Ding Ding Ding ROUND ONE
Okay. There’s a big old ongoing discussion. UK Country vs US Country. Is UK Country ‘Real country’ or should we all stop kidding ourselves and go home, drunk on the American dream.
I know there are plenty of fantastic UK Country artists out there and fantastic fans who support them, but there does seem to be this feeling amongst some that UK Country just isn’t quite right?
Well, see this isn’t a topic everyone is ever going to agree on.But I think what we can agree on, and what history and statistics show us, is that there are huge fundamental differences between UK music and US music. Maybe these contribute to the differences listeners feel?
Let’s take a look at some of these differences and historical events.
Pre-1963 American music was viewed as a great product to export to the UK but British music was a bit blah and the US didn’t really feel it was a big enough deal to bother with. Until the Beatles…
The British invasion of music that came with the Beatles was unprecedented but it started breaking down those barriers for British music in the United States. HOWEVER, this does demonstrate a historical reluctance for the road to go both ways music-wise between the US and the UK.
Another huge difference is size of the country and population. I mean, realistically the larger the population the more musicians of a certain genre there will be, right? So maybe that means there’s a lot more choice and variety in American Country music than British. Does that mean this variation then plays into preference.
A lot of the time, American music comes across as more polished and shiny than UK productions alongside other differences such as different standards for guitar tones, which perhaps plays into preference.
Whatever the historical, statistical or production differences, there’s a word that gets tossed around a lot in these debates.
Country music originates from old America… Right? So how can some British bird be authentic singing about the experiences of a bloke who grew up in the mountains, drinking ‘shine, and working as soon as he could walk?
Weeeelllll… Actually, as much as it does hold roots in the Southern States of the US as a form of storytelling, it was also heavily influenced by celtic music, English ballads and Irish fiddle songs brought over by European immigrants.
These were also blended with African instruments brought over during the slave trade.
So modern Country music might be big hats and cowboy boots, singing about trucks, beer and girls but it doesn’t actually belong exclusively to Southern Belles and Cowboys.
It belongs to a wide variety of nationalities and races, holding influences from across the world.
But we’re talking about that Country music your grandparents listen to. Or are we talking about Billy Ray’s Achey Breaky heart? Or wait, are we on about Carrie Underwood? But then what about Maren Morris if we’re headed down that road? Or is Dolly ‘Real country’? Fun fact, Dolly wasn’t even considered to be a decent Country singer when Porter took her on his show. She had to werk to get her queen of country title. And now we’re playing the ‘you ain’t Dolly’ game.
So maybe, just maybe, the only truth here to go with our three Chords, is that the ‘Real country’ argument has been ongoing no matter what country, state, nationality, race we are or what instruments we use. Country, to me, is an amazing umbrella term for a hell of a lot of incredible artists everywhere making new sounds, crossovers, subgenres and so on, but ultimately, it tells a story.
And that’s my two Cents.
Round two anyone?
Headline Photo: Emilia Drag
Editorial Images: Tammy Barker