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How country music went crazy: A comprehensive timeline of the genre's identity crisis

Are you aware that Nashville is currently embroiled in an outright civil war?

The country music genre has gone through quite a transformation in the past couple years, adopting the electric guitar sounds of nearly-defunct rock radio, the rap-infused cadences and AutoTune normally reserved for hip hop, and, most controversially, the pop elements left behind as that genre gravitated toward electronic dance music. And attitudes have become ever more contentious between traditional and modern-country fans in 2013. Lately, the frustrations have reached a boiling point.

The straw that broke the camel’s back arrived two weeks ago, when Zac Brown called Luke Bryan’s No. 1 single “That’s My Kind of Night” the “worst song I’ve ever heard.” That remark caused Jason Aldean to hop on Instagram and tell Brown, “trust me when I tell u that nobody gives a shit what u think.” The country community quickly took sides in the debate, and the resulting feud has catapulted country music’s identity crisis straight into the spotlight.

These days, pop-country is more popular than ever — but also more despised than ever. Stars like Brown, Alan Jackson, Kacey Musgraves, and Gary Allan have begun publicly expressing unhappiness with their format, which this year has become an increasingly homogenous platform for men (a few weeks ago, Carrie Underwood was the only solo female in the Top 20) singing about trucks and beers and girls and then more trucks.

Tensions have been brewing all year long (and really, much longer than that) — and there’s been no shortage of public feuding among the genre’s A-list. As country fights to figure out what it should look and sound like, its biggest stars are airing some very honest (and sometimes harsh) opinions. Here’s a timeline of country’s wild, crazy, and sometimes mud-slinging year:

January 23: Blake Shelton calls classic country fans “old farts” and “jackasses”
While speaking in a GAC special, The Voice coach angered thousands of elderly country fans when he remarked, “Nobody wants to listen to their grandpa’s music. And I don’t care how many of these old farts around Nashville going, ‘My God, that ain’t country!’ Well that’s because you don’t buy records anymore, jackass. The kids do, and they don’t want to buy the music you were buying.” The comment caused a controversy that endured for weeks and helped spark this year’s debate about traditional-country vs. pop-country.
tumblr_lzra85ej5d1rp44uwo1_500_zpsfb76f65e READ FULL STORY

CMA nominations 2013: The snubs and surprises

Kacey-Musgraves-Review

Now that the 47th Annual CMA award nominations have been announced, here are a few thoughts on who made the cut, who was sorely left out — and the things that just don’t make much sense:

SURPRISE! Kacey Musgraves The Nashville newcomer scored six nominations (five for her own music, one for co-writing Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart”), which tied pack-leader Taylor Swift. Musgraves may not have the sales power of Swift, but she clearly has the industry support. Not many Best New Artist nominees also find themselves competing for awards like Best Female Artist or Album of the Year, a category that her disc Same Trailer Different Park absolutely deserves to win.

SNUB: Carrie Underwood An acclaimed album, four number one singles, and a 110-date arena tour (not to mention her new Sunday Night Football duties) were not enough to finally earn the perennial CMA Awards host her first Entertainer of the Year nomination. Annoyingly, this snub has been going on for a while. Methinks there must be record label politics holding her back. How else do you explain Jason Aldean, whose recent singles have floundered, sneaking into the category ahead of her? READ FULL STORY

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