Musician, comedian, actor and writer Bo Burnham is known for mixing comedy with music in his stage shows and popular YouTube channel to deliver a cutting and hilarious perspective on modern life. And in a new special just released to Netflix called Make Happy, Burnham puts the modern state of country music directly in his crosshairs.
“I think some of the greatest songwriters of all time are country artists,” Bo says about 20 minutes into the hour-long special. “Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, you know? And if you’re writing honestly, that is art, and I would never bash that. The problem is, with a lot of modern country music, what is called stadium country music—the sort of Keith Urban brand of country music—is that it is not honest. It is the exact opposite of honest. Where instead of people actually telling their stories, you’ve got a bunch of millionaire metrosexuals who’ve never done a hard days work in their life.”
You can tell Bo Burnham’s perspective on country music is a bit from the outside looking in, and he may have some of the nomenclature wrong (it would probably be better to call it Bro-Country as opposed to “stadium country”), but his diagnosis is nonetheless spot on.
“They figured out the words and the phrases they can use to pander to their audience, and they list the same words and phrases off sort of Mad Lib style,” says Burnham. “And every song is raking in millions of dollars from actual working class people.”
He then launches into a parody song probably titled “Panderin'” that’s pretty damn side splitting and accurate.
You can see the entire 4-minute country music segment of the Make Happy special below, but the whole thing is probably worth checking out. P.S., watch for some language.