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Kentucky Kernel

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The tug-of-war between country music

Illustration by Akhila Nadimpalli

Like others, I grew up on Chris Stapleton, Dolly Parton and some George Strait sprinkled in here and there. With this country music that I grew up listening to I have found a sense of wistfulness and stillness that I cannot seem to find in any other genre of music.

However, I feel as the decades have gone on and as country music has changed, these feelings are no longer present anymore. I feel as if country music no longer sounds like true country at all. Folk tunes are no longer melted together with a soft guitar playing and a soulful voice. Instead, they are now amplified with pop beats and electronic voices.

Some of these voices include Kane Brown, Dan and Shay, and Jordan Davis. Now do not get me wrong, I like these artists very much and appreciate the creativity they exhibit. However, I cannot put them under my definition of country music.

As different human beings we all have our own opinions on music, but my question is, does country music sound the same as it did 10, 20 or 30 years ago? The answer is no it does not. So why doesn’t it sound the same? What caused this shift?

I believe that the main shift to this pop-country music style occurred when artists realized they could gain a bigger audience by catering to both genres — a marketing technique, almost.

On that same note, another shift in country music that I have noticed happening in recent years is certain artists going back to the roots of country music with more of an outlaw country or folk-country sound.

These artists include Tyler Childers, Abby Hamilton and Sturgill Simpson. I sense that they are trying to shift back to that old country style that would fit perfectly in a honky-tonk.

I want the country music back that is melodic and captivating, the kind that is perfect to throw on when you are sitting in a porch swing drinking sweet tea in the summertime.

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