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Published by MediaOCU on 2/25/2019 at

To listen to Kacey Musgraves’s most recent album, Golden Hour, is to spend 45 minutes with a collection of country music that moves so easily toward pop that you may forget who you’re even listening to. But Musgraves will remind you with lyrics that reconcile her Texas childhood and her glamorous outfits that she is a woman who understands the complexity of popular music in the 21st century.

To see Musgraves live is to watch a brilliant performance, not only because of her sparkling cowboy boots, but also for her glittering personality. When I saw her on tour last summer, opening for Harry Styles, she conducted the room with confidence and laughter, taking time to say many thank yous, even stopping to cover tunes by *NSYNC and Shania Twain.

Musgraves may be the exact force of music that we need right now. At the 61st Grammys on Feb. 10, Musgraves won awards for Best Country Solo Performance, Best Country Song, Best Country Album, and the illustrious award for Album of the Year.

She may not be the only country artist who has won the prestigious award (see Dixie Chicks and Taylor Swift in her country years), but Musgraves seems to be making the most waves with this year’s win.

On this album, she mentions FOMO (fear of missing out), her grandma’s reaction to Musgraves piercing her own nose (crying) and her longing to see her mother (a real tearjerker). But, she weaves these feelings into an album that plays out like a beautifully water-colored storybook. Each song feels soft enough to be played at some hip coffee shop, but there are potent lyrics that people around the world sing to themselves over and over again.

While she’s been active for longer, Musgraves spent her last album cycle creating a sound and a persona that transcends stereotypes. She writes past the country music stereotype of jeans, beer and tractors, and she doesn’t give into any popular music tendencies to sing about vapid relationships. She doesn’t have a specific fashion style, but instead rocks pantsuits, dresses and gowns, onstage and off.

She’s quick to say “yeehaw” and quick to mention a history of recreational drug use. But Musgraves has created what female artists try so hard to create in music and popular culture—a space where it is acceptable to feel an uncomfortable amount of emotions. When Musgraves is onstage, she encourages the audience to dance, sing, hug, cry… it’s all about feeling emotions, rather than stifling them to appear as some “better” version of yourself.

As second semester reaches its most chaotic point (what I consider March through graduation), it’s a good time to reflect on how we view “strong, put-together” and “hard-working.” Because, at some point, pulling all-nighters to finish that extra project becomes unhealthy.

People and students should take their health, physical and mental, seriously. And part of that is understanding that it’s okay to feel a diverse array of emotions and maybe not know exactly what to do with them.

Musgraves also teaches us that it’s okay not to have a perfectly planned path for school or life. She has fans who stretch between genres and age groups. After all, there’s no real rules about liking what you like.

So perhaps, in your collegiate years, you change majors, you meet new people or maybe find a profession you’re even more excited about than you thought.

It’s okay to be absolutely yourself in ways that others may not understand. If your work comes from a place of love, it’s the right work.

So, to end this column in the same way that Golden Hour closes, remember that “it’ll all be alright.”

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