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Modern Country Music Lyrics still retain the art of storytelling

Country music lyrics are blasting on urban music stations as younger American trying to escape the emergence of bad pop and even awful pop music turn to this stable genre. Country music is currently gaining on rock as the second most popular music format on American radio stations. It is right behind hip hop in terms of people’s ability to identify a feel, a demographic, and a sense of rebellion when they hear the lyrics on many songs.

If you look back into early to mid 90’s it seemed that country music was on the decline. In fact, if you look at some of the popular hits from Shania Twain and even “I will always love you” by Whitney Houston, country music lyrics could only be heard by crossover pop artists. I’m sure that many in the industry thought this would be the end of great commercial successes for modern country artists.

Fortunately, the Nashville establishment held on to their traditions and developed a new set of country artists that would appeal to young urban listeners.

So why didn’t they stray and turn country music into a subgenre of crappy pop?

The answer lies in the lessons of the 1980’s. Country music went through a moment as the “it music” during the early to mid 1980’s with detrimental results. There were more stars, doing more tours and making more money than ever before, but the most popular country music lyrics at the time did not reflect the geographic sensibilities of the south.

They became caricatures selling urbanites on the exotic possibilities of redneck culture and vain beauty queens.

The Nashville gatekeepers learned a very painful lesson.

Pop culture mangles, destroys, and makes fun of anything that comes in its path. They learned that:

1. You can still get country music lyrics played on urban radios, but you will need your own radio networks

2. You can compete with pop by developing younger artists like Sarah Evans and Faith Hill who can present a pop image with solid country music lyrics on their albums.

So where does this lead modern country?
Still on the forefront, experimenting with country-rock, and Rhythm and blues collaborations.

It certainly is a good time for country music and an even better time for country music fans.

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Syd Johnson
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Syd Johnson