Country music needed Maddie & Tae's "Girl In a Country Song"

Categories: Country Music
If you listen to country music, it's almost assured that you feel like everyone is dumping on your favorite genre as of late. As "bro-country" increasingly becomes the butt of the joke for serious music critics and old-school fans alike, this unfortunate plague on country music's artistic house continues to be immensely popular -- and profitable.

But the chorus of critics is growing, and sometimes in quite unlikely places. Newcomer girl-power duo Maddie & Tae have joined in with "Girl In a Country Song," the duo's first release that is receiving some major attention even from people who don't consider themselves fans of country music. The duo, comprised of two bubbly, blonde, small-town girls, uses their first 15 minutes of fame to take on the sexist and outdated stereotypes about women that have only continued to get worse as bro-country has made its ascension.

The tropes that Maddie & Tae address in "Girl In a Country Song" are so common in country that it's almost painful upon a first listen. From the opening words, Maddie & Tae acknowledge the ubiquitous bare feet and painted on blue jeans, along with the annoying insistence on addressing women as "girl." These are all elements crucial to a Brantley Gilbert or Florida Georgia Line song, including the one that currently sits atop the Billboard Hot Country 100, "Dirt."

As much as hardcore fans protest that these lyrically shallow country boy jams aren't "real" country and chastise artists like Gilbert and Florida Georgia Line for straying away from the genre's roots, they are what are making country artists and Nashville labels money. Until an artist with some serious commercial appeal pushes back against these pervasive stereotypes, we won't see much of a change.

Which is why Maddie & Tae's new song is so refreshing and has such potential to create broader change in country music. This kind of pushback is served best to country fans when packaged in a way that is equally appealing as their bro-country counterparts. Maddie and Tae aren't saying that country music is inherently bad, just that the female artists in the genre, along with the women described in these songs, deserve much better.

It's not surprising that Maddie & Tae chose to present the issue of female objectification with a good sense of humor. In the video, the short shorts are on the men for a change, and the song jokes about chafing bikini tops and slapping overly-friendly country bros that insist on calling women "baby."

The use of humor in tackling tough issues in country music is nothing new, and some attempts are much more successful than others, both critically and commercially. In 1999, the Dixie Chicks' "Goodbye Earl" made getting murderous revenge on a wife-beater into an oft-repeated punchline. The song was successful -- one of the Chicks' highest-charting -- and brought a little seriousness to otherwise superficial country airwaves.

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