Maren Morris Says Country Music Is "Burning Itself Down"
Maren Morris is trying to leave country music behind her.
In a new interview with the Los Angeles Times, the Texas native has criticized the genre, saying, “I thought I’d like to burn it to the ground and start over. But it’s burning itself down without my help.”
Morris explains that she is pursuing a new direction, one that doesn't leave her questioning whether it will fit into a genre that has been assigned to her music.
"I think I needed to purposely focus on just making good music and not so much on how we’ll market it," she says. "The last few records, that’s always been in the back of my mind: Will this work in the country music universe?"
"Obviously, being one of the few women that had any success on country radio, everything you do is looked at under a microscope," she continues. "You’re scrutinized more than your male peers, even when you’re doing well. So I’ve had to clear all of that out of my head this year and just write songs. A lot of the drama within the community, I’ve chosen to step outside out of it."
On Friday (September 15), Morris released two new songs, "The Tree" and "Get the Hell Out of Here," suggesting a rootsier sound, which she sees as a fresh reboot for her music. She says that while working on her forthcoming album with super producer Jack Antonoff (Bleachers), who has recently achieved tremendous success collboarating with Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey and Lorde, has given her the chance to pursue her vision of what the music should sound like.
"Exploring my interests that don’t make me money has been really healthy for me," she says. "And then making this record, working with Jack Antonoff, it’s like, let’s write something bats**t insane today, and it might suck, but this is what I used to do when I moved to Nashville 10 years ago. The freedom to fail, you know?"
In the interview, Morris goes deep into her feelings about country music's current state, sharing how she feels it has become a spawning ground for bad politicized takes and toxic masculinity. Recently she has become the target of right wing news media, as well as public spats with Jason Aldan, whose recent hit, “Try That in a Small Town," Morris criticized publicly. She feels a lot of country music has devolved into what she calls "butt rock."
"After the Trump years, people’s biases were on full display," she admits. "It just revealed who people really were and that they were proud to be misogynistic and racist and homophobic and transphobic. All these things were being celebrated, and it was weirdly dovetailing with this hyper-masculine branch of country music. I call it butt rock."
While she doesn't name “Try That in a Small Town" in the interview, she alludes to it, admitting she believes a lot of its success is due to people "hate-streaming" music to feed their ideals.
"People are streaming these songs out of spite. It’s not out of true joy or love of the music," she explains. "It’s to own the libs. And that’s so not what music is intended for. Music is supposed to be the voice of the oppressed — the actual oppressed. And now it’s being used as this really toxic weapon in culture wars."
Listen to music from Maren Morris