On Wednesday morning (1-7) when Saving Country Music received an unsolicited email from a “Sir Mashalot” touting a video that had been uploaded to YouTube back on November 4th of 2014, who knew that it would become the first country music viral sensation of the young, fertile year. As some have pointed out, it is not exactly a new concept or enterprise to put together a mashup of similar songs. There’s been numerous of these examples presented over the years, but mostly within the pop medium, once again offering further evidence that country music has become the pop of the present-day music world. But this mashup seemed to be done with an extra bit of heart, really delving deep to illustrate similarities and trends; technical enough in nature to be smart, but with an audio element to be easily accessible. That is why it resonated as it did.
So even though Saving Country Music has seen similar illustrations and passed on featuring them previously, it seemed this one was worth shining a little bit bigger of a spotlight on in whatever capacity could be achieved. Subsequently a video that racked up only 400-something views in the two months after it had been initially posted has gone über viral, racking up nearly 2.2 million views at the time of this post, and counting.
The post went so viral so quickly Thursday morning, Saving Country Music’s server crashed momentarily. Within 36 hours, media outlets all over the internet, including legacy magazine Time had featured the mashup, and NPR’s All Things Considered had interviewed its creator, Nashville songwriter Greg Todd. The “Mind-Blowing Six Country Song Mashup” had gone mega-viral.
So the next question is, why does something like Greg Todd’s mashup, or Saving Country Music’s review of Florida Georgia Line’s Anything Goes from October, or Grady Smith’s video “Why Country Music Was Awful in 2013,” or Blake Shelton’s “Old Farts & Jackasses” comments find a way to resonate so widely when on the surface they seem to represent dissenting, minority viewpoints?
Beyond the technical reasons dealing with an interconnected social world, it’s because a distaste for what has happened to country music permeates American culture within a silent majority. It may be easy to see all of the attention acts like Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan are getting and think this is what the masses want, but underneath the surface there’s another parallel universe that is sickened by these trends, and when they see a piece of media or read something that perfectly illustrates what they feel inside, then said media can reach the viral capacity.
What’s even more interesting is that many of the people who this new mashup video resonates with are people who don’t really consider themselves country fans, traditional or mainstream. But country music still inhabits a place in their cultural ethos, and they have a profound sense that something is wrong. Their grandfather listened to it, they hear it in passing, and they know what country music is supposed to sound like, and the place it exists in culture. And even now these people—people who come from the outside looking in, with only a surface understanding of what country music is—are concerned for what is happening to what they see as an American cultural institution.
On Friday, a local sports station out of Dallas, TX called The Ticket had their afternoon show The Hardline dedicate an entire segment to the mashup. The show semi-regularly lampoons Bro-Country and its offshoots, and had been smattered with emails all day, proving how broad and effusive the distaste for modern country is where it bleeds into other cultural segments.
Some laugh that there’s a contingent of folks out there that actually enjoy the mashed up song, while others will point out that songwriter Greg Todd says himself he’s not necessarily hating on the songs as much as trying to prove a point. Part of this has to do with some media outlets wanting to get in on the viral event, but not wanting to cheese off their buddies on Music Row and trying to paint a more rosy picture. Make no mistake, this mashup made its rounds to the power players at Nashville’s major labels, and they will soon be huddling up to make damage control assessments. But if people enjoy the song, it’s just more proof how effective the mashup is.
This isn’t a “if you don’t like it, don’t listen to it” type of scenario. These songs are everywhere, playing in commercials and sporting events, at the grocery store and in the car at the stop light beside you. And more and more Americans of all stripes and backgrounds are asking, “What has happened to country music? It all sounds the same.”
Greg Todd and his mashup video answerd that question.
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