There used to be no in between with country. You were either a country music fan or you hated the genre. Now the line separating country from the rest of the music world is starting to blur.
Well, blur again. Back in the day, country music was pop music. Artists like Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams were pop stars. But ask anybody today and they’re country stars.
Perhaps the pop music world is finally starting to get tired of overly auto-tuned vocals and is straying from the electro-pop path it was so wholeheartedly on for so long. Or maybe music is cyclical and it was inevitable these old-school country vibes would make their way back into the mainstream. Either way, it’s obvious that today’s pop stars are bringing Americana back into the limelight. Just see who most recently got in touch with their twangier roots below.
Hannah Montana’s country music royalty. Her dad is country hitmaker Billy Ray Cyrus and her godmother is twang goddess, Dolly Parton. Despite her country music pedigree, she only occasionally dipped her toe in the genre until diving into it on her last album, Younger Now. With Younger Now, Cyrus consciously chose to get back in touch with her country roots. It’s still definitely a pop album, the country influences are prominent, especially in the title track’s twang guitar and cowboy attire.
No one can forget the epic multimedia album Lemonade where Bey spilled on her complicated relationship with her husband Jay-Z. The album mixes pop music and hip-hop, but don’t overlook the track “Daddy Lessons,” an epic country banger about family issues and Texas life. She even sang it with the Dixie Chicks at the CMAs.
Justin Timberlake started his pop stardom with N’SYNC and we all love him for that. He went on to bring sexy back in his solo pop career and more recently came out with the album Into The Woods—which he claims to be his country music album. Though many country fans would still call it pop music, the genre’s influence on the album is undeniable. Just take the song “Say Something,” which features contemporary country music star, Chris Stapleton.
This pop star made her fame from electro-pop hip-hop infusions. However, her mother was a singer-songwriter who co-wrote songs with such country stars as Dolly Parton. So most recently Kesha decided to follow her mother’s footsteps and throw several country tracks on her most recent album Rainbow—she even has a track featuring Parton herself.
Lady Gaga has a sleeve stuffed with tricks. So it’s no surprise that she threw a country ballad at us with the track “Million Reasons” in 2016. The music video is fully equipped with a classic Gretsch White Falcon electric guitar and Gaga sporting a wide-brimmed hat.