Kelly Clarkson is mad as hell about what new music gets played on country radio stations, and she's not holding back. During a 2019 YouTube Q&A to promote her talk show The Kelly Clarkson Show, the American Idol winner and The Voice judge was tasked with defining YouTube slang. When asked to define "farm emo," a term the kids are using to describe country music, Clarkson let loose with a rant that would probably make her BFF Reba McEntire proud. (It's around the 6:40 mark in the video above.)
"You know why? Because country music doesn't sound country anymore...Country music is gone. Like, I don't know who's making it, but there might be like four people. Now it's like weird word rap," Clarkson says. "I love that when I started doing country they were like 'Oh, you're pop. You can't do country.' I was like 'I'm sorry, let me show you this list of the Top 20,' which by the way did not include one female."
Clarkson explained that, despite her own past appearances on the country charts (she had a 2010 hit, "Don't You Wanna Stay," with Jason Aldean), she's speaking purely as a lifelong fan of country music — particularly the '80s and '90s country songs she grew up hearing.
"I'm not in the country music industry. I'm not trying to get played on country radio.," she adds. "Here's the thing: I just love country music. So why don't we all start putting our '80s and '90s records on and let's figure out 'What is country music? What's the sound we like again?' 'Cause it's not what you're playing on the radio. I'm mad about it."
Another grievance? The lack of women played on country radio. Clarkson reflected on '90s country radio, which was filled with hits by her favorite country artists, including McEntire, Trisha Yearwood, Patty Loveless, Martina McBride, Shania Twain, Dolly Parton, The Judds and Terri Clark.
"Y'all don't play people with boobs either," Clarkson continued. "I was so inspired by Reba, Trisha, Patty...Martina, Terri, The Judds, Wynonna, Dolly, Shania. All these women from the '90s. What is happening in country music? This is what's happening: y'all aren't playing country music anymore."
If you, like Kelly, would like to hear some new, traditionally-rooted country music made by women, check out The Highwomen's self-titled debut album, Clarkson's recent duet partner Trisha Yearwood's Every Girl and more recent releases from Miranda Lambert, Tanya Tucker, Ashley McBryde and Mickey Guyton — just to name a few. And tune into The Kelly Clarkson Show to hear Clarkson cover some country music's greatest hits.
This article was originally published in September of 2019. It was updated on Jan. 27, 2021.
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