George Jones sang about an unrequited love that ends only with death. Johnny Cash, in a moment of acute irony, swore faithfulness and devotion to his (first) wife. And Chase Rice tells his girl to get her fine ass in the back of his pickup truck so they can drive down to a river and make-out in the moonlight.
As do Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, and a big chunk of the modern musicians making up iTunes' current list of top country artists. Entertainment Weekly's Grady Smith has had enough. After writing a handful of articles bemoaning the decline of country music, Smith decided to sum up all his criticisms in a three and a half minute YouTube video. It says it all, really.
The "everything is sunny all the time" mentality of bro-country music contrasts with the often harsh realism of the great country music of yesteryear. In classic country life is tough, complicated, and painful. People go to prison or die, and the only man or woman you'll ever love doesn't love you back. But in bro-country music, as Smith's video demonstrates, life is simple. It consists of trucks, friends, girls, and alcohol.
Bro-country takes up the musical tropes of the country genre, then stomps all over its original message: Alcohol is no longer synonymous with depression and hard times, but rather with partying with friends. A woman is no longer the topic of unrequited love, she's a girl with a fine ass. And so on. It's sort of like covering "Born in the USA" as a patriotic tribute to America, or playing the Police's "Every Breath You Take" as your wedding song.
Bro-country is hackneyed, vaguely misogynistic, and, as this video makes clear, very, very repetitive. But as Smith points out, if you're looking for more than that from these artists, then you're looking in the wrong place. For some modern country with a little more depth, his list of the Ten Best Country Albums of 2013 might be a good place to start.