What happened to country music?

Whenever I’m driving in my truck, I’ve got country music blaring with the windows down 99 percent of the time. Nowadays, I mainly use Pandora and Spotify, partly because someone stole my antenna but mostly because mainstream country radio in 2016 is trash. Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt — I could go on and on with names of musicians who have been an abomination to the country music genre. Taylor Swift was a big contributor in the beginnings of “pop country.” I can remember being in high school hearing her “Red” album for the first time and wondering how the heck was this country? My girlfriend at the time was a huge Taylor Swift fan, so it was really hard for me to pretend to like it. But I did. And it was torture.

It might be just me. Heck, sometimes I think I was born in the wrong generation anyways. I could listen to Hank Williams, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson all day long. Willie Nelson went to Baylor for a couple years in the mid ‘50’s. I always think about how good of friends we could have been had I gone here back then with our shared love of guitar, good ol’ classic country and a disdain toward studying.

What I love about real country is that it tells a story. Artists such as Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash and George Strait (my all-time favorite) have the ability to paint a picture and make you feel like you are there witnessing what’s happening. Real country has heart and soul. Real country is just that: It’s real. It appeals to your emotions and makes you feel something. As an aspiring musician/ songwriter myself, I love genuine lyrics that not just anyone can write. Songs should be an expression of yourself, not just an appeal to the general public.

What’s wrong with country today besides the obvious annoying pop sound and people like Sam Hunt “spittin’ a flow” with a rap beat (I call it “crap” — country-rap), is that it has no heart anymore. It’s all about beer, girls and trucks. These days, artists just throw in a bunch of words that they think will appeal to general audiences and call it a song. The first that comes to mind is Luke Bryan’s “Huntin’ Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day”. I’ll be the first one to claim that I would love to hunt and fish every day of my life, but man, if that isn’t the most annoying song. It seems like Luke Bryan just threw in a bunch of stuff that people like me would like so it would sell, and it is blatantly obvious when you hear the song.

I understand that some people love that stuff. Some people probably even have “Sam Hunt Radio” as a station on their Pandora. It’s their jam, and that’s perfectly fine, just get it off my “country” radio. There is enough of that stuff now. A “pop country” radio station could easily claim all of that mess, and my world would be a better place.

The good nature of country music has been spoiled for many by all these “pop country” artists. Florida Georgia Line has one good song, and that’s “Dirt.” That was my jam sophomore year. The rest of their music just isn’t my style. Some artists like Luke Bryan started out strong, with songs like “All My Friends Say” and “Country Man” from the album ironically titled “I’ll Stay Me”. It’s hard to believe that is the same person I hear on the radio today, and I wonder where that Luke went.

All I’m saying is that country is nowhere near what it used to be. Somebody needs to save it. That might be my man Cody Jinks. For now, I’m sticking to my Texas/Red Dirt Radio on Pandora and Spotify because that is true modern country and for that, I thank all the Texas Country artists like Cody Johnson, Josh Abbott, Jon Wolfe, William Clark Green, Wade Bowen, Randy Rogers, Turnpike Troubadours … I’d use up all the ink if I kept this list going.