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Actually, Madonna Was the First to Subvert Country Music Style
I remember seeing Madonna’s “Don’t Tell Me” on MTV in 2000 when I was 11 years old. It was mind-blowing. Growing up in New England, country music never hit close to home. It was all Garth Brooks singing about driving a truck with a fat engine and cracking a warm beer by the lake. But Madonna took the genre and spun it on its head in one of the most transportive videos of her career: steamy cowboys and a dark ranchero vibe, mixed up with a lot of sand-strewn cheek. (It was also the first time Madonna played guitar on an album.) It’s almost hard to believe that the music video is almost 20 years old. “Don’t Tell Me” was the OG beginnings of country music style breaking into the pop world. Subversive twang is going mainstream in the form of Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” Orville Peck’s masked exploration of masculinity in country music, and Diplo brooding in a Nudie suit on Instagram. But let me remind you that Madonna was the first to pave the way for giddy-up pop.