Unpopular Opinion: Jason Aldean Isn’t Killing Country Music

I would like to express an unpopular opinion, so hear me out before you tear me down please.

FullSizeRenderTwo weekends ago I was blessed with the opportunity to travel to Charleston, South Carolina to meet up with my twin brother who goes to West Point and had a long weekend. He had three requirements for where we would meet: it had to be warm, it had to be easy to access from New York and it had to have a country music concert. As it turned out, that weekend was a pretty slow weekend country music wise and our options were Philadelphia, Boston, and Charleston. Since Philly and Boston were both blanketed in snow, it was off to South Carolina for us. The only drawback? We were going to see the endlessly-maligned (at least by our class) Jason Aldean.

Naturally, going into the concert I was skeptical, especially after everything we’ve said in class about how he’s “not really country” or is a representation of what’s wrong with country music these days. But I was moderately excited for the two opening acts, Tyler Farr and Cole Swindell, since I’d never seen them live before and had only heard them on the radio.

Admittedly Tyler Farr left something to be desired after his performance. While he has a few big hits and a decent voice, he isn’t the performer that I expected on such a big tour. I think he has a long way to go performance wise before he has any chance of making it big in country music.

However, Cole Swindell made up in a big way for Farr’s shortcomings. Swindell came on to the country music scene originally as a songwriter. He’s written hits for several big stars like Luke Bryan with hits like “Roller Coaster” and Florida Georgia Line’s “This is How We Roll.” However, last year Swindell recorded his debut album which included radio-friendly “Chillin’ It,” “You Ain’t Worth the Whiskey” and “Hope You Get Lonely Tonight.” Not only is his sound complimentary to Jason Aldean’s “bro-country,” but his stage presence is also closer to that of a real performer. He played his big songs, including those he wrote but that were recorded by Luke Bryan, and it seemed like he was much more in tune with what the crowd wanted.

After Swindell left the stage, I anxiously awaited Jason Aldean. I wondered if I was going to be totally repulsed by his music as it seems so many die-hard country fans are these days. The lights went down, his band began to play, and the strangest thing happened—I didn’t hate it. As a matter of fact, I actually rather enjoyed it. He may have come out to a back drop of flames and electric guitar, but I think a lot of people only see that side of Aldean and forget where he came from. They forget songs like “Amarillo Sky,” “Laughed Until We Cried,” and “Big Green Tractor,” just to name a few. He’s got tons of hits that have endlessly topped charts and, if you listen to the lyrics, hold very closely to traditional country values.

So yeah, I can’t hate Jason Aldean because his music goes beyond what it seems on the surface. I actually rather like his music. AND I sang along. So sorry if that offends you.


Filed under Live Music, Reflection, USA

9 Responses to Unpopular Opinion: Jason Aldean Isn’t Killing Country Music

  1. Katie O'Neil

    I personally like Jason Aldean’s music. Then again I like the type of music that I can sing along to in the car. I really like the point that you made about his older songs, and how they aren’t as “bro country” as he is now considered. I think it is really interesting that you think that Tyler Farr lacks stage performance. I have never seen him in concert either but I heard his new song, “A Guy Walks Into A Bar” and I really enjoyed it. I was thinking he may be a good concert to go to because of all the recent success he has had. However, I now think I am going to rethink that one. I also think the great thing about the Jason Aldean’s concerts is not what he sings but how he is a great performer, he knows how to get the crowd going. Since in class we talked about how older country artists norms were just to stand in front of a microphone and sing with a guitar, Aldean’s performance may continue to distinguish him further from the older country music stereotypes.

  2. jtf764

    Let me start off by saying this I love traditional country by far.I do believe that there are some country artists I think are killing country like Florida Georgia Line but I don’t believe Jason Aldean is one of them. I also attended one of his concert at the rodeo which i wasn’t completely sure if I would enjoy it but I did and I was sure glad I went. I can understand why some people would say that about him because he isn’t necessarily following the guidelines of traditional country and does things different but they said the same things about Elvis Presley and you see how successful he was. Eventually they will see that he isn’t trying to kill but just trying to renovate country music so that it will stay relevant in today’s music scene.

  3. Justin Cole

    I agree with you in the sentiment that people are way too quick to hate on Jason Aldean, and, in fact, your article made me think that I have turned into one of these people. Often I forget how much I use to love his songs such as “Fly Over States” and “The Truth”. However, I do believe some of the Jason Aldean criticism is warranted. He just does not appear to be authentic to what he is singing about, and it also seems that his new music is moving further and further away from country music. I believe that his recent transgressions from country music led people to forget about the music he used to make, essentially creating over-dramatized opinions of Aldean “killing country music”.

