Your Take: Musical Influences on Country Music
In her review of Eli Young Band’s new single “Radio Waves,” Juli noted the song has a considerable resemblance to the tunes of ‘90s rock band Gin Blossoms. I also found a similar influence on Darius Rucker’s “Alright,” which contained some of the sounds of ‘90s pop-rock band Sister Hazel.
This trend comes on the heels of the recent bubblegum pop influence on country music, which reader Jon noticed in the comments of Juli’s review. Here is his response to a previous comment by J.R. Journey, in italics:
“[I]’ve slowly come to appreciate the EYB as the anti-Flatts. Their melodies and lyrics, while equally catchy and aimed at the same demographic, convey a coolness and aplomb that all the Rascal Flatts power ballads are lacking.
This comment, along with others and the tenor of the review itself, confirms an observation I made some time ago (and which has been fortified on innumerable occasions since) – namely, that arguments about what is or isn’t country often are displaced arguments about tastes in the different kinds of musics that influence country. Alternative rock influences are cool, so they don’t prompt “that’s not country” rants; pop influences aren’t, so they do. But of course, from the perspective of a knowledgeable country music fan, they’re all just influences that bring new materials and ways of doing things into what’s always been a broad genre, and hence they’re fungible. As a country fan, why should I prefer country music that’s been influenced by Semisonic or the Gin Blossoms to music that’s been influenced by Britney Spears? And why should I consider it less “non-country?”
What do you make of Jon’s observation–do different influences from other musical genres (pop, rock, bluegrass, hip-hop) make a song more or less country? Is this a matter of personal taste, groupthink mentality or just a cyclical commercial influence?
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