Here Comes The Return Of Traditional Country Music
I've heard many people say that country music isn't what it used to be, but that may be changing sooner than we think! There are those who like modern country, and those who don't, but this isn't the first time that country has gone pop. I was just talking with my dad about this the other day, and explained to him why there is still hope for traditional country music to make a comeback.
Let's go back to the 1970's. Country music was very much traditional at that time. With hits like "I Will Always Love You," "Good Hearted Woman," and "Tulsa Time," country music was at it's peak. There was no denying that the sound back then was country.
Then the 1980's rolled in and with that, some of the pop music came with it. While we may consider these songs "country" now, at the time, they had a poppy vibe to them. Granted, there was still some traditional country music songs coming out, pop music was being introduced during this time. I mean, Kenny Rodgers was originally a pop artist and he was huge in country music during the 80's with hits like "Islands in the Stream" with Dolly Parton. Shockingly enough, the "Super Group of Country Music," Alabama had a pop sound for that time with songs like "Love in the First Degree." Even Ronnie Milsap had some songs that were considered borderline pop at the time.
The 1990's saw a major return to traditional country. Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks, Clint Black, Reba, Brooks and Dunn...the list goes on. Sure, there was still some pop/rock influences in some artists, overall country music remained more traditional throughout the 1990's. This phase lasted into the early 2000's until the emergence of pop became more mainstream in country music again.
We have been in a time where there is a lot of crossover hits, pop and country collaborations, and "Bro Country" are taking over the genre. I can't tell you how many times I have heard someone say "that's not country music," or "this song should be on pop radio!" Not to say that it's all bad music, because I personally enjoy some of the songs. However, there have been a lot of "pop" crossovers and and collaborations to songs that just "don't sound country" to a lot of folks.
The good news is, I think we are on the brink of a new cycle in country music. A cycle that most country music fans have been yearning for for years. Something that I remember my Music Business professor, Dr. David Wray, saying in class is that music works in ten year cycles. In this case, we are talking about country music and its cycle. In case you haven't noticed,the pattern with country music that I have been talking about: traditional, pop, traditional...it goes back an forth every ten years or so. Now, we are starting to see a reemergence in traditional country music. With artists like Chris Stapleton, Justin Moore, Jon Pardi, Midland, Luke Combs, Cody Johnson, Riley Green, and many others, it appears that country music is going back to it's roots.
I'm not saying that this change will happen over night, but what I will say is that you can bet there will be a more traditional country sound within the next few years. Will there still be a pop sound too? Sure. Some artists have created their brand based off of the pop/country mix. That's what got them to where they are now, so why fix what isn't broken for them? Gotta keep making that money!
You will also see some artists who have had some "pop" sounding songs start to go back to more of a "country" sound because that is what they really love, and quite frankly, it fits their voice better. A good example of that is Luke Bryan. Sure, he has been labeled "bro country," but at his core, he is a country boy. He has had a lot of success with songs that have had a traditional country sound like "Huntin', Fishin', and Lovin' Everyday" and "Most People Are Good." Say what you will, but those songs were COUNTRY! More recently, was Jake Owen. He had a little bit of a poppy vibe with his music, but he has a hit traditional country song that (in my opinion) would have competed with the best of them in the 90's with "Down To The Honkytonk."
So if you are a fan of the older country sound, have no fear. You will be hearing that more and more very soon! I believe that we are on the cusp of that change. You just have to be patient and let it happen...and believe me, it will...it's already happening!