Album Review – Thomas Rhett’s “Tangled Up”
Damn you Thomas Rhett for making me have to figure out who the hell “Lunchmoney Lewis” is.
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Forget what I or anyone else has to say, if you attached a lie detector test to Thomas Rhett and asked him if he thought his new album Tangled Up was in any way country and he had the audacity to answer “yes,” the seismic needles would start jerking harder than when San Andreas finally gives up California into the Pacific Ocean.
I predict we’re a mere six months away from a “country” artist releasing an album that is completely and totally not country (just like Rhett has done here), an album better categorized in numerous other genres (like Tangled Up), and when a reporter confronts the artist straight up about how the album is mislabeled, the performer will just say, “Yeah, so what if it isn’t country? What are you going to do about it? Evolution.”
The hubris, the insult of calling Tangled Up “country,” the effrontery to the institution and the brazenness of the act are unparalleled, and start country music down a brambled path towards a terrible demise where it can’t define its own borders or distinguish itself from the rest of American music. For the first time, we ask the question, “Will The Circle Be Unbroken?” and cannot give ourselves a reassuring answer. The circle is in perilous danger of snapping in half from the reckless abandon and selfish aims of today’s stars, and the pieces being carelessly tossed in the mud—cast aside like some forgotten trinkets in a mad obsession with today and the here and now.
“We’re one of those genres that sort of lives in this bubble that everyone is a little bit scared to poke that bubble, because we’re worried about what will happen when that bubble breaks,” Thomas Rhett is quoted as saying, apparently clueless how the bursting of bubbles is commonly used as an analogy for the total implosion or annihilation of things.
“To me, I want to be that artist that when my buddies are watching me, they’ll say ‘Dang, I can’t believe they just did that in their concert.’ Or they hear a song on the record and go ‘How in the world did they cut that song and get away with it?’ There’s something kind of rebelliously fun about it.”
In other words, Thomas Rhett regards the destruction of country music and its cultural foundations as sport and amusement.
A product of nepotism and an incarnated machination of the Nashville machine, Thomas Rhett doesn’t possess particularly impressive songwriting skills. Rhett has not ascended to his station in music from the strength of his vocal prowess or musicianship. Thomas Rhett isn’t especially pretty or charismatic, or artistically talented as a performer. Thomas Rhett’s ultimate gift is his ability to relinquish his free will unconditionally, suppress any and all inclinations to express himself artistically in anything resembling an original form, and allow producers to do their worst with his name and likeness as their fully indentured economic vehicle, with the ultimate result being capital acquisition on a grand scale. He might as well be a hologram.
There’s no material basis, no lineage to trace, no current event to point to, or logical explanation for why this R&B-influenced form of “country” has cut across the entirety of the mainstream, swallowing souls and spitting out regurgitated disco tracks left and right, except to point to it as a symptom of a broken organization that has no ideas left, and nowhere else to turn.
Trying to find a sliver of originality on Tangled Up is a test of fortitude and will, not only from the patience and attention to minute detail one must posses to search for such a rarity, but in the search process one is being mercilessly pummeled by inalienably banal audio affronts that make concentration and patience impossible. Virtually everything on Thomas Rhett’s Tangled Up is begged, borrowed, or stolen. Nothing has been “created” here except the facade of originality, which is wafer thin and anemic. With songs such as “Crash and Burn,” and “Vacation,” the thievery from artists like Sam Cooke and War is obvious. In the case of the latter, songwriting credits were even dished out. In the case of the former, they should have been.
Songs like “Anthem,” “South Side,” and “Tangled” are selections that are better suited to be categorized in every single other major American genre instead of country. With “South Side,” the lyrics read like a sonnet to stupidity.
