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“Love is Love” in Country Music and its Growing Insincerity

There’s a trend right now in country music to sing a lyric along the lines of “I don’t care who you love,” or “Love is love,” or “Bang whomever,” and while the intention is nice, the sincerity is nonexistent.

In 2013, Kacey Musgraves’ debut album Same Trailer, Different Park was released to critical acclaim and a silent boycott from country radio. Her biggest hit off of the album, with next to no radio airplay, was “Follow Your Arrow,” an inspired track that preached the gospel of just being yourself and not thinking about how everyone else thinks. Included in the song are the lyrics “Roll up a joint…or don’t” and “Make lots of noise/kiss lots of boys/or kiss lots of girls if that’s something you’re into,” which the straight white Tr*mp voting country radio gods did not enjoy. 

The song became a “social media” hit, per say, becoming one of her best known tracks and going on to win her Country Song of the Year at the CMA Awards. However, her inclusion of a pro-LGBTQ+ lyric in a country song was aided by her unwavering support of the community. She’s been a staunch advocate since she began her career, including a heartfelt speech during her NPR Tiny Desk Concert the day gay marriage was legalized in this country.

As she’s gone on to write other songs and albums, there has been this consistent underlying message of “I get you” to the LGBTQ+ community. She’s vocal. She’s performing at pride events. She’s judging RuPaul’s Drag Race, then having the winners announced at her LA concert (Bitch, THAT’S an ally).

Her current radio single is “Rainbow,” a song whose title is the literal symbol of the LGBTQ+ community, where she sings “it gets better” to all those struggling, with sexuality or otherwise. It brought me to tears on my first listen and continues to do so.

Now, when Luke Bryan sings a similar phrase, it’s not the same. Where has he been this whole time? Has he been supporting and uplifting a community for years? Has he been on the forefront fighting for the rights of fellow citizens? Negative on that one, ghost rider.

I have become sick of this idea of inclusion becoming a marketing ploy and a fad that all country musicians must be a part of. You don’t care, so stop pretending to. Especially when considering a lot of the country community has been quiet about their political beliefs, or so abhorrently homophobic and racist that anything they say about love or acceptance requires a follow-up question of “Do you REALLY mean that?” (I’m looking at you, Blake Shelton)

The moral of the story? Look to Kacey for inspiration. If you TRULY believe in acceptance and love for all, great! Now, get off your butt, go out there, and show your support through your voice. You have an incredible platform and being vague with a “love who you love” lyric with no corresponding action is the weakest thing you can do. Fight for equality, don’t just sing about it, ‘cause I don’t care.

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