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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Pop into Country: Country artists crossing into pop music become more commonplace

“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” Sound familiar? This sounds like something a tall, thin, statuesque 23-year-old might have said about one of her infamous relationships. Does it ring any bells? 

The song, from Taylor Swift’s most recent album, “Red,” was her first-ever No.1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Chances are, unless one has lived under a rock for the past couple of years, the country-pop-crossover-princess’s songs are unavoidable.

One thing is for sure: Swift was not talking about her torrid affair with the pop charts in her Grammy-nominated single. Swift is not alone in her country-to-pop crossover success. She is one of many country singers making his or her way into mainstream music. 

Carrie Underwood, Hunter Hayes, Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line are all country singers who made the leap into popular music. 

Jasé Gonzales, freshman business administration major, said crossover artists like Swift are the only reason he began to listen to country music. 

 “I didn’t typically listen to country music until singers like Taylor Swift came out,” he said. “Now, when I listen to country music, it reminds me of home, like they’re singing from the heart.”

Country music is a growing trend in America. This is perhaps attributed to the fact that the genre sticks, for the most part, to culturally-shared values and real-life dilemmas. It is a break from the cursing and frivolous lyrics that sometimes dominate other musical genres. 

Bryan currently holds the No. 1 position on iTunes’s Top Albums chart with his album “Crash My Party” and the No. 5 spot for Top Songs on iTunes with his single, “Crash My Party.” 

In an interview in August with the Huffington Post, Bryan explained why he believes country music has “crossed over,” or become more mainstream. 

 “I think it’s always dictated by the fans, and kind of the fans’ drive, or what they’re loving. I think there’s been somewhat of a change with our generation,” he said. “You know, nobody grew up more countrier than me, but I mean, I had Beastie Boys playing on little boomboxes and Run–D.M.C. and all forms of music. So through the years, I just think it’s all constantly blending together.” 

Susannah Billingsley, sophomore communication major, said she believes country music crosses over into pop because of the success artists like Swift have had. 

 “Country music has become more ‘pop-y’ because specific artists, such as Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood, are winning all these awards for the pop-country music they are putting out to their audience, and other artists are picking up on that,” she said.

Billingsley said crossover country music not only wins awards for artists but also helps them sell more music. 

“What it honestly comes down to is how many records they are going to sell,” she said. “Right now, pop music is the ‘in’ thing. It’s what’s selling the most records.”

Record labels must agree that pop music sells well in today’s culture. ABC News has reported record labels and radio stations have lost their faith in traditional country music’s marketability and are, therefore, targeting it for a more mainstream audience.

Joe Odom, freshman English major and avid fan of “authentic” country music, said he thinks some country artists shift their sounds to please listeners. 

“Country musicians are just trying to keep up with the interests of their listeners, and they are turning country music into a new genre,” he said. 

This new mixture of pop and country music is a far cry from the days of Johnny Cash’s “I Walk the Line.”

Musicians experiment with new beats, and others collaborate with pop artists. Recently, Florida Georgia Line, a country music duo, recorded their summer hit “Cruise” with hip-hop artist Nelly. The song reached No. 7 on Billboard’s Mainstream Top 40 and is played on countless pop radio stations throughout America.

Undoubtedly, listeners took notice when country music sensation Swift soared into mainstream music, but country-pop crossover music becomes more popular day by day. Just as one of Swift’s song titles claims, “Everything Has Changed.”

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Pop into Country: Country artists crossing into pop music become more commonplace