I am so happy to finally see the cultural shift that has put country music back in the mainstream category. While some die hard “old country” fans (think: George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Patsy Cline, etc) complain that new country is to “pop-y” and isn’t truly country, I think it is a great transformation of the genre.
Think about it… 10 years ago, if someone asked you what kind of music you listen to, you’d likely have one definitive answer: country, rock, rap, etc. However, ask somebody this question today and 99% of the time, you’ll get an answer along the lines of “I listen to a little bit of everything.” This is great for our culture… it adds a little “Kumbayah” unity among us all no matter our background or style.
This is, of course, partly attributable to the increase in individual song selections from places like iTunes, where you no longer have to buy an entire album and commit to listen to the whole thing (since you did pay $20 for it after all). Now, you can check out tunes from other genres and for $1.29, why not jam out to some song that you otherwise would not have found on your usual radio station?
Of course, the shift country musicians have made is the biggest factor. Spearheading the path toward pop, singers like Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood have added a new energy to their music. Musicians like Jason Aldean and Big & Rich have introduced rap to the country music scene. And my personal favorite (responsible for converting my “classic rock only” husband and “80’s/90’s only” brother) is Zac Brown Band who has meshed bluegrass, classic rock, ballads, country, pop and more into one beautiful conglomeration that leaves me unable to find a single person who doesn’t enjoy at least one ZBB tune.
The old stigma around country music of lyrics like “my dog just died and my wife is in the pen’, so I’ll go to the saloon and drink ‘till she’s pretty” are typically a thing of the past and have even been mocked by country music stars like Rascal Flatts (re: [When You Play A Country Song] “Backwards”). Of course, there are still sad songs and goofy songs in country, but when you put it up to some mainstream tunes, like “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore and “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen, I think country has finally gotten the upper hand in the lyrics department, so it has finally earned some long overdue respect.
How does this have anything to do with line dancing? Well, duh…. Line dancing in America started out as “country western line dancing” done to “country western” music. Well, lucky for us, as country western became just country and now has become this morphed form of upbeat tunes, line dancing has picked up the pace from very stiff and low impact moves to a high energy, high cardio, multi-faceted dance form that would make your aerobics instructor proud. Previous articles about the caloric benefits of line dancing had it burning about 115-150 calories/hour. In January, I wore a calorie counter for a few weeks to test this theory and found that we were burning more than 400 calories/hour! If country music hadn’t picked up the tempo, we likely would not have picked up our pace and seen such a health (and fun) benefit. It has made line dancing become a very popular dance form again!
We now line dance to all kinds of tunes from pop, rap and rock, but our heart is in country and thankfully country music is adapting to our new found appreciation for other genres. So kudos to country music execs, artists and proprietors such as iTunes for growing with us and expanding our horizons!