Bro Country is NOT the new Hair Metal

Some might say hair metal died in the 90s when Nirvana disrupted the rock industry. Yet, all of hair metal’s celebration of excess and sexism, musical dilution, and market oversaturation is present in today’s mainstream country scene. The factory seems to have just moved from the Sunset Strip to Nashville. It’s massive appeal to young listeners has created a divide in the country music scene not unlike the divide in the metal scene in the 80s. On one side industry titans argue that Bro Country is just the music of the times and that old people are just whining about being left behind. On the other side, more “authentic” artists are rising under the banner of “real country.” This is all quickly acessible on Wikipedia and Saving Country Music in more depth. But is Bro Country really just the second coming of Hair Metal? Or does Hair Metal deserve a little more credit?

Starter Kit: Progressive Bluegrass

Bluegrass generates most of its interest from technical ability, even in its most traditional veins. Generally, the genre operates a lot like jazz: different configurations of instruments improvise solos on standard tunes. There’s mostly likely an upright bass and some light percussion like tambourine or washboard in the rhythm section, treble instruments like fiddle, banjo, mandolin, and guitar taking solos, and multi-part harmonies in the vocals. Bluegrass generally borrows from the same sources as country and folk: Scottish, Irish, and English folk music, African American spirituals, and blues. Progressive bluegrass started, like progressive rock, in the late 60s. While, the compositions never really reached the complexity of prog rock, the idea was the same in the beginning: the chord progressions got more complex, it started borrowing from other genres most notably jazz, modern rock, pop, and classical music, and the lyrics became deeper.