BreakingModern — Bein’ the girl in a country song … how in the world did it go so wrong? These are lyrics from Maddie and Tae’s new hot country song.
Country music isn’t what it used to be. The days of George Strait, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson are long gone. In comes “bro” country, and out goes the classic style of the genre. Some elements, such as lyrics, more closely resemble hip-hop or rap than the iconic tunes of country legends. On the surface, this isn’t necessarily detrimental to the music — more people than ever are drawn to the catchy, rocking beats of Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line, to name a few.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of the genre. But music like this detracts from the style as a whole, for many reasons.
Degrading “Bro” Country
This increased success of popular country music comes with a cost. The bro country wave, consisting of songs about parties and alcohol, also routinely objectifies women and tears at the fabric of the country community. Given his humility, Willie Nelson is probably disappointed with the state of the genre. Country music is supposed to transcend objectification and focus on the little things in life, which clearly differs from the present reality and subject of newer-wave songs. Here’s an excerpt from one of Bryan’s hottest new songs, for reference:
I got that real good feel good stuff,
Up under the seat of my big black jacked up truck,
Pretty girl by my side.
You got that sun tan skirt and boots,
Waiting on you to look my way and scoot
Your little hot self over here,
Girl hand me another beer, yeah!
“That’s My Kind of Night” — Luke Bryan
A country star himself (albeit a more-progressive one), Zac Brown called “That’s My Kind of Night” — a song that tells a woman to hand Bryan “another beer,” among other things — the “worst song he’s ever heard.” Kenny Chesney, a songwriter who once engaged in this sort of thing, has gone on record agreeing with Brown.
Another group exposing this trend is Maddie and Tae, whose hit single “Girl in a Country Song” has climbed the charts. Maddie and Tae hilariously quip how much it would “suck to be the girl in these songs.” Here’s a sample of the song’s lyrics:
Well I wish I had some shoes on my two bare feet,
And it’s getting kinda cold in these painted-on cut-off jeans.
I hate the way this bikini top chafes,
Do I really have to wear it all day?
“Girl in a Country Song” — Maddie and Tae
RaeLynn: Joining in on the Bro Wave?
However, despite these strong, now-mainstream efforts to eradicate this trend in objectification throughout the industry, the song “God Made Girls” by RaeLynn forces the question: Is the country music community really interested in eradicating objectification in a substantive way?
Instead of standing up for her own self-reliance, RaeLynn perpetuates female subservience. She argues that God created women for the sole purpose of rocking the world of men. Instead of underscoring the importance of gender empowerment, she does the exact opposite. Additionally, she portrays men as completely dependent and incompetent without women. According to the singer, women inspire men to “get dressed up” and go to church.
Both Maddie and Tae and RaeLynn have sparked a big controversy in country music. But what’s the outcome? So far, the industry hasn’t blinked. Endorsing such contradictory messages belittles the issue at hand. Radio and music leaders are not invested in the cause, merely pretending to care in order to make the issue go away.
Emancipation of Women: Not Over
Women may be largely economically emancipated from the early 1900s, but they still endure objectification, among many other things. RaeLynn is simply undermining her own cause by happily proclaiming that “God made girls” as cute little objects for men. The true emancipation of women has not yet arrived, and it never will unless people like RaeLynn want to put a halt to subservience.
Country music needs to take a good long look in the mirror: Does it really care about ending this vicious cycle? The answer seems to be no, at this point, with little reason for optimism. Catchy tunes will lure fans who do not question the content. Change will require advocacy from both male and female artists to truly break the genre’s contradictory identity. Artists like Maddie and Tae understand how to fix the problem. Now it’s up to everyone else.
All screenshots: Staff
Header image: Screenshot Courtesy of MaddieandTaeVEVO