Now people on the left, shake your south side
People on the right shake your south side
Every single girl shake your south side
All around the world shake your south side
Like Memphis, Tennessee, got in bed with CDB
And had a baby and when the baby cried
It made this sound, ain’t no lie it was funkified
It’s all Sam Hunt’s fault for starting us down this Metro-Bro road, but on a personal level, Sam Hunt at least comes across as somewhat personable and well-spoken. Thomas Rhett? He comes across as a wide-eyed goober who is too slow to understand he’s become Music Row’s ultimate tool.
Tangled Up isn’t without its efforts to appeal to a more attentive, cultured, and country crowd. “Die a Happy Man” is what passes for the “country” song on this record simply because it has steel guitar plopped between R&B sounds. It’s an attempt to justify the umpteen trespasses Tangled Up possesses against country music, to shield Rhett from criticism as a token gesture. It should be taken as an insult instead as an olive branch. “The Day You Stop Lookin’ Back” actually has a semblance of a story and purpose, even though it is beset with electronic drum beats like so many of this album’s selections, and the production is sanguine, and predictable.
Sam Hunt could be written off as an anomaly. But artists such as Brett Eldredge, and now Thomas Rhett adopting this R&B approach in a wholesale, album-wide, across the slate manner marks the institutionalizing of Metro-Bro within the format in a manner that puts country on perilous footing, precariously balanced and susceptible to bursting (to use Rhett’s) analogy, with the result being the complete evisceration of the country music institution in its traditionally-accepted form.
I had a rather unfavorable view of this effort.
September 28, 2015 @ 6:43 pm
“I had a rather unfavorable view of this effort.”
Talk about understating, it, Trigger.
September 28, 2015 @ 6:46 pm
Are those seriously the lyrics? I just can’t with him at all. What is CDB???
Oh and PLEASE someone tell this boy that he CAN NOT DANCE!
September 28, 2015 @ 6:58 pm
My guess is Charlie Daniels Band
September 28, 2015 @ 7:04 pm
Ahhhhh. Thanks! I thought he was referring to another city.
September 29, 2015 @ 5:51 am
Hey, he actually name dropped an honest to God country singer, as opposed to Kenny Chesney who just wants to talk about ACDC all the time. So he gets partial credit for that at least, right?
John Wayne Twitty
September 28, 2015 @ 6:54 pm
You actually sat through this garbage?? What’s next, are you going to volunteer to be waterboarded with boiling sewage?
September 28, 2015 @ 10:10 pm
lmao dude im rolling!
September 28, 2015 @ 6:57 pm
Haha here is Captain Douchebag singing South side at a show.
Six String Richie
September 28, 2015 @ 7:00 pm
As somebody who grew up on the south side of a major city (Milwaukee), Thomas Rhett makes me embarrassed of where I came from.
September 28, 2015 @ 7:08 pm
“He might as well be a hologram.”
I cracked up at that line.. 😀
I heard an early Taylor Swift song(I think it was “picture to burn”) today on the radio, it sounded like hardcore country compared to Thomas Rhett, Sam Hunt and these other EDM tools. Never thought I’d see the day that would happen.
September 28, 2015 @ 7:35 pm
I think “Tim McGraw”, “Our Song and “Teardrops on My Guitar” are all rock solid country songs that will stand the test of time because they are well-written.
September 28, 2015 @ 8:03 pm
I surpringly really like Taylor’s “Tim McGraw.” I honestly don’t know why. I guess everybody has songs they like for some unknown reason. It is fairly country, especially compared to her later songs. “Teardrops…” isn’t bad either. “Our Song” is kinda annoying though.
September 28, 2015 @ 9:52 pm
I would rank “Tim McGraw” and “Teardrops” as two of her top 3 most musically beautiful songs, along with “Come In With The Rain” from the Fearless deluxe edition:
It also helps that the lyrics in these songs are immeasurably deeper than almost anything in present-day country radio (and, frankly, way deeper than anything on her “1989” album).
As I have predicted, even “You Belong With Me” will be considered classic country by the end of this decade.
