Inauthentic Country Music Is Driving Me “Redneck Crazy”
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Inauthentic Country Music Is Driving Me “Redneck Crazy”

Bro country and revenge country leave something to be desired.

Inauthentic Country Music Is Driving Me “Redneck Crazy”
CMS Nashville

I was driving down the road in my Chevy with my radio turned up too loud when a new song came on the radio. I hear a duo of female voices I am unfamiliar with quoting lyrics I am very familiar with. Maddy and Tae, the DJ calls them, are calling out country music’s top artists on their misogyny: “’Cause I got a name, and to you it ain’t ‘pretty little thing,’ honey’ or ‘baby;’” “’shakin’ my moneymaker ain’t ever made me a dime, and there ain’t no sugar for you in this shaker of mine,’” “These days it ain’t easy being that girl in a country song.’”

As I am driving down the road, the song ends, and the next song (one that Maddy and Tae just pointed out as ridiculous) comes on the radio. Driving down some old back road, with the radio turned up too loud, I stop.I listen to what exactly it is that I am listening to – as if I am hearing the lyrics I know by heart for the first time – and suddenly, I am disappointed with some of my favorite songs.

Country music has somehow morphed from Willie Nelson singing about “Good Hearted Women” who are “Always on [his] Mind” and Conway Twitty saying “Hello Darlin’” to his old love and wishing her all the best, into what seems to be a gang of country playboys demanding that tan-legged girls in cut-off shorts and painted-on jeans shake their “sugar shakers,” “money makers” and “honkey tonk badonkadonks” in the beds of trucks all across the Bible Belt.

Those who made country what it is did what Mark Twain advocated – writing what they knew. Song lyrics that told stories about the conservative, home-grown trifecta: God, home and country. Though what we know as country music has been around for more than a century, this trifecta has remained unchanged. Until recently.

Gone are the days when country music stayed true to its roots.

Early this century, “bro country,” appeared on the country music scene in a major way. Artists like Luke Bryan made it big with songs like “Country Girl (Shake It for Me).”

After these songs topped the charts, a new generation of bro country rockers came out of the barn with songs about stalking ex-girlfriends (“Redneck Crazy," Tyler Farr), hoping women would feel vulnerable enough for a one-night stand (“Hope You Get Lonely Tonight,” Cole Swindell,) and songs that painted women as sugar-shaking, money-making objects.

“We hate to see her go but love to watch her leave with that honky tonk badonkadonk.”

Men aren’t the only culprits when it comes to the disregard for country tradition. Though female artists are far less likely to sing songs that call for booty-shakin’ and one-night stands, their lyrical fantasies more often call for domestic violence and vandalism. Dubbed, “Revenge Country” by the populous, songs by women that top the charts are, more often than not, songs sung from the perspective of a country woman scorned about the way she will get back at the man who has done her wrong.

Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats” spent 64 consecutive weeks on the Billboard Top 100, putting it third in the longest-charting singles in Billboard history. The lyrics tell of a woman who vandalizes her (ex)boyfriend’s truck because he cheated on her. Other songs by Underwood such as “Two Black Cadillacs” and “Church Bells” have stories of women murdering their husbands for having cheating or abuse. And while Underwood’s songs are the ones constantly topping the charts, the Dixie Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl,” and Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder and Lead,” also glorify premeditated murder as revenge.

“I might have saved a little trouble for the next girl, ‘cause the next time that he cheats, oh, you know it won’t be on me.”

These lyrics may be catchy, and even easily identified with by women who have had less than stellar boyfriends in the past – but they are also violent, and completely out of line with the message country artists cultivated for years.

These songs may well be attempts to sing about “woman power” in response to Luke’s demand for country girls to “shake it” for him. However, other artists have shown it is, in fact, possible to promote girl power, top the charts and leave violence and vandalism out of it. Shania Twain – who actually experienced very public abuse and infidelity – instead chose to sing about how good it is to be a woman in her “Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” that she is unimpressed by some men’s behavior in “That Don’t Impress Me Much” and how there is far more to women than just their looks with “She’s Not Just a Pretty Face.”

Not every artist and not every song is guilty – Bryan sings about loss in “Drink A Beer,” Aldean details the hardships of making a living by farming in “Amarillo Sky” and Florida Georgia Line sings about true love, family and God in “God, Your Momma, and Me.”Underwood sings about taking a “Louisville Slugger to both headlines,” on the same album she begs that “Jesus take the wheel.” Many of Underwood’s songs have religious undertones that are right in line with the “traditional” country music. The Dixie Chicks’ “Travelin’ Soldier” talks seriously about the ongoing impact of the Vietnam War. Lambert’s “The House That Built Me” connects home and family and the struggles of growing up, while her “Heart Like Mine” examines the struggles of having a relationship with God intertwined with the expectations of how a lady should behave.

“One Friday night at a football game The Lord’s Prayer said and the anthem sang, a man said folks would you bow your head For the list of local Vietnam dead.”

Much of today’s country music is in-line not with the values of old, but with Tom Petty’s description of being “bad rock with a fiddle.” And though these songs are catchy and fun to listen to, so were the songs that once topped the charts without glorifying party lifestyles and misogyny.

As Maddy and Tae noted: “Conway and George Strait never did it this way.”

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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