LOS ANGELES – When emerging country music star Kacey Musgraves took to the stage at the Grammys on January 26 to perform her single “Follow Your Arrow,” many who hadn't ever heard the song were quite surprised by its lyrics.
“If you save yourself for marriage, you’re a bore. If you don’t save yourself for marriage, you’re a horrible person,” crooned the 25-year-old Texas native. “Make lots of noise, kiss lots of boys, or kiss lots of girls, if that’s what you’re into. When the straight and narrow gets a little too straight, roll up a joint, or don’t… If you don’t go to Church, you’ll go to hell. If you’re the first one on the front row, you’re a self-righteous son-of-a…”
This was not your mother's country music. But apparently, many fans have had no trouble embracing the genre's latest new direction.
Grammy voters awarded Musgraves Best Country Song and Best Country Album, and sales of her album "Same Trailer Different Park" are up 177 percent since her win, landing it back on top of the Country Album charts.
Not only that, the song "Follow Your Arrow" surged to a number 60 debut on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart for the week of February 15, and had sold 221,000 copies in the U.S. as of the end of January.
“At first, I was like, ‘There’s going to be backlash.’ I know a lot of people don’t really agree with those things, especially in the South,” she told country music publication The Boot last year. “But there’s actually a lot less criticism towards that song than I imagined… Even if they don’t agree with the girls kissing girls thing or even the drug reference, I would hope that they would agree that no matter what we all should be able to love who we want to love and live how we want to live.”
So how did Musgraves pull it off?
"Kacey's controversial lyrics were clearly not geared towards selling a conservative market. People have been writing songs about lesbianism, drugs and sex for hundreds of years, but the strength of putting them in a song that could conceivably make it's way on to Ma and Pa's radio on the way to church is key," Jed Smith, founder of music composition company Beta Fish Music, told FOX411. "Taylor Swift has done a lot to bring pop and country together in a modern setting, Kacey may be the one to give the fusion a message."
According to many in the music industry, the country scene has been shifting for a while and will likely continue to do so. Megastars like Carrie Underwood and Toby Keith are just two of several that have come out in support of gay marriage.
"Controversial topics have never been foreign to country music, but the more contemporary social issues such as sexual orientation are a bit new," noted country recording artist and RNC performer, Beau Davidson. "Perhaps in 2014, Musgraves has both the cultural moment and generational advantage of dealing with more socially-conscious topics in an introspective way, without running off the traditional country music listener."
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Musgraves. "Pot, also known as drugs and damaging," one listener observed, as others called the song an "attack on Christians."
And although the singer-songwriter herself has said that she didn’t set out to write a song specifically addressing issues like gay marriage, it ultimately “turned into a bigger idea.”
And a big hit.
A rep for Musgraves did not respond to a request for comment.
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