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Country music is one of the most diverse changing genres in music that we have today. Some songs can take you on a beautiful story with a happy ending and some can make you feel heart broken and down in the dumps. Both can be great songs, and deliver powerful messages, but can be done in very different ways. Today, the country music that I know and love can either be a good ole laid back mellow song with nothing but an acoustic guitar, or have an entire band rocking out the whole song like songs that are very commonly associated with an artist like Jason Aldean, Luke Bryant, and Brad Paisley. So if country music is such a flexible genre, how it become like this. Back when country music started, it was only done one way for many years and then everything changed. How did an artist like Taylor Swift get associated into country music when critics and avid listeners say that she could just as easily be in the pop singer genre? There is a very big difference in the style of music that a Jason Aldean would play and the style of country that Taylor Swift sings so how did these two very different artists become associated within the same genre?
The earliest forms of country music can be traced back to recordings of Southern Appalachian fiddle players made in the late 1910’s. It wasn’t until a decade later, though, that country music was sought as an actually genre. Eck Robertson was credited with the first commercial country recording in 1922. From there it expanded. Jimmie Rodgers, also known as the “Father of Country Music,” was a national success. Even years after Eck Robertson and Jimmie Rodgers were gone country music basically stayed the same. Not until the 1950s came the Nashville country evolution, and still at this time, country music still carried its original sound of the twang from the fiddle we still here in some songs today. Country music is a special form of music because no matter what goes on in my life, there is always a good country song that I can relate to and that will instantly make me feel better about the situation. You can either feel so much better about a situation if you’re happy, or feel even madder if you’re not having a good day and want to let it all out, in this genre, anything goes.
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Jason Aldean is more of your typical country music artist that can produce different styles of music within the genre. Some of his songs are soft and mellow with strong meanings that tell powerful stories and some are about partying and having a good time with the band going as hard as they can for three to four minutes. The biggest difference that I have noticed between the two artists is their tempos and overall feelings in the beats of their songs. Taylor Swift usually has a more up tempo pop beat with little band work and mostly consists of a guitar and an electrically produced beat. Now for the most part, you have to have a certain type of voice to be a male country music artist, but when it comes to women, it can greatly vary. A male country music artist generally has a deeper or “nasally” voice with a stronger country accent. This is how we do it out here. (“Anyone from the heartland is gonna understand what I’m talkin’ about right now,” he sings in “Take a Little Ride.”) Even at his most powerful, singing hard in his nasal voice — it’s got impact but not much traction, that voice — Mr. Aldean seems to be standing in for larger societal forces, usually involving quitting time and beer (New York Times, Ben Ratliff). But a female artist like Taylor Swift doesn’t really have a southern accent at all, she just sings with her typical voice and people love it. “Swift's music contains elements of pop, pop rock, country and country-pop. She self-identifies as a country artist. Rolling Stone asserts that, "she might get played on the country station, but she's one of the few genuine rock stars we've got these days"(Wiki). In some cases, critics and fans seem to blend the two together and believe that they are starting to become the same thing as much as many people and myself don’t agree with them, other parties feel very strongly about this. As said by Quora, in the article, how do you differentiate between a country song and a pop song just by listening to it? They state “That being said, differentiating between genres using instrumentations are not enough; modern Country and modern folk songs use synthesizers, electronic augmentations on their music and vocals, as do many pop songs”. What I don’t agree with is that pop is its own genre for a reason, even though you can say that at times, genres can overlap, which often times they do need to be separated enough where we shouldn’t label a pop singer who likes to sing and write more country related songs, a pop-country singer. Even in most cases on the radio you will hear songs that are not considered to be in the genre for that radio station because all it takes is a little twist to a song like how Taylor Swift has added a country twist to her pop songs, to be picked up and accepted by the country community. As explained further in the article, All Music talks about the transitions of genres and the merging of styles between artists “A simpler country-pop sound, which more closely resembled pop/rock with country trappings, also made inroads on non-country radio during the decade, thanks in part to country-rock fusion (All Music).
Taylor Swift has made leaps and bounds in the country music world, she has created a huge wave of new fans for country music and for that I’m sure that country music as a community appreciates what she has don’t for the business. Pop and country music are two totally sounding styles of music but at times can be blended together to make hits. That’s what’s great about music though is that anything is possible, no matter what genre you belong to you can always bend it and tweak it a little whenever you want, that’s what makes it fun for the artist that we listen to now and that why I love music so much.
Caramanica, Ben Ratliff And Jon. "NEW MUSIC; Releases by Jason Aldean, Sky Ferreira and Godspeed You! Black Emperor." The New York Times. The New York Times, 16 Oct. 2012. Web. 07 Dec. 2012.
"Taylor Swift." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 July 2012. Web. 07 Dec. 2012.
“About Country Pop” All Music