Taylor Swift is at the top of country music.
Her latest album, “Red,” is the No. 1 country album and has been for several straight weeks.
But is it country?
“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” Swift's smash hit single, has few elements of traditional country music, and is more bubblegum pop than anything.
Some fans say Swift is a country artist, but others argue otherwise.
“I think Taylor Swift is more pop than country,” said Omahan Kari Watts.
Watts listens to country music, mostly with her husband, and finds Swift's songs to be catchy and fun — just not country.
“While the country community may have birthed her, her appeal is to the masses, thus making her pop,” Watts said. “She doesn't have a specific country sound or a twang in her voice that generally characterizes (country) music.”
Whether or not a piece of music is considered “country” (or any other genre, for that matter) is largely a matter of marketing. Songs pop up on Billboard's country charts because they're played on country radio stations. They're played on country stations because the songs are marketed and publicized as being country music.
At Homer's Music in the Old Market, Swift's CDs are in the country section.
That's more about where people expect to find the artist's music than a statement about what kind of music she makes, said Mike Fratt, the general manager at Homer's.
If Swift keeps making pop records for the next decade, she may find herself removed from the country section.
“There are certainly artists that slide in and out of different genres,” Fratt said. “Take Steve Earle. Does he go in country or rock?”
Most people like to label everything, especially music, according to Watts.
“Completely unnecessary. It's limiting,” she said.
When it comes to things like awards — at the Grammys, Swift was nominated in mainstream and country categories — Swift should be honored for both country and pop, she said.
Like rock, country music can be further divided into outlaw, honky tonk and several other categories. A lot of country music has moved closer to rock and pop, including artists such as Jason Aldean and Lady Antebellum.
“You could argue a lot of country today is really rock with a fiddle or a pedal steel,” Fratt said. “Country has filled the void that rock hasn't over the last 15 years. If you were to pull us back to the late '80s, (modern country music) would be comfortable in the rock format.”
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