Fifteen years ago, the Dixie Chicks took the stage at a show in London and made a statement that forever altered the standards of politics in the country music industry. Natalie Maines, lead vocalist, openly announced to the crowd how ashamed she was that the president of the United States, George W. Bush, was from her home state.
Soon, the group was exiled from the country community because their statement simply didn’t fit the overly conservative stereotype of country musicians.
Throughout the growth of country music, society has developed an image of what they portray country singers to believe in. Swinging towards the right side of politics, artists are expected to be pro-Second Amendment and anti-gay marriage rights. These beliefs have been drawn from the conservative audience of country.
Recently, country artists have been altering this conservative stereotype and making a new name for themselves. Singers and producers with more liberal beliefs have been infiltrating the industry and revealing that not every person who writes and sings country supports the conservative side of politics.
Over the past decade, multiple artists have used their talents of songwriting and singing to promote important but controversial social topics. Keith Urban released “Female” in early November of 2017 and took a direct stab at the allegations of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault.
Throughout the song, Urban expresses that hearing about Weinstein personally affected him and motivated him to say something about it. He discusses that women have little political representation and that rape culture is something that too many people choose to dismiss. Generally, especially in country music from a few years ago, many women are portrayed as objects more than as people. An example of this is “Get Your Shine On” by Florida Georgia Line. The song encourages a woman to continue drinking and sexually fantasizes her dancing throughout the lyrics.
In the past couple of years, the words sung in country have taken a completely different turn. Because of an extremely strong push for gender equality recently, more and more country singers are beginning to express their agreement and advocate for changes to be made to grow towards equal rights and representation of females.
Also in 2017, Luke Bryan released his album What Makes You Country. The ironic thing about his new music is the message that the songs send. Thinking about what makes you country commonly provokes thoughts of beer, tractors, and dirt—what many country songs are about. Instead, Bryan uses this opportunity to openly express his thoughts.
His single “Most People Are Good” illustrates that there are many people in this world with strong, homegrown values. One of the lines of the song quotes, “I believe you love who you love/Ain’t nothing you should ever be ashamed of.” Bryan clearly promotes his acceptance of love for all people, which is seen as a liberal belief. As gay rights are continuously questioned within our government, country singers are beginning to exemplify that everyone deserves the right to love who they want to love.
Another line is, “I believe if you just go by the nightly news/Your faith in mankind would be the first thing you lose.” The famous country artist blends another controversial belief into his music. He says that by watching and believing what news stations broadcast, people will be easily fooled and led to false beliefs. In politics over the last few years especially, the influence of personal opinion into news channels has been a hot topic. CNN and FOX News are two big names among many that are often criticized for publishing “fake news”—information influenced by political belief.
However, Luke Bryan informs listeners that they should use their own opinions and knowledge to develop their beliefs and values instead of subjecting to outside influence.
Late September and early October this year have brought voting season upon us, as midterm elections quickly approach. Singers are craftily using the polls as their platform to encourage and express their own opinions.
Taylor Swift will forever be one of the most popular country singers of all time. Although she has transitioned into being a pop singer, Swift still maintains a large influence in the community of country music. She joins country artists for features on songs and still holds a torch for Nashville, her hometown and the place where record labels discovered her talent.
As well as being involved with country, Swift is continuously involved with the media for almost every detail of her personal life. While this has become a negative for her, the artist is learning how to use this popularity to her advantage. On October 7, Swift opened up to her Instagram followers about her political opinions.
Attempting to specifically target the voting crowd of Tennessee, Taylor directly explained how Marsha Blackburn, a woman running for Senate in the state, stands for the opposition of Swift’s own beliefs. The artist said, “I cannot vote for someone who will not be willing to fight for dignity of ALL Americans, no matter their skin color, gender or who they love.” Her claim swings much more to the liberal side of politics, yet Swift finished the post off tastefully.
To her readers, Swift expressed that if you are the legal age of voting, you should utilize the opportunity and cast your vote for candidates that properly represent your values. Swift does not tell people who to vote for but instead advocates to just vote. Because of her great influence in the young adult community, this quickly raised copious amounts of awareness for the cause.
Two weeks later, Swift again caught her fans’ attention by further encouraging voting. She posted on her Instagram story, asking for voters to send in pictures of them after visiting the ballots. Then, she re-posted their photos and promoted their exercise of their rights as American citizens. While Swift stands to the left side of politics, she nonetheless motivated all eligible voters to represent their own beliefs.
Although all gratitude cannot be gifted to the Dixie Chicks, politics have certainly become a hot topic in the industry of country music over the last two decades. Artists are continuing to use their resources, such as music and social media platforms, to express their beliefs and influence voters of America.