"Many of those programmers still look askance at a song featuring same-sex kissing and joint-rolling," which Musgraves does with "Follow Your Arrow," or the casual hookup tune "It Is What It Is," which her grandmother calls "the slut song," Rotella writes. "As Richard Lloyd, a sociologist at Vanderbilt [University] who studies the Nashville music scene, pointed out ... it’s quietly startling to hear a female mainstream country artist sing about no-strings-attached sex and not be disciplined in the end by either marriage or the sorrowful wages of sin."
"Musgraves likes to point out that in real small towns people do in fact get pierced, curse, surf Internet porn and indulge in a wide variety of stimulants and sexual relations their pastors might not approve of," Rotella reports. "The country-music establishment knows this, of course, but it has invested heavily in the notion that its loyal listeners would rather spend time in a richly idealized alternate universe where such things are referenced only obliquely, if at all, and many of the cultural battles of the 1960s and after have been magically unfought. But some in the business see change coming, driven by a fresh cohort of listeners. Mike Dungan, head of Musgraves’s record label, said, “We have been watching an influx of younger, hipper people to our music, people who don’t necessarily listen to country exclusively.” (Read more)