Country Music’s Approaching Reckoning

Spencer Kornhaber, writing for The Atlantic on the jolts Country music has been hit with by the pandemic and the protests.

The Chicks, meanwhile, are about to release Gaslighter, their first batch of songs since 2006. Back then, country radio’s boycott—cancellation?—of the Chicks for criticizing the Iraq War did not succeed in getting the band to quiet down, and they remain outspoken on Gaslighter. Produced by the pop artist Jack Antonoff, the album is a lively and thumping stylistic pastiche with biting lyrics about personal matters and politics. On the single “March, March,” the Chicks speak out for abortion rights, for gun control, and to raise questions about Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia. Its accompanying video is packed with images from the recent protests, culminating with a list of Black people killed by police. The song’s banjos and harmonies sound like country music, but the listener is left with a jolting, tense feeling far from the soothing haze offered by old Chicks songs like “Wide Open Spaces.” This is the sound of a band insisting that everything is not fine and normal—or maybe that normal was never all that fine.

Kornhaber, Spencer. (2020, July 15). Country Music Can No Longer Hide Its Problems. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/culture/archive/2020/07/country-music-pandemic-protests-the-chicks-gaslighter/614092/

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