For most music fans it is absolutely clear what type of music they are listening to at any given time whether that be hip hop, pop, adult contemporary, classical, you name it. While some of the musical genres flourishing today might use elements of each other in order to add a dash of flavor, no genre does this so blatantly as country music.

At the Academy of Country Music Awards on April 3rd it was very clear thaan attempt was being made to draw in fans from different musical styles. Artists such as Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum often dance on the line between country and pop and so would help to achieve this goal, but I have to question the inclusion of not only Steven Tyler but also Rihanna.

We should encourage the melding of styles and the collaboration of artists across genres. This creates an environment in which new ideas can flourish and styles can rub off on one another. However, on a night where country is being honored I’m not sure if it is the right time to put a major hip hop/r & b singer up on stage with a country singer. To me this screams “this country singer has to perform because they are popular, but if we put this person with them in their performance then viewers are less likely to change the channel.” I’m in no way a music purist, but in some situations it is appropriate to limit yourself to the musical style in question. The ACAs shouldn’t need Steven Tyler and Rihanna to make people watch. If they do then this may be more of a statement about the relevance of country music today in the mainstream and what has to be done to make it work on a grand stage instead of in rural Alabama. Country music is good, but when the entertainer of the year is a young woman who spends (read: has to spend) most of her time on the radio in two different worlds (pop and country), perhaps “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” isn’t quite cutting it anymore.

I liked country when I was little and I still like to listen to is occasionally today. This is not a statement about whether or not the music is “good,” which is a different discussion entirely. All I mean to say is that country music’s influence on America may be waning to the point where it has to cling like a barnacle on the backs of pop, rock, and hip hop to survive. At what point will it cease to be country music? At what point will country music be a fringe style that we hear only on an all night program on Mondays on NPR (because jazz gets to keep the weekends)? Watch the transformation, and as Keith Urban or Toby Keith continue with the twang, the new groups and artists will get played on the pop stations and receive a wider fan base until maybe they don’t need the country world anymore.

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