Thursday, July 31, 2008

That post I've been threatening to do.

Last weekend I found myself temporarily in the Slough of Despair, and driven by some instinct I didn't know I possessed, I turned on the Country Music channel and wallowed in depression for a while. The depressive funk lifted, as such things usually do, leaving only slight existential anxiety (which should lift in turn once I start taking steps to deal with the Underlying Issues. My Underlying Issues: don't worry, this post isn't about showing you them).

It's about country music.

I'll just state up front: my people don't do country music. The number of family members that have wandered through my livingroom in the past three days and gone, "What are you watching?" is beginning to amuse me, and is doing nothing to make me switch channels--not that I choose programming just to irritate passersby or anything, but nothing makes me want to check something out faster than a universally held belief that I wouldn't like it. How do they know I won't like it? I've never tried it. I don't even know I won't like it.

I have the distinct impression that if I'd answered "hardcore porn," that would have been less perplexing to my family than when I confessed to watching CMT. That's the Canadian webpage, there.

But here's the thing: I'm enjoying it. Well, some of it. I admit some of the twanging twanginess twangs my nerves, and the sitcom portion of the channel does nothing for me whatsoever. But the channel is slickly put together and pretty to look at; the online fanspace is likewise pretty; and some of the music has grown on me. Fast. Like a really quick-moving fungus.

I don't know why I hadn't realized country music videos were so stylized and visually appealing. I mean, I hadn't ever actually seen any, but I've seen music videos for other genres, so why did I think these would be different? I suppose having only heard country music on the radio, and some godawful pieces at that, I'd thought the homegrown style would translate into unappealing videos. It clearly doesn't: some of what I've seen in the past few days has been gorgeous. A lot of it strikes me as slightly downscale in its appeal--too many overly-made-up women for my taste--but then, a lot of the lyrics deal directly with financial hardship and the struggle to survive and find joy on a budget, so...fair enough, then.

And they aren't all caked in make-up by a long shot--or, to be slightly more accurate, they probably are, but with the kind of skill and taste that ends up looking subtle rather than garish. Let's take Sugarland, who have a video called "All I Want to Do" that, as of the moment of posting, you can listen to at their website. The lead singer has a fresh-faced look that probably took forever to achieve, but I don't care, because I don't have to do her makeup or wear her makeup: I just get to admire the end result, and I think she looks lovely.

(Her bandmate is less gorgeous, which brings me to a curious observation: while there's no lack of male eye candy on CMT, there are definitely a lot of...well, very ordinary looking guys. I don't mean to disparage ordinary looking people, as I'm certainly one of them, but the contrast between the unfailingly beautiful women and the often-near-fug men is perplexing. Although I will in fairness add that a black cowboy hat goes a long way towards improving anyone's looks. I'm starting to covet one of those hats myself.)

Anyway. Sugarland. Definitely on my things I like list, despite one beloved family member recoiling in horror from "that twangy voice." It's like we're hearing completely different things. I mean, I hear the twang, but I think it's kind of cute.

Also on my "wait, I think I like this" list is Lisa Brokop, who has song out now called Break It that I love everything about--the lyrics, her voice, every single item of clothes she wears in the video. And I can't find the video, sorry, but the CMT page on her has the song up, so you can at least listen to it.

Country music, aside from being the music of depression and financial hardship, is also the go-to place for kickass breakup songs, and Taylor Swift's Picture to Burn is one of those.

Lest you think I was slagging off all the guys who do country music, let me throw you some hot male talent.

Exhibit A: Shane Yellowbird. His music is slightly too something for my tastes (too "traditional country," maybe?), but his voice is lovely, and he's pretty damned easy on the eyes.

And the video for I Wanna Be In The Cavalry by Corb Lund may actually be the single most gorgeous thing I've seen in months. Seriously: if I could have a custom-designed RealDoll, it would look--and just as importantly, dress--like this.

A couple of driveby complaints:
1. It's a very largely white genre, this.
2. And on a related note, about 99% of the women seem to be blonde. Seriously: other hair colours are okay, you know?

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