Sunday, July 28, 2013

Unelaborated assertions

As a country song, "Merry Go 'Round" is pretty much a betrayal of all genre standards. I vote it off the island.


WPB said...

But that is the point, and that is how Kacey Musgraves got so much attention for her first major album. See the fawning New York Times profile:

In any case, the title of the album, "Same Trailer, Different Park," is brilliant, and a full two thirds of the songs on the album are excellent. "Blowing Smoke," and "My House," are my two favorites, but there are many excellent ones.

iTunes tells me that I've listened to the full album 32 times and some of the songs more than twice that much.

Miss Self-Important said...

How did I miss this article? Of course the NYT likes her, since this is what they think country music is:
You can certainly sing about getting high and having sex in mainstream country music, but only within clearly defined limits: the acceptable intoxicant is alcohol, and it helps if you travel to an illicit tryst by pickup truck on a dirt road while giving thanks for the blessing of freedom. “Follow Your Arrow” probably fell outside those limits.
Kacey Musgraves tells it like it is - reality is drinking beer and smoking pot - and that takes real courage. She is standing up to the right-wing industry fat-cats (and did we mention they were right-wing?) and their stale morality with her authentic lyrics about how much life actually sucks, which she authentically knows first-hand, being a young, successful country singer.

I once wrote a long blog post that I never published about how country music is not any more conservative than it is liberal since it's actually just populist, and how constraints on lyrics and content have actually produced richer, more ironic music than what is possible when you encourage adolescents to spew "really emo stuff." Maybe it's time to revive that post.

WPB said...

I honestly thought that Times story was trolling specifically for you.

Relatedly, I had been thinking about how the pop music world is so socially libertine that some of the pro-marriage country songs on the radio now ("Better Dig Two," "Little White Church") actually sound incredibly transgressive and taboo to me.

All that said, it's really a good album, despite itself.

Miss Self-Important said...

Ok, I'll give it a listen.

According to the NYT, pro-marriage country music IS transgressive b/c "reality" is that some marriages dissolve and music's responsibility is to represent reality-as-misery to us. But the lyrics of "Little White Church" fit comfortably within country's canons, whose set themes include the tension b/w autonomy and familial obligation. Randy Travis's "Forever and Ever, Amen," which starts out with an admission of the singer's wandering past, would be an earlier example still on radio rotation. The current politics of marriage is just a new context for an old theme. But by comparison with pop music, maybe country just sounds sententious. On the other hand, isn't Beyonce's "Put a Ring On It" practically the same idea?

WPB said...

Good point re Beyonce. Maybe it's really that "Little White Church" and "Better Dig Two" are also anti-pre-marital sex (albeit belatedly, in the case of LWC)?

Miss Self-Important said...

So I listened to the album and admit that it's decent, but too acoustic and folksy for multiple listens from me. (This is actually a lie - I also listen to acoustic folk music, but not as part of my listening to country.) Some of the themes about sadness and escaping small town dullness are I think better done by Sugarland. (It is also true that Sugarland is responsible for a bizarre attempt to meld hiphop and country, but I forgive them that one error.)