“Nashville” Brings Reality To Light

I always wondered what life would be like as a country music star.

Credits: www.richardcrouse.ca

Credits: www.richardcrouse.ca

As a little girl who pretended to be like Shania Twain, a ten year-old fifth grader who wanted to be Hannah Montana, and later as a middle school and high school student was a mega Taylor Swift fan, I pondered what the life in the bright lights would be like.

While, the “Hannah Montana” show did not exactly portray the real life of a country music star, (she was in fact partly country music), ABC’s debut of the “Nashville” in 2012 certainly showed me the more or less reality of country music stardom,  but the series taught me a something little deeper about what the country music industry is facing.

Credits: www.pop-break.com

Credits: www.pop-break.com

The series is centered around the original, experienced Queen of Country “Rayna Jaymes,” who is portrayed by Connie Britton, and the young, rising country-pop starlet “Juliette Barnes”, portrayed by Hayden Panettiere. Britton’s character struggles as an aging artist who is trying to maintain her role in the country music scene, while Panettiere’s character is trying to overtake all of country music’s listeners with her poppy, upbeat style.

While the series involves love triangles, family issues, deaths, secrets, lies, etc., like any ABC drama would, “Nashville” reveals the eternal country music culture war: the battle between old music vs. new music, twang country vs. pop country, home, close knit label head vs. big label heads. Additionally, in depth the series explores the how the various artists, songwriters, managers, and other characters deal with the consequence of fame and finding self-identity in the bright lights.

Besides all those elements to the series, “Nashville” has some killer country music.

Credits: www.buddytv.com

Credits: www.buddytv.com

In the series, each artist struggles with the eternal country music culture war, and it is shown even in the music. Therefore, using the two main characters “Rayna Jaymes” and “Juliette Barnes” Here are a total of four songs. Two songs that are more pop country, modern, and two songs from the old, twang style.

“Rayna Jaymes” Pop country, Modern Song: “This Time

In Nashville, this experienced country music queen has won awards upon awards, and is adored by all. However, as soon as she tries to be competitive in the country music scene, Britton’s character is challenged with producing and singing music that is not her sound…also known as pop country. With up and coming young stars like “Juliette Barnes” it is forces “Rayna James” to fight for her voice to be heard.

“Rayna Jaymes”  Old, Twang style Song:  “The Rivers between Us

The blessing of being the original queen is that no matter what, your first fans always stick with you, and their daughters, and their futures daughter will too. That is the blessing “Rayna Jaymes” receives as she is faced with the adversity of maintaining relevancy in the county music scene. Unlike “Juliette Barnes” who showed up to county music as the new hot starlet, “Rayna Jaymes” is able to use her history of hard work and current determination to uphold a revenant spot in the spot light.

“Juliette Barnes” Pop country, Modern Song: “I’m a Girl

At the beginning of the series, Panettiere’s character’s music grabs the attention of tween and teens. Dressing in tight, sparkly dresses, “Juliette Barnes” goes the extra mile to capture audiences as the young, new sexy starlet. Her modern sound and sassy, headstrong personality is “Juliette Barnes’s” “in” to the country music scene. While her voice does have a southern accent, these two songs certainly display what pop country songs sound like.

“Juliette Barnes” Old, Twang style Song: “We are Water

As mentioned above, early in the series, Panettiere’s character represents how young females in today’s country music have to use a combination of their femininity and country pop sound to snatch a general audience of tweens and teens, but also within the industry, old, powerful men. However, as the series progresses, “Juliette Barnes” is able to take her poppy vibe to her true country roots. Panettiere’s character is able to slow down her sound, and hopes that her tween and teens fan will be able to appreciate the same “Juliette Barnes,” just with a different or actual country music sound.

Whether you love to listen to the queens of country music like “Rayna Jaymes” or the new starlets like “Juliette Barnes,” one can agreed the ABC series “Nashville” does an fine job using the characters and music bring light the war country music faces. (After all, the series is on its fourth season.)

But the question I propose is has the war always been going on? Have we failed to see it just until now? Or has the war begun recently in the 21st century?


Filed under Blog Post 3, Country Pop, Nashville

2 Responses to “Nashville” Brings Reality To Light

  1. Laura Morales

    I really enjoyed reading your post! I definitely related to the part when you said you always wanted to be a country music star, because I remember as a little kid I used to pretend I was a music star and wondered what their life was like. Although I no longer pretend that, I still do wonder what their lives are actually like and what the struggles of being one entail. I have heard of the show Nashville, but never actually seen it and after reading your post I think I may have to go and check it out! I also don’t think that this “war” is something new. Like we discussed in class, there were different “subgenres” of country within one time period, and some of the artists that were performing a different style of music were trying to compete with the artists that were playing the new style of country. I think it’s just becoming more common and the “pop country” is getting more recognition, as well as the fact that we have the technology and means to spread music to more places, that it seems like it is a bigger issue!

  2. Olivia English

    Great post, Katerina! I watched some of the first couple of seasons of Nashville, so I was able to follow a lot of what you were explaining about Juliette and Rayna. I think that you bring up a great point regarding female country singers today. Unfortunately, it has seemed to be true that women in the industry are forced to use their femininity to gain recognition, sometimes even moreso than their pure talent. I think that in the past couple of years, though, songs like “Follow Your Arrow” by Casey Musgraves and “Girl In A Country Song” by Maddie & Tae (although these are rather poppy songs and Maddie & Tay may not be the best example of great country) have addressed the issue of objectifying and judging women – and people in general – in the spotlight. I think it’s really great that they have decided to take a stand and ask for recognition for their talent!

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