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I really do not care how the Billboard, or anybody else, classifies genres of music anymore. I mean that in all senses: it is both irrelevant to my life, and I do not think we should be upset by Sam Hunt — and, until recently, Taylor Swift — being considered a country music artist. I recently saw a very boring article arguing that Hunt’s latest album is the final straw in a series of injustices toward the “country music” label, and it all felt like a completely unnecessary defense of the sanctimonious notion that there is pop and country music and the two things must be categorically separated from one another. Similar Nashville-hating occurred on the most recent episode of “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” as Austin legend, Dale Watson, discussed the reasons he no longer identifies with “country,” and has invented a new genre that he calls “Ameripolitan,” as though anybody but him cares.

This clinging to yesteryear reminds me of people being reluctant to accept the changing connotations and definitions of words — be it “sick,” “chill,” “irony,” or “word” itself. Can we not just agree that things change over time, and that it is completely useless preaching oppositional opinions? What is the goal of such contrarianism, anyway?

Here is the aforementioned article’s hottest take, the final paragraph:

“Sam Hunt and Montavello symbolize nothing less than a dangerous, bordering on cataclysmic paradigm for country music where the genre could lose its identity long-term, rendering its autonomy and the entire meaning of “country” inert. Nice guy and good songs or not, Sam Hunt isn’t stretching the “Country” term, he is a downright attacking it, and represents a fulfillment of the mono-genre that should be roundly rejected by country music or face potentially dire long-term consequences.”

If this guy actually believes Sam Hunt’s album might be the straw that broke the camel’s back, he has been in a coma for twenty-five years. But I will grant him this: it has been a long, slow progression that has taken off in the last decade, and in particular, the last couple of years. And Sam Hunt’s album, Montevello, really is something new, altogether.

It has been waiting to happen, we should not be surprised, but Hunt has basically brought country-themed R&B to new heights, unapologetically talking and singing auto-tuned lyrics over electronically conceived beats as though he were the white Usher. Seriously, check out this song, “Breaking Up In A Small Town”:

There is something particularly damning about the auto-tuned, modulated monologues he presents during the verses that are hysterically out of place for a song on the “country charts.” But hey, the country charts have been populated by music closely related to this for years now. As ridiculous as it might be, it is the natural evolution of a musical genre, and there aint no going back now.

If you are not on board, go ahead and listen to the country you would like to listen to. But please, do not complain about something as insignificant as the way people choose to classify music in order to commercially define success. You are wasting all of our time — time that could be spent tapping your foot to the “country music” you enjoy.

Happy Country Friday.

 

(Shoutout to Tyler P. for pointing out this jam to me). 

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