“What Sounds Like Country?” Tennessean Newspaper Asks

Readers' Poll Is Providing Some Interesting Results

Have you ever asked someone what makes a country song a country song? Well, don’t pose that question unless you really want to know what they think.

Because it’s impossible to define a genre in a black-and-white way that makes sense for every single person with an opinion.

Still, it’s an interesting concept, and Nashville’s daily newspaper, The Tennessean, is addressing it in a readers’ poll asking which songs “sound like country.” They chose seven songs and, so far, the results are not at all what I’d expect.

For example, you’d think that no matter what song ever crossed Blake Shelton’s lips would be considered country. And yet as of Tuesday (Feb. 11), more than half of the readers who voted said that his “Sangria” does not sound country.

On the other hand, Texas band Green River Ordinance’s song “Red Fire Night” sounded country to 84 percent of the voters. And they’re a band that you would probably never hear on a mainstream country radio station, and they are reportedly in the midst of a in a dispute with Billboard over its omission from the trade publication’s weekly country sales chart.
Here are the majority votes in the poll as of Thursday afternoon:

Does Blake Shelton’s song “Sangria” sound like country music to you?

58 percent say no.

Does Sam Hunt’s song “Take Your Time” sound like country music to you?

90 percent say no.

Does Thomas Rhett’s song “Crash and Burn” sound like country music to you?

76 percent say no.

Does Chris Stapleton’s song “Tennessee Whiskey” sound like country music to you?

86 percent say yes.

Does the Green River Ordinance song “Red Fire Night” sound like country music to you?

84 percent say yes.

Does the Brothers Osborne song “Stay a Little Longer” sound like country music to you?

53 percent say yes.

Does Hank Williams Jr.’s song “Are You Ready for the Country” featuring Eric Church sound like country music to you?

83 percent say yes.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.