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The Death of Luke Bryan's Skinny Jeans and the Rise of "Cuntry"

The year was 2013, and I had amassed an impressive CD collection: Justin Bieber’s My World 2.0, Taylor Swift’s Red, and, last, but certainly not least, Luke Bryan’s Crash My Party. My best friend, Jessie, and I were just two girls on the precipice of becomingaka the third gradeand were desperate for music that reflected our triumphs and tribulations. Surprisingly, we didn’t find it with the Beliebers or the Swifties, but rather with The Nut House (no need to psychoanalyze us!).


Explaining the name of his fandom, Bryan says, “They're nutty and my Daddy's a peanut farmer. I figured I spent my whole life hauling around peanuts, the name is just a play on words, you know.” Oh boy, did we know. There was something indescribable about Crash My Party that drove us nuts—whether it was Bryan’s deep Georgian drawl or the sheer relatability of his lyrics. Cranking up the volume on my dual alarm clock-CD player, Jessie and I sat on the edge of my tiny twin bed, attempting to harmonize with Bryan as he sang out: “So I'm gonna sit right here/ On the edge of this pier/ Then watch the sunset disappear/ And drink a beer.” No words rang truer to our eight-year-old hearts, as we swished back bottles of A&W and dreamed of the day (only three or four years away) we would kick back our first cold one with our cousins. Ah, those were the dayswhen life was simpler, Luke Bryan’s skinny jeans were tighter than Great Aunt Becky’s grip on her Bible, and country music was relatable. Beers, girls, trucks. That’s the Holy Trinity, right?

Photo Credit: Taste of Country

Slowly though, country music’s devotion to this trifecta collapsed, with Bryan delivering the final blow in 2017. Expressing concern over headlines like “Tight Pants Luke Bryan Brings Show to Hoboken,” Bryan announced in an interview that he would be sporting looser jeans on his upcoming Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day Tour. He reported being tired of his audience huntin’, fishin’, and lovin’ that ass and complained that “nobody wanted to hear [his] vocal quality.” Little did Luke know he was describing the experience of, well...every woman performer ever. Luke, we thought you sang about girls, not that you were one.


While some loyal Nuts mourned the death of his curve-hugging jeans, Bryan’s nuts welcomed a breath of fresh air. However, it wasn’t just Byran or his Nut House that shifted. As the gap between cheek and jean grew, so did the space for diversity within country music. Despite the genre’s diverse, continent-spanning rootsfrom African blues to English fiddle and Scots-Irish dance musicnumerous restrictions impeded recognition of these influences: abstractly, the hypermasculine bro-country era, but also (more literally) those damn tight jeans. With Bryan’s declaration of self-reinvention, he sent ripples into the country community. It was official: out with the o(ld) and in with the newCuntry.

Cuntry music shatters notions of the oh-so-relatable Holy Trinity that Jessie and I adored. It replaces it with something thatwhile still deeply Southernis also sexy, fierce, and iconic. While Bryan’s lyricism, with its talk of parties and girls, certainly aligns him with bro-country, his skin-tight jeans embody Cuntry’s sass. This, however, left him straddling between the two sub-genres, and straddling with jeans that tight…they were destined to rip soon. So, loosening them became Bryan’s only choice; yet, in doing so, he severed the connection between bro-country and Cuntry forever. While the death of Bryan’s skinny jeans was devastating in its own right, it also provided cause for celebration. For far too long, the contrast between Luke’s cheeky jeans and his manly-man music had complicated country music and created conflicts with its emerging subgenres. As he donned looser jeans, Bryan disentangled himself from the mess and fully embraced bro-country. While a defeat for Bryan and his personal brand of booty poppin’, he finally allowed Cuntry room to grow with authenticity and to shine as the feminine, inclusive space it was always meant to be.


Nothing speaks truer to this Cuntry revival than Queen Bey surprise dropping her two new Cuntry tracks––“Texas Hold ‘Em” and “16 Carriages”during the height of bro-country culture: the Super Bowl. Those who prefer to scream along with things rather than to scream at them gathered in bathrooms and kitchens for impromptu listening parties, soon finding themselves overwhelmed with the irrepressible urge to instead be line dancing in some dirty dive bar. 


I, obviously, was no exception. Hearing the opening banjo licks and stomp claps of “Texas Hold ‘Em,” I decided it was time to reach deep within the depths of my closet. From underneath piles of clothes and dust, I resurrected my good ol’ cowboy boots, eager nowwith Queen Bey’s permission, of courseto bedazzle the creased leather. Meanwhile, Beyonce’s words beckoned to me: “It's a real life boogie and a real life hoedown / Don't be a bitch, come take it to the floor now, woo, huh (woo).”


I let the lyrics wash away my fears that even a Renaissance-level Cuntry tour would never measure up to Bryan shaking his tushy up on stage. Then, at long last, I put on my boots and went out to dance. Get on up, and come join me.

 

Grace Guernsey is a freshman in the SFS studying Culture & Politics. Her favorite one-hit wonder is Lady A’s “Need You Now.”


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