Song Review – Garth Brooks’ “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance”


Oh, Garth.

You’d be hard pressed not to recognize that Garth Brooks has been by far the best-selling performer in country music in the last few years, topping the Forbes list of country’s biggest bread winners. The problem is all those sales are coming in the form of concert tickets as the American public exercises its pent-up Garth Brooks fervor bottled up during his formal retirement.

If Garth’s comeback is going to be broad based and lasting, he’s got to impact beyond being a vessel for nostalgia. He needs a “Kokomo,” or at least something that impacts radio even slightly so he’s not just re-singing “Friends In Low Places” forever. The presence of a “hit” is what was missing in the whole Man Against Machine release, though it may have only been partly Garth’s fault, and partly RCA Nashville that was in the midst of a leadership change and appeared to have no radio strategy for a record that actually had a few decent single candidates. And Bro-Country was still going strong at the time. The radio environment for someone like Garth Brooks is significantly more hospitable at the moment.

But Garth Brooks is taking no chances. He needs an ear worm, and he needs it bad if he’s going to keep the dream of world domination alive. And so we get “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance.”

Let’s not forget that music is there to be enjoyed, including by mainstream listeners who are simply looking for something upbeat to chase away the monotony on a morning commute. But “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” is pure pap, pandering, with astonishingly-recycled lyrics, and even elements of the whole Metro-Bro movement that we were hoping and praying a person like Garth Brooks would side step.

Look at these rehashed lines:

  • I get this feeling that I can’t explain
  • I got to tell me girl you drive me wild
  • I’m moving like I’m in a trance
  • I’m a victim of your circumstance
  • {random bass solo}

I mean these are the kind of lyrics a 5th grader would write by listening to other pop songs and trying to write their own (no offense Grace Vanderwaal). And even worse, in a couple of instances Garth seems to use urban annunciations like we’ve been hearing from these Metro-Bro performers. Why Lord, why could have this not been one of the songs that got destroyed on Garth’s phone? Or maybe it was, and he jotted the lyrics down by memory on the back of a fast food napkin. It sure sounds that way. Actually check that, looking at the credits now, there were five songwriters for this: Garth, Kent Blazy, Steve Dorff, Victoria Shaw and Kim Williams. A five-headed brain trust, and this is the best you can do?

As for the music, it’s fine. It’s playful, funky, upbeat stuff. My antenna were perked immediately for the presence of an electroniclly-generated drum beat, and the bass solo is pretty unfortunate. But you know, it’s fun. It’s just not country, even in the slightest. There is nothing in there to draw in your country music ear whatsoever. This is no different than a Sam Hunt or Kelsea Ballerini song in how it’s country sheerly in marketing.

Garth hasn’t sold out here because he never sold in. This is arguably his most non-country song ever this side of his Chris Gaines material—even more non-country than “Two Piña Coladas,” though the purpose is the same: get the bored public to pay attention en masse. This is music for Chewbacca Mom.

There will be better songs on whatever comes of the new Garth Brooks record because for as much as he likes attention and money, Garth also has a strong sense of legacy that he won’t even let his greed overcome.  But this is pretty terrible, and let’s not overlook that it basically boils down to a sex song.

You’re better than this Garth. Or are you?

1 1/2 Guns DOWN (3/10)