.

They say there’s a George Strait song for everything, and the topic of bro country is no exception. In 2001, a full decade before bro country burst onto the scene, George Strait released a song called “Stars on the Water” as part of his The Road Less Traveled album. The song is most likely the first use of auto-tune in a country song, except it is Strait’s way of mocking “stars” who use voice enhancers and other things of that nature. “Stars on the Water” makes George Strait seem almost psychic, giving a subtle dig at the future artists who dominate the world of country music today.

Strait also collaborated with Alan Jackson on “Murder on Music Row”, in which they claim “someone killed country music” in the chase for “the almighty dollar and lust for worldwide fame”. The lyrics to this song perfectly describe bro country music, and they are probably right when they sing “Ol’ Hank wouldn’t have a chance on today’s radio”.


Filed under Bro Country, Classic Country, Country Pop, New Country, Uncategorized

5 Responses to The Demise of Country Music

  1. cmg3958

    I have heard your complaint many times from people that drive in the car with me because I like to listen to the country radio stations. I usually change the station after a “They all sound the same! Why do you listen to this?” comment. I don’t think I really saw them as being unlistenable because in my opinion the other stations are worse. On the other hand you have a great point that a good majority of the songs on country stations are close to identical. You really opened my eyes to the repetitive, somewhat annoying nature of bro country. I also never realized that the George straight song ‘Stars On The Water’ was a critique of the mainstream country music. I appreciate all of the supportive information you included in the blog, because it helped me form a more critical view of bro country.

  2. mng643

    The “demise” of country music?? Really?? When has any genre of music been completely defined by one sub-genre? Although I do not have a strong connection to any specific version of country music, I would say that bro-country is much the opposite of the demise of country music; it is the birth of a new sub-genre. That’s all. Obviously influenced by capitalism, selling out concerts, and competing with others, bro-country is, simply, the thing right now. That doesn’t mean it is taking over or killing country music. Music is continuously evolving, and many of the “new” sounds are starting to lean back to 80’s synthpop. Your country isn’t your grandparent’s country, and it won’t be your children’s country either. Change is just change; like it or not it’s going to happen. Maybe one day we will all see a swing back to traditional country music. Until then, feel-good, overplayed, unoriginal bro-country will be flowing from the radio.

  3. It is kind of disheartening to realize that music studios see their work as a science or business rather than as a labors of love or art. I like imagining that my favorite singers write and practice their songs on their couches, at their kitchen tables, etc. I guess it’s the romantic in me that doesn’t like confronting the reality that they’re dissecting songs that are popular just so they can repeat that popularity. This isn’t true only of Bro Country, though.

  4. Reid Thompson

    I think we are in agreement on what our definition of country music is: well thought out lyrics with meaningful emotions and unaltered voices. The Bro-Country movement does not meet any of these qualifications which is why I can understand your decision to call the sub-genre “The Demise” of country music. I think there is still hope for country music as a whole, however. While it is frustrating that mainstream radio stations only play this brand of music now, and that it is becoming harder to find the kind of music that we believe is true country, it definitely still exists and there are great singers, songwriters, and bands that are producing “true” country music every day. I think Bro-Country has a time and a place. The music is upbeat, catchy, and easy to sing along to, and this is not true of all sub-genres of country. As long as the fan base demands Florida Georgia Line strutting the stage in denim jackets while singing about beer and dirt, that is the level of music that will be provided. I honestly think Bro-Country will slowly move out of fashion, however I worry what might replace it. We can only hope that it will be a sound that would make the greats like George Strait, Alan Jackson, and Hank Williams proud.

  5. Keaton

    Going off what Dusty said, it makes me sad that music studios these days only really care about making money. They don’t care that every song sounds exactly the same, as long as people keep buying it, they’re going to keep making it. I also agree with you, this isn’t what country music should be about. What bothers me about the whole “bro-country” sub-genre is that a lot of the songs are more pop rock sounding, with some country lyrics, and if you’ve seen a live show from a bro-country artist, they use a lot of special effects during the show. To me, country music should be the artist and the music. If you look up any live George Strait performance, its just him and his band playing the music, no fancy light shows or fire or anything, and maybe it’s my Fort Worth roots, but I think that’s how country music should be presented.

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