Category Archives: Bro Country

Does Country Get Just a Little Too Drunk?

church-793x525As someone whose family is in the alcohol business, I have no problem with the free advertisement that country music gives to drinking, but has it become a problem? With songs ranging from Dierks Bentley’s “Drunk on a Plane” to Kip Moore’s “Beer Money” and Roger Creager’s “The Everclear Song,” it is clear that alcohol remains a common theme in modern country music. However, songs that used to be about sitting around having a casual beer with friends have now arguably turned into songs that “promote” drinking to get drunk and binge drinking.

Many believe this common and previously unquestioned theme in country music has recently become a cause of concern. In the past several years, there have been an increase in alcohol related arrests and deaths at popular country artists performances. With the rise of what many have termed “bro-country,” songs about partying, drinking and girls, Rolling Stone has noticed a significant trend in the charts that some believe may be leading to unruliness. Of Billboard’s Top 100 Hot Country Songs of 2014, 69 of the songs had references to drinking with at least 12 of those having some sort of alcohol reference in the title.

Another cause for concern is that with the increase in young country fans, thanks to artist like Taylor Swift, country fans attending concerts are getting younger. Country used to cater to a middle-age crowd, but it is now beginning to target a much younger crowd that wants upbeat, fast-paced, rock-charged songs they can blast through speakers at a pre-game or tailgate. Many feel the surge of young concert goers combined with the growth of pre-concert tailgating have lead to an increase of underage drinking cases at concerts.

With alcohol related incidents increasing and the age of the average country concert goer decreasing, some worry that the music might be the source of the issue. So, what is the real problem? The actual music or the fans?

I don’t think the music is the issue. While many of the lyrics in current country songs, such as in Little Big Town’s song “Day Drinking,” do portray drinking as an easy way to feel good and have some fun, it is ultimately the fans who are taking the lyrics to heart and abusing alcohol. Drinking is not new to country music, and the songs are simply supposed to be a source of enjoyment—not dictate your life choices.

I love going to a tailgate or pre-game and listening to country music, which inevitably means listening to quite a few songs about alcohol. While I do love listening to these songs at a tailgate, changing the genre of music would not change how much I drink. That decision is internally motivated. When I listen to country songs while on a road trip home, I am not tempted to start drinking in the car.

Ultimately what has happened is that country artist are beginning to cater to a younger demographic. That younger demographic already has a habit of binge drinking in general regardless of their musical preference. Consequently whether it be at a rave, a rap concert, or even a country concert, young audience members are watching their friends and peers drink and inevitably follow their example. It is not the music it is the fans.


Filed under Blog Post 4, Bro Country, New Country

Dan + Shay + a Memory

dan-shay-logo-652x367Unfortunately Spring Break is now behind us, and although this was a great one spent at SXSW, I have spent the past few days reminiscing over other experiences I have had at SXSW. In the past, I have had the opportunity to see many different artists, but among some of  my favorite performances, are Dan + Shay and Tori  Kelly (but this is about country music, so I’ll try to keep it that way. And it may have been because Tori Kelly was being serenaded by Dan + Shay, or it may have been Shay’s runs that made me have a memorable experience,  or the fact that their new single “From the Ground Up” is one of my favorite songs of the moment, but it’s definitely a memory I don’t forget!

Dan + Shay are an American country duo comprised of Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney. They both met at a party Dan had thrown at his house. Smyers has said that he hadn’t been able to afford to pay for there to be heat in his home, so in order  to keep his guests warm, they were all in a tent and all of the guests were huddled around a TV. To pass the time, and everyone at the party mostly being musicians (isn’t that what everyone does in Nashville?), Dan and Shay spontaneously started to jam out.

From that moment on, the two realized there was something there and decided to continue making music. Eventually they got signed to Warner Bros. Records Nashville and released their first single “19 You and Me”, along with other singles like “Stop, Drop, and Roll” and  “Nothing Like You”, all from their first studio album Where It All Began. They gained success and have received ACMA vocal duo nominations as well as a CMT nomination for their video “19 You and Me”. Dan + Shay have also been on tour with people like Hunter Hayes, Blake Shelton, and are about to embark on a summer tour with Darius Rucker!

tumblr_inline_n3f5ilYbvn1sb8vriThey performed at Banger’s Sausage House and Brewery at SXSW in 2014 for a SB projects showcase. Before their set, they stood around listening to the music and all of the artists going on before them. For a good 30 minutes Shay stood next to me drinking beer after beer, as I glanced his way fangirling on the inside, but too intimidated to talk to him. So for 30 minutes, I just stood there enjoying the music and processing the fact that 1/2 of Dan + Shay was next to me.

After a few hours, Dan + Shay took the stage. Not a lot of people were there for them, so it was easy to make my way to the front of the stage. With a wide smile on my face, I watched them perform. They sang their singles as well as other songs from their upcoming album. On stage, they bantered with one another, told stories, made the crowd cheer, and sang songs!

The greatest moments of the night for me were that Dan + Shay brought out Tori Kelly and serenaded her on “Somewhere Only We Know”. Eventually they started to talk about their performance to the IHeart Country  Festival and asked the crowd who was going. My friend yelled out that we weren’t going because the tickets had sold out, and they offered us tickets! My friend and I never actually got them, but it’s the thought that counts…right? The two of them continued to sing for the rest of their set. Dan sang and played guitar, and Shay impressed everyone with his runs. When their set was over, I was pretty sad, but they came out during Tori Kelly’s set along with all of the other artists that had performed that day and I got to see them again as everyone jammed out!

