Gen Z Is Really Big on ’90s Country, Apparently
It's not just middle parts and straight-leg pants; Gen Z also apparently has a thing for '90s country music.
As part of a new campaign to promote its '90s Country playlist, Spotify released a slew of data points around Gen Z's listening habits — and some of them may surprise you. Since 2018, Spotify has seen a 70 percent increase in '90s country streams among Gen Z fans; that's anyone born between 1996 and roughly the late 2000s.
According to their data, Gen Z-ers have made a staggering 89 million playlists featuring '90s country hits.
Perhaps most stunning is the data showing that as many listeners between the ages of 19-24 are streaming Spotify's '90s Country playlist as listeners over 45. That means that younger listeners — some of whom weren't even alive when hits like Diamond Rio's "Meet in the Middle" and Trisha Yearwood's "She's in Love with the Boy" dominated the airwaves — are on pace with their parents and even grandparents when it comes to streaming songs from commercial country's golden era.
Testing the limits of '90s nostalgia, Spotify also rolled out the '90s Country Digital Experience, a special website featuring a digitized 6-CD changer and personalized album and playlist recommendations.
The site went live on Sept. 21, the same day that Spotify dropped three very special covers featuring rising stars Breland, Parker McCollum and Tenille Arts. McCollum's version of George Strait's "Carrying Your Love with Me" and Tenille Arts' take on the Chicks' "Wide Open Spaces" are fairly faithful tributes to the originals, while Breland's cover of Deana Carter's "Strawberry Wine" takes the classic ballad to genre-bending, gender-flipped new heights.
"The fields have grown over now, years since they've seen a plow / There's nothing time hasn't touched / Is it really him or the loss of my innocence / I've been missing so much?" Breland sings in the bridge before launching into a chills-inducing vocal run.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Breland says that the song "really beautifully describes an experience that we all have: first love." He adds, "There’s a universal truth in the song. I can remember being 17 and feeling like I found the one. And as it turned out, it wasn’t."
Whatever their reasons for gravitating toward the early sounds of Shania Twain, the Chicks, and the like, it doesn't look like the craze is dying down anytime soon. Pandora, Apple Music and Amazon Music each have their own '90s country playlists, and Spotify's campaign should be sure to only add fuel to the nostalgia fire.
50 Essential '90s Country Songs: