The stereotypical images associated with country music include cowboy hats, rhinestones and steel guitars, and with that in mind, Sugarland’s appearance on last week’s Country Music Association Awards shook up the standards.
The duo’s “Stuck Like Glue” has a reggae-influenced bridge, and lead singer Jennifer Nettles took to the stage as a wind-up, music-box ballerina to perform it. The fact that the song and the album, The Incredible Machine, both went to No. 1 suggests that country fans are open to music that tests the outer limits of the genre. Which doesn’t surprise Jennifer in the least.
“I think country music is very elastic,” she told reporters backstage at the CMAs. “And I think it’s interesting that people have asked certain questions about that elasticity — for example, ‘Do you think you can push too far?’ And I say, ‘Why do you ask this of country music? Is country music supposed to be less tolerant? Is it supposed to be less innovative?’ For example, when the Rolling Stones brought in gospel singers in their backup singers, did people look at them and say, ‘Oh, have you gone too far? Are you about to make a gospel record?’”
The answer to that is, of course, no. Jennifer figures “Stuck Like Glue” and Sugarland’s ‘80s-influenced album show how much her genre can stretch.
“I think country music is elastic,” she said, “and I think it’s definitely showing that it’s young and fresh and hip and new and not stodgy.”
In addition to singing “Stuck Like Glue,” Sugarland also took home trophies from the CMA Awards. Jennifer and Kristian Bush won the organization’s Vocal Duo of the Year honor for the fourth straight year.