October 1, 2015 @ 1:06 pm
Someone in Saving Country Music that actually likes or loves several Taylor Swift’s songs?! And someone that actually thinks Taylor has released Country songs in the past?! This is almost a miracle! 😀
I love Country and I also like most of Taylor Swift’s music. In fact, I discovered Country because of her! Sadly, that makes me part of a minority on this Website. So, it’s always nice to discover someone with the same opinion!
My favorite Taylor Swift’s songs belong to her third and fourth albums, tough.
September 28, 2015 @ 8:02 pm
And it sure happened fast didn’t it? What a horrible mess things have devolved into.
Derek E. Sullivan
September 29, 2015 @ 12:19 pm
Taylor’s last “country” release in my opinion was “Mean.” Great song.
September 29, 2015 @ 8:54 pm
I would say that it was “Begin Again” from her “Red” album in 2012.
September 28, 2015 @ 7:20 pm
This reminds me of the YouTube spoof series Yacht Rock. So smooooth!
September 28, 2015 @ 7:28 pm
Insert foot in mouth here, but at least Sam Hunt’s music is pleasant to listen to. This just sounds like a really bad early 90’s hip hop album w a few bro-country songs sprinkled in.
Also, what is my guy Chris Stapleton doing helping write South side?! And did I catch him singing background vocals? Disappointing.
September 28, 2015 @ 9:31 pm
C. Stapleton does have a very wide range of writing credits (and background vocals) on every possible sort of thing (and yes, including some Rhett songs). I would immensely prefer for his own country music that he sings himself to get played on the radio (and the current American Songwriter Magazine issue has a great, lengthy article about his autobiographical CD “Traveller” that I would most highly recommend to anyone – the coal miner’s son from the same place as the coal miner’s daughter went from working at Papa John’s to writing for a living, then singing). That said, if “mainstream country radio” is going to play nothing but “pop country,” then if he didn’t have success writing some of that, he’d likely never see the light of day to have the opportunity to get his own music out there. I’ll say this, I finally got to see Chris perform a couple days ago, and he did an incredible job. I was especially encouraged to see younger people who had never heard of him thoroughly enjoying not only his many original country songs, but also his version of the “old” country song “Tennessee Whiskey.” I do apologize if I come across overly defensive. I’ve never even met the guy, and am only distantly related, but he looks and talks and has the same sort of mind and sense of humor as people in my family (and relatives who have met him have nothing but great things to say), so I’d pull for him even if he were twerking to an autotuned reggae polka.
September 29, 2015 @ 3:46 pm
All good, I get your points and I too will continue to support him (Stapleton). I just wish he would take greater role as a leader in the country music industry. I expect better than “Southside.”
Also very jealous you got to see him perform!
September 29, 2015 @ 5:39 pm
I’m not certain on who he is with on the publishing side of writing songs or if he is on his own? The difference is if he is with a publisher he’s paid a salary or draw. It’s a yearly renewable contract. It’s tied together. Has to get a certain number of cuts a year, say 20 most likely to keep his contract. He submits all of the songs that he writes to them. They push it (also the other writers on the cuts their teams also do). Why many songs have a few co-writers also. It’s a heck of a lot less of a risk than being on your own, and back in the day probably not eating. A writer described it to me as each progression is a small miracle. To get a label or person to believe in it enough to spend $20k on a demo, to cut it, to make it on an album, and to make it to a single etc.
September 28, 2015 @ 7:29 pm
I am glad that I’m not buying this cd full of garbage songs.
