Not to go all Bobby Bones on your asses by pointing out the obvious about something upcoming and then taking a self-ingratiating victory lap when it comes to fruition, but just as I’ve been saying ever since the term “bro-country” was widely adopted by naysayers of the current male-dominated laundry list phenomenon in country music, eventually it would be co-opted by the very “bros” it was meant to call out, and be used as a term of endearment.
Well now ladies and gentlemen, we have reached that point, and in a big way.
The problem with the term “bro-country”, and why it has never been adopted by Saving Country Music was because it’s not really descriptive enough of what is wrong with the songs it’s being appointed to. The reason bros are bros is because they lack self-awareness, and call each other “bro” all the time. So when “bro-country” became the prevailing term for checklist country, it was only a matter of time before it went from an unsavory describer of a subset of country that pointy-nosed intellectuals look to bemoan, to the being adopted by the very douchebags it’s meant to demean.
Cases In Point (just a few, but there’s many more):
”Thomas Rhett, one of the leading songwriters and performers in the bro-country trend recently posted a “Bro-Country” Playlist on his official YouTube VEVO channel touting “The Best of Bro-Country” where you can sit back, press play, and listen to 41 straight minutes of songs like Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise”, Brantley Gilbert’s “Bottom’s Up”, Luke Bryan’s “That’s My Kind of Night”, or Thomas Rhett’s own “Get Me Some Of That”. Looks like Rhett has no problem with him or his contemporaries being called “bro-country.”
”On April 21st, Country Outfitter posted a playlist called “10 Bro-Country Songs For Summer” ; no, not to laugh at the trend, but to promote it. It showcases such sizzling summer anthems as “Ready Set Roll” by Chase Rice, “Drink To That All Night” by Jerrod Niemann, and “This Is How We Roll” by Florida Georgia Line. “Tropical getaways, ice cold beer and late nights sitting on the tailgate are just a few of the topics covered by many of country music’s leading men,” Country Outfitter touts. “While we wait for the weather to decide its next move, we’ve put together a heated playlist of bro-country songs for summer.”
”In a Florida Georgia Line review in The Edmonton Journal from April 15th titled “Florida Georgia Line Push Right Buttons with Bro Country“, writer Tom Murray gushes, “There were couples dancing in the upper terraces, rows of drunk bros in ball caps with fists extended, shouting themselves hoarse at nameless workday ghosts, and lots of selfies being taken. What more can be said?” He went on to give the band credit for their “reassembly of clichÃ©s,” and even had the guts to infer, “If Hank had been born in 1990, then you can be sure he would have done it this way as well, except maybe with Chuck D or Eric B on the remix, not Nelly.” Ugh.
”Not to be outdone, there is an entire radio station touting the virtues of bro-country, and even using it as the very definition of their format. KSTN in Stockton, CA decided to reformat in March, and named bro-country as their specific format. “The Bull”, as the station is being called, greeted the airwaves with their new format by playing 48 straight hours of Luke Bryan’s “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)” on continuous loop. Lawyers are looking into if this violated the Geneva Convention protocols on torture.
What Is a Better Alternative to Bro-Country?
Of course the problem with nicknames is you can’t pick them, they pick themselves, and bro-country has by far become the accepted nomenclature for songs by male country artists that spout the virtues of beer, trucks, back roads, tailgates, cutoffs, etc. etc. without any regard to narrative. But this trend isn’t anything new in pop country; only its dominance of the genre is, but even then you can go back many years to find its origination. Jason Aldean’s “Dirt Road Anthem” was definitely a bro-country song, and it was the biggest-selling country song in 2011.
Bro-country is simply a construct of pop country, just like country rap is. “Pop country” is a term that has always had negative connotations, especially amongst the artists that wear their tough exteriors proudly like the ones in the “bro-country” realm. Saving Country Music had been using the term “laundry list” for years to describe the type of listing off of country artifacts and signifiers that accompany a “bro-country” song. I remember being on a tour bus as part of the 2011 Country Throwdown/Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnic with a bunch of young songwriters, and being in the midst of a conversation about “checklist songs” that basically mirror the definition of “laundry list”.
But of course neither of these two terms will be adopted. Bro-country is here to stay, and destined to be adopted widespread by the very sots it was meant to criticize.