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Saturday, May 07, 2011

My Country Music Experiment

Country music gets a gigantic load of hate, primarily from us city dwellers. And I can't count myself outside of that hating crowd! At least... up until I finally made good on my word to give country a chance. It must have been six or so years ago when I realized, "Man, you've been broadening your music tastes across the board... and you STILL haven't given country a fair shot!" And there that thought lingered -- in the distant recesses of my mind.

Then, maybe about two months ago, I got a tip that the NCAA Wrestling Championships were on ESPN2. Jumping out of my seat I rushed to that sweet HDTV and frantically flipped through hunting for the channel. Soon it dawned on me... we don't have that channel (dag...NAMIT!). The channel I landed on was some country music channel. I thought, "Meh, might as well leave it on in the background. I have been planning to give country a shot for who knows how long now." So began my experiment...

The majority of the music I heard, I did not like (no shocker there). But surprisingly, there were quite a few I did like! I mean, I expected there to be close to zero; instead there were more like ten! So, on to the next phase. PANDORA TIME!  I seeded a new station with three tracks:
  1. My Kinda Party by Jason Aldean
  2. Save A Horse [Ride A Cowboy] by Big & Rich
  3. This by Darius Rucker
Here is a YouTube video for My Kinda Party:

Two months and numerous thumbed down tracks later, I'm still digging this station! The seeds worked great, and cutthroat curating is keeping it on point. What I've gleaned is that country nowadays is not like the country of before (and that country music fans are EXTREMELY stoked about bringing new people into the fold). Technically, I hear that the stuff I seem to have fallen for is country "pop" music. And, it is HARD to stay seated when the good stuff comes on!

Now if Pandora didn't exist, there's no way I would have really followed through on giving country music a chance. But Pandora makes it way easy. All I had to do was seed and thumb up or down the tracks it began playing. All the while, the algorithm powering Pandora gets smarter, converging on the type of country striking my fancy and playing more and more aligned picks. It's great! And if you haven't started using Pandora yet... get on it!

My experiment has revealed so far that country music pretty much revolves around the following:
  1. Keepin' it real
  2. Embracing your humanness
  3. Complimenting a woman every chance you get
  4. Standing tall for what you believe in (don't back down)
You can't go wrong with that! All four are realized in various styles of play. I'm a fan of the faster, more upbeat styles with some serious drum beats. The style makes it hard for a brother to remain seated. The music is MAD enjoyable. The storytelling is so genuine and somewhat innocent you can't help but get sucked in, and not to mention unintentionally HILARIOUS in quite a few songs. The music definitely about living life to the max and being real while pursuing that endeavor... ALL IN PEOPLE. You gotta have a great time and make the most of life, and you gotta do it with those whom you are close. In addition, let's not forget moments of pure chillin'.

And maaaaan, the women must feel like they're on cloud 9 all the time. For real! In nearly every genre of music women are talked up. But in the country songs I dig, women are pretty much (all in a good way) the most precious, beautiful, wild, dangerous, independent, exotic, amazing entities to ever exist. In addition, the lady is complimented with such clever use of words it reminded me of the days of good  R&B where you knew the artists were singing about some intimate details but done in such a dressed up way it was straight beautiful and beyond smooth.

So, country music gets my thumbs up. I'm all about music that is great fun, gets you moving, and tells a great story or hits on real topics. Music lately has been moving away from that, so this was a refreshing breath of air and vitality. Give country a try! And use Pandora to do it -- makes finding your niche a cinch.

In addition to My Kinda Party mentioned earlier, here's a list of some of my current favorites with a bulleted shortlist below the widget. Click on the widget to see the longer list and play samples.