September 28, 2015 @ 7:33 pm
I’m kind of bipolar with this album. This is not a country album…We all know that, and I know this album is going to be the biggest punching bag since Montevallo. But I don’t think its quite guilty of all of the allegations put forth. I think as a piece of music this album is fun and fresh. I think the intent of the direction at its core is not evil. I think Thomas Rhett helped pioneer this new direction going back to Make Me Wanna which was a song planned to segway into this new one when he put out his debut album. So I wouldn’t put him in the category with a lot of the other pandering midlife crisis old fools. And I don’t think him and Sam Hunt are quite the same kinds of offenders or even the same kinds of guys for that matter. Did it end up being over the top for turning into a true pop album? Ya. But thats not my issue personally with this album. My issue is just how similar it sounds to other pop stuff. Which is part of the nature of the pop beast I guess, but Tangled might as well be the same song as Treasure, a hit song by Bruno Mars who he claims is his idol. I hear shades of Ed Sheeran in some of the melodies as well. As for the greater issue and its impact on mainstream country music, which I think is what we should really be talking about here because I think the implications are that serious, and Trigger talked about it a lot already too, is that I think this is going to be the next successful young buck album that is going to change the landscape and that everybody is going to try to copycat and try to sound like. And they already have over the past year. The group of records that this will end up being in over the last several years is, Here’s To The Good Times…..Montevallo…..and now, Tangled Up. That is what we are talking about here…
September 29, 2015 @ 3:41 pm
I’d agree with you. I’m sure the album is fine and well put together. Its probably a good listen and has some interesting aspects. I just hate how, nowadays, when people ask me what kind of music I play; I have to tell them Alternative Country/ Honky Tonk music because the industry insists on classifying albums like “Tangled Up” as a country record. everyone can agree its not a country record, but to the average fan, if you say “I play country music” its this kind of stuff I get associated with. Which, in my mind anyway, devalues my music
September 28, 2015 @ 8:15 pm
The appeal to make this music is really simple. They are increasing their audience, and therefore their revenue. People that would traditionally listen to country music is a pretty specific demographic, but now they are getting those people plus they are plucking listeners from the mainstream. I think it will eventually backfire, but we’re all gonna have to ride this one out.
September 28, 2015 @ 8:19 pm
From my review:
” I wrote that Don Henley made his album with obvious love and respect for the genre; one gets the feeling listening to this that Thomas Rhett went into this with outright hatred, disrespect, and defiance toward country music and its fans. Tangled Up is so named because of Thomas Rhett”™s many influences, wich apparently include r&b, disco, funk, rap, rock, pop”“anything but country”“and his father was Rhett Akins, so he can”™t even play the cluless Florida Georgia Line card here. He is so purposeful at avoiding anything having to do with country, and so arrogant and disrespectful about it, that all I can say is he should have went all the way and named this album Fuck Country Music, as this is the actual, unashamed theme”¦hey, at least he has a theme, I suppose. Maybe if he”™d named it that, he could have thought of something for a cover, instead of leaving this to the fans in lieu of actually employing any creativity, self-expression, and/or brain power himself. If he”™d gone with the above title, the cover could have shown him flipping off Hank or burning a Merle Haggard album”¦but I digress.”
You have just proved these thoughts correct by putting his quotes about his music here–you are right by calling his attitude toward the destruction of country music and all that it stands for “sport and amusement.”
September 28, 2015 @ 8:22 pm
I know country music has traditionally not been known for its imaginative cover art, with some notable exceptions, of course, but for Pete’s sake!! It’s like they’re not even TRYING!! Just kinda stand there in front of a grey background. Yay. Whatever. Cash the check.
It’s definitely not Roger Dean or Hipgnosis doing this stuff.
September 29, 2015 @ 4:30 am
He did try…he has holes in his t-shirt. Clearly, he cut this album after working on the farm all day. That’s country cred right there! Would any real R&B singer be caught dead in a shirt like that?
On the other hand, does anyone believe that Thomas Rhett has every actually been to a farm?
September 29, 2015 @ 11:06 am
Someone above post a video from his live show, and I almost got excited to see he was wearing the same shirt as on the album cover. ‘Print, package, & ship!’ What a clown.
