Who killed country music?
That’s a question that fans of the genre have been asking and debating for quite some time. While you cannot always get them to agree on the culprits, most do believe that country is only a shell of itself with the rock wannabe efforts of “Bro Country” mostly to blame.
In that spirit, yours truly has managed to track down and identify the 10 guiltiest music acts. Many of you will be bobbing your heads in agreement with this list as if it were the beat of a Hank Jr. song — he’s not one of the 10 by the way — while others will be incensed that the list has the audacity to name some of their favorites.
Whichever side of this you come down on, one thing is for certain. This is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about who killed country music, and if you disagree, well, you’re just plain wrong.
Let’s get started.
10. Garth Brooks
This one was a struggle to place appropriately. On the one hand, Garth undoubtedly had the most influence of anyone on the list when it came to who killed country music. On the other, he doesn’t suck nearly as bad as most of the stars you’ll find here and even has a handful of songs that deserve a thumbs-up on your Pandora. At the end of the day, Garth left country worse off than he found it, but he made some positive contributions as well (i.e. “The Dance,” “Friends in Low Places,” etc). He should still be locked up for that Chris Gaines stuff, though.
9. Kenny Chesney
How Chesney was able to forge an identity in a genre that gave us Merle, Waylon, Willie, and Bocephus, is a new one on me. With paper napkin specials like “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy,” cornball melodramatics like “The Good Stuff,” and Jimmy Buffett wannabe efforts such as “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem,” it’s easy to see how country music got to where it is today.
8. Taylor Swift
Swift, God bless her, at least knew she didn’t belong. Since going full-on into the pop realm, her musical talents have matured, and she’s an artist more worthy of consideration. As a country music star, though, she was utterly irritating. Exhibit A…
7. Blake Shelton
Country music started taking a turn for the worse in the 1990s, creating an environment in which Blake Shelton could grow his particular brand of garbage. With early hits like “Ol’ Red” and “Austin,” however — as well as a respect for greats like Earl Thomas Conley — it appeared Shelton might be able to buck the trend. Then he ditched the cowboy hat, started doing reality TV, became a gossip rag playboy, and inspired the godawful “Bro’ Country” movement. Honestly, I don’t now why he isn’t No. 1.
6. Jason Aldean
“My Kinda Party,” “Tattoos on This Town,” and a duet with Kelly Clarkson? The less said, the better.
5. Eric Church
Along with Aldean, Church may be able to make a few coeds swoon, but his country songs leave much to be desired. Often appearing in shades and baseball cap on stage, Eric Church has done much to separate himself from the legends of country music past, both musically and aesthetically. Often, his music is indistinguishable from pop music. Now I remember why Blake Shelton isn’t No. 1.
4. This Guy
3. Florida-Georgia Line
Florida-Georgia Line is also known as the band that launched a thousand Country-Is-Dead Facebook pages, making them prime candidates for a high ranking on this list. The less said about them the better. Besides, this video will tell you pretty much everything you need to know about their role in the Bro’ Country movement.
2. Big & Rich
As far as the people who killed country music go, Big & Rich always deserved high “honors.” They would probably be No. 1 if not for the fact that they only had one big hit, “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy.” Big & Rich is also known as Bizarro Brooks & Dunn in that they are the polar-crap opposites of one of country’s most successful duos.
1. Tim McGraw
The biggest death blow to country music — and proof positive that Americans are by-and-large pretty stupid — is the success of Tim McGraw. McGraw’s version of country music is overly whiny and sensitive, and he looks like he just pulled himself out of a salon. Hammy cornpone life lessons like “Live Like You Were Dyin,'” “It’s Your Love,” and “Just to See You Smile,” are bad enough. But then, there is this, a contender for the worst country music song of all time.
There you have it. The irrefutable listing of the 10 music acts who killed country music. Any you would add to the list? Sound off in the comments section.
[Image via Florida-Georgia Line Anything Goes album]