Maren Morris, a country music artist who won a Grammy for her debut single “My Church,” announced in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that she is officially leaving the genre.
Don’t let the door hit you on the way out! Announcing her departure from country music in the LA FREAKING TIMES should tell you everything you need to know, but let’s dive a bit deeper into why Morris is so upset.
According to Morris, country music is toxic and filled with “misogynistic and racist and homophobic and transphobic” people (really capturing all of the buzzwords there, Maren!) . She apparently got tired of trying to “burn it to the ground and start over,” instead feeling satisfied that country music is “burning itself down.” There’s something pretty sick and twisted about trying to burn down an industry that made you tons of money and amplified your songs to a massive audience, but if it’s not clear yet that Morris is a narcissist who thinks everything is about her, it will be soon.
There are legitimate grievances to have with the country music industry, particularly when we think of the Nashville machine. Industry executives often pour tons of money into formulaic pop-country that will make easy radio hits at the expense of more interesting — and arguably far more talented — artists who use traditional country sounds. The award shows are an obvious mess, considering the CMA Awards just now nominated Zach Bryan — who had his first breakout moment in 2019, the same year he published his first album — and Parker McCollum — who has been on the Texas Country scene for years — for Best New Artist. These issues hardly apply to Morris, who has enjoyed massive success on country radio despite her pop and R&B-leaning sound, even after going on a screed against the industry for allegedly not elevating enough female artists.
Still, I don’t think people find Morris tiresome just because she loudly criticizes the country music industry. What is so frustrating is that her gripe is clearly not with the industry, but with country music fans.
In two new songs that address her departure from country, Morris sings that there is “rot at the roots” and, in a music video for “Get The Hell Out Of Here,” a fire rains ash down picturesque Main Street homes with “Go Woke Go Broke” and “I Believe In God and Guns” signs in the yard. What are the “roots” if not the 42 percent of Americans who rate country their favorite genre? And no one could mistake the modest, historic homes depicted in the music video as those of record label CEOs or her fellow country artists.
“After the Trump years, people’s biases were on full display. It just revealed who people really were,” Morris declares.
It’s not hard to imagine here that Morris is hinting at a feud she had with country star Jason Aldean’s wife, Brittany. The Aldeans have been pretty outspoken about being conservative since President Biden took office. A little over a year ago, Brittany Aldean posted a makeup tutorial on her Instagram page accompanied by the caption, “I’d really like to thank my parents for not changing my gender when I went through my tomboy phase. I love this girly life🤎✌🏼.”
Aldean’s post was first ripped by Cassadee Pope, who tweeted that it was wrong to compare a tomboy phase with gender dysphoria.
Morris responded with pure nastiness: “It’s so easy to, like, not be a scumbag human? Sell your clip-ins and zip it, Insurrection Barbie.”
Aldean doubled down on her position, stating that she was merely trying to protect kids from making permanent changes to their bodies without understanding the seriousness of such decisions. The fight was picked up by former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who referred to Morris as a “lunatic country music person.” Morris skipped that year’s CMAs red carpet months later, stating that she didn’t “feel comfortable” attending.
Morris posits to the LA Times that she was “betray[ed]” by country music and still carries “trauma” from her experiences in the genre. But country music didn’t cancel her for what she said about transgender children, as wrong as she may have been (the New York Times recently confirmed a whistleblower’s claims that a popular youth gender clinic failed to provide proper mental health care to patients before subjecting them to puberty blockers and hormones). She was heralded as a brave truth teller by the mainstream media and her songs continued to get play on country radio. Morris sold t-shirts with the “lunatic country music person” phrase plastered across the front, raising more than $100,000 for a transgender youth organization. Jason Aldean’s PR agency actually dropped him during the incident.
Yet Morris somehow thinks she is the victim of the spat, presumably because country music fans didn’t completely turn against the Aldeans like she was hoping. She should well know that no one is required to agree with her, particularly since a strong majority of Americans — not just country music fans! — think children shouldn’t undergo gender transitions. To Morris, though, anything less than full worship of her public political statements is evidence of bigotry.
And despite Morris’s protestations that the country music industry is not inclusive, Kelsea Ballerina managed to feature drag queens during a 2023 CMT performance and still enjoy huge streaming success of her latest divorce-centric EP.
The Aldeans are clearly still living rent free in Morris’s head, as she reacted with bitterness over the fact that Jason Aldean’s song “Try That in a Small Town” rocketed to the top of the Billboard all-genre chart.
“People are streaming these songs out of spite. It’s not out of true joy or love of the music. It’s to own the libs,” Morris declared. “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.”
To be fair, many people probably wouldn’t have heard Aldean’s song if it weren’t for CMT refusing to play the music video over accusations that the song was racist and pro-lynching. However, Morris is clearly living in a progressive bubble if she thinks the song’s success comes down to millions of people using it to “own the libs” and not that its message actually resonates with Americans who are indeed experiencing rising violent crime, a decline of small-town values and disappearing social ties.
Never mind the absurd claim that all music is made to “be the voice of the oppressed,” as if music isn’t valid unless it’s rooted in activism. I mean, was Morris’s song “80s Mercedes,” where she sings about driving around in a convertible with sunglasses on, seriously about fighting oppression? Of course not, because music is meant to capture a wide range of human emotions and experiences, not just the ones that fit neatly into a DEI training.
Morris’s declaration that the fans who pushed songs like “Try That in a Small Town” and “Rich Men North of Richmond” are not the “actual oppressed” is quite funny. Working-class people who are sick of being taxed to death, seeing their values go by the wayside, their jobs disappearing overseas, random acts of violence and government officials who do nothing about it, don’t have legitimate grievances. Nothing compared to Morris, the wealthy woman who gets to sing for a living, or, I suppose, the transgender community that enjoys the protection of the establishment and manages to guilt trip people into believing they will all kill themselves if their delusions are not affirmed. Okay.
So, is Morris leaving country music because the industry mistreated her? Or is she just a bitter attention-seeker? The woman thinks a fan base that she repeatedly says is full of hate should also willingly embrace and idolize her. Doesn’t that make the answer quite obvious?