Under 30

I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Suck/lame: Country music

We continue our mission of clearly defining those people, things, ideas, thoughts, actions and other nouns and verbs of questionable suckitude with the heartland’s favorite soundtrack, country music.

Music doesn’t get more American than country. The high, yearning sound of a steel guitar immediately brings to mind the wide-open fields and sun-splashed skies of Middle America. Country music is the sound of ordinary folk and their hopes, dreams, fears and disappointments. It can make you laugh, cry and feel a little less lonely during the worst times of your life. That is, unless the country singer in question sounds more like Richard Marx than Johnny Cash, which is probably the case. After all, today’s country music is the final resting place for rock fashions and styles from 15 years ago. And let’s cut the “ordinary folk” talk, shall we? The ordinary folk listening to country these days are upper middle class soccer moms who put yellow ribbons on the bumpers of their gas-guzzling SUVs. Not exactly Tom Joad, is it?

So, is country music a classic American art form, or a genre that ceased being good long ago? In other words, does country music suck? Polls are open until noon Friday.

22 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

While there are definitely some really SUCKY country songs (Red Neck Yacht Club), and even artists (Billy Ray Cyrus), it's not all bad. There are some great classics. You can't knock Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson or Hank Williams Jr. Who doesn't love the Monday Night Football song?! There are some recent country singers that are really good too. Although it isn't my favorite genre of music, my vote is NOT SUCK. -r

4:42 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Not suck. And I say this, not because I listen to country music, but just that I'm not against it. I have a good friend who loves it. When I'm with her in her truck (of course she drives a truck, she's a country girl) we jam out to it as her music of choice. I can deal. I make her listen to stuff she may not love. Fair is fair.

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just let me sit my whiskey down and pull my 16 wheeler over so I can answer your stupid question. If I hadn't gotten a letter from my gal telling me she was dumping me for another good ole boy, I would not have noticed your blog because I would have been at home in my double wide scoring one for the president.

So get this in your fat head, country music does not suck. Now stick that in your 20 something pin head and smoke it.

5:47 PM  
Blogger klhp said...

Not suck. There are a few country songs that I like, though for the most part, I don't get into it. I don't like the twangy stuff.

Hey Mgmt. Can we vote on people again? We've been on a sort of does-this-general-thing/concept-suck streak lately.

9:03 PM  
Blogger mark said...

no suck

10:21 PM  
Anonymous Joe said...

There are two totally different types of country music, Steve; the type that sucks and the type that doesn't suck. You have to be way more specific. To say that Rascall Flats and Hank Williams are of the same genre is totally inaccurate.

11:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I vote for "sucks" please.

11:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some sucks, some lacks suckaciousness. You're on-point with the Richard Marx comment, but there has been some honest-to-God, who-would-have-thunk-it great country music in the past few years. Best recent example is LeeAnn Womack's 2005 CD "There's More Where That Came From." Great songs, great lyrics, exquisitely delivered.
And not that "I Hope You Dance" crap she did a year or two before that.
Brad Paisley has done a couple great songs in the last few years too, and I'm not talking about the "I'm gonna miss her" fishing song.
On the other hand, Big and Rich? Much suckiness.
Toby Keith? Unintelligible.
And I'm glad Garth Brooks isn't recording anymore. Sucky in all its degrees.

11:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with KLH on the people-voting.

Also, not sucks.

9:38 AM  
Blogger Steve Hyden said...

I hear you on the person thing. Do you have any suggestions?

Joe: I made the question broad on purpose to (hopefully) inspire debate. Asking whether contemporary country sucks or old country is great is way too easy. This makes the question more difficult.

11:25 AM  
Blogger mark said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:57 AM  
Anonymous kbl said...

To be honest, I don't know that much about it, at least modern country. However, I am loathe to write off an entire genre based solely on what is popular on the radio. If I listened to the Top 40 and Ryan Seacrest, I'd despair for the state of pop music. But, since I explore independent labels and go to shows at small clubs and see acts that aren't necessarily on the radar screen of major labels or commercial radio stations, I know it isn't all Asslee and Pink and Good Charlotte. It would be like judging the state of modern American fiction by the bestseller lists and success of the Left Behind books or Nicholas Sparks or Danielle Steel. Sure there's a lot of easily-digested pabulum out there designed to be blandly appealing to the masses, but that isn't all there is. I don't know what's going on in the smaller clubs in Nashville or if there are labels out there that are producing stuff that just doesn't get major airplay. (Does anyone know how country as an industry works? Is it mostly commercial, major-label driven, or are there smaller, independent outfits?)

I'm going to go with not suck (that's NOT SUCK, Steve, in case you have reading comprehension issues again) because I don't think that every country act, much less an entire genre, should be judged against the latest pop-country, over-produced, crossover success, supposed-wunderkind.

Really, I think the bigger problem is that--and I'm sure this won't be offensive--a solid percentage of so-called average Americans suck (or at least their taste does)--so we're constantly inundated with crap designed to appeal to the LCD and sometimes, in our anguish, we forget there is a lot more out there if you look and sort the wheat from the chaff, to go all pastoral in honor of the topic.

All that aside, though, I think what the early pioneers in the genre did trumps whatever travesties their successors may be perpetrating, so even if every song made by a country artist today completely blows, the genre itself doesn't suck, it has just become somewhat creatively moribund and needs some sort of renaissance rather than to be dismissed altogether.

12:18 PM  
Anonymous kbl said...

I just wanted to add that I'm not saying that popular automatically equals bad, just that many really bad things are incredibly popular and can, at times, overshadow quality with quantity.

12:22 PM  
Anonymous rhinestone cowboy said...

Three words -- Honky tonk badonkadonk.

One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.

Country used to be cool, but no more.

I implore David Allan Coe, Hank Jr. and Willie Nelson to smoke up, round up a posse of bikers, ex-cons and alcoholics, hop aboard the Honeysuckle Rose, then ride over to the CMT studios where they can whip the ass of the fool that recorded it and the execs that forced into our consciousness.

All of a sudden -- sucks beyond comprehension.

1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Al says: When Johnny Cash died, so did country music. The "new" country just seems to mimic mainstream pop/rock--there doesn't seem to be any originality left. I give it a big "suck!"

1:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to get past 3 placenta pictures to get here?

3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

robin williams' movie RV, about a placenta, comes out real soon.

4:49 PM  
Anonymous S. C. Erin said...

It is like any other musical genre, there is the good, the bad and the mediocre. Also, just because it is not someones taste in music does not mean it should be discounted as a whole.
Therefore, it DOES NOT SUCK.

9:02 PM  
Anonymous Sharon Hyden said...

Does not suck. Faron Young, Hank Williams, Eddie Arnold, Conway Twitty, Roger Miller, Jim Reeves, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, and Kitty Wells did not involve themselves in music with any "suckitude".
Does not Suck.
There are others that are much more modern than the previous mentioned, but I think sometimes people forget where things originated.
(listen to "Dang Me" or "King of the Road" by Roger Miller, and then vote)

9:05 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

Definitely suck. Black hole suck. Are country music singers today just people who can't hack it in the (admittedly not so good anymore either) pop world. Personally, I think all music has gone downhill, so why not country too? (By the way, Keith Urban is in desperate need of a makeover.)

9:17 PM  
Anonymous anonymouse said...

KLB makes an awesome point. If you look hard enough for good country music, you will indeed find it. I presume the quality of good country I have found makes it a full-fledged not suck.

But vote whatever. I don't care. My give a damn's busted.

12:52 PM  
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