Why The Agent Dislikes (Modern) Country Music

Ladies, gentlemen, and fellow enbies: everything wrong with modern Country music in a single image.
Source: Best Top 10

So, I may have gone on record more than a few times voicing my displeasure with the state of the genre of music we know as Country. Most of that is due to my boss’ insistence on playing a Country music station at work EVERY. SINGLE. GODDAMN. DAY.

Now, I realize that a lot of people can be VERY sensitive when something they love gets criticized. And you know what? I totally get it. When you love a particular art form enough, any attack on it can feel like an attack on you personally. It’s the main reason why we nerds get into such heated debates about our passions (that and debate is fun and healthy).

But I don’t like feeling like I’m just singling people out with malicious intent. If I ridicule something you love, it’s because I’ve found something questionable or objectionable about it that ruins my ability to enjoy it; not because I think you are an inferior person for enjoying it. So, let’s discuss my rationale for why Country music repulses me so.

Firstly, I want to make it clear that it’s mostly the turn that modern Country has taken – not Country as a whole – that perturbs me. Granted, I have issues with Classic Country as well, but that’s mostly an unfortunate byproduct of my upbringing. My parents raised me on Classic Rock and Hair Metal. When your life’s soundtrack consists of Aerosmith, AC/DC, and Kiss, everything else seems soft and unengaging.

But, even then, I’m still neutral to Classic Country at most times. Compared to the stuff we get today though, the likes of John Denver and Johnny Cash may as well be Freddie Mercury to my ears. Being assaulted with today’s Country has had the effect of allowing me to reassess those old-timey tracks with a more favorable ear.

Really, my disdain for modern Country comes from what seems to be its two largest modern sub-genres; Bro-Country and Country Rap (AKA; Hick Hop).

The problem that I have with these classes of music is two-fold. Firstly, the subject matter never seems to change. This was a (slightly less prevalent) problem in Classic Country as well with its performers working on the unchanging theme of, “my life sucks, but I’ll get by with enough booze.”

In today’s country scene, they dial that up to eleven. Nearly every song I hear coming over that radio is about A) glorifying alcoholism, B) Objectifying women, or C) turning to alcoholism to cope with the loss of an objectified woman. So not only is it infuriatingly repetitive, it repeats an equally infuriating theme. When the modern country station I have to listen to needs to sneak in pop tracks that are over 10 years old to spice it up, you know the genre is getting stale.

Secondly, the thing that Bro-Country and Country Rap have in common is the reliance on Rap-style production and themes. And as much as I loathe the word “cultural appropriation,” I can’t shake the feeling that it may be at play here.

To be clear, not all of these artists are apeing Rap to keep their careers afloat because it’s just how pop music sounds today. Hell, you can even make a legitimate case that Rap and Country have a common cousin in Talking Blues. Plus, with Rap dominating the sound of Pop Music and with Country being the number one radio format, the two were bound to come together eventually.

However, Rap is a lot more than just a style of music. It’s one of the “4 pillars” of Hip Hop. Rap, along with DJing, Break Dancing, and Graffiti, form the basis of an entire culture of artistic expression that defined life for countless people that, while not possessing great monetary wealth, were rich in history and pride. To take that for yourself for no other reason other than, “because the kids like it,” is kind of disrespectful – especially when you boil it down to a couple of tired and problematic tropes.

So, in conclusion, modern country is a tired, old, cliche-ridden genre that shamelessly rips off other, more popular genres without understanding the societal weight of the art form it’s attempting to emulate and it really needs to take a few steps back to reassess its current position in life before I start considering it good art.

And while I’m ragging on music genres, all of the above applies to Contemporary Christian as well (saved me writing a future article there).

Advertisements

3 More Wonderfully Weird Music Genres

So, while glancing at the last months worth of articles, I noticed a trend of pessimism that needs to be curtailed.

To that end, I’ve decided to delve deep into The Archive and provide a continuation of my exploration of bizarre and brilliant things going on in music. Let’s not waste time and get right into the fun bits.

All-Female Metal Tributes

I was born and raised as a metalhead. My parents fed me a steady stream of the Hair Metal they grew up with like KISS and Poison as well as Hard Rock (all Metal’s common ancestor) like AC/DC and Aerosmith. However, as I grow older, I’ve noticed a problem with Metal; despite how many girls I know that love it, the only time you see women in the genre are on the questionable and often exploitative album art.

Apparently, some lovely ladies agreed that this was wrong and took it upon themselves to take a few extraneous Y-chromosomes out of the sound by forming all-female tribute bands dedicated to some of the greats of Metal. Some notable bands in the genre include Judas Priestess, Hells Belles, and my favorite on the basis of the name alone; Vag Halen.