  4. Erin McAtee

    I think the structure of the tour lineup is really interesting — I personally wouldn’t have imagined Cole Swindell and Jason Aldean performing in the same concert since their styles are so different, particularly since Aldean deviated from the classic country sound within the past couple years. I’d be curious to learn if he played any of his older songs like “Big Green Tractor” at this performance, and if he did, how his recent stylistic changes may have translated into the performance. I’m glad he’s keeping his lyrics with the traditional country symbols, but I do wonder why he turned “bro”. As an artist who has popularity throughout the decade, I would hope the stylistic changes aren’t just to attract listeners and remain relevant.

  5. Emma Morgan

    I think that Jason Aldean gets more criticism than he really deserves. While he has strayed from more traditional country to bro country or hick hop, he still has that country sound deep down. I’ve personally always loved listening to him. He makes great songs to sing along to and play in your car. When I first started listening to country music, he was one of the first artists I really listened to. His songs like “Big Green Tractor”, “She’s Country”, and “Crazy Town” were all some of my first country favorites. I don’t listen to him as much anymore, but I do tend to like all of the songs he puts out there. People really should give him more of a chance and not tear him down so much. Like you said, deep down he has country roots and his songs are all entertaining. Even though I wish he would stop transforming into more of a “bro country” artist, I think I’ll always enjoy listening to his songs.

  6. Daniella

    While I am not much of a fan of Jason Aldean’s recent music, I really do miss the way he sounded in his albums titled “Jason Aldean” and “Relentless.” I remember hearing Amarillo Sky (the first Jason Aldean song I had ever heard) for the first time and immediately loving it. I was a huge fan of Jason Aldean up until recently. I know that he is still capable of sounding the way he did when he first made it out onto the country music scene, but his new bro-country sound just isn’t very appealing to me. Even though I haven’t had the chance to see him live, I’ve heard that he puts on a great show so I’m glad that you got to experience that.

  7. Abby Wills

    I’ve never really been a fan of Jason Aldean’s recent music, but that is mainly because the style he now uses just isn’t my taste. However, I do agree that he isn’t necessarily killing country music. Country music is inevitably going to change with the trends and that is something that us country music fans have to accept. I read an interview recently with Aaron Watson, a Texas Country artist, and in the interview he understands that not everything can be the same, there has to be versatility in the market. All of these artists are trying to make a living and provide for their families and this is Jason Aldean’s way of doing that. I completely agree with your statement about how sometimes we forget their old songs that we actually enjoyed. It’s a reminder that he is able to channel his country roots and that not all of his music is “killing country music.”

  8. Reid Thompson

    I think Jason Aldean is one of the toughest country artists for me to talk about because his songs cannot all be clumped together and he often takes on very different sounds. I’m actually a big fan of songs like “Amarillo Sky”, “Big Green Tractor”, “Fly Over States”, and ‘Tattoos on this Town.” I can remember when all of these songs were huge hits a couple of years ago and I still find them catchy and easy to listen to. However, the gap between songs like these that sing of more authentic and meaningful topics and some of his other music that incorporates “Country Rap” or inauthentic twangs is pretty wide in my opinion. I think the latter is why many people give Jason Aldean such a hard time. His “Dirt Road Anthem” was one of the first times I heard rap in a country song and have continued to despise it since. For this reason, I partially understand why he is clumped in with the “Killing country music” statement but I don’t think that is really justified. While I disagree with his style in songs like that, I think he has done more good for country than bad. Like you, I saw Jason Aldean in concert last year and was pleasantly surprised with the experience. While some of his songs lean towards Bro Country, I think he is in a different category because he truly has a talented voice, is capable of authentic lyrics, and knows how to capture an audience.

  9. Lynden

    I love your post! I’ve never really listened to Jason Aldean but have NEVER been a fan of men wearing earrings and a cowboy hat.. From our classmate’s feedback on Aldean I get the sense that his music is not worth my time. Bro country radio and flame filled concerts don’t usually do it for me. I think it’s adventurous that you bought a ticket to see Aldean and I’m glad that you discovered he isn’t so bad after all. If your review didn’t convince me that I should rethink my opinion on Aldean, the video you included did. If that doesn’t describe the root of country music I don’t know what does. Young men raised on ranches who work hard and dream of owning that land someday. Thank you for opening my eyes to an artists who I’ve crossed off my list. I can’t wait to reevaluate his style and put him on my playlist.

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