The Student News Site of Summit High School

The Summit Pinnacle

The Student News Site of Summit High School

The Summit Pinnacle

The Student News Site of Summit High School

The Summit Pinnacle

We’re Going Country

Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey, and other musicians are stepping out of their genres to pursue that western swing

When thinking of country music, things like cowboy hats, big trucks and cliche lyrics about heartbreak come to mind. However, the definition of the genre is shifting as within the past few months, artists like Lana Del Rey, Beyoncé and Post Malone all announced their upcoming country albums. These musicians previously known for their presence in the alternative pop, R&B and hip-hop/rap scene shocked the world by their transition to a new music audience. This spontaneous change has already begun to impact the popularity and view on the genre, especially with younger generations.

During the 2024 Super Bowl, Beyoncé announced some of her highly anticipated upcoming music. She dropped two new singles, “Texas Hold ‘Em” and “16 Carriages” to preview Act II of her Renaissance trilogy album. These songs have already taken social media by storm and broken numerous records. “Texas Hold ‘Em” is currently No.1 on the Billboard country songs chart making Beyoncé the first ever black female artist to hold this spot. Less than two weeks prior, Del Rey announced her “musical detour” album “Lasso” which is set to come out in September. 

“The music business is going country. We’re going country. It’s happening,” said Del Rey in an interview with Glamour Magazine during a pre-Grammy Awards event. 

With the rapid increase in popularity, country music continues to polarize its listeners into two distinct categories: those who hate it and those who love it, leaving little room for ambivalence. As yet, the announcements have met unconditional support from fans.

“I’m really looking forward to listening to Lasso. I think it’s going to be super unique from Lana’s other albums,” said Summit freshman Lucy Poling. 

However—up until now—country has largely seemed to be the most hated genre of music. Such a  sudden change in the industry prompts an exploration of why country music is currently appealing to the general listener. To sum it up, the sudden popularity is partially attributed to reclaiming roots. 

Both Beyoncé and Del Rey can trace their musical history’s to the country music landscape. Beyoncé, born and raised in Houston, has experimented with country before in her song “Daddy Lessons” from her album “Lemonade.” While Del Rey has always been influenced by Americana and has toured all over the Bible Belt as of late. So these upcoming LP releases are expected as this transition was long coming.

Country peaked in the 1960s, when artists like Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, and Johnny Cash were all contributing unique music that led to the beginning of the “Nashville Sound.” Music at the time blended rock-n-roll, blues, gospel and pop together to create a never-heard-before sound. Yet, while the genre used to revolve around storytelling, simple melodies and authentic lyrics, it now feels more commercialized, formulaic, and disingenuine. 

However, artists like Morgan Wallen, Kacey Musgraves, Zach Bryan and Luke Combs have brought some of those storytelling roots back to the genre. Thanks to their involvement in the country scene, they have helped to boost its popularity.

According to The Economist an astounding 36 percent of streams of Spotify’s top 50 songs for 2023 have been country songs, whereas, in 2016, country made up just 2 percent.

Country is loved for its nostalgic and comfortable feel which even people who don’t enjoy the music can recognize.

“It makes me sad [that country music is getting more popular with younger generations]. But in reality it’s probably because the music is relatable,” said physical education teacher Stephanie Barker, an avid country hater.

Especially with Del Rey’s upcoming involvement in the genre, people—mostly fans—have already become more accepting of country music. Del Rey is perceived as a more woke and hyper feminine person compared to other country musicians. She’s known for being an enigmatic figure with a melancholic sound and vintage aesthetic. So, in turn, people are going to apply that romanticized Americana lens on “Lasso” and moreover country music as a whole.

This contemporary take on country music which incorporates a more atmospheric and ethereal ambiance has obscured the traditional views on the genre. Country is commonly stereotyped in association with the conservative side of America. This association stems from the genre’s historical ties to rural communities and traditional values, often aligned with conservative ideologies. Ideas of patriotism and small-town life are common, which as appealing to some, isn’t to everyone’s taste. So, with this new view of country, people whose belief systems don’t align will be able to listen to the music without the added implications.

Folk music is also making a resurgence partially thanks to The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes soundtrack which introduced viewers to the world of acoustic guitar and ballads. With the fine line between folk and country, this comeback will most likely serve as a bridge to draw more listeners to the realm of country music.

These new crossover artists like Del Rey and Beyoncé have brought a differing view of the genre. With the country scene being heavily male dominated, having bigger, mainstream female artists draws in a different audience. With both musicians already having large fan-bases, their releases will also expose a new crowd to the country scene. 

“I think country music is getting more popular because these big well-known artists are releasing music and I kind of hope it becomes more popular because it’s hated on way too much,” said Summit sophomore and Lana Del Rey fan Hazel Donnelly.

Most fans of these artists have been very accepting of the changes and have expressed their loyalty to them. 

“I’m so excited for Lana Del Rey’s country album to be released. I’m like counting down the days. It’s making me wanna start listening to country,” said Donnelly.

Many other people have also been persuaded to try out country music. Most discovering this new music from the internet.

Social media has played a big role in the influence and outreach of country music. Discovering new music is easier than ever with online sources like TikTok and Instagram, providing a constant stream of exposure to songs people may not have encountered otherwise. Previously, media like radio stations, magazines or word-of-mouth recommendations were the only ways to hear new music. So with the increase in social media usage with younger people, their musical horizons have broadened.

These musicians may bring positive changes in the music industry making it more accepting to experimentation. Del Rey and Beyoncé have also provided a voice to the female and POC.

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About the Contributor
Fiona Cooper
Fiona Cooper, Staff Writer

When she isn’t rotting in her bed munching on snacks, Fiona can often be found creating a to-do list of things that will never get done! She enjoys listening to music and nibbling on a chocolate croissant from Thump with an iced chai in hand. Fiona loves telling overly dramatic stories to her friends, watching stupid sitcoms and hating on spiders. She’s a first-time staff writer here at the Pinnacle and is looking forward to expanding her writing repertoire.

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