September 28, 2015 @ 8:58 pm
I’m just focusing on the positive here
George strait has a great new album out and I found a lot of new material from Eric church which seems to be really good and much more traditional than the outsiders… I highly suggest you guys go on YouTube and search “Eric church new songs” and listen to a few of them. Really good so my fingers are crossed.
September 28, 2015 @ 9:37 pm
I definitely recommend listening to “Good for That” by Eric Church. I liked that one from the start.
September 29, 2015 @ 4:33 am
I would feel so happy and a touch vindicated if Eric Church put out that album of new material.
If he can’t/won’t do it, then I am praying for Mo Pitney–praying he doesn’t get screwed to the floor by Curb Records.
September 29, 2015 @ 6:19 am
He’s done this over the years, though, with songs that have yet to see the light of day. I’m still waiting to see “Michael” on a track list, but it hasn’t happened yet.
October 2, 2015 @ 1:05 pm
I’d love to know what Eric Church thinks of Rhett, ‘Tangled Up’, Sam Hunt and the lot…
September 28, 2015 @ 9:36 pm
I follow taste of country on Facebook just to see what the other side has to say about country music. I have come to conclusion that country music is simply a sex driven with songs that are so baron of substance that no other music genre will touch them.
On another note…Trig why don’t you ever say anything about Corey Smith? I really enjoy his music and would love to hear your thoughts on his music.
September 28, 2015 @ 9:52 pm
There’s a lot of artists I haven’t said much about, but I tend to get back around to them eventually. Corey Smith is sort of enigma to me. There were parts of the new album I really enjoyed, and then parts that veered towards Calypso island music that just sort of confused me. I guess I just haven’t settled on a firm opinion on him either way. That is why I’ve yet to discuss him.
September 28, 2015 @ 10:07 pm
Thanks for listening to this album for us Trigger, so that we do have to test it for ourselves.
The only thing that distinguishes a song like “T-Shirt”, or for that matter the rest of the dreck on “country” radio, as country is the Southern accent.
Having said that, I will admit that I find “Crash and Burn” to be a decent song. It seems like modern “country” singers improve considerably when they steal old songs rather than when they put out their own. The video on the other hand…
It looks like he totally stole the idea of the man chasing/dancing around the woman on the street from B-level Bollywood movies. And what’s up with the ancient car? If you are going to claim that you want country music to “modernize”, then at least use a car from 2015 rather than 1975…
September 28, 2015 @ 10:36 pm
That video is further proof that he is totally lacking in originality. He seems to want to be Bruno Mars and the entire way he prances around is just plain embarrassing. Then throw in the ‘…Say Anything’ reference and the man dancing around the woman on the street actually reminds me more of the ‘Thriller’ video by Michael Jackson which is arguably the greatest music video of all time. Of course Bruno Mars is pretty much just a newer version of Jackson so maybe there is no originality left period.
September 29, 2015 @ 1:59 am
Trig thats spot on when discussing the new album. Maysville in the Meantime was such a good album in my opinion and I think that because it was so good While the Gettin”™ is Good was kind of a let down to me. Though some of it was very enjoyable it did seem like he was trying to do an island theme in parts of the album.
My wife and i are on the different ends of what we enjoy in music. She hates new country but is very into pop music. Corey has always been that bridge when it comes to our taste in music. He is just soft rock enough for her to enjoy and just country enough for me to appreciate.
September 29, 2015 @ 2:40 am
A new genre is born. CountR&By.
September 29, 2015 @ 4:17 am
I reread your Eldredge review after this one, and I’m surprised that you didn’t mention (unless I missed it), that You Can’t Stop Me is a duet or collaboration or whatever it’s called when two dudes sing together, between Rhett and Eldredge. Rhett has absolutely ZERO twang while singing it, which shows what a country fake he is. It’s such lame ass song already, but their ridiculous banter during it makes it that much worse. Very FGLish.
