Why You Hate Modern Country

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.

The whole thing is great though, so go read it. Dispatch 1 is good too if you wanna catch up.

8 thoughts on “Why You Hate Modern Country”

  1. agreed. this is why you should listen to me. i’m boog.

    if you want to hear a real country song–a hank country song, a cash country song, a patsy country song, a willie nelson country song–then please follow my link, and listen to ‘chelsey hotel #22.’

    breakdown of why it’s a good country song.

    1. it’s ambiguous enough.

    2. it’s ironic and packs a punch at the end and ties me in knots every time i sing it.

    3. it’s IMperfect production values make it real–i made it with what i have: my pipes, a $25 guitar, and a four-track.

    4. i’m from philly and i sing like me. i don’t try to sound like i’m from the south.

    5. taylor swift went to high school in my hometown (pottstown, pa), and she’s cute. that’s all i have on that.

    6. i wrote it. the title is inspired by ‘chelsea hotel #2’ from leonard cohen, but that song is 100% boog, and i don’t think it sounds like anything out there. i live my music and it lives me every day. i network like a crazy mother every single day, handing out buttons and slips of paper at temple u, adding on facebook, myspace, whatever.

    so, how about you listen to my real country song and write a little something about someone working hard to put himself on the radar?



  2. Modern Country is also different from classic country in that it is generally directed at a female audience and has moved more and more that way each year. 5 years ago some songs came out that guys could like– “Redneck Woman” by Gretchen Wilson and “Save A Horse Ride A Cowboy” by Big and Rich. But now they’ve sold themselves to the devil with Taylor Swift. Their target audience is female and young where handsome guys like Keith Urban and Dierks Bentley have taken the place of the fading Tim NcGraw and the broken up Brooks and Dunn. Guys may still listen to new country cuz they’re sick of classic rock or joping to hear Montgomery Gentry.But it’s chick music. Deal with it. Chicks are active consumers. Nobody asks a 42 year old male auto mechanic why he he doesn’t like Dancing With The Stars. Modern Country is for housewives and little girls.

  3. Modern country is over-produced, corporate rock with a slight twang. Period.

    But if I had a gun to my head and had to listen to either Taylor Swift or some Lady Gaga-type nonsense that’s supposed to be cool, I’d choose the former without a doubt.

  4. Kiko–I assume yer a guy. Glonoid males are fond of saying they like Taylor Swift cuz her songs do have some hooks. But if you were a guy who liked all kinds of country and listened to commerial radio I think she would wear on you pretty fast if you had to hear “You Belong To Me” 3 times between 9 and 5. Once in a while I’ll turn on the Lady GaGa station and say “Wow! Yhe production and hooks on “Waking Up In Vegas” are pretty strong. But I don’t stay tuned. Cuz it ain’t for me.It’s for females 18-34.

    And Boog I’m hesitant to just hit links here. But I’ll try to check out yer stuff.

  5. Stacey Earle tells a great story on the live album she and husband Mark Stuart recorded a few years ago. “I’d play my songs for them, and they’d say,

    “we like it, but what do we do with it?”. In other words, we don’t know how to make tons of money off of you, so get lost. Stacey’s songs are every bit as good as her more well known sibling, and Mark can play circles around any guitar player you know. They represent what country ought to be, and sooner or later they’ll pass through your neck of the woods. Check ’em out.

Leave a Reply