I wanted to come to you today with a theory I've been developing for a while. This is the product of years of extensive research (read: being alive) and studying (read: listening to music). I haven't presented it to any institutions for publication yet, but I think it's pretty well supported by empirical evidence.
Before I submit this theory to an academic journal, I thought I would make my case to you.
My theory is this: country music is the most blindly accepting of all genres.
Gone are the days in which you must be an old white guy wearing cowboy hat singing about a dead dog or whatever.
Country music's "come one, come all" attitude allows them to welcome anyone with any semblance of notoriety or a good publicist and play the crap out of them on the radio.
Did you win American Idol? Come on over. Did you win American Idol after the three original judges had left and are like 12 years old? Door's open. Been around for 30 years and still cranking out music? You make it, we'll play it. Change your name to Chris Gaines but decide maybe it wasn't the best idea after all? Welcome back. Collaborate with Nelly? Why not? Used to be in a 90's alt band and go by the name Hootie? We've got a seat for you right here. Gradually shift from singing about Tim McGraw to wearing eyeliner and putting dubstep beats in your songs? Sure.
Literally anyone or anything can be played on country music, as long as there is at least one banjo or mandolin involved (or were involved at one point but now you're Taylor Swift and you do what you effing want).
I am continually surprised at what the country genre will put up with. Exhibit A: Darius Rucker is NOT GOOD AT COUNTRY, you guys.* It's just not his thing. Why can't you guys just tell him to go home already? He had a string of hits in the late 90's. He's Hootie, for crying out loud. HE CAN HANDLE IT. Don't patronize him (ahem, BACHELORETTE). Break it to him gently and get him out of here.
I just found out that he currently has a hit with "Wagon Wheel," which is not even his song and is not even as good as the version I saw Old Crow Medicine Show perform in a random field on Saturday night with my parents (a story for another time).
Sidebar: If Country isn't careful it's going to turn into the Christian music industry, churning out 90 different versions of the same song yearly. I can say this because I know people who are in the Christian music industry and complain about the same exact thing. So it's LEGIT, y'all.
This guy could literally go around to clubs all over these United States and play all of his Hootie hits and no one would even be mad about it. So let's stop acting like Darius Rucker needs the work, okay? Just let take off the cowboy hat and walk away with some of his dignity left intact before the academy retroactively revokes his 1996 Grammy for Best New Artist.
The country music industry lets white males wearing clothes manufactured by a hunting company inexplicably rap in the middle of their songs.
They allow people to sing about recreational drug use and Jesus on the same track. While we're at it, they allowed someone to sing about Jesus taking the wheel and everyone was okay with it (This would never happen anywhere else. Probably not even in Christian music because it had like too many notes in the melody or something).
They are the only genre that permitted Kid Rock to create more music after screaming about God knows what in 1998, AND enabled him to sing a duet with Sheryl Crow, who used to kind of be like a cool alt singer/songwriter in the 90s and now she's like easy listening but she somehow STILL passes as a country artist.
On the flip side they allow artists like The Civil Wars to be played somewhere other than our Nashville indie radio station. They give Lady Antebellum an outlet and let people who can actually sing just...sing.
When you fling the doors wide open to anyone and everyone, there's bound to be a few good ones slip through, I suppose.
But come on. Kid Rock? Whose idea was that?
Do you listen to country music? Why or why not? Also--that Chris Gaines thing--weird, right?
*I legit went to see Hootie and the Blowfish play once in college (in like 2008, to be clear) and half the songs were terrible country jams and distinctively NOT "Hold My Hand" or "Let Her Cry." I was sorely disappointed.