September 29, 2015 @ 4:43 am
I woke up early (to spend extra time hating Jason Aldean) and read this review, and I think having flaming porcupine quills jammed up my nostrils while chewing on shards of broken glass and sitting on the porcelain throne trying to pass a giant rusty anchor would be more pleasant than ever hearing anything from Thomas Rhett again.Thomas Rhett is so offensive he’s the only person I ever wonder if I do or don’t hate him more than Jason Aldean… But it makes Cthulhu happy, and me very very miserable.
September 30, 2015 @ 7:11 pm
I don’t know why everyone hates on Jason Aldean….if you ask me he’s one of the very few still making songs with depth and country elements. I’ve always enjoyed his music and always will.
September 30, 2015 @ 7:57 pm
October 1, 2015 @ 1:22 am
hmm let me think about it… oh yeah! maybe because:
1) he introduced hard rock in country music with ‘she’s country’ and ‘my kinda party’ and a lot of artists tried to emulate him (that’s why now we have Brantley Gilbert polluting country radio.
2) he introduced rap in country music with dirt road anthem, 1994 and only way I know and a lot of artists tried to emulate him (that’s why we have Thomas rhett, chase rice, fgl, Luke Bryan, Sam hunt polluting country radio).
3) he introduced R&B and electronic elements in country music and a lot of artists tried to emulate him (that’s why we have Sam Hunt, Old Dominion, Thomas Rhett, Chase Rice, Luke Bryan, Cole Swindell, Jake Owen polluting country radio).
The fact that he has released two, TWO fucking good songs to country radio (namely amarillo sky and the truth) don’t offer any redeem value. and I don’t give a shit if he has one or two good album cuts per record buried among the last tracks of his records. He still sucks.
need i say more?
October 1, 2015 @ 10:53 am
Because he’s an unlikeable obnoxious assmunch who acts like an obnoxious kid and makes horrible music and is an insufferable role model.
October 1, 2015 @ 4:13 pm
Ya’ll can keep hating him but I enjoy his music. He’s sure as hell better than most of the garbage on radio.
October 2, 2015 @ 12:32 pm
absolutely no. he IS the garbage on the radio. I’d rather listen to crash and burn than that horrid ‘gonna know we were here’ hard rock mess or the idiotic vapid and goofy sexual innuendo called ‘just getting started’. The only thing worse than him might be uncle ezra ray, that fucking “ready set roll’ bullshit and a lot of thomas rhett stuff. You can like him and enjoy his music, I don’t have to tell you what to like or not. But please don’t come here to say that he’s a great singer and his music is good because it’s absolutely not true.
October 2, 2015 @ 1:44 pm
I never once said he is a great singer or that his music is good. Don’t make assumptions. Everyone’s tastes are different. I enjoy many different genres and the reason I like Aldean is because of his country rock sound and I do like his voice. But he’s not great. He’s not nearly as bad as what some of you say. There are way worse people making absolute trash music. His latest album is DEFINITELY his weakest, and shittiest, but before the latest album I was a big fan.
September 29, 2015 @ 4:53 am
If country would trade this guy for strugill… maybe their stocks wouldn’t be going down. Maybe people wouldn’t view the country genre as a joke.
All it takes is replacing one of this guys who’s goal is to sing to soccer moms in a midlife crises and 14 year old girls, to some one singing about real life (not joke owen) to get this country music train back on track.
Music row needs to get off that long black train.
September 29, 2015 @ 8:57 pm
“soccer moms in a midlife crises”
No longer the main fan base for country music. They have been replaced by guys with a 14-year-old mentality.
September 29, 2015 @ 5:02 am
Nobody should think its just a coincidence that FGL is already planning to release new music in the next couple months and that they have had Thomas Rhett out on tour with them all year. Trust me. My prediction is that in some way, shape, or form they will be trying to blow the doors off of this new trend that has presented an even greater market for them to tap into than they already expanded to and probably reinvent themselves when the original broish stuff is dying.
September 29, 2015 @ 1:37 pm
That’s what I believe too. They’re next album will be metro bro crap.
