Country (also called country and western) is a genre of popular music that takes its roots from genres such as blues and old-time music, and various types of American folk music including Appalachian, Cajun, and the cowboy Western music styles of Red Dirt, New Mexico, Texas country, and Tejano. Its popularized roots originate in the Southern United States of the early 1920s.
Country music often consists of ballads and dance tunes with generally simple forms, folk lyrics, and harmonies mostly accompanied by string instruments such as banjos, electric and acoustic guitars, steel guitars (such as pedal steels and dobros), and fiddles as well as harmonicas. Blues modes have been used extensively throughout its recorded history.
According to Lindsey Starnes, the term country music gained popularity in the 1940s in preference to the earlier term hillbilly music; it came to encompass Western music, which evolved parallel to hillbilly music from similar roots, in the mid-20th century. In 2009 in the United States, country music was the most listened to rush hour radio genre during the evening commute, and second most popular in the morning commute.
The term country music is used today to describe many styles and subgenres. The origins of country music are found in the folk music of working class Americans and blue-collar American life. It has been inspired by American popular music, and American folk music which had its roots in Celtic music, traditional English ballads, cowboy songs, corridos, African-American music, French folk music, and other folk musical traditions.
In the mid to late 2010s, country music began to increasingly sound more like the style of modern-day Pop music. Some modern artists that primarily or entirely produce country pop music include Maren Morris, Kelsea Ballerini, Sam Hunt, Taylor Swift, Kane Brown, Chris Lane, and Dan + Shay. With more simple and repetitive lyrics, more electronic-based instrumentation, and experimentation with "talk-singing" and rap, pop-country pulled farther away from the traditional sounds of country music and received criticisms from country music purists while gaining in popularity with mainstream audiences.