And Just Like That, Billy Ray Cyrus is Cool Again

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home.

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15 Responses

  1. Jaybird says:

    Line Dancing is a good thing.Report

  2. CJColucci says:

    Although I had a casual acquaintance with country music (mostly classic and outlaw), knew who Billy Ray Cyrus was, and had heard of his big hit, when I clicked on the link to Achy, Breaky Heart I realized that I had never heard it until today. Not that I’d missed much, but I try not to be completely out of touch.Report

  3. George Turner says:

    I was a huge fan of Helene Fischer, who is a “country” artist in Germany, though she was born to German parents in the far reaches of the Soviet Union because Stalin. She’s the eighth most highly paid female musician, bringing in $32 million in 2018.

    But German “country” is hard to describe. It’s like a love child of Lawrence Welk, the Mandrel Sisters, and maybe the Muppets. It’s what you might expect as the entertainment at an Elk’s Lodge in Minnesota.

    Guardian article on her

    Anyway, there are tons of videos of her on Youtube, and they’re kind of like Achy Breaky Heart cranked to 11. Stick Billy Ray in a Victoria’s Secret Angel costume, add backup dancers, and have him belt out Ethel Merman hits and you’ll be close to the horror of it all. Yet she’s soooo good at it.Report

  4. Les Cargill says:

    Country has always had a “No True Scotsman” problem. You sort of either grew up with it, like baseball, or you wouldn’t really “get it”. As dance music, I think the cross with swing was the most effective variant. If you played Ray Price shuffles, they danced. As dance music, it wasn’t polkas but it was good to dance to, and it had a lot of musical value.

    There is a video interview with the eminent Junior Brown, who says ” the society that supported it (country music) just died out.” And he’s right. It’s about 1:30 into the video.

    It’s “sleepwalk guitar talk, Jun 13, 2013 ” on teh YouTube.

    It’s rather a bizarre thing to have an affinity for. But you get steeped in it when you grew up around certain radio stations that the adults you were around liked.Report

    • George Turner in reply to Les Cargill says:

      The society of American country music is really global, so it will do fine.

      Clip from Kenyan TV

      The most requested artist on radio stations in Nairobi and throughout Kenya is Kenny Rogers.

      From an NPR story about it: “Henry Makhoka heads programming for the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation, the nation’s oldest and largest radio station. Makhoka says the allure of country music in Africa is its iconic characters – the gamblers and the highway men, the handwringing mothers and the cock-sure sons, the Rubys, the Lucilles, the Joleens, the grievous angels and the folks who just ain’t no good. These are the characters whose stories Kenyans identify with more than anything that smells like teen spirit.”

      Here’s Don William’s obituary in Kenyan media

      “While mourning the great singer, satirist and journalist Ted Malanda wrote: “Moment of silence for the thousands of Kenyan kids who were conceived with Don Williams crooning in the background,” underpinning the influence the crooner had in the daily lives of Kenyans from different backgrounds.”Report

      • Les Cargill in reply to George Turner says:

        Country has also found a serious home in Europe in general, and Scandinavia in particular. But it’s marginal at best. There is support enough to keep professionals employed. I’d say that that’s only marginally true within the US.

        What I mean by “having a society” is whether or not new catalog will be developed and whether that new catalog will exist along side say, Kenny Rogers. The acts like Florida Georgia Line are constructed acts and other than people dancing to them at a prom, nobody’s going to remember than in 20 years.

        Om general, we’ve lost the monoculture and what advantages came from that. Kenny Rogers is of that. But I doubt we’ll see even any Kenny Rogers rising on the horizon. You can’t have narrowcasting and strong product at the same time.Report

  5. George Turner says:

    Looking at a list of net worth, the only ones higher than Kenny Rogers are George Strait, Garth Brooks, Toby Keith, Shania Twain, and Dolly Parton.

    The big threat to other musical styles was shown in a rendition of “Amarillo by Morning” on Mongolia’s Got Talent. A nomadic horse people, bursting from the steppes to spread country music across half the known world is a real threat. But on the bright side, it would be much scarier if they were singing death metal.

    And judging by an amazing performance on Vietnam’s Got Talent, country is winning there too.Report