“So, what kind of music are you into?”

As someone who has music of all kinds deeply interwoven into his life, this is typically one of my go-to icebreakers when I meet someone. However, when someone asks me the very same question, I often struggle to answer it.

“Pretty much everything,” I’ll hesitantly reply. Considering my eclectic taste, this answer is mostly true.

Spacey jazz? Check. Gruesome death metal? Check. Gucci Mane? Check.

There is one caveat, however, to my reply.

For as long as I can remember, country music of any variety has not appealed to me in the slightest. If I am being completely honest though, my dislike of country is kind of a mayonnaise situation.

What do I mean by that? Well, I have also thought mayo is fucking gross (solely in terms of appearance and texture) for so long that I have no idea if I even like the taste of it. Similarly, I haven’t really ever sat down and given country music an honest chance.

So that’s exactly what I did today. I dedicated a full three hours and seven minutes of my life to listening to the “Country Hits playlist on Spotify. I’m well aware that these pop-oriented songs may not be considered by some as “real country music.” Nevertheless, in the interest of my mental well-being, I chose this playlist because I felt these songs would be the most easily accessible for someone not accustomed to the twang.

“Craving You” by Thomas Rhett, leads off the playlist. This is basically a pop song with a slightly country twist. If you swapped out Rhett for Chris Martin, I would not question this as a Coldplay B-side. I could survive an entire playlist of this.

The second song is by Rascal Flatts. I have definitely heard that name before, but I don’t think I could name a song by them. Decidedly more “country” than the first song, “Yours If You Want It,” is closer to what I expected from this playlist. The guitar-centric song features a cheesy, anthemic chorus—and you know what—I still didn’t hate it (that much).

Let’s fast forward a few tracks to “Drinkin Problem” by Midland. Yep, this is exactly what I was afraid of. “People say I got a drinkin’ problem, but I got no problem drinkin’ at all.” Christ. The twang is strong with this one.

Directly following that anthem to alcoholism is “You Look Good” by Lady Antebellum. This is probably my favorite song so far! The track is very catchy with a cool mix of some ska-esque horns and guitar leads.

What seemed like an eternity later, the playlist closes out with Danielle Bradbery’s “Sway.” If I didn’t know any better I’d say this was Ariana Grande’s attempt at making a country song. That’s not meant in a negative way at all. Bradbery has a beautiful voice and “Sway” has a certain soul to it that I do appreciate.

For brevity’s sake, I am not going to include the notes I penned on all 55 tracks, but I assure you I did listen to them all! But did I come away from this foray with a newfound appreciation for country music? Sort of.

I can definitely see why people enjoy it. The playlist showed me that within the genre there’s a wide sonic pallet. You can often find a range of emotions within a single song. There is an earnestness in much of the music that’s endearing. Often, the lyrics can be relatable and cathartic.

To some, the familiar sound of a country song reminds them of family, of their youth, of home. To me however, it doesn’t carry any of that weight. To me, it’s still the music of someone else. But hey, at least I tried right? Now, onto that mayonnaise…

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