Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Future of Music

There is no such thing as country music.  Thinking about that today when I was listening to my Pandora Contemporary Folk Radio.  Contemporary Folk was the genre, and I was listening to Pandora.  Folk encompasses a lot, but a good portion of it just seems to be Country songs that were less successful.  What offends me about that a little is that I don’t consider myself a fan of country.  I like songs that are folksy, but mostly rock (in verb form here).
There must be such thing as country singers, though, right?  I would have to agree, but that being said, none of them sing country music.  Sure there are Country stations, too.  But now that I’ve thought about what it was that bugs me about country music, it’s that it really has no identity as a genre.  Pop music, admittedly, does not even seem to have one identity, either, but it is what it is because it’s what’s the most popular: hence the name.  Country singers can be from any number of different genres, (but mostly rock or pop, I would say) except that they have a Southern accent and wear cowboy hats.  And blue jeans with holes. Obviously what they sing about follows the type of people they are.
In fact the only things that separate from Rascal Flatts from Kings of Leon are the beards and the attitudes.  I saw a billboard of them recently, and they don’t even wear cowboy hats.  So they are a rock group that sings specifically to white people from the South and the rural Midwest.  Think: SEC Country plus Big XII Country.  Which apparently no longer includes Nebraska.  It’s a good thing Taylor Swift got out of this genre while she could.  Now she does what my sister calls Weird Pop.  Basically, she just got herself a better marketing team.  Props.
And it’s not just Country that I have a problem with either. There just doesn’t seem to be anything called Rock anymore.  It’s all alternative.  All of it.  Anyone who plays anything that you could consider, in past days, Rock and Roll, is now alt rock.  With Lowercases.  My problem with this is the phraseology makes it sound more fringe than it actually is.  The Foo Fighters will call themselves Alt Rock, but they are very much mainstream.  Genres in and of themselves are just over-rated.  You shouldn’t have to proclaim what genre you are in order to have your fans like you.  It not only puts the artists into a box, but same for the people themselves.  I remember when I first heard about people calling themselves Emo as a characteristic.  That’s the genre of their life.  Of course, when your life has a genre, you have to be true to that genre.  Like if you’re Country. 
My boy Mason Jennings has released about eight albums, and I think five different genres appear next to those on iTunes.  That’s because he doesn’t have a genre and neither do I.  Basically, I go on Pandora and type in the artist I like and then they give me a bunch of songs I would probably like.  Pandora is going to save the world from the restrictions of genres.  I know, you can choose by genre, too, but each one is broken down so thoroughly that you can pick the one or two you like and then Quick-mix them.  Or you just choose a band that is so unique that pretty much the only songs Pandora can find which are like them are songs by them.  The band? Carbon Leaf.

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