Overall it was an amazing experience! I was so close to them and I was able to sing along to their songs. They are entertaining performers, and every time I see videos of them or hear their songs, I quickly remember this moment!


Filed under Austin, Blog Post 4, Bro Country, Concert, Live Music

Scotty McCreery Tries to Keep It Country!

“First and foremost, allow me to introduce myself, my name is Scotty McCreery…and we are here for one reason and one reason only, and that’s to sing you some country music”, is how Scotty McCreery tends to start some of his shows. Even from the first few minutes of his performance, you’re guaranteed to get some good ‘ol country music.

Scotty McCreery, 22, a country singer who is best known for winning a “tiny little show” (as he likes to call it) called American Idol. At 16, he auditioned  for the show with Josh Turner’s “Your Man” and  “Put some drive in your country” by Travis Tripp, and because of his deep voice and lower register people were blown away. McCreery, went on to the show and eventually became season 10’s American Idol.

Although Scotty is a country singer, he is more of a “new country/ kind of bro country” kind of guy. His first album Clear as Day has more of a “traditional country” music with the banjos and the guitars as well as a pop sound, but the second album See You Tonight, has pop/rock elements. Each album does have a few distinct songs that prove he’s a country singer. His first single, “I Love You This Big”, is country enough to be country, but also not too country that the average Top 40 listener wouldn’t be able to enjoy. One of his favorite songs is “Carolina Moon” from his second album. He said that his focus on the third album is to have the same sound as this song, a more “traditional country sound”.

12767882_965068543546359_1847658702_oAt his shows he likes to explain that the producers would try to get him to sing songs that were out of the country music genre on Idol, but he would refuse because that is not who he was. He then asks the audience if it’s okay if they keep it country for the rest of the night. Of course, a lot of the fans are country music fans so that makes them happy, and the rest of the fans are Scotty fans and let’s be real for a second, they’ll cheer for anything he says!

It makes sense that he’d want to keep it more traditional. I mean, he’s been influenced by many country artists. He says that because of his sister he listed to artists like Backstreet boys, he was singing thing’s like “Conway’s Hello Darlin’…and Elvis Presley too, lord have mercy!”. Before starting his medley he likes to say that “nowadays things have changed a little bit, and it’s not a good thing or a bad thing because everything changes over time, but for me it does not change the fact that I, Scotty McCreery, have a love for country music. So with that said, I’d like to sing you…and take you back.. and sing you some good old fashion country music”. With his little spiel out of the way, he goes on and sings songs like “Mama Tried” by Merle Haggard, “Blue Suede Shoes” by Elvis Presley, “Mountain Music” by Alabama or “Check Yes or No” by George Strait. With every tour, he changes the songs in his medley. There’s two things that remain true within this medley, he always plays an Elvis song because like he likes to say “Elvis was my duuuuuuude”, and that he likes to reiterate that “I am country!”.

In case you’re interested in hearing him impersonate Elvis Presley:

And here’s him covering two more classic country songs at the Grand Ole Opry just for the heck of it!

“Hello Darlin’”

“The Dance”


Filed under Blog Post 3, Bro Country, Country Pop, Country Rock, Live Music

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

FGL? More like FML

Florida Georgia Line is a duo that formed out of Nashville in 2010 that has brought an interesting twist to Country music since their start. Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard met at Belmont University in a worship group on campus and there dreamt up the idea of becoming a famous country duo. And not to my surprise, who else but the Nickelback producer, Joey Moi, was the one who discovered them. This seems only fitting because the two bands in my opinion are very similar. How would I describe Nickelback Fans? There are two kinds. One group of fans is full of fervent followers who listen to Nickelback and Nickelback only, go to every concert, and proudly proclaim them as their favorite band. The other group of fans is full of followers who only secretly listen to Nickelback songs in fear of being shamed by the rest of society. These two groups of fans are the same for Florida Georgia Line followers. Because many people hate on the band, if you love them, you either shout it from the mountaintops or you secretly know every lyric while denying ever having heard of them.

Florida Georgia Line has three albums comprised of very catchy songs, I’ll admit, but they are in no sense of the word Country. On their website they even admit to being different claiming to be, “artists who defy trends to pave something new, something original, something maybe a little shocking at the time.” I would say their style is definitely shocking… Do you think King George would listen to their new album, Anything Goes, on his way to the rodeo? I don’t think so. In my opinion, they are just another pop band that happens to have a little twang in their voice. Since forming in 2010, Florida Georgia Line has brought something totally new to the Country Genre. In the past 5 years they have had five number 1 singles on Country radio charts, which makes me wonder who is actually listening to these stations. But let’s talk about one specific hit single that has brought much controversy to Country Music listeners…

Cruise (Remix). Bum bum bummm. Now let me ask you something, when is it ever okay to pair a Hip Hop rapper, Nelly, with a small town duo who claims to be Country? The two just don’t go hand in hand. The country rap single has been detrimental to classic Country Music because now other artists like Thomas Rhett with I Feel Good (ft Lunchmoney Lewis) and Blake Shelton with Boys ‘Round Here (ft Pistol Annies & Friends) think it’s okay to mix the two genres. Music is split into genres for a reason and it should stay that way. Florida Georgia Line and the other artists I mentioned have the potential to really do well because each one is very talented, but please for the love of Country Music, steer clear of these poppy lyrics and featured rappers.


Filed under Bro Country