For a true country aficionado, mentioning Tim McGraw in the same breath as Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard or any country great is the holiest of sins. It's like mixing your moonshine with Sprite.
Fans of country before 1992, which was McGraw's introductory year, reserve every right to harbor ill will toward a man from the bowels of Louisiana who's now better known for being the title of a Taylor Swift song. Along with Shania Twain and Garth Brooks, McGraw bears much of the responsibility for melding country and pop , contributing to the former genre's dark and confusing period in the early '90s and resulting bastardization. (In the eyes of some, anyway.)
We're talking about a guy who's known for not only collaborating with pop-rapper Nelly, but who was recently likened to Coldplay. He's also married to Faith Hill, who's culpable herself for watering down the grit and snarl of old school country.
It's understandable why some want McGraw chased out of Nashville by a pitchfork-carrying mob. (And why the Pitchfork crowd has no interest in him at all.)
But while McGraw is, admittedly, about as country as Gwyneth Paltrow, he nonetheless deserves credit for paving the way for many of the most enjoyable country acts of today. Without his influence, artists like Blake Shelton, Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban would likely not have gotten their props, as their sugary hooks are but an evolution of McGraw's musical underpinnings.
Meanwhile, there's much to be said for the way McGraw has utilized country's stripped down ability to make us feel 17 and infatuated again. "Something Like That" -- which is built around a toe-tapping melody and is the most-played radio single of the 2000s -- is far more than a typical country ballad of young love lost and found. (Spoiler alert: the boy runs into his high school crush years down the line.) If you're looking to get nostalgic and want to feel some butterflies again, this song does the trick.