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The misappropriation of country music: Kid Rock opened the doors for Mumford & Sons

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Country vs. R&B

"Back At One" - Mark Wills

While a lot of cover songs wait a few years for the original to run its course before launching into an adaptation, McKnight and Wills's versions of "Back at One" both came out in 1999. To release these songs around the same time is just one of several strange decisions that lead up to this tune's entrance into the country catalog. To release these songs around the same time -- albeit to different audiences -- would only seem to highlight the failures of smoothness by Wills in comparison to McKnight.

One peculiar aspect of the video for Wills's version, besides the fact that anyone thought to have a country artist cover a Brian McKnight song, is the recurring American flag imagery. The original is very clearly a song wherein McKnight is professing his love to the girl of his dreams -- just like every McKnight song ever, actually. Why, or how, the simple counting down of reasons why McKnight loves this special lady could be construed as something patriotic by Wills (and in a pre-9/11 world none-the-less) is beyond comprehension.

Wills's version isn't offensive to the ear, but the only thing that differentiates it from McKnight's version is the addition of some slide guitar to the arrangement -- well, that, plus the fact that Wills doesn't have a fraction of McKnight's vocal abilities.

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Patrick Rodgers

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