Friday, May 29, 2015

Country music can be intense, but it's worth the trouble

I've gone through a lot of phases in my life. Living in a society that is changing much more frequently than past decades, growing up in this time comes with a lot of changes. Peer pressure is something that has always been relevant, but think about it. Hipsters: Is it cool to be mainstream, or is it cool to be anti-mainstream? Or, by choosing anti-mainstream, are you less cool than those people who go mainstream because it isn't mainstream any more?

Does the word "mainstream" remind you of trout going upstream, or is that just me?

We are in a highly judgmental society that reaches to our clothing choices, our book choices, or our music choices. I would mock girls reading Twilight even though I had been reading the same book joyously two months prior. Don't get me wrong, Twilight is a pretty bad book as far as its portrayal of a healthy relationship, but that wasn't why I was looking down on the book, you see? I mocked those girls to fit in with a larger group of people, mostly men. 2010 was honestly such a year for girl hate, let me be real. 

But, this is about music, not Twilight. The similarities are few and far between at the surface level, but hold your hats, I have one more relatable analogy for you before we get into the meat and potatoes. 

I used to be a full-on country lover, who "hated" rap. Yes, I mocked Queen Nicki. I laughed along when someone called her "Nicki Mange". 

Had I even heard one of her songs? Nope. 

Then, I started fawning over boys in bow ties and started listening to Arctic Monkeys. Bye-bye, Shania Twain. (I still secretly loved you, but you know. Boys with coffee stains on their shirts who talked in iambic pentameter for some reason. So appealing.)

Then, like three agonizing years later, I woke up.

I really believe I'm not the only one in this; it was a beautiful thing. It is like an entire generation of shamed girls snapped out of it, dumped their frat boy lovers, and admitted they loved Nicki Minaj's pink hair. I, personally, am loving it. And by 'it', I mean the absence of the soul crushing need to impress other people by doing certain things while shunning others and mocking people while I was at it. 
As it is now, I would never in a million years say I hated an entire genre of music. Country, rap, indie, (hell, even techno), they are all such wide categories. Saying you hate rap/country/pop/etc is like saying, "Hello, my name is _____ and I'm a close-minded person" or, in my case, "Hi, my name is ____, and I work way too hard trying to impress that person over there who I've never talked to by listening to music they probably like because I have a hard time asserting myself as a human being who deserves to be respected."

All genres of music have taken their beating, especially rap (hello, racism), pop (hello, sexism), and country (hello, classism). In recent years, I have become a big and open fan of rap (female rappers are, in particular, bomb dot com) and pop. However, something I'm still having trouble opening up about is my liking of country music. Granted, a lot of popular country music now is not very good, and not to mention focuses on overused Old South values to appeal to the white population and Christian values to appeal to, frankly, a lot of people. However, saying that, country is a very diverse genre. Fresh-faced singers like Kacey Musgraves are attempting to change that image that has been building up over the years, and I'm really digging her as a person too. 

Women in country such as Martina McBride, the JaneDear Girls, Dolly Parton, the Dixie Chicks, and Reba McIntire have been such impacting role models on me becoming the person I am today. They sang about empowerment from way back in the 1950's, and I didn't realize how much listening to them as a girl made me more independent, more powerful, and more prideful, especially listening to them again recently. Women don't let other women listen to sexist music, and I'm going to follow that rule now as I lead you down the road of feminist and otherwise positive country music. I loved a lot of these songs a while ago, and I love them now. Granted, 98% of the country music I prefer is made by women, but I've always been that way. I can still appreciate Johnny Cash. 

The playlist I've made I believe features a range of sub genres, because sadly, not everyone loves the Steel Magnolias soundtrack (but they should). Though these are all country tracks, really the only similarity is that I like them. Some I like just the sound of, but some like "Devil Went Down To Georgia" remind me of people I care about very much, and I hope you can appreciate that. I hope you can see how diverse music can be, stop being such a Debbie Downer at parties, and maybe find a country song or two you can jam to. It's got a bad rap and rightfully so, but keep your mind open and you'll be surprised. 



If you would like to read more about country music at its odd, shifting place in society, a southern writer for xoJane did a wonderful article on the subject: http://www.xojane.com/entertainment/best-country-music 

And if I didn't convince you?: 

http://www.xojane.com/entertainment/how-to-convince-your-hipster-friends-to-listen-to-country-music

http://www.xojane.com/entertainment/i-learned-about-strong-independent-women-from-country-music

http://www.xojane.com/entertainment/is-country-music-feminist-i-think-so-how-about-you