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Cottagecore Country

Apr 18, 2024

Cottagecore Country

(Editor’s Note: Sign up here to receive Good Country issues when they launch, direct to your email inbox via Substack.)

You can’t have country music without the country. (Us city slickers belong in the genre as artists and fans, of course, but we’ll get to that later.) There is a fundamental relationship between the natural world and folk music, and the artists featured on our cottagecore playlist demonstrate that. Humans have been mapping their emotions onto nature for as long as we’ve been around: so much of our inner life defies explanation, as does our outer world. And while we may find endless ways to make new environments for ourselves, there are few things as moving as a beautiful sunset or gorgeous vista.

While we can’t create those ourselves, we try to make beautiful – and cozy – spaces for ourselves. In creating our homes the way we like, we try to control the world around us – even though we know we can’t. The songs here look to animals and plants as metaphors for the people and emotions we don’t understand, the ones that got away and are beyond our comprehension – the things we can’t control, but we accept as natural as a bird’s migration.

But even as these songs can be melancholy, they inhabit a place of comfort and tradition – cottagecore. The term reached peak popularity in 2020 to describe a movement that celebrates home, attention to detail, nostalgia, cutesiness. (Back in my day, we called it “twee.”) The aesthetic is largely driven by white women who found comfort in going “back to the land” – but a specific type of return, one that celebrates rural life while sugar-coating the backbreaking labor that is actually involved in homesteading.

Like anything that relies on nostalgia, it’s a double-edged sword. Cottagcore has been claimed by some on the alt-right as the desirable expression for women: tending to the hearth, spending time on making beautiful pies, making everyone else around them feel as snug as a bug in a rug. On the other hand, cottagecore became popular in some queer subcultures precisely as a means of subverting that sort of wisdom. Still, cottagecore assumes that this idyllic lifestyle conforms to Eurocentric views of agrarianism, architecture, and holding oneself separate from nature – and some seek to use cottagecore to question that colonizer logic.

At Good Country, we don’t want to take the easy way out. This playlist is designed to embrace the desire for comfort and retreat, one that is all-too-understandable in a chaotic world. But we would never settle for anything simply reactionary, instead wanting to intentionally offer new ways our society must change for our survival. These are songs about awe, acceptance, change – and regeneration, an aspect of the natural world we would do well to embrace.

Sign up here to receive Good Country issues when they launch, direct to your email inbox via Substack.

Photo Credit: Kacey Musgraves by Kelly Christine Sutton

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Cottagecore Country
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