I'm not sure if you've checked out the feature on iTunes where you can find out what your favorite artists have on their IPods.
Their play lists go a long way in telling why country music has lost much of it's identity in recent years.
For Carrie Underwood, only five of the 15 songs on her list are country. And at 33.3 percent, Underwood's batting a lot higher than many of her fellow country stars. Of those five on her list, there's George Strait, Alan Jackson and Brad Paisley. For the sake of this article, Keith Urban and Faith Hill count too.
Speaking of Keith Urban, does anyone else remember that he used to spell his name in all lower case letters? He changed that just as soon as he became really popular. It's probably because he didn't want to keep explaining it to people.
Taylor Swift has 9 of 16 country artists, but three of them - no surprise - are either by Tim McGraw or named T.M. If you count Michelle Branch, she's got 10 of 16. Not too bad.
What about Kenny Chesney. A dismal 3 of 22 with songs by Lucinda Williams, Dwight Yoakam and Charlie Robison as his only country tunes. Brooks and Dunn isn't much better with 6 country songs out of 21.
Based on these playlists, American Idol-winner Jordin Sparks is a bigger country music fan than Chesney (3 country songs of 13 on her playlist) and, and the multi-talented Sparks doesn't consider herself a country singer.
I would much rather have Sparks represent country music than someone like Chesney. It's clear by this playlist that she has a deeper appreciation for the genre. You might say, Mike, you can't make that call based on these playlists. Yes, I can. They release these playlists because they want everyone to know what they listen to, and they probably do it carefully. Playlists equals influences. Period.
However, this isn't an all-tell about country artists. Sugarland has 2 of 12 on their playlist, and their sound is still very much country.
And artists probably want to surprise listeners because those listeners assume they predominantly listen to country.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with listening to other types of music than country. But I looked at the playlists of several Rap and Rock artists, and they predominantly listened to music in their own genres.
Is there something uncool about listening to country? There's definitely the perception in a lot of circles that it is uncool. If so, country artists should do whatever they can to reverse that falsehood, and it starts with their own playlists.