Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Criticizing Country Music

You may have heard the story. Zac Brown (of Zac Brown Band) recently made some provocative statements during an interview with Vancouver radio station 93.7 JRfm. According to Examiner.com, he criticized the state of commercial country music, asserting that many hit songs use the same themes and are rearrangements of existing lyrics. "When songs make me wanna throw up, it makes me ashamed to even be in the same genre as those songs.”

Brown also called Luke Bryan's current single "the worst song I've ever heard," adding that country fans "deserve something better than that." He later clarified through Twitter that his opinion pertained to  That's My Kind of Night, but not to Bryan as an artist. Still, those were some pretty strong words.

Does Brown make a valid point about modern country music possibly being too generic? Probably. Another quote from the Examiner.com article: "We really write about real life, songs that come from life and our heart. To me country music has always been the home for a great song." I appreciate Brown's desire for emotion and genuineness when creating music. And I believe artists and songwriters do work in the industry for this reason.

Still, I feel Brown goes to far in presenting his own views as an absolute statement about the genre. Who's the person who draws the line between country music and non-country music? And why is this issue such a big deal, anyway? The young radio listener may have a variety of musical tastes, including pop, which helps explain the increase in crossover we're seeing. It's only smart for songwriters to publish songs that appeal to more listeners.

Also, I find it odd that Zac Brown is the one making purist statements about the state of country music. I would personally not describe his band's latest release as being rooted in that genre. Isn't this the same guy who plays island music and wears a toque on-stage?

It is absolutely normal to have preferences within a genre, but I feel Brown should be careful not to speak for other country fans. Because in today's ever-evolving music market, the listener is always right.

Photo courtesy of http://www.zacbrownband.com


  1. Do you think the strength of Brown's opinions might have been related to the likelihood they'd get him some media attention?

  2. I do think so – Brown could have worded his disdain in a number of ways that wouldn't have sparked any backlash (or coverage). In my opinion, though, knocking someone else's success for the sake of attracting attention isn't ethical. And considering the diverse audience, I don't think it would be smart in this situation.


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