How Country Has Become One of the Most Popular Music Genres

When I used to think of country music, I thought of “Our Song”-era Taylor Swift, banjos, and a lot of yodeling. Sure, it’s stereotypical, but when you were raised on rock and roll and in an era where pop music exploded, country music isn’t exactly first on your playlist. When I was in elementary school, my dad got into country music, so instead of listening to the Rolling Stones on the way to school, we transitioned to Shania Twain and Alan Jackson. As the years went on, I too got into country music which led to family trips to concerts to see Lady Antebellum and Sugarland (which are some of the best concerts I’ve seen). My best country experience by far was this past summer when I saw Maren Morris and Sam Hunt. But I’m getting ahead of myself; I want to start off talking about how country has become one of the most popular genres of music.

Old school country does have a lot of banjos (I’m not crazy) and is very different from more recent, modern country. These days, country artists include Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley, and Luke Bryan, and their songs are about things we can relate to, things that pop artists also draw on for their songs. Most of the time it’s all about growing up, love, heartbreak, and partying. Believe it or not, your favorite pop artist is probably singing about the same thing as Sam Hunt. I’m going to run down my top five country artists in celebration of International Country Music Day, so put on your cowboy hat and boots and get ready.


1. Sam Hunt - “House Party,” “Body Like a Back Road,” “Speakers.” Literally everything.

As I said earlier, I saw Sam Hunt this past July for his 15 In A 30 tour with my best friend. We had been dying to see him, and when we found out he was coming to Mansfield, MA, we jumped at the chance. Despite the rain that would come and go every few minutes and the ridiculous heat, it was the second best concert I have ever been to (I’m sorry, nothing will beat The Chainsmokers). The two opening acts, one of which I will be mentioning later, were entertaining, talented, and made sure to get the crowd super involved. Sam himself was a fantastic performer including dancing, singing, and playing the guitar. He’s also not bad to look at. He made it super personal by explaining that his songs were about his wife and giving a little story every few songs about what part of his life the song pertained to or what the inspiration was. He even gave a little speech about how our generation is going to be the one to really change the world. Super dad-like moment, but it just made the concert even better. Overall, I’d 100 percent see him again because it was amazing from start to finish. He just made it feel like there weren’t thousands of people because he was getting personal with us.


2. Maren Morris - “I Could Use a Love Song,” “Second Wind,” “80’s Mercedes”

Maren Morris was one of the opening acts for Sam Hunt and, as I’m sure you can tell from my description above, she helped make the concert even better. She was the second opener for the show and was definitely not what I was expecting. Up until the concert, I had only heard her song “80’s Mercedes” which is about a young girl going out and having fun in her old car, and it’s just super catchy and great for singing along to at concerts. She wasn’t all pop and fun; she too got personal with us. Her slower songs go into the common ideas of heartbreak and how we all deal with it and want love. She went from fun to love to her hometown and told the story of her life through her set of 6-8 songs. Needless to say, I downloaded most of her album after the show.


3. Carrie Underwood - Literally every song ever, I can’t even tell you.

I was exposed to Queen Carrie at a young age because my aunt would babysit me a lot, and she constantly had Carrie’s “Some Hearts” CD playing whenever we were in the car. Not only is she ridiculously talented (she has 12 CMA awards and 12 American Country awards), she’s known to be so sweet and genuine and a family girl. She’s the type of celebrity you can relate to. She never thought she’d get married and have kids, as evident in her song “Never Knew I Always Wanted,” which was written about her husband Mike Fisher and son Isaiah and living her family life in Nashville. She’s also funny, as seen in her hosting gig with Brad Paisley for the CMA awards every year. And on top of all that, she’s gorgeous. Everything else aside, she has a variety of songs relating to common mainstream topics like love, loss, and breakups, and the melodies range from romantic, slow ballads to upbeat pop breakup songs about smashing up the car of the guy who broke your heart (don’t recommend doing it but it’s definitely a good listen when you’re going through heartache). I consistently download her albums every time they come out because she just keeps getting better and better.


4. Luke Bryan - “Games,” “Rollercoaster,” “Play it Again,” “Country Girl”

This is a relatively new one for me. I used to like a few of his songs, but I was never focused on the fact that Luke Bryan was singing them, but this past summer that changed. My best friend has a large obsession with country music so whenever we’re driving we put on her country playlist, and as I heard more and more Luke Bryan songs I began to realize how much I like his stuff. Sure, there are a few duds, but that happens with almost every artist.


5. Seth Ennis - “Woke Up in Nashville,” “Think and Drive”

Seth Ennis is my go-to for sad, sappy songs when I’m in a bad mood. He hits the nail on the head with slower, sad songs about missing someone you love or a mistake in a breakup. If you’re a fan of Taylor Swift’s slower songs about love (let’s be real, who isn’t) then Seth Ennis should definitely be on your radar. It’s all about young love with him, and as college-age people, I think we can all relate to that in some way. “Think and Drive” is my personal favorite because it’s about knowing someone is bad for you but loving them so much that it doesn’t matter, and if that doesn’t hit you right in the feels, I don’t really know what will.

Love it or hate it, country music has become hugely popular for all the same reasons pop music has exploded in the last 20 years. It hits the hard topics and the most relatable ones. Sure, it’s a bit slower than pop and has a different vibe, but I can tell you even as an avid pop lover, country has become my go-to. For me, it just sounds more genuine and I relate to it more. Don’t ask me why. Maybe it’s because they write their songs more often than pop artists do, so you know it comes from the heart. Maybe it’s the fact that most of the concerts I’ve been to have fallen into that category of music, or maybe it’s just how it speaks to me. Bottom line is y’all need to get a cowboy hat, go listen to some Sam Hunt for pumping up before a party, Carrie Underwood or old-school Taylor Swift for breakups, and Maren Morris for road trips because I promise you’ll love it and wonder when you can take a trip to Nashville. (Fun fact I’m planning a trip for next year.)

See you soon!

xx Arianna