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Radio: Country Hits

Radio: Country Hits

by Linda Ryan  |  February 6, 2013

Radio: Country Hits

So you've been watching Keith Urban on American Idol, and it's got you wondering about country music. Maybe you heard Taylor Swift on your local pop radio station and got confused because, after all, she's a country artist! But you like it! And you seem to sing, "Never, ever, ever" at the slightest provocation these days.

Yes, country music is making tremendous inroads in broadening its appeal to people who would normally blanch at the thought of listening to it. CMT noted this trend years ago and capitalized on it with Crossroads, a concert-performance show that pairs up country stars with more mainstream influences, hooking up Faith Hill with The Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde, or Luke Bryan with The Doobie Brothers, or Taylor Swift with Def Leppard (kidding) and so on.

Because let's face it: Most young country stars grew up watching MTV just like you and me. That means a regular, delicious dose of rap, hair metal, New Wave or such heartland rockers as John Mellencamp or Tom Petty every day after school. Which in turn explains why Jason Aldean's guitar-heavy and fuzzed-out bass sound often has more in common with the likes of Def Lep and AC/DC than The Hag or Johnny Cash. Likewise, have you ever read a Little Big Town review that didn't mention Fleetwood Mac? Or a Zac Brown Band review that didn't mention James Taylor or The Allman Brothers? Did you know Bruce Springsteen recently gave a thumbs-up to Eric Church's instant-classic hit single "Springsteen," or that Bon Jovi once hit No. 1 on the country charts with a song called "Who Says You Can't Go Home"?

Meanwhile, Blake Shelton recently got lambasted by old-school country icons for pointing out that country music has to evolve to survive, and that young kids today don't want to buy their grandpa's country music. For most kids, though, that's the cold, hard truth. Country goes in cycles -- always has. Back in the '50s, the lush strings and pop arrangements came to be known as the Nashville sound, an era that brought us such greats as Eddy Arnold and Ray Price. In the '60s and '70s, that foray into pop expanded further with the countrypolitan sound, which begat greats from Glen Campbell to Charley Pride to John Denver. And in the '80s, the same arguments/complaints were being made about the (pop) chart-topping music of Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson and Kenny Rogers.

And so even if many self-described true country music fans cringe at the sounds of "evolution," we are smack dab in the middle of it! Listen for yourself with our Country Hits station: nothing but hits from the past decade, plus a few classics thrown in for good measure. Hit play and the let the musical transformation begin.