February 10, 2021
Despite being the third most popular genre in the United States, country music has always been on the receiving end of prevalent, negative stigma that has negatively affected the reception of the style. Country music has been around since the early 20th century and it is said to have originated in the rural south of the United States. Why? What has caused country music to be underappreciated by the general public?
One reason is that the style is simply misunderstood. There are a lot of stereotypes surrounding the style that have contributed to this conflation. Such stereotypes include that country music songs speak only of trucks and women, that the artists all sing with a thick southern twang, and that they all sound the same.
Although these stereotypes may ring true for some songs of the genre, a sizable potion do not fall neatly into any of these categories. Some of these misconceptions are not completely false, but are over-exaggerated. For example, many country artists do have a small twang due to their largely southern roots. However, there is a growing trend in the smaller sub-genre of pop country where artists tend to fake or embellish their accents for musical effect. Therefore, when listening to the classic country, the twang most of the time is not as obviously evident as with pop country and may not even be heard in every song.
However, those who listen to the fast-growing subgenre of country pop might have a distorted sense of what country music as a whole is like, with the accent situation being one example. Many listeners today have only a perverted understanding of what “country” is or means as a portion of it has morphed it made for radio pop songs, creating a false image of the entire genre and contributing to stereotypes.
A second reason for country music’s underappreciation is due to its isolation from other genres of music. Music listeners nowadays are exposed to different genres of music by way of inter-genre collaborations, e.g. a collaboration between a rap star and a pop star. Such collaborations are prevalent. However, country musicians do not engage in as many of those combinations. In comparison to other genres of music such as pop, hip-hop and r&b, country musicians rarely collaborate outside their genre.
This isolation is also felt elsewhere, such as with the case of radio stations. While mainstream stations frequently play rap, pop, and rock music, regardless of their designated genre, they rarely play country music. Country music stations seldom play anything but country because of this isolation. In essence, country songs are rarely featured on non-country stations, which limits outside exposure to the style. Moreover, because of this thirst for country music, country music stations solely play country music, which furthers isolation.
In conclusion, country music is underrated as a genre due to stereotypes and its isolation, which is partly self-imposed by radio stations and artists, from the outside music scene. We here at Junto implore you to try and get in the country scene if you have some extra time!