I've heard from different people who like pop-leaning country acts like Rascal Flatts or Keith Urban, who think I do not like their music.
Let me set the record straight: that's not true. I think they are fine musicians and entertainers, but their work doesn't belong in country music.
Country music encompasses an eclectic and vast brand of music, but it shouldn't be a launching pad or a minor league to any other genre. Artists shouldn't think they need to be more pop to have more success.
At this point, I've lowered my expectations, and I'm not expecting every artist on the radio to sound like George Jones, but I do find it bothersome to hear music that's blatantly not country.
Garth Brooks brought a lot of non-country influences to the music and could probably be blamed for both the success of the genre and the fact that the genre's integrity is compromised.
But you have to credit Brooks with some things. He always stayed true to country themes, in the way he dressed, many of his cowboy themed songs and his humility on stage.
When he embarked on the whole Chris Gaines experiment, he didn't want country radio to play it. He took that project in a totally different direction. That's what Flatts and Urban should do. What's their claim to having any connection to country? Listening to Kenny Rogers a couple of times? I'm just guessing on that one.
I've heard the argument many times that we should forget about musical boundaries, and forget about what's considered country, pop and rock. I strongly disagree because I believe music, does indeed need, specialization of labor.
OK, if you wanted to rock out, would you rather hear Aerosmith or Garth Brooks? If you wanted Adult Contemporary, Billy Joel or Rascal Flatts? If you like R&B, John Legend or Big & Rich? For country music, George Strait or Bon Jovi? You get the point.
If all musical genres blend together, they'll lose their uniqueness and we'll be stuck with a whole lot of generic, mediocre music.