When I moved across the country from Vancouver to Kingston, Ontario, I was warned of two things: the winters and country music. While it’s only October 19 and I could already use a window scraper, there has been no sudden epiphany as to the level of saturation modern country music has in my new city. It’s goddamn everywhere.
Here are the fundamental problems I have with this genre and several ways to appease me, someone who listens to country music thrice weekly for ten minute intervals* exclusively while driving in automobiles.
1. Bitches ain’t shit but hoes and tricks.
If country music were an employee of mine**, I would provide the following compliment sandwich:
“Some of the musicianship the artists in your genre display is very impressive. However, a lot of your lyrics paint woman as objects, props even to your mosaic of idealistic country life that seems to be bookended by a celebration of working long hours for shitty pay and potluck Sunday dinners, as if either of those things were unique to your way of life. The pretty girl described with the always unspecific yet positive qualities of being “country”- the most common archetype I’ve come across in my limited knowledge of the genre- is, to me, akin to the silent ass-shaking back-up dancer of mid 1990s rap videos. It’s lazy writing and I have to wonder if it alienates a good portion of your audience. Did I mention how much I appreciate the skill and talent your rhythm section displays?”
2. 50 Cent and Tim McGraw did exactly the same thing today.
I don’t like pandering. If I learned anything at film school it’s to respect your audience***. Not to single out Tim McGraw- his is the first name that comes to mind when I think of country music and I have no idea why****- but the common trope of the hard-working country musician cracking his first beer after a 12 hour day of doing some kind of manual labor, leaning back on the tailgate of his pick-up truck is just goddamn offensive. I totally get it: the target audience is dudes who work 12 hour days doing some kind of manual labor, and ideally they’re blasting your song while sitting on the tailgate of a pick-up truck. But let’s be real here: 50 Cent can yap about cocking triggers, lighting the block up iller than Times Square, but we know he’s a millionaire who spent his morning arguing with his gardener about how much fertilizer to use on the south lawn. Are you really tilling fields and baling hay while you slum it in a five bedroom apartment in outer Nashville? At a certain point, these artists reach an echelon of wealth in which you simply cannot continue to go back to the same well. You might like the taste of the water, you may know how to draw from it, but at the end of the day, you’ve got the proverbial fridge full of Dasani next to a pile of money and the Elephant Man’s bones. If that analogy doesn’t float, try this one: It would be like winning the lottery and then immediately complaining about a parking ticket. Maybe write about something different instead of pandering to the working class. At the very least, don’t be so up front about it. If my favorite band wrote a song about dicking around on the computer all day, being opinionated on the things they read and how tough that life is, I’d be like “Okay, fuck off guys. I do that and it’s not so bad, plus you’re rich so even when the world turns to shit cause of a plague or food shortage or something, you’ve probably got underground bunkers somewhere.”
3. The Twang
When I hear that country twang, I wonder if it’s a coincidence that all male country singers sing similarly. I usually ask this out loud, to know one in particular but because she’s usually sitting next to me in the car, my significant other will answer. “They don’t ALL sing that way,” she says. My snarky comment: “Yeah, I guess you’re right. This Jason Aldean fellow has the commanding voice akin to Johnny Cash or Merle Haggard.”*****
Was every single one of them was hit in the neck with a tee-ball around the age of 12? And wouldn’t that just be super weird? Is it something put-on? Why can’t anyone sing- for lack of a better term- normally? With the intention of putting in as little work as possible, I looked up “The Twang” in a effort to learn more about this specific style of singing. Here is what I got:
Twang may also refer to:
- Twang!! a 1965 British musical by Lionel Bart
- The Twang, an indie rock band from Birmingham
- Twang (band), an indie band from Manchester and Preston
- Twang (album), an album by George Strait
- “Twang” (song), this album’s title track
- Twang, a monkey who played bass guitar in the ITV children’s series Animal Kwackers
Now I know what you’re thinking- HOW THE FUCK DID THEY TRAIN A MONKEY TO PLAY BASS GUITAR? Was rhythm guitar too difficult? Is there something with the four strings that makes it easier for the monkey? Did he write any of the songs? Did anyone ever give the monkey cocaine? Does he have any cool tour stories? Where can I buy this album? What’s the headline? Rock & Orangutans: Wave of the future or the way in which the apes take over that we never saw coming?
ANNOTATIONS brought to you by Snickers: HUNGRY? GRAB A SNICKERS.
(PAY FOR IT FIRST-THAT SHOULD GO WITHOUT SAYING- BUT THEN GRAB A SNICKERS MOTHERFUCKER)
* Because I have an extremely understanding girlfriend who loves me as much or only slightly less than country music. She’s pretty empathetic and understands my basic criticism with the genre.
** Don’t worry, I am not professionally responsible for anyone’s personal well-being or career development
*** And save your money. And don’t pitch good jokes to assholes. And network. And work hard. And drink in moderation.
**** Probably because the second name that comes to mind is Toby Keith and I try to forget that walking shit-stack exists.
***** Here’s the rest of that conversation:
“Really, you think Jason Aldean sounds like Johnny Cash?”
“Yeah, if Johnny Cash was a pussy who cried all day.”