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Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the new remix era of country music, where the worst “country” songs get regurgitated with an overlayed rapper or EDM twist, repackaged to terrorize the eardrums of the masses for another eight weeks after the song should normally fade from the charts and fall off of radio. Please find a group of your favorite male country stars crying for relevancy and attention to your right, and a selection of waning rap personalities looking for a career revitalization through white suburban consumers to your left. Mix and match as you choose to create the perfect mono-genre monstrosity that will then go on to shatter decades-old records because of Billboard’s new chart rules, and make a mockery of the “summer anthem” phenomenon by taking 10-month-old songs with newly added drum machine beats, and shoving them down the throat of the American consumer once again. Enjoy!
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Here we go again. Another day, another paradigm shift for quotation mark “country” trying desperately to apologize for itself and attract new demographics by careening out of the defined borders of the genre. This time it is the emerging habit of the country remix song. We first saw this when Jason Aldean remixed his influential country rap “Dirt Road Anthem” with Ludacris in 2011, but the first widely successful implementation of the country remix was when Florida Georgia Line did a remix of their mega hit “Cruise” with the rapper Nelly in April of 2013. The collaboration went on to be responsible for creating the longest-running #1 song in the history of country music. And since we all know what a copycat world it is down on Music Row, it was only a matter of time before the country music industrial complex retooled to make the remix of any song they see fit a reality.
Now the remix train has started rolling full steam, and since so many mainstream hits already are built on top of electronic dance beats, virtually any mainstream song is optimized to accept a remix. Take Jerrod Niemann for example, who has all of a sudden emerged as country’s EDM Master of Ceremonies. His hit “Drink To That All Night” has just received the remix treatment with none other than Latin rapper Pitbull (listen below, if you dare). Just like with Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise”, Jerrod’s song was very slow in developing as a blockbuster single. It was released all the way back in October of 2013, but is just now reaching its peak, hitting #1 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart. By releasing the remix, the single gets new life, and now could become a massive crossover success.
But this is just the tip of the country remix iceberg compared to what we’re about to see in the coming months. Rumors of additional Florida Georgia Line remixes are swirling, and the duo can’t stop talking about how much they’d love to work with Canadian rapper Drake. There’s talk that a remix of Brantley Gilbert’s “Bottoms Up” featuring Lil Wayne is in the pipeline. And The Band Perry has been hinting at some sort of collaboration with EDM megastar Avicii. Though the remix in country might feel like a rare occurrence at the moment, by the end of 2014, it might be a given from the format’s biggest songs and stars.
Remixes and collaborations have been the way the hip-hop world and parts of EDM have developed talent over the years. A bigger star will give a boost to an up-and-comer by having them come in and sing a line on a slightly different version of an already popular song. Seeing how country music has for all intents and purposes dismantled its farm system, and money and time for artist development has virtually dried up, these type of remixes and collaborations could be a good alternative to an industry struggling to find new stars, especially female stars. But instead of helping their own, country music is turning to promoting already-established artists from other genres under the veil of “collaboration” to attempt to reach new heights of commercial success.
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