Sugarland and Steampunk

So, recently, there’s been talk of Sugarland, a multi-platinum country music band, making a Steampunk inspired album, The Incredible Machine. The album itself is another country album, but the lyrics employ Steampunk imagery.

I’m not entirely pleased about this development. Sugarland is a country band that appears to care nothing about Steampunk as a movement. And, if you need proof if this, check out this quote from a recent article from Rueters:

“The way steampunk works — it’s just different ways to augment rock wear,” Bush said. “Even though we’re dressed a certain way, it gives a heightened sense this is a show.”

I’m sorry, but that’s not “just how  Steampunk works.” Steampunk is so much more than just a method of showmanship for anyone to just adopt when record sales slump. It appears as though Sugarland views Steampunk as a way to further promote themselves and their image. They seem to be grabbing a hold of our image in the effort to promote a record.

For those of you who balk as I do at big-label musicians hijacking Steampunk, you’ll be happy to read this review from the Washington Post that is unimpressed by Sugarland’s “The Incredible Machine.”

4 comments on “Sugarland and Steampunk

  1. Maria Brown says:

    [Deep, calming breath.] I had read recently that both Sugarland and Rush were working on Steampunk-inspired albums and my first thought was, “Oh, that could be cool.” Of course, those thoughts were immediately followed by fear that these artists would miss the point. Nevertheless, I was prepared to buy the Sugarland album, even picked it up in the store before having second thoughts and heading home to spend some time on iTunes previewing it. All I can say is that I’m glad I put it down. This is clearly a country album, and in no way does it sound remotely steampunk to me (not even in lyrics). I have nothing against country music, but I’m not a fan, and this album would have wound up in my ‘tragic mistake’ pile awaiting a fan to give it away to. Sugarland is clearly not concerned with fans of Steampunk; they saw an aesthetic and liked it (like so many of us did in the beginning) but haven’t moved beyond the “oooh pretty” phase to something more challenging. And, honestly, the don’t have to…they’ll still sell millions of copies because they have millions of country music fans who will buy this country music album. And I will continue to be annoyed they have attached the name of an innovative and inspiring movement to their work in an attempt to make it seem more cool. The sad moral to this story is that fans should buy what they like, whatever the label the artists have chosen to describe their work. I now live in hope that Rush will do better with capturing Steampunk imagery, but I will buy the album anyway because I love their music. [End Rant.]

  2. Larry says:

    Leaving aside what passes for “country music” today, which is nothing more than pop rock with a twang, this stunt by this band is about as crass commercialism of steampunk as I’ve seen in a long time.

  3. Jack Horner says:

    I confess that I was initially interested in this. I like country. Steampunk and country make perfect sense. It’s the music played before the mast on larger American airships, the banjo that filters out of the Holler’ while the Train passes, the music in the camps of the Klondike radium fields. But I forgot that my definition of country is Frank Fairfield.

    After the Acquainting myself who Sugarland is, and reading a few reviews I am sad to say that I agree with you.

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