COUNTRY TIMES: ‘Bro-country’ vs. traditional: Bring on the fight

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Critically acclaimed Kacey Musgraves said, please, no more truck songs: “Anyone singing about trucks, in any form, in any song, anywhere. Literally just stop — nobody cares! It’s not fun to listen to.”

The backlash may have culminated in recent weeks with a viral video on YouTube, “Why Country Music Was Awful in 2013.”

Produced by Entertainment Weekly country music writer Grady Smith in response to reader complaints about the lack of mainstream artists on his 2013 Top 10, the video catalogs — in a scathingly funny 3 minutes and 29 seconds — the current generation of male stars’ obsessions with pickups, drinking, pickups, girls in tight jeans. And pickups. Did I mention pickups? Lots of pickups.

It’s a funny bit, and a welcome reminder, I think, that performers and their fans ought not to overthink this latest dust-up over who’s “real” and who isn’t.

The fact is, whether you appreciate what Mr. Shelton and his cohorts are producing or not, they’re in good company. Dolly Parton was once the biggest “sellout” in Nashville. Glen Campbell was ridiculed for dabbling in disco. Kenny Rogers, Alabama, Shania Twain — there’s always somebody in country who’s being excoriated for crossing over into “pop.”

But those artists never lost their fan bases, and neither will the bro hunks. Country fans are the most loyal in the music business.

In the meantime, they’ll shake up country music — and the genre will survive.

Whether it’s the Willie Nelson-Waylon Jennings “Outlaw” period of the ‘70s, the “Urban Cowboy” boom of the ‘80s or the Garth Brooks phenomenon of the ‘90s, these fights over authenticity tend to erupt whenever the format is thriving.

The arguing, country fans, is a good sign.

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