It the last week two of the biggest names in the music industry have pushed new music, each of whom was once unquestionably a part of country music. Both have evolved and changed their musical styles towards pop and are now debuting their “new” selves. Miley Cyrus is retuning to country music with a more approachable, almost apologetic, persona. Taylor Swift, on the other hand, is venturing into a whole new realm revealing a darker version of herself far from the country girl we once knew. But, for some strange reason, we would rather hold on to the artist that isn’t country than hear out the artist that wants to be.
Miley’s new music is a return to her roots and heritage, but she is having to work very hard to convince people that’s true. People are skeptical that she is changing her musical style as easily as she changes her hairstyle but if anyone can claim country it’s the daughter of Billy Ray, goddaughter of Dolly, who was taught how to play guitar at a kitchen table by Waylon.
Taylor, on the other hand, has long ago moved to pop music. Her recent embroilment in celebrity feuds and overwhelming press scrutiny has led to her announcement that the old Taylor is “dead.” Her new single is creepy house music. It sounds like the Pussycat Dolls made a soundtrack for “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” You’ll never hear this in a dance hall, rodeo, or honky tonk and, quite frankly, you shouldn’t. If you hear this on country radio, your immediate question should be, “Why?”
That may upset folks because Taylor is our sweetheart; we remember who she used to be. But she hasn’t made country music for a long time. Miley has rebranded herself, is making a country album, and is from a strong country heritage. At this moment, she is the most country both on paper and in product. There’s that old saying, “You can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy.” Miley is living that out, I think we’re all hoping Taylor will too.