Gen Z Americans got a taste for '90s country music, as seen on Spotify and TikTok | Inquirer Entertainment

Gen Z Americans got a taste for ’90s country music, as seen on Spotify and TikTok

/ 08:23 PM September 28, 2021

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Anyone would have thought that the COVID-19 lockdowns would have spurred people to discover new artists and songs. But the opposite seems to be true, as many people turned instead to nostalgia. This has notably been the case among a young generation of Americans, who started listening to country music from the 1990s.

Country music is often thought to be unpopular with Gen Zers. But think again! According to Spotify, just as many 19- to 24-year-olds listen to the streaming giant’s ’90s country music playlist as music lovers over 45.


And that’s not all: generation Z users have created nearly 90 million playlists containing iconic songs from this musical genre. Among the most shared songs by these young listeners, born between 1997 and 2010, are Shania Twain classics like “You’re Still the One” and “Man! I Feel Like A Woman,” but also “Amazed” by the band Lonestar and Alan Jackson’s “Chattahoochee.”


Sweden’s Spotify isn’t the only platform seeing a new country music craze, as TikTok has seen a similar phenomenon. In recent months, numerous country music-related dance challenges have popped up on Gen Z’s favorite social network. The most recent? The #NeonMoon challenge, a name well known to country music fans, since it refers to the American duo Brooks & Dunn’s hit of the same name.

Country goes cool, with a little help from TikTok

While the original track was released in 1991 on the American duo’s first album, it has returned in force on TikTok thanks to a remix by DJ Noiz. This new version of “Neon Moon” has already amassed more than 105.9 million views on the application, owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, while the #NeonMoon challenge counts more than 9.8 million.

And this “Neon Moon” comeback is a boon for Brooks & Dunn, who are in the midst of their major United States “Reboot Tour” after more than a decade away. “It’s crazy cool to see all your videos, keep ’em coming!,” said the band via their official TikTok account.


It’s crazy cool to see all your videos, keep ‘em coming ! #brooksanddunn #sungoesdown #neonmoon #neonmoonremix #countrymusic

♬ Neon Moon – DJ Noiz

But why is it that young people are suddenly so into country music, a genre that is more often associated with older listeners? Maybe it’s because current times lend themselves to this kind of music. Indeed, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many have found comfort in the country repertoire for its calming, comforting qualities.


“Country music is authentic, relatable, and gives you comfort,” says Brittany Schaffer, Spotify’s head of artist & label marketing in Nashville, speaking to Time. “You want to be in a place that feels like home at a time when the world feels uncertain.”

Reaching a wider audience

Another partial response could be that more and more country artists are getting out there on social media and other digital platforms in order to reach a wider audience. A case in point is George Birge, the former lead singer and guitarist with the band, Waterloo Revival. The singer from Texas has found something of a following on TikTok with his latest single, “Beer Beer, Truck Truck.”

It all started with a parody video from another TikTok user, Erynn Chambers, or Rynnstar to her followers, making fun of the fact that most country songs are just about “beer, trucks and girls.” It’s a cliché that George Birge sought to challenge in his latest ballad.

“The whole point was to say that, yeah, the country lifestyle may not be as flashy or as fast-paced as the city, but there’s more to it than meets the eye, and if you give me a chance, I’ll show you how good it can be,” the artist said in a statement.

And it seems to have worked: “Beer Beer, Truck Truck” was released as a standalone single last June, and it has over 462,500 views on YouTube. The song also helped George Birge bag a contract with the RECORDS label in Nashville, Tennessee.

“It was incredibly gratifying to see people saying, ‘I never listen to country music, but hearing this backstory and hearing how it came to life makes me a country music fan,'” he explains. “Some said that’s what good songwriters can do; they can write a song out of literally anything. That made me feel really fulfilled, because that was my intention.” JB


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TAGS: Country Music, Gen Z, playlists, Spotify, tiktok

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