A funny thing has happened in country music in the past decade or so. Acts such as Rascal Flatts, Kenny Chesney, and Keith Urban and Sugarland (who share a bill this week) have risen to prominence playing music that is nothing like your father's country music. In fact, it's not really country music at all. Garth Brooks has been saddled with the ignominious distinction among country music purists of having ruined the genre after his crossover success in the '90s, when people who didn't listen to country bought his records in droves and flocked to his rock-styled arena concerts. But acts like Urban and Sugarland make Garth Brooks sound like Hank Williams. Aussie Keith Urban is a good singer and guitarist — able to hold his own with the shit-hot picker Brad Paisley on their hit duet "Start a Band" — and he's a good songwriter, too. His rock-based tunes would have fit great on rock radio two decades ago amidst REO Speedwagon, Journey, and Bon Jovi, who actually had a number-one country hit ("Who Says You Can't Go Home") a couple of years ago with Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles on vocals. (See a pattern here?) This is not to say that Urban is bad. He's very good at what he does, and what he does is perform country music for folks who don't like country music. Not his fault. Just the way it is.
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