On Bro-Country…

In August 2013, New York Magazine published Jody Rosen’s article about the rise of “Bro-Country.” If you’re like me, you haven’t heard of Bro-Country, but you probably have a pretty good guess as to what it is. Rosen defines Bro-Country as “Music by and of the tatted, gym-toned, party-hearty young American white dude.” Shots fired. He wastes no time in condemning the lucky artist who topped the Billboard’s Hot Country Songs for 22 weeks in a row (breaking a record that has been in place since 1955): Florida Georgia Line with their song “Cruise.”

Rosen describes the song as an average-looking guy in a bar talking to the hottest blonde girl in the room, loudly laughing at his own jokes, and after crashing-and-burning with lame pick-up lines, pulls out his iPhone, asking “Have you heard this awesome song?” while simultaneously “dial[ing] up the video for Florida Georgia Line’s ‘Cruise.’” Are you laughing yet? This guy is pretty harsh, but I think he feels the way a lot of traditional country fans do when they see that auto-tuned sounds like those of Florida Georgia Line top the charts and ring in the big bucks.

Okay, here’s the part you’re going to hate…. This phenomenon isn’t news, nor is it shocking. Throughout music history, we have seen different genres and subgenres arise that some people have labeled “crap,” while others really find to their liking. It was only a matter of time before we had a new reason to complain, honestly.

Much like many young millennials enjoy the sounds of Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan, so the youth of the 1980’s enjoyed the beginnings of Grunge. Just as this new “Bro-Country” tends to err on the riskier side with lyrics and themes, Grunge challenged the norms of fashion, responsibility, and acceptable topics. Many people thought that Grunge was a blemish on the face of alternative rock, but that didn’t prevent it from sky-rocketing in popularity—even MTV picked it up and was exposing its viewers to the new sounds. Even my dad (the music snob I wrote about in my first blog post, “The Conflicting-Interest Blues”) said that popular Grunge band, Nirvana, “redefined everything.” (Does this count as a primary source?)

Some of you might be thinking, “But Grunge isn’t nearly as bad as Bro-Country” or “Hey! I like Grunge.” Well, I agree with you (I can’t stand to listen to songs like Cruise and I love Pearl Jam). But, it’s time to recognize that our tastes in music and what we can relate to is different than people younger than us that the country music industry is now catering to. And apparently it sells, so why wouldn’t they keep doing it?


Filed under Blog Post 3, Bro Country, Country Subgenres

5 Responses to On Bro-Country…

  1. Timothy Harakal

    Listening to the Nirvana song in this post was a much more pleasant experience for me than listening to the Cruise remix, but maybe my experience was too heavily influenced by the music videos – the Nirvana one seemed to fit the alternative, grunge, rugged sound, while the true “Bro-Country” song seemed like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit commercial complemented by trucks with lift-kits and some heavy autotune. However, I suppose those things help the video reach its “target audience”. Obviously FGL knows what songs to write to make the most kind of money, and unfortunately, they probably won’t turn to making timeless, deep music as a motivator anytime soon – not as long as songs like “Cruise” continue to sell so well.

  2. You know, it’s interesting how the word “bro” has gained such a negative connotation. I’ve been hearing about “bro country” for a long time now, but recently I’ve heard of the “pharma bro” Martin Shrkeli, who is hated for raising the cost of necessary HIV medicine beyond the reach of the people who need it, and the “Bernie bros,” who are said to trash female supporters of Hillary Clinton. I think a lot of people who listen to country music could aptly be called “bros,” but I don’t think anybody really wants to be called that.

  3. Joseph Schooling

    I, too, have never heard of “bro country”. I liked how you explained in the end that we have different tastes in music from other generations, and that if it sells, why would the industry stop producing that kind of music? I feel as though music back in the day was geared more towards emotions and feel. For example, an artist would want to compose a song to get his feelings out about something, or send others a message. Nowadays, in my opinion, more and more song writers have different agendas. They write music to generate revenue and gain fame. Overall, I really enjoyed reading your views and it was well written.

  4. Max Holter

    I really never thought I would see an embedded Nirvana video on this site but it fit really well. I like that you presented your opinion about everything, but also showed that you have an open mind to change. This article really made it clear why my dislike of bro country has no impact on it rising. I liked the article that you have hyperlinked in here, and you referenced it just the right amount. I also enjoyed the little self plug you had to your first blog post. That really made me more interested in you as a writer. This felt like some blog I would be lead to from Reddit, in the most positive way possible. I really enjoyed this great job!

  5. Paige Hinkle

    I appreciate this different viewpoint on bro-country. Often people are quick to dismiss “pop-country” even though it is popular and has a large influence on the country community. Like you said, when new types of music are created, they aren’t always liked by some groups of people, usually traditionalists. Bro-country is targeted at a younger audience that does like partying and feel like they can relate to this music the same way many people related to the pop-punk music with artists like Green Day or Avril Lavigne. Younger generations have always been open to, and even searching for, music that is new and different. While people like to claim these new songs aren’t “authentic”, they definitely change music in interesting, new ways.

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