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  • Writer's pictureCOUNTRYVRSE

Country EDM, The Most Unlikely Sub-genre of Country

By: Rachel Silverman

The beautiful thing about music is that it is in a constant state of evolution. Country is certainly no exception. Just compare Chet Atkins and Luke Combs, 70 years does a lot. The combination of influence, time, and technology has led country down many interesting paths, possibly none as interesting as the sub-genre of country EDM.

The origins of country EDM are surprisingly easy to track considering the genre’s adolescence. EDM has been a growing genre of music since the late 1980's after the surfacing of club and rave culture. However, this was mostly in Europe as American record labels and the mainstream media were hostile to the perceived connection between EDM and Drug Culture. And yet, by 2011 EDM was the fastest growing genre in the world.

Country has been a staple of American music since the early 1920’s. Historically it has a reputation for focusing on simplicity, in the content of its lyrics and instrumentation. However, with the introduction of electric instruments in the second half of the 20th century country music adapted. By the year 2000, many subgenres of country had emerged including but not limited to country pop, country rock, neo country, and cowpunk.

Country EDM was brought to the mainstream by the late DJ and record producer, Avicii. In June of 2013 he released the single “Wake Me Up”. The song begins with a twangy acoustic chord progression and Aloe Blacc's distinctly country vocals, but quickly the synth builds up and the beat drops. The song became the highest charting dance track of the decade. Avicii followed up the single with his debut studio album True. The album included two other Country EDM songs along with “Wake Me Up”, “Addicted to You” and “Hey Brother”. The breakthrough songs did not come without pushback. At Avicii's early concerts where he premiered the album the live band he brought out to perform the songs “confused and angered a section of the electronic dance community”. Despite this, both out performed every other song on the album and have amassed a total of 500 million plays on Spotify. “Wake Me Up” has amassed 1.67 billion.

After True pushed its way into the country genre, many country artists began to follow suit, only now it wasn’t a mainstream DJ sampling country music as it was mainstream country musicians dipping their toes into electronic. In 2015 Zac Brown Band released “Beautiful Drug”, a song inspired by Avicii. It was the band’s most experimental stadium stomp. The following year it topped the Country Airplay charts. In 2019 Kane Brown collaborated with Marshmello to create “One Thing Right”. The track has amassed nearly 500 million plays on Spotify. Songs and collaborations continue to come out by mainstream country artists and EDM producers.

In 2022 Country EDM is still a growing genre. The popularization of Tik Tok has begun to give exposure to newer forms of the genre. Real Hypha (@realhyphaforreal) is a DJ from San Diego who is attempting to establish the genre ‘trailer house’. The style is a mash of house electronic, electronic with a typical BPM of 120, and country gems. This includes Shania Twain, Luke Combs, and Zac Brown Band. His music is catchy and excites both country and EDM fans but could a subgenre of a subgenre gain traction? Well, ask his 730k likes.

The Country EDM genre continues to grow and evolve in spite of gatekeeping and hesitancy from both the electronic community and country community. And yet, the simple acoustics of country and complex tech of EDM merge to create a genre of music that seems to have the world hooked. The music itself is just too good to fail.


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