September 29, 2015 @ 5:12 am
This may be the one thing that might REALLY be LESS country Sam Hunt! Sam Hunt doesn’t have an ounce of country in him… and I don’t consider myself to be a fan of him, and it annoys me to hear him on a country station. However, I have to admit that his music is catchy. I don’t HATE it, I just hate that its on a country station. If I found myself in a pop-music mood, I wouldn’t be completely opposed. It has a flow to it. Its shallow, sure… but the lyrics tend to make sense within the song. He seems more at ease as a performer. I feel like Thomas Rhett’s songs dont make any sense. The lyrics you quoted for “South Side” don’t make any sense to me. It sounds like he threw words into a Scrabble bag, pulled them out, and made a song out of them. What is it supposed to mean? I’m not a fan of party songs, and I think there are WAY too many of them… but at least some of them make some kind of sense. I feel like the same thing is happening with Luke Bryan. His songs have always been completely shallow, but they felt like they had some kind of point to them – even if the point was just partying, chicks, and drinking. A lot of his songs on the new album feel to me, like its some kind of version of Mad Libs. They just dont make any sense to me.
September 29, 2015 @ 5:20 am
I hope he gets punched in the face by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis for making a mockery of their genre as well as country. This is simply the single worst thing I have ever heard.
Enjoy Every Sandwich
September 29, 2015 @ 6:14 am
That album cover is just awful. He looks like someone who ought to be on a sex offenders registry somewhere. He’s got that “…hello, little girl…” look on his face.
September 29, 2015 @ 7:04 am
Thomas Rhett is the very personification of Alan Jackson’s “Gone Country.” Had Bob McDill written that song 20 years later…
And somebody needs to do us all a favor and smack him for invoking the name of the Charlie Daniels Band. Smack. Him. HARD.
September 29, 2015 @ 7:43 am
Whatever that is, it ain’t country. Not even close.
While watching it a Lucero ad popped up on the video. Talk about contrasts . Damn I love that new Lucero record.
September 29, 2015 @ 8:18 am
I rather have George Strait “Cold beer conversation” be #1 not so-called country Thomas Rhett.
September 29, 2015 @ 8:19 am
Thomas Rhett (Akins Jr.) needs to make a country record.
September 29, 2015 @ 8:28 am
“Sam Hunt could be written off as an anomaly. But artists such as Brett Eldredge, and now Thomas Rhett adopting this R&B approach in a wholesale, album-wide, across the slate manner marks the institutionalizing of Metro-Bro within the format in a manner that puts country on perilous footing, precariously balanced and susceptible to bursting (to use Rhett”™s) analogy, with the result being the complete evisceration of the country music institution in its traditionally-accepted form.”
I’d hate to suggest that Rhett or Eldridge takes the award for precipitation ” the complete evisceration of the country music institution…etc ” . I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction when so many others built the weapons , charted the course that made them catalysts…way back to Keith Urban’s take on ” country music ” lyrics and instrumentation ( a banjo in a bad rock band )…Faith Hill’s STUPID ‘ This Kiss’ ……the over-the-top fan/industry worship of Ms. Swift’s ‘country ‘ lyrics ( ??? ) …..whatever that shit is that HUNT does…Twain’s inane songs, Sugarland’s nonsense towards the end of their run , LBT’s Pontoon …. There are just too many responsible for the destruction to suggest these two did any more than others to cripple a genre badly mamed already . They are simply standing on the backs of dwarves . I think your review is dead on , Trigger . I just think that suggesting Rhett is ” the guy ” gives Rhett far too much significance …or ‘credit ‘ as Rhett himself would likely proudly refer to his ‘rebel role ‘ in country’s demise .
September 29, 2015 @ 9:01 pm
Albert, here’s the Billboard Hot Country list of #1 hits from 2010:
Hopefully you would agree that these songs are way better than whatever is being played today.
