This Is How Country Music Went Pop
This Is Pop on Netflix premiered last week. This particular series takes a deep dive into the evolution of pop music. It's pop-country music like you've never seen it before.
According to the show's website, This Is Pop will "Uncover the real stories behind your favorite pop songs as this docuseries charts the impact of the festival scene, Auto-Tune, boy bands and more." This series even describes how country hits became huge crossover success stories.
I sat down and watched the entire docuseries over the weekend, and the country music conversation entered the picture in the fourth episode. I'll try to summarize this episode as best I can with some highlights.
Right from the start, the narrator asked the question why country music was even considered pop. The answer: Authenticity.
If a country tune had an authentic sound and a message behind it, it was naturally going to be successful on the pop charts. Artists like Shania Twain, Wynonna Judd, Tanya Tucker, Steve Earle, and Brandi Carlile join this iconic debate during the episode. Boy...did I learn a lot. It's an interesting group of artists to bring together for this series. In some strange way, it all made sense.
At the height of pop music in the 90s, Wynonna Judd was leading the ladies of country music on the pop charts. She was even considered the Queen of Country music way before Shania Twain. Wynonna started her solo career after her infamous spilt from the"Judds,” in reality her mother. Her pop country career sky-rocked right after her release of "No One Else On Earth." Why? The beat was electric and catchy. Believe it or not, Wynonna appeared to care less about the song. But, it was something everyone could dance to.
Once Wynonna had a baby, a new and younger female artist took over the country and pop world...Yep This Is Pop settled the "Shania vs. Wynonna" feud.
One thing is for certain, Wynonna initially was not too happy to see Shania on her television. She admitted that she just had a baby and to see someone as beautiful as Shania was extremely challenging. She felt like she was being replaced. In reality, the two female artists respect each other and call each other friends.
So how do Tanya Tucker and Steve Earle relate to this conversation? Well if it wasn't for these artists that first pushed the country music boundaries, Wynonna and Shania would have never crossed over.
Tanya and Steve were not your typical country artists just based on how they looked. Furthermore, Tanya's music evolved from "Delta Dawn" and her sound had an extra "kick" to it. Back then, "true" country artists did not like the idea of country music going pop. Despite the controversies, Steve and Tanya wanted to take those risks as artists. These risks are partly the reason why Tanya was apprehensive about releasing a new album after 15+ years. She didn’t know how the world would react. Brandi Carlile was the one to convince her to release the album. She assured Tanya it was her time. Two long-awaited Grammy Awards later, her new album "While I'm Livin' " was a success! Obviously, Brandi made the right decision to push Tanya.
This Is Pop really opened my eyes to this subject. Country and pop music are connected in some way. It just takes authentic artists to break through the “pop glass ceiling.” I would recommend watching This Is Pop if you want an in-depth perspective. Trust me, you'll learn something new.