The emergence of "bro-country" and how much it irritates the previous generations of country music fans is not news. Americans, as the biggest consumers of the genre, haven't done much to eliminate it from the airwaves however, relative to how much we complain about it. Complaints from the sidelines—performers such as the Zac Brown Band and Ray Price—have largely been criticized by the genre's biggest stars or have been ignored by the music listening body as a whole. Perhaps we need a third party, one disconnected from the scene, to settle the matter. That happened when London's The Guardian published a scathing report on the state of country music in the United States.
"Artists like Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line have reached superstar status with songs that emphasize drinking, hooking up, disliking city folk, and not much else. Radio has enthusiastically invested in the copycat generic male artists coming off Nashville assembly lines, and getting airplay has quickly become a paint-by-numbers game," reads essay, repeating common complaints about the style, before getting to the more important truth: "This formula has temporarily grown the format by attracting some disenfranchised rock fans, but it's now wreaking havoc on the brand of country music which has traditionally garnered respect as an authentically American storytelling platform."
It's easy to write off a UK newspaper as a critic on country music but our pals across the pond have more interest in the subject matter than many realize. It's no secret why Garth Brooks chose to reboot his touring career with four (unfortunately cancelled) shows in Dublin, and the Country 2 Country festival at London's O2 has expanded in the last few years.
Don't expect it to be any more a wakeup call than anything else in the last few years, but hopefully Nashville realizes that the whole world is watching.