I know. Dub me a redneck. That’s fine. I am, after all, a Kentucky girl.

Country has come a long way since the 90s when it was all “my momma got run over by a train and I crashed my pickup down at the bar drinking away my sorrows over a woman.”  It’s no longer twangy, stereotypical Country.  Don’t ask me why, I just feel the need to highlight what draws me to this style of music today.

Reason #1

The Merging of Genres

Alright, so maybe Jason Aldean wasn’t the FIRST country star to begin merging country music with rock, but he certainly has been the best.  Without googling or putting a whole lot of thought into it, the first song to come to mind is “My Kinda Party”.  Great background guitar mingling with guitar, and of course, Jason’s tendency to sound like a country rocker when singing.  Plus, hey, he’s hot :)

Along the same rocker lines, we have Eric Church’s current hit single “Homeboy”.  By far, this is my favorite song right now.  It is real.  It is emotional.  It is rough.  And the music, dear gods, the music is incredible.  There are several points in the song where I just close my eyes and SAVOR the sound.

Another song that really gets me right now because of the blending of music is “Country Must Be Countrywide” by Brantley Gilbert.  This song has it all–steel guitar, piano, mention of Chris LeDoux…but also has that Jason Aldean rock sound.  Apparently, Brantley Gilbert wrote a lot of Jason’s songs so in a way, maybe this is where it originated. Plus, um, he’s really HOTT too.

Of course, some of the older country stars have managed the same thing–adding rock to their country. Lest we forget Trace Adkins and his “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” from several years ago…

But this genre merging hasn’t stopped at rock. Some country stars are branching out into hip-hop/R&B–I know.  How weird, right?  Tim McGraw might have been the first to test the waters many years ago with “Over and Over”, a beautiful song he did with rapper Nelly (who, coincidentally, is one of the ONLY rappers I ever loved and still listen to).

Today, we don’t just have duets like the one mentioned above–we have good ole Jason Aldean (coming full circle from the first song in this reason) and “Dirt Road Anthem”…country rap with steel guitar. Apparently he wasn’t the first to sing this song, but he’s the only one I need 😉

Reason #2

Island Music

Yeah, so this could probably be categorized under reason #1 as a merging of themes, but nahhh. I LOVE country island music. It’s fun, it’s upbeat, and all things holy in the universe it makes me want a vacation SO BAD.

If we had to credit someone with starting the island theme, it would have to start with Jimmy Buffett about 30 years ago, right?

Well, maybe he isn’t “country” but he’s certainly taking the country world by storm today with his island country duets! So, to me, that says he was the influence for guys like Kenny Chesney, Zac Brown, and Alan Jackson.

Kenny Chesney immortalized his music as the beginning of island popularity with “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems” at the turn of the 21st century. He’s followed with many more to solidify his place as the prince of this genre, including “When the Sun Goes Down” with Uncle Kracker and recently, his duet with rocker Grace Potter for “You and Tequila”

But, as much as I like good ole Kenny, nobody does island music as good as the Zac Brown Band. They hit country music with their own brand of island with their single “Toes” around 2009. Today, though, their new single “Knee Deep” is one of my top five favorite songs. And they sing it with, YEP, Jimmy Buffett :)

Plus, Juliette Lewis is in the video–she’s a cool damn chick.

And let us not forget country music legend Alan Jackson, who took a dive into island music with Jimmy Buffett (again with the Jimmy) in 2003 “Five O’Clock Somewhere” and has recently released another island themed song, “Long Way to Go”.

Wow, I want to go to the beach.

Reason #3

Darius Rucker

Come on.  An African-American country singer who had a prolific and successful career in blues rock, who then breaks onto the country music scene and is an OVERNIGHT success?  That’s right, world, Hootie goes country!

The man makes better country music than almost half the country stars out there.  His music is full of raw emotion, and he’s cute :)  I love that he’s taken a predominantly white music style and rocked it.  He’s one of my favorites. He grabbed me with his first single “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It” but he found a lifelong fan with this one…

His other releases have been just as great. I’m hooked on Darius.

Reason #4

Pride and Patriotism

There is a lot of pride and patriotism in country music.  Now, this area gets sketchy because many of those songs also include a lot of Christian themes–not my cup of tea (obviously, Pagan, hello).  But when there’s more patriotism than Christian stuff, those songs really get me. As much as I may complain about this country (and as much as I’d love to pack my bags and live in Ireland) I am proud to be American, and there is no music in the world quite as patriotic as those songs found in country.

Who’s the biggest patriotic singer? Well, duh, Toby Keith. “Courtesy of the Red, White , & Blue”, “American Soldier”, and “American Ride” (this last one is a GREAT video) have been pretty great lil tunes. But, nothing beats his new one.

That song gives me goose bumps every time I hear it.

Reason #5

YOUTH!

Alright, so yeah, I love the oldies. Country music from the 90’s is like a warm security blanket, something I will adore forever.

Then again, I’m a daughter of my generation. I embrace change. I push for change. I am a lefty in so many ways. So, when it comes to all the young people breaking onto the country music scene, I’m a fan.

Taylor Swift was a teen when she took country music by storm, and today she is one of the most loved music stars out there–across genres. Even with all her little teeny-bopper fans, Taylor hasn’t strayed from her love of country music. I’m not afraid to admit it. She’s one of my favorite music stars of all time.

A couple years ago, Gloriana toured with Taylor. They literally exploded over night, and yep, I love them too. A very fresh, young sound that makes me wanna dance. Embedding has been disabled at their video, so “Wild At Heart”

Now, The Band Perry has shot up the ranks of my heart and sits quite near the top with Taylor. They have a different kind of sound that I dig. In a big way. From their first single, “Hip to My Heart” (that I played over and over after it came out) to “If I Die Young” (which has literally catapulted them to fame) to the new single today that I sing at the top of my lungs in the car, I love this band. She is absolutely beautiful and her voice is lovely. And I really dig the videos.

And recent newcomers The JaneDear Girls are quickly becoming a favorite! Not only are they gorgeous but their music is upbeat and sexy. FYI, if you ever wondered how I feel about growing up in Kentucky, here’s your answer. “Wildflower” and “Shotgun Girl”

Last but not least, Lady Antebellum. They need no introduction. They have ruled the country charts for years now–they started the flow of new blood into this genre. Their music speaks to everything country girl in my soul.