The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Country music gets a pretty bad rap nowadays and as someone who grew up on that, I can recognize that you cannot judge a whole genre of music based on a couple of songs that you have heard–or some of the people within the industry. The genre has so many sub-genres with it that it would be hard not to find one you liked. And yes, country-pop is a genre, and no I don’t take criticism on the subject. So I have compiled a list of artists that make up the different sub-genres within country music.
- Tyler Childres
Starting off this list we have Tyler Childres. Childres’ sound is a mix of bluegrass, country, and folk, creating a unique sound allowing his accent to shine through. By creating this sound he has developed more of a modern take on these genres. He released his first independent album in 2011, Bottles and Bibles with tracks like “Hard Times” and “We’ve Had Our Fun.” While he released a few EPs, it wasn’t until the release of his 2017 album,“Purgatory”that he started to gain international fame. The tracks “Purgatory,” “Feathered Indians,” “Tattoo,” and “Lady May” lead the album to success. His third album, Country Squire included the tracks “All Your’n,” “House Fire,” and “Bus Route” garnered him even more success establishing himself in the industry. Just recently he released an instrumental album called Long Violent History with only one song that has lyrics, but that one song speaks volumes. That song itself is called’ Long Violent History” talks about standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and racism in America. He is trying to change the standard through music.
- Kacey Musgraves
The next artist is someone you may or may not have heard of depending on if you live under a rock or not, and that is Kacey Musgraves. Yep, good ‘ole Spacey Kacey made this list. The six-time Grammy Award winner has emerged as a refreshing sound for country music, though I have a feeling that a lot of people would not necessarily count her as a country artist sometimes. She has kind of a soft-pop country sound that not many people can pull off. She emerged on the scene with her first album Same Trailer Different Park in 2013, including the singles Follow Your “Arrow” and “Merry Go ‘Round.” The 2015 album Pageant Material followed it up. However, it wasn’t untilher album Golden Hour in 2018 exploded her to stardom with tracks like “Space Cowboy,” “Rainbow,” “High Horse,” and “Slow Burn.” She released her fourth album star-crossed on September 10.
- Koe Wetzel
The sound that Koe Wetzel puts out is probably one of my favorites in music right now. Wetzel combines rock and the hard soul of country music to dive headfirst into country-rock. I put him up here for anyone who is a sucker for rock music (aka me). You probably won’t find him on any radio station given the explicit nature of his lyrics. I found him through my brother and was hooked on the sound right away. He released his first album in 2015 called Out on Parole with tracks like, “Song I Can Drink Too” and “Wine Glass.” His second album Noise Complaint garnered people’s attention with the songs “Love”(with Parker McCollum), “Something To Talk About,” and “February 28, 2016.” The album Harold Saul High, released in 2019, includes one of my favorite songs by him, “Ragweed”. His most recent album, Sellout, contains another one of my favorites, “Cold & Alone.” His music has an explosiveness that I haven’t been able to shake since the first time I listened to him and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for the future.
- The Chicks
An oldie, but a goodie, The Chicks by far takes the oldest spot on this list. You may know them from their music or their criticism of the former president, George W. Bush, during a London concert. At this concert, The Chicks said that they did not endorse the Iraq War which caused them not only to be blacklisted by the industry, but they received immense backlash from the United States and their fans. This powerhouse of three women, Natalie Maines (lead singer), her sister Martie Maguire and Emily Strayer (instrumentals), has won thirteen Grammy Awards. They started as a bluegrass group and revamped to just a country group in 1997. Then released their debut album Wide Open Spaces at the beginning of 1998. The album, which included the tracks, “Wide Open Spaces,” “There’s Your Trouble,” and “You Were Mine,” became one of the best-selling albums by a group or duo in country music history. About a year later, the album Fly was released containing the well-known song “Cowboy Take Me Away” and gained them even more success. They have released a couple of albums since then and just recently released Gaslighter in 2020. The group was even featured on Taylor Swift’s song “Soon You’ll Get Better.” Did I mention that they also take part in writing their own songs? These women have gone through so much during their career, I think it is time to show them love back.