In the second installment of McSweeney’s Dispatches From a Guy Trying Unsuccessfully to Sell a Song In Nashville, Charlie Hopper succinctly breaks down the Six Things that prevent people like us from “Enjoying A Well-Crafted Modern Country Song.”
1. It isn’t ambiguous.
2. Its unironic sentimentality is unsubtle.
3. Its perfect production values are at odds with its pretense of simplicity and down-homeness (as opposed to, say, the perfect production values of a really fun hip-hop or pop song that somehow express opulence or exuberance).
4. The singer is not trying to soften his or her Southern accent and might be playing it up, which is an issue for you, because it causes you to assume the singer has conservative views, which perhaps you do not share. Those views (or their corollary, an unwarranted display of defiance) may, in fact, be the subject of the song, or the song promised by the DJ to be coming up after a commercial break.
5. Your friends would bully you if they knew you could sing along with Taylor Swift, so you resist any situation in which you might even accidentally risk exposure.
6. Knowing that some large number of modern Nashville acts sing songs they haven’t written themselves, you see it all as “product,” something for sale, and that vaguely offends you.
Nail. Head. Guilty on all charges.