Gay-friendly winner marks change of tune at Country Music Awards

Kasey Musgraves' song Follow Your Arrow challenges country music's traditional conservatism, critics say

A song that promotes tolerance towards homosexuality by newcomer Kasey Musgraves has won the coveted country Song of the Year prize at this year's Country Music Awards.

"Oh my goodness," Musgraves said in her acceptance speech. "Do y'all know what this means for country music?"

Follow Your Arrow includes the lines: "Make lots of noise / kiss lots of boys / or kiss lots of girls if that's something you're into".

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As well as promoting an open-minded attitude to sexuality, the song also encourages people to make up their own minds about drug use and religion.

Flavorwire's Jillian Mapes hailed the judges for their progressive choice, noting that the selection of Musgraves as the winner of Song of the Year hinted at the panel's vision of country music's future direction.

"[Musgraves] is arguably Nashville's most progressive voice, at least in her music," Mapes writes, "and to use her as an embodiment of country seemed to be a subtle statement about where the CMA may think the genre should be headed".

Country music has long championed traditional values and patriotism, The Independent's Adam Sherwin says, but Musgraves "has won a younger, more liberal audience".

Her championing of same-sex relationships and marijuana is a sign that country music's conservative facade is beginning to crack, Sherwin says.

At the award ceremony in Nashville, Tennessee, Musgraves was joined on stage by Follow the Arrow's co-writers Shane McAnally and the openly gay singer-songwriter Brandy Clark.

According to Slate's J Bryan Lowder, the award carries great significance: "That the Country Music Association recognised a song with such a progressive (or at least libertarian) message is a big deal," he says. The award "may signal the beginnings of a broader shift in country music's approach to social issues that remain touchy in the genre's red state homeland".

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