Musical genre is a very important aspect of a song. Genre has a lot do with the expectations a listener has for a song, and also greatly affects the way the listener will respond to that song. Country music, primarily influenced by conservative politics, was a boundary pushing genre for a group to take a stance of opposition against a Republican president. Because the Dixie Chicks were already characterized as a country group, they didn’t really have a choice to remove themselves from the expectations that come with this genre. They were to either say what they wanted to say, knowing it was out of line with their traditional audience, or not say it at all. They chose to share their message in “Not Ready to Make Nice”, and their audience negatively received the song as expected for the demographics of this genre.
The idea that genre affects the way we attribute meaning to a song was clear is Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA”. This song falls under the category of 80’s rock, which ultimately contributes to the way the harsh and depressing message conveyed by the lyrics is almost hidden when casually listening. In this example, genre helped in subduing an edgy message, camouflaging it in catchy lines and an upbeat tempo characteristic of classic rock. In “Not Ready to Make Nice”, the genre similarly contrasted the message, but not in a way that made the message hidden. Instead, the genre made the message more controversial. The lyrics of the song would be in line with the country music genre if the context pointed to something else. It is the context that makes this song a protest song, and without the knowledge of the background it does not seem to be challenge the country audience. The delivery of the song is emotional and raw, characteristics that some other country music has. It utilizes guitar and the fiddle, two traditional country instruments, but also has some unique elements. A symphony sound is mimicked towards the end to add drama and build suspense. This is something that is not present in a lot of songs in the country genre, but fits the theme of the powerful message being communicated.