An opinion piece for country lovers, haters, and the in-betweeners
Growing up in a big city like Toronto, I can assure you that country music was the last genre I ever thought I would ever listen to, let alone grow a liking to. In fact, after attending over a dozen country concerts and festivals this past summer, I can assure you that my love for country music is here to stay.
“I listen to everything, except country” was a sentence I grew up being all too familiar with. In a way, it felt like I was shunning that particular genre; because I was. There was no appeal to country music in its entirety; so initially, I swore it to shame.
Like the majority of you, I grew up listening to R&B, trap, soul, hip hop, rap and just about any kind of music that didn’t use the words ‘tractor’ and ‘boots’ in the same sentence. And for myself and most of my friends, the lyrics were the biggest part of the problem. It seemed that all country songs sounded the same, and were sung about the same kinds of topics, with the same kind of tune, no matter which chord you strummed on the guitar.
Country music, for those brave enough to take a listen, runs deeper than that. The ability of a renowned country artist, like Morgan Wallen or Zach Bryan, to take and tell stories through beautiful and thought-out melodies has unfortunately become the laughing stock of the music industry. But that’s because most people don’t think to give it a chance.
While the writing of country music has changed, both peaking and dwindling over the years, there are some artists that stay true to the original Southern roots of good, classic country music. In fact, this superficial idea that society once had of country music has come a long way, especially with phenomenal singers like Chris Stapleton and Keith Urban to pay homage to the history behind the tunes.
Since most songs are predominantly sung by men, the genre has gained a stereotypical reputation of catering to audiences of white individuals; athletes, specifically hockey players or golfers, and anyone who wants to party. That is, because all they sing about is beer and Tennessee whiskey, right? The problem with this is that these stereotypes are being reinforced on tour lineups, radio stations and billboard charts globally, making it a sensitive topic for many.
But despite the politics and semantics, country music holds a lot of cultural value for all. Up and coming country artists, like Dalton Glover and Marren Morris, are working to promote important issues, like diversity, feminism and equality within the space. And between you and me, their music is phenomenal, and rightfully deserves a listen.
Truth be told, country music continues to dominate the charts, and that’s because even the country “haters” are bobbing their heads to the same kinds of fan favourites we are. Who doesn’t love a little Before He Cheats or Chicken Fried? Whether they’re first heard on Tiktok or at Toronto’s newest country bar, you’re bound to take a liking to the genre if you listen to it enough; I’m almost positive.
So no, you don’t hate country music. You might claim to hate any surface-level, stereotypical-twang “love story gone wrong” country song, but if you give the genre just a little bit of credit, you’ll be playing this playlist proudly at your next party.