Country music’s modern day comeback

Country musics modern day comeback

In the four years since the global pandemic, music trends and tastes, like many things, have changed dramatically. In that timeframe, country music has taken a step back into the spotlight, with the genre going from being perceived as the music of yesteryear, to being some of today’s top hits, thanks to the changes country has undergone to appeal to younger audiences.

Country, like every genre, has had to adapt to the modern-day demands of the music industry, with younger audiences being a key factor in this adaptation. As it became more apparent that young people don’t listen to more traditional country music, such as works from iconic artists like George Strait or Garth Brooks, changes to make country more “trendy” have been seen. 

This came in the form of country pop, which is a section of country music that has existed since well before the 2020s, but has taken off thanks to some newer entrants into the genre, like Beyoncé. Immediately upon breaking into the segment, she’s already found a spot on the Billboard Top 100, with “Texas Hold ‘Em” even eclipsing the number one spot; just the 24th country song to ever achieve such a feat. 

This rise to prominence of country music is largely thanks to the changes the genre has undergone to fit a more modern sound, with elements like autotune and electronic instruments pushing country into this new era. While this has angered some more traditional country music listeners who argue that country pop has started to remove the authenticity of the genre, the exposure it has granted the industry is undeniable and generally positive for everyone involved.

Along with the recent success experienced by Beyoncé, other artists have also contributed to this revolution. Some of these artists include Morgan Wallen, Luke Combs and Zach Bryan, who were all featured on Apple Music’s “Top Songs of 2023: Global” playlist, which features the top 100 most streamed songs in the world, specifically on Apple Music. Wallen’s “Last Night” was the top song on the playlist and, in turn, the most streamed song of 2023 on the platform. On top of this, seven other songs of his were also featured. 

So, as people dive deeper into the genre of country, they’ve begun to realize these songs cover topics far deeper than beer and trucks, despite many peoples’ assumptions.

Meanwhile, two of Combs’ songs are featured on the playlist, including his cover of Tracy Chapman’s hit single, “Fast Car.” While Bryan only had one song featured, “Something in the Orange,” all three of these artists have contributed something different, whether it be a different, more pop-style, sound or a new spin on older songs, to help revive what was once considered a dying genre, with each playing their own part in doing so.

While many of the aforementioned artists have done recent work to help revive their genre, it’s important not to overlook the work of those who predated them. Artists like Luke Bryan, Zac Brown Band, Florida Georgia Line and Darius Rucker, who were all featured on Billboard’s Top 50 Country Artists of the 2010s list, have helped to bring some spotlight to the genre when it needed it most. Iconic titles like “Wagon Wheel” by Darius Rucker, “Chicken Fried” by Zac Brown Band and “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line helped to establish a level of notoriety around the genre, with many of these songs being heard on the radio or in public today.

Ultimately, it becomes clear that this growth was no mere coincidence, but rather the culmination of a number of factors pulling together at the right time. Country has taken off lately as people initially hear more pop-country style songs from artists like Beyoncé or Morgan Wallen; their fans realized that the genre isn’t quite as bad as they previously believed, then they figure out that most country songs are actually relatable. 

This relatability comes from the simple fact that country songs are meant to tell stories. This is made clear in the Oxford Dictionary’s definition for “country music.” In this definition, it is mentioned that many country songs are “ballads,” which are songs that tell stories. So, as people dive deeper into the genre of country, they’ve begun to realize these songs cover topics far deeper than beer and trucks, despite many peoples’ assumptions.

In all, country music has experienced a unique and unprecedented revival in just the past few months. With the genre growing back to the popularity it once had, it’s likely that country music will, slowly but surely, begin to find its way back into people’s playlists. With the changes made to the genre closing the gap between country and pop, both in terms of lyrics and sound, it has begun to appeal to more modern audiences. Changes like this are important in any industry, but especially the music industry of today.


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