Now That’s What I Call Country

Aside from the pop/punk genre, there really isn’t a more tired style of music than “new country,” a.k.a. the kind of country music that is coming out of Nashville’s Music Row these days, which is more like classic pop with steel guitars, and lyrics that try to make you remember your youth or complain about your lot in life today. This is opposed to the country music of your parents and grandparents, which wasn’t nearly as forced or made to fit into a pattern musically or lyrically. So anyone with a musical brain is likely going to be insulted if someone tries to convince them to like this stuff. Enter Now That’s What I Call Country, a compilation of some of the biggest chart-toppers of the past year or so. For fans of new country, it’s not really any different than what’s been beaten to death on your favorite radio station. For the rest of us, it’s mostly the same bland fare that gives us headaches—the nasally Carrie Underwood (“All-American Girl”), Lady Antebellum’s “Love Don’t Live Here;” a song with the same chord progression and melody as about 300 other songs you’ve heard in this genre alone. Ditto for Brad Paisley’s “Letter To Me” and Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t Blink” — seriously, in any other genre those two guys would be bagging groceries. We’d be remiss, of course, if we didn’t point out some of the bright spots here, such as Keith Urban, who actually makes his songs compelling on “Everybody” (maybe it’s because he can actually sing); and George Strait’s “I Saw God Today,” a stunning number about the beauty of becoming a father that any parent can relate to. At some point, someone is going to step in and shake this genre up, but not until advertisers stop ruling terrestrial radio. (LABEL: UMG Recordings)

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