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A Little Bit Country, a Little Bit Rock & Roll

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Recently, after playing Sugarland’s cool new song “Tonight,” I mentioned how much I enjoyed their performance of that song on the recent Academy of Country Music Awards. And then I went on to say I wasn’t sure why Rihanna later joined the duo’s Jennifer Nettles for a performance of her big pop hit “California King Bed.” It’s a good song. And Rihanna is enjoying a stellar pop/r&b music career. More power to her. But it just all seemed so random.

It made me wonder: is country music, in and of itself, in trouble in certain people’s eyes? Are there power players who feel it needs help? I mean, it was great to see Steven Tyler sing “Walk This Way” with Carrie Underwood. And I get the American Idol connection. But was someone concerned that Underwood would have been lost without him? Don’t get me wrong. It was terrific, and I enjoyed it. But I can’t help but be a little curious. And my curiosity is by no means a criticism. I also wonder why, all of a sudden, pop and rock stars are singing country music. Kid Rock, Uncle Kracker, and Michelle Branch–former member of the duo The Wreckers–have had big country chart success in recent years. And the songs are all terrific. Hey, if it’s country and it’s good, I want to play it. I just can’t put my finger on why it’s happening more frequently now than it ever has before. And I would never believe that country music is being damaged by this phenomenon, as one writer does. I just have an inquiring mind. And I want to know. Anybody?

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