It’s no mistake that this is the first genre I cover in this article after verbally tearing Meghan Trainor a superabundant sphincter last week. It seems that many female artists are forgetting that feminism is NOT narrow-minded self-interest and nursing a superiority complex. We need more people in the world that actually care about adding to the scope and range of voices heard in media. And that’s why I love this genre.

It’s also why I love…

Queercore

In much the same way that the above mentioned all-female metal tributes were born from women being excluded from the Metal scene, so to was queercore (aka; homocore) born from the inherently homophobic vibes of 80’s hardcore punk and created an alternative for those being excluded that enjoyed the sound.

Bands and artists in queercore use the same naming conventions as our AFMT friends above. Only instead of feminizing existing bands and songs, they ‘gay them up’ as it were. This results in bands like Youth of Togay, Cockwind, and Gayrilla Biscuits.

My favorite though has to be Black Fag – who not only donate the proceeds from tours to charities in the gay community but also do the best cover of T.V. Party I’ve ever heard.

Chap-Hop

And you thought this was just going to be politicized tribute bands…

You know what my beef is with modern mainstream rap? The class is gone. Back in the day, rap and hip-hop were fun and happy, even as they talked about serious issues. Old school rappers in the 80’s and early 90’s would still brag and boast, but did so with an air of dignity. Basically, rap forgot how to be a gentleman.

Leave it to the British to remind us how to be classy.

Chap-hop is the combination of modern rap and that distinctly British men’s fashion trend; chap. The result is a sound that blends rap-style production with a sound that wouldn’t be out of place on a 1900’s photograph and coats it in hilarious boasting lyrics about stereotypically gentlemanly things like tea, mustache grooming,  and playing cricket.

Chap-hop has bled into another odd subculture, steampunk, and you can find many chap-hop artists like Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer, Poplock Holmes, and Professor Elemental performing at conventions.

3 Bizarre But Interesting Music Genres

Those of you who follow my #MusicMonday posts on Facebook and Twitter will know that I’m always on the lookout for new music while rediscovering old favorites.

Recently, with the help of Sam Sutherland of the entertaining and informative This Exists, I’ve found several genres that, while I’m still somewhat unfamiliar with, I’m eager to learn more about and find more of. What’s more, I’d like to share them with you.

Vaporwave

Taking it’s name from the term Vaporware, Vaporwave is an oddly soothing genre of music born from other odd genres like Seapunk and Plunderphonics in that it is mostly constructed from samples of other audio clips to create an almost unrecognizable and unique audio track.

Most music videos attached to Vaporwave tend to be collages of clips of commercials and T.V. shows from the 80’s and 90’s. This is appropriate given the genres ideology.

These images combined with it’s similarity to New Age, Smooth Jazz, and Muzak in tone cause the songs to become a parody of hyper-consumerist society as they are non-commercial music that draws inspiration from some of the most commercially driven imagery and sound.

In short, Vaporwave is the witter, more subtle, New Age version of Anarcho-Punk.

I’m always excited to learn more about politically charged art and I hope to find more examples of great Vaporwave.

SoundClown

Users of SoundCloud might have accidentally stumbled across these while looking for that new experimental Trap beat they heard so much about.

While not music in the traditional sense, SoundClown or Weird SoundCloud are short audio tracks usually under a minute long made purely for comedic purposes; usually highlighting how silly certain aspects of pop culture are in a unique way.

In addition to being simple, humorous, and not taking up to much valuable head space after listening, SoundClown also acts as a sort of internet comedy time capsule – blending together various examples of silliness into something short and easy to digest. This makes it perfect for cataloging pop culture in a humorous way, as well as providing a quick emotional pick-me-up during times when you may feel blue.

I’m not sure that it’s art, but I do know that I like it. And that’s good enough for me.

Black MIDI

No, that’s not Black Metal’s digital cousin.

For the uninitiated, MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is popular format that makes most forms of electronic music possible. It allows multiple instruments to be played from a single controller and is the preferred format for samplers, synthesizers, and drum machines.

Now imagine if a MIDI chip tune didn’t just play a few notes, but played ALL THE NOTES.

Black MIDI’s get their name from the fact that, when translated to sheet music, the sheet seems to turn black with notes. If you ever wondered if someone ever wrote a song to be intentionally impossible to play with human hands just to drive perfectionist musicians insane, know you know.

The hard part isn’t finding samples of these bewilderingly complex songs so much as finding a computer that can handle them. Many of the files for these song are huge and contain note counts in the several billions.

If you dare to challenge your computer with these songs, keep a fire extinguisher on hand. Your processor may burst into flame as it barfs concentrated sound at you.