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Friday, January 09, 2015

Finding a Little Bit O' Country in a Heart of Rock 'N Roll

How many of you out there have social media accounts out there?  I know I have a couple that I use.  In fact, if you look on the right hand side of this blog, there are listings for the official "A POP CULTURE ADDICT'S GUIDE TO LIFE" pages on both Twitter and Facebook.  Definitely check those pages out if you like.

Well, this post was somewhat inspired by something that happened on one of my social media pages.

You see, many of my connections on social media (well, more than 50% of them anyway) are local people from my hometown or its surrounding areas.  And one perk to having so many local connections is that you literally get to know what is happening in or around your community seconds after it happens.

Now, granted, sometimes that can be a good thing, and sometimes it can be a very, very bad thing.  In this case, we'll go with good thing.

So, according to what people have been posting on their own walls (which in turn appears on my own news feed), country singer Luke Bryan is coming to Ottawa (which is located fairly close to where I live).  And, there are three types of status updates that I am seeing a lot of in the wake of the upcoming Luke Bryan concert.

1.  People have already gotten tickets.
2.  People are going to get tickets.
3.  People are pissed off that they can't get tickets.

Now, as for my own feelings on the Luke Bryan concert, I would consider myself someone who doesn't really care if he got tickets or not.  I can't really consider myself much of a country music fan.  I grew up listening to rock and roll, pop, rhythm & blues, Motown, even the occasional hip hop song.  If anything, I listened to everything other than country to rebel against my family as a teenager!

(I grew up in a family of country music loving folk.)

Even now, you'll find that if you look at the track listing of my iPod, 97% of the songs on it are non-country.

Of course, you're probably wondering something.  I claim to not have much love for country music, but yet only 97% of my iPod reflects that.

Well, I'll be the first one to admit that over the last couple of years, I have started taking a liking to a few country songs.  And over the last couple of weeks, I've been adding a couple of country songs onto my playlists.  I don't see myself completely converting into a country music loving fool who swings my partner round and round, and do-si-do her to the ground...

Wait.  That's square dancing.  Nevermind.

The point is that while I will always be a rock and roll person by heart, I can allow a little bit of room for country music every now and then.  Truth is, some of the stuff coming out of Nashville now is really good.  The songs are upbeat (sometimes), pleasant, and most important have a message that everyone can understand and doesn't resort to repeating the same word over and over again while they show off just how firm and round their buttocks are.

(I'm looking at you J. Lo.)

Now, I will admit that most of these songs come from the "New Country" era, which began sometime in the mid 1990s.  I don't think I could ever get into the twangy old school country, even though I will say that George Jones, Tammy Wynette, and Merle Haggard are among some of the legends of country music. 

But I don't mind sharing some of my favourites with all of you.  In fact, why don't we start with the person who kicked off this blog.  Mr. Luke Bryan himself!

Do I - Luke Bryan
Released:  May 2009

Ah, now this could be considered a loose collaboration with country group Lady Antebellum, as Hillary Scott sings background vocals, and Bryan co-wrote this song with Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley.  Anyway, I know that Luke Bryan is most known for singing songs that have a lot of energy and movement to them (See "Rain is a Good Thing", "Country Girl (Shake it For Me)", and "That's My Kind of Night"), but I kind of like Luke Bryan's ballads more.  This one is particularly good because the song is about two people in a relationship who question whether they should stay together or call it quits.  And, hey, he delivers the lyrics in such a way that you can believe his frustration over making that choice.

So Small - Carrie Underwood
Released:  August 2007

One could argue that out of all the winners of "American Idol", Carrie Underwood is one of two who proved that the formula could work (the other is Kelly Clarkson).  Since winning the fourth season of the reality talent competition, she has definitely made her mark on the country music industry, and I certainly consider myself to be a fan.

But of all the songs that she sings, I would probably have to go with this one as being my all-time favourite.  Sure, all the songs she sings about cowboy casanovas and taking a Louisville Slugger to a pair of headlights are fine, but this one provides real meaning.  It is essentially a song that puts everything into perspective and makes us sit back and not sweat the small stuff.  A good message for the new year, I'd say.

Cruise - Florida Georgia Line
Released:  August 2012

Is it overplayed on country radio?  Probably.  Do I care in the slightest that I enjoy this one?  Nope, not really.

And certainly this single by "Florida Georgia Line" (made up of the duo of Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley) burned up the country charts the minute it was released.  It hit the #1 spot on the charts in December 2012.  As of 2014, "Cruise" is the best-selling country digital single of all-time in the United States.  It not only topped the country charts, but peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2013.  And a second version of the song was released with Nelly joining in for the fun.

So, what makes this song so popular?  Well, just listen to it!  I dare you to go ten seconds without getting into the beat of this infectious single!  Go on.  I dare you.

Stay - Sugarland
Released:  September 2007

I have a confession to make.  I absolutely love Jennifer Nettles voice.  It's very unique, but that's what makes it so great.  You can easily tell her apart from the sea of country music vocalists out there.

Did you know that this song was also the first Sugarland song that was written solely by Nettles?  Usually the songwriting process involved both Nettles and Kristian Bush.

In this case, Nettles proved she had the magic touch, as it became a #2 hit on the charts, and became the group's unofficial signature song.

The song itself is quite good, if not heartbreaking.  It touches upon the subject of infidelity...a common theme for country music.

Why Haven't I Heard From You - Reba McEntire
Released:  April 1994

For my final song choice today, I thought that I would choose a song by someone who has been in the country music industry for almost 40 years!  Reba McEntire certainly has been through a lot in those four decades.  She released several albums, filmed a television sitcom, and tragically lost her entire band in a plane crash.  But through it all, Reba has persevered and has officially become one of the modern day Queens of Country Music.

So, to close this blog off, I thought I would post a song that is considered a modern day classic country hit.  And, I admit...I enjoy this one just for the music video alone!

So, there you have it.  Five songs that I currently have on my iPod.  There are others, I'm sure.  I just went with five.

Hey, I figure a little country music in all our lives is fine.  

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