NYT Music Critic Finds Country Music's Failure on Gun Violence 'Irresponsible and Infuriating'

November 12th, 2018 8:57 AM

New York Times music critic Jon Caramanica pompously condemned an entire genre of music for not writing about what he cares about: Gun violence. It follows the paper’s recent expressed annoyance that country artists aren't on the entertainment industry’s ineffectual gun-control bandwagon.

The mass attack came in a review Monday of country music singer Kane Brown’s provocative song about school shootings and police, “American Bad Dream.”

It should be neither remarkable nor courageous for a country singer to address the plague of gun violence in this country. That mass shootings tore apart a country music festival a year ago and a country-music bar just two days ago makes the genre’s silence on the matter irresponsible and infuriating.

And yet the mute response largely persists, which is why “American Bad Dream,” from the new Kane Brown album, “Experiment,” is such an outlier. But it is one that country music needs to contend with, both because of what it says and how it says it.

In the first verse, Brown talks about the preponderance of school shootings in stark terms.

After a long lyrics quote, Caramanica went on a full-court promotional press for the song (which apparently hasn’t been released in a single) even calling out individual disc jockeys to play the song.

....Will country music’s institutions embrace it, support it, promote it even? Will country radio’s mainstream find room for it? Will even a boundary-pushing D.J. like Bobby Bones play it? Next week, the whole of the industry will gather in Nashville for the 52nd annual Country Music Association Awards, the industry’s most prominent showcase. Real courage would be inviting Brown to perform it on the show.

Caramanica is a hip-hop fan, a genre which has been accused of glorifying gun violence. But he prefers to lecture country musicians. In April 2013, Caramanica reviewed country star Brad Paisley’s album Wheelhouse, in "Taking Country Less Conservative" and gave Paisley backhanded compliments for "openmindedness" while insulting the genre as rigidly conservative.