I’ve always been a big fan of collaborations in music, especially if it involved several artists that I loved. Even if I favored an artist over the other, collabs always just seemed to work– Eminem and Rihanna, B.o.B. and Hayley Williams, Lana Del Rey and A$AP Rocky, and the latest, most successful collaboration: Jessie J, Nicki Minaj, and Ariana Grande. All of these artists accommodated their different styles and worked together to create music that ended up being more than just a duet, which attributed to the success of their work.
A seemingly popular collaboration series when I was younger (circa 2001) was the Punk goes… albums, which centered around punk bands covering music from the genres of pop, classic rock, “crunk”, and acoustic music. All types of bands from the All American Rejects to Rise Against agreed to do their own rendition of songs that seemed out of their realm (aka choosing to cover Bieber). These albums hooked me even more because of the drastic differences between the bands and the artists they were covering.
What has caught my attention lately is the genre of Country music. I’ve noticed that many of the singles released by the most popular Country artists have more undertones of a pop influence rather than just the plain ol’ country-bluegrass feel. Country music now is noticeably less “twangy” than the music of Alan Jackson, Toby Keith, and Trisha Yearwood that I heard growing up.
The biggest example of this Country-Pop crossover is, of course, Taylor Swift. Her first album with the most notable pop influence was her last album, Red. I wasn’t the biggest fan of that album (among other reasons), but even the most die-hard Swifties I knew didn’t consider Red their favorite album either. On the release of her newest album, 1989, where she officially declared her transition from country to pop, I was hearing the same thing among my friends: they felt that she was “selling out,” as many artists end up doing for profit reasons. But is it really selling out, or is it more of a convergence between the two genres?
This is evident in last night’s broadcast of the annual Country Music Awards. Normally there’s nothing too exciting or different, but this year, the headliners definitely were something new: the CMA team announced that Ariana Grande and Megan Trainor would be joining Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town for special performances.
Well, that happened! It was an interesting collaboration to say the least. I wonder what country veterans like Dolly Parton or Tim McGraw think of this prominent pop influence on current Country music. I honestly can’t figure out why this is happening (and also why Ariana Grande is everywhere) or for what reasons. Not that I’m against pop music, but I would like to be able to a classic Country song rather than the stuff I already hear every day. And to also be able to tune to another station to get a break from Ariana Grande would be nice! I mean kudos to her and her success, but she’s been popping out singles one after the other as if she’s a Duggar (19 Kids and Counting reference just in case nobody got that).
Watch Little Big Town and Ariana Grande perform her pop hit at the Country Music Awards below!