Joe the Plumber is transforming himself into Joe the Country Singer, but he might not want to quit his day job, whatever it was. In the New Republic, David Browne warns that “country is no longer the music of the middle for many Americans.” Instead, Barack Obama's iPod, full of Crow, Coltrane and Jay-Z, may better represent what's going into the body politic’s ears.
Just as the GOP's embrace of populism failed in the 2008 contest, country music's pop turn has made it difficult to distinguish its twang from hair metal. Browne warns that "real country may find itself as isolated as that huddle of red states in the electoral map." To survive, he hopes the form's traditionalists will reconnect country musicians to their roots.