The Oak Ridge Boys took their name from a Tennessee town best known for the Manhattan Project. What started as a gospel quartet evolved into a Grammy-winning sensation that rode the pop culture wave of southern accents that briefly dominated the terrestrial radio waves in the 1970s. Listen to "Bobbie Sue," a disco-influenced honky-tonk romp, complete with a vocal riff from baritone William Lee Golden, the embodiment of a mountain man, and you may find it bizarre to think that the Oak Ridge Boys, who once captured the attention of a nation, would have virtually no shot at hitting number one on the Billboard country singles charts, let alone the pop charts, in 2010. Their biggest chance at gaining popularity now would be on the backs of irony-seeking 20-somethings. Take, for instance, the unabashed love of facial hair, from waist-length beards to bushy 'staches, that the Oak Ridge Boys have, or the fact that they covered "Seven Nation Army" on their latest record, 2009's The Boys Are Back. The relative success of that record says you've got a near -perfect recipe for a hipster-based country gospel resurgence. The thing about those irony-seekers is that, deep down, they actually like whatever supposedly unhip hilarity they're tweeting about this week. And that's the thing: No matter how many goofy cracks can be made about The Oak Ridge Boys, ultimately they're a band that recorded with Johnny Cash, and counted The Eagles, Alabama and Charlie Daniels as peers. They've produced a catalog worth a listen, all irony aside.
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