From Check List Songs to Bro-Country

There has been a lot of criticism in the past few years regarding “bro-country.” There are many offenders out there, from Luke Bryan to Florida Georgia Line, but it has a history that goes beyond these modern day artists. It has evolved into something that country music fans and non-fans love to hate on.

This type of song used to be called a checklist or laundry list song. Basically the premise was that writers had a list of “country-isms” (think girls, trucks, beer, the south, dirt roads, etc.) that were supposed to be included in each song in order for it to be successful. It wasn’t until 2013 when Jody Rosen published an article in New York magazine that the official name changed to bro-country. This music has been around for awhile, but seems to have escalated in the past few years with tattoos and hip shaking.

Even though David Allan Coe is far from bro, his song in 1977 called “If That Ain’t Country” can be argued to have been “the first true laundry list country song that started the whole trend.” But unlike modern day check list songs,  his is actually autobiographical. Fast forward 36 years to 2013 and it seems that the trend exploded so that every country song sounded the same. People were questioning what country music had turned into so they made it worse by listing things they considered to be country.

This brings us to present day 2015 where people have now started to make fun of all these bro country songs. Maddie and Tae addressed the role of woman with their song “Girl in a Country Song” and now Bob Odenkirk and David Cross have gone all out in their parody called “All I Need.” This is the ultimate check list song that is quite entertaining and on point. They are just simple guys who are fine with “a case of miller or bud…rack of ribs, and a pack of chew.” The music video features some stereotypical scenes and the lady writing it all down on her grocery list tops it off. Take a look.

With the Billy Ray Cyrus hair, dog tags, and creepy mustache, this duo hits on all of the criticisms of bro-country. They even threw in a little rapping to spice it up. You can check out their comedy show on Netflix for some more entertainment from these two.

Personally, I enjoy a little party song every once in a while, but when it starts to change the sound and views of country music I draw the line. Maybe some of these artists need to rethink their choice of genre and make the transition to pop. Some would go as far to say that this is the end of an era. Alan Jackson said that “real roots-y traditional stuff, may be gone…There’s some good music, good songwriting and good artists out there, but there’s really no country stuff left.” It is sad to think that is true, but I am still keeping hope considering Chris Stapleton has entered into the mix.


Filed under Bro Country

3 Responses to From Check List Songs to Bro-Country

  1. John Monroe

    I have seen that “Why Country Music was Awful in 2013” before and every time I do it makes me cringe. The stereotypes that lots of these songs seem to fulfill over and over is a little painful. I’ve never seen that “All I Need” video but I definitely enjoyed seeing how easily they were able to poke fun at the genre. I did appreciate how you didn’t throw this type of country completely under the bus by acknowledging that a party song isn’t bad every once in a while and I agree that unfortunately it has kind of take over. Great post!

  2. Claudia Boyd

    I had not seen either of the videos you shared with us but I agree with John, the “Why Country Music was Awful in 2013” is definitely cringeworthy. Country music is so often stereotyped and it doesnt help when lists like these are published. I appreciate how you mentioned both sides of the country stereotypes as well, female and male. “Girl in a Country Song” pokes just as much fun as “All I Need” so i like having both to compare to. You did a great job in highlighting why people do not need to follow these stereotypes and just enjoy a party song!

  3. Darah Welch

    Lauren I never knew bro-country was classified before as another name. It can be cast in quite a negative light but sometimes can be fun and catchy. It does really seem similar to the checklist songs because it seems to not be a full song without hitting on each of the key country topics. So this makes me wonder…are artists classified by bro country these days or just their songs? Some of Luke Bryan’s songs are not your typically booty shakers but are more sentimental and slow (like strip it down). So is this song classified as “bro country” like his other tunes? I really enjoyed this post because it was super informative! Thank you!!!

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