At the beginning of February, I wrote a post complaining about the lack of diverse viewpoints in country music. While I still think it’s a problem, apparently I didn’t look hard enough for better messages, because since I posted that, several of my friends have messaged me saying, “hey, but have you heard this one?”
I did not do the proper research to back that post up, and for that I apologize. In life and here on the blog, I try to make sure my opinions are backed by some kind of knowledge, and I dropped the ball on the last post. So instead of leaving my unfinished critique of country music behind as a mistake, this is an addendum: yes, country music still has some serious issues. But it is starting to change, and here is the evidence.
Luke Bryan’s “Most People Are Good”
One of the lines goes like this: “I believe you love who you love / Ain’t nothing you should ever be ashamed of.” Considering the fact that country music is often synonymous with the conservative south, this is a nice nod to the LGBTQ+ community and suggests that country fans should practice tolerance of sexual orientation and gender identity regardless of personal beliefs.
Another line: “I believe if you just go by the nightly news / Your faith in all mankind would be the first thing you lose.” Clearly this is a shoutout to the goodness in people and a reminder to seek out the good things that people do.
“Friday nights under neon or stadium lights” — this song still has some distinct country elements, which is great!
The one iffy line: “I believe that youth is spent well on the young / ‘Cause wisdom in your teens would be a lot less fun.” I do think that country artists need to be careful how they present young characters in their songs, because hearing country artists endorse the “wild” life or glorifying youth can be interpreted as an excuse to do stupid things. I’d honestly like to hear more country artists sing about middle-aged and old people, so if you know any songs like that, let me know! But overall this song does have a great message and still stays true to the distinctly country vibe.
Chris Janson’s “Drunk Girl”
The refrain of this song starts with the line “take a drunk girl home.” We’re supposed to assume that means he’s taking her to his own place to rape her, because that is an all too common occurrence. But it’s actually about literally taking a drunk girl home, to her own house, making sure she’s okay, and then leaving her and locking the door so she’ll be safe.
That’s the kind of music we need in today’s world, and especially in country where so many artists sing about sex after drinking. I’m not trying to say that every country song like that blurs the lines, but this is definitely a healthier storyline that needs to be in entertainment media more. Kudos to Chris Janson.
Keith Urban’s “Female”
Just read some of these lines:
“When you hear somebody say somebody hits like a girl / How does that hit you? / Is that such a bad thing?”
“When somebody laughs and implies that she asked for it / Just ’cause she was wearing a skirt / Oh is that how it works?”
“When somebody talks about how it was Adam first / Does that make you second best? / Or did he save the best for last?”
This song is blatantly feminist and I love it. Feminism is not something that is widely embraced in conservative communities, which is the viewpoint that is reflected in most country music. It’s presented in a very positive way in this song, but it never actually uses the word feminism. Because of that I also think it could serve as a stepping point for conservative women who believe in the values offered in the song but are still hesitant to claim the feminist label. It’s a win-win-win all around, and I can’t believe I hadn’t heard it before.
Dierks Bentley’s “Woman, Amen”
This is still a typical country song in that it’s all about the object of the male narrator’s affections. It’s still somewhat of a selfish perspective, but a huge improvement nonetheless, because rather than focusing on her body, he highlights her character. He notices that she is amazing, and because of that, makes the people around her better. It’s a really awesome thing for both male and female country fans to be able to hear songs about loving people for who they are rather than what they look like. This perspective teaches boyfriends to view their girlfriends as whole individuals, and reminds girlfriends that their worth is not all in how they look.
Country music still has issues. (So does every other genre.) It still seriously needs some updating. But, as I missed before, it’s not all bad, and there’s evidence that it’s starting to make some good changes, at least a little bit. Next time, I’ll include the good and the bad within the same discussion.
What are your thoughts on this? I got a lot of comments on the previous country music post agreeing with me — do you still agree? For those of you who listen to country radio, how much do you hear these songs? Are there any other songs I missed?
I’d definitely say I’m not a country music person, it’s just generally not my style. The typical songs about god and objectifying women play a bit part of that so it’s good to know there are some changes taking place withing the genre. Maybe it’s time a take another look at country music, I’ll have to give these songs and artists that you’ve mentioned a listen to.
Keith Urban’s current sound is kind of a cool mix of country and — well, actually, I don’t know what it is, but he might be worth a look!