I’m not usually one to buy into the argument that pop-country crossovers (heavy on the pop) are great ambassadors for all of country music. I think they’re great ambassadors for pop-country music, which has less and less to do with country music proper. As far as ambassadors go, give me someone like Marty Stuart, whose firm grounding in the traditions of the music allow him to serve as a living link to country music history.
I don’t see many Taylor Swift fans becoming big purchasers of recordings by Gene Watson and Kitty Wells – or even, for that matter, Randy Travis and Patty Loveless. Those are different worlds. Taylor Swift is a gateway to Kitty Wells the same way that smoking marijuana is a gateway to committing genocide – which is to say, the link between the two is tenuous at best.
But while I turn my nose up at much of the faux-country peddled by the mainstream, I have a confessed soft spot for Sugarland. I think they’re pretty musically compelling regardless of what they’re doing, and agree with those who call Love on the Inside one of the strongest artistic statements of 2008. Maybe not something I’d want to listen to all the time, but I get what they were doing and appreciate the way they went about doing it. Jennifer Nettles has as much charisma as anyone and Kristian Bush… well, he doesn’t talk his philosophy while she’s singing, so their stage shows are good. Or so I’ve heard. The one time I almost saw them, they had to cancel.
Having enjoyed the duo’s first-ever network special last night, I’m pleased to offer one lucky reader a cool prize pack featuring a copy of the Live on the Inside CD/DVD package (including last night’s special and a CD of mostly non-country covers recorded live at various concerts) and a limited edition Sugarland movie poster.
To enter, just comment with a suggested piece of headwear for Kristian Bush. He already has the cowboy hat and the Charlie Chaplin hat covered, so come up with something else. Doesn’t really matter what it is, though I will appreciate humorous entries more than those that are all serious-like. You have through Sunday, August 9 to enter. A winner will be chosen at random and contacted shortly thereafter.
Added 8/10: We’ve got a winner. Congratulations to Michael!