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Why country went from cringe to cool

Kids up and down the UK are doing the two-step and line dancing is back. So where did the country craze come from?


You know country music has hit the mainstream when you see prime time family TV favourite Strictly Come Dancing featuring a line dancing sequence in its opening show.


The genre is booming, with kids in playgrounds across the UK copying two-step moves, riding pretend horses and lassoing, mimicking the #YeeHaw and #GitUp Challenges. These memes flooded TikTok and have scored huge hit songs in the form of Old Town Road and The Git Up – both created excitement among our Beano Trendspotter panel of kids (aged 9-12), in 2019’s otherwise flat music scene.


‘Old Town Road is kinda like a mix of rap and pop, I like it!’ Braden


‘I've got a social media account. It’s TikTok! I’m doing the Git Up challenge.’ Theo


So when did country lose its cringe factor and become cool for kids?


TikTok memes transformed Lil Nas X's country tune into a hit

Meme generation

The country music scene began enjoying a revival back in 2017, triggered by the launch of the cowboy hat emoji, which resulted in a wave of cowboy/sheriff memes and jokes online.


On the back of this trend came the ‘black yeehaw agenda’, with posts acknowledging the historical legacy of black cowboys and cowgirls. Soon users – including celebs like Beyonce – began sharing ‘yeehaw’ looks. This spread across social media, including to TikTok.


It was on this app that then-unknown black artist Lil Nas X was posting short videos to accompany his song Old Town Road. The videos gained momentum and became a ‘yeehaw anthem’ – as Lil Nas X said: ‘[if there’s] something going around the Internet, people want to join in.’


Kids are avid TikTok fans and they leapt on the app’s #YeeHaw challenge – where users transform themselves into cowboys/cowgirls. The memes went viral and the song became a record breaker.


Old Town’s fusion of hip-hop rap and country, with its short and funny lyrics and simple dance steps, is a winning formula for kids and one that could be easily copied from playground to playground: much like the flossing and ‘take the L’ craze, which stemmed from Fortnite. The memes brought the song alive and put country music on kids’ playlists.


All-inclusive

The way kids are accessing music via social platforms has triggered a shift in the industry, allowing artists such as Lil Nas X to succeed in white-dominated genres like country.


This has paved the way for others such as Blanco Brown. His recent country-rap song The Git Up started its own dance craze and memes:


‘I don't have an account [TikTok] but I scroll down to see stuff – you know the one with the quick feet [Git Up Challenge].’ Cody


As kids across the UK embrace the country vibe, they already know what many music industry experts need to bear in mind: forget the gender and ethnicity of artists, it’s the music, moves and memes that really matter.


How we can help your brand understand kids

Beano for Brands is a kid-first consultancy and agency for brands seeking to connect with a new generation who are already rewriting the rules of engagement, creativity and even the world around them.


Our fortnightly reports are drawn from a wide range of touch points with real kids and families: Trendspotters (a UK-wide panel aged 9-12), insight and analytics from Beano.com – the UK’s fastest-growing kids’ site, external research and 81 years of working with kids. Sign up at beanoforbrands@beano.com.


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