If anyone at Tufts asks me what music I like, I immediately respond with “hip-hop,” usually getting a nod of approval in return. However, when I go back home, slip into my car and jet across the New Jersey Turnpike, the playlist blasting from my car speakers is exclusively country. I know what you are probably thinking: I’d much rather listen to chalk screeching than a Luke Bryan song or Brad Paisley ballad. However, with the 2015 Country Music Association Awards coming up on Nov. 4, now is the perfect time to explain why I am unequivocally in love with country music.
The genre embodies spending long nights with my best friends, driving without a care in the world, falling in love and enjoying life. Nonetheless, I wasn’t always an ardent defender of country music. At one point, I hated it — I would cringe whenever my friends turned it on, loudly proclaiming my disdain. But then a Kenny Chesney track, “Pirate Flag” (2013), got stuck in my head and that lead to “Bartender” (2014) by Lady Antebellum and “Play it Again” (2013) by Luke Bryan. By the time I stumbled onto the Bryan catalog, I was hooked. There was no turning back. I raced through album after album before discovering Blake Shelton, Toby Keith, Miranda Lambert, Florida Georgia Line and one amazing country artist after the other.
It’s easy to pinpoint why I love the genre so much. The songs are relatable and easy to listen to. If you are feeling great, there’s a tune for that. If you’re feeling sad, there’s no better way to drown out your emotions than by blasting a country crooner that feels the same way you do. The songs tell stories and paint pictures of a life full of highs and lows. If you want to feel nostalgic, go on a long drive, dance, sing along or feel patriotic, country music has you covered.
The themes expressed in country are important ones. Yes, there are the throwaway party jams that exist in any genre. There are many more songs, however, with real meaning. Country music is patriotic like no other. “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)” (2001) by Alan Jackson, “Chicken Fried” (2007) by Zac Brown Band and “Made in America” (2011) by Toby Keith are great examples of the sheer and unbridled enthusiasm country artists have for the United States. There are many songs that show the love country artists have for each other, their families and their hometowns.
Country music is also, surprisingly, a haven for female empowerment. The genre features some amazing women like Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum, Kacey Musgraves and Maddie & Tae. These country rock stars are perfect role models for someone like my little sister, who’s a fan of them all. They also all put on amazing shows; you haven’t been to a concert until you’ve been to a country concert. The level of community, joy and summer fun is merely unmatched by any other genre.
So, next time a country hit pops up on shuffle, think twice before hitting the skip button.