The fall of country music happened very precipitously starting in late 2011, and the blame primarily lies with Jason Aldean, Brantley Gilbert, Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, etc.
Keith Urban, Faith Hill, and Taylor Swift, while they did release a few clunkers now and then, certainly are not culpable for this state of affairs.
October 1, 2015 @ 10:55 am
before Dirt Road Anthem the songs I hated most were “Stuck Like Glue” and “Hillbilly Bone.” After “DRA” it seems like every song started being awful… Sugarland made some dumb songs, and I’m too young to really remember Shania Twain’s raido heyday, (Feel like a woman and this kiss are stupid though)
October 1, 2015 @ 8:19 pm
Exactly. In the past, country stars used to release a dumb song every now and then (especially during summer), but in general their songs were substantive. Starting with DRA hitting the top of the downloads chart in September 2011, and especially taking full hold after the rise of Florida-Georgia Line one year afterward, dumb songs became the rule and deep songs the exception.
October 1, 2015 @ 11:21 am
“Hopefully you would agree that these songs are way better than whatever is being played today.”
Yup …better overall , I’d say . My point was that the dynamite for the demolition of the genre was set long before Rhett signed on to the wrecking crew . Lets not give him too much credit or too large a place in the movie ” How A Genre Was Destroyed ”
BTW when I tried to visit that link again …it was gone ..???
October 1, 2015 @ 8:22 pm
For some reason, the last parenthesis is not included in the hyperlink. Here’s another try:
October 1, 2015 @ 8:24 pm
October 1, 2015 @ 8:25 pm
Oh well, I could try further, but I don’t want to spam Trigger’s site. Just copy and paste the link instead of clicking it.
Six String Richie
September 29, 2015 @ 8:52 am
The video said it was an “Instant Grat” video. What does that mean?
September 29, 2015 @ 8:56 am
I don’t know, but I’m seeing that everywhere, even on some independent artists’ videos. I don’t like it. I think it lends to the idea that music is just background noise, or videos are just ways to blow off steam at work, like watching a kitten play with a ball of yarn. Let’s have a little bit more respect and value for music and videos. What happened to getting fulfilled by music, not just instantly gratified?
September 29, 2015 @ 2:36 pm
September 29, 2015 @ 9:01 am
Yikes. This is the kind of album where I’m especially glad for digital streaming music. I can kinda listen to it in the background once, and then move on, with it in my rear-view mirror of hopefully eternal forgetfulness. I think the way he’s poking of the country bubble is hideous.
This is really an interesting time in the music spectrum that we live in, especially from the country perspective. It’s nice that these artists and/or their labels are showing their true colors as their legitimacy as an artist country, non-country, or something else that is crap, is shining through with it. I think we’re getting to a point where an album cannot be categorized with a specific genre in itself, that each song needs to be categorized, so when searching for a specific genre, the audience can navigate to the songs they are interested in listening to.
September 29, 2015 @ 9:19 am
This video reminds me of when I walk into a public bathroom stall and the toilet has
been left blown up by someone’s ass. I’m just shocked at how awful what I viewed was and wish I hadn’t seen it.
September 30, 2015 @ 6:54 pm
lmao dude wow hahahaha
September 29, 2015 @ 9:24 am
Why… why don’t they (i.e. Rhett, Eldredge, Hunt, Eli Young) just go to pop/R&B? Wouldn’t they be happier, not being “constrained” by country music? Are they literally only in for the money? The adulation of 15-year-old girls? Are they and their managers just full well aware that they would die off if they were to compete with people like The Weeknd and Drake who actually know what they’re doing in this format? What is it? I’m so confused, more so than ever with this album’s release.
September 29, 2015 @ 9:52 am
They ( Thomas Rett, Sam Hunt, etc) would Not be welcomed into
POP music genre…. It’s been tried for Sam Hunt and Failed. That
Genre is Very fickle and more diverse than just 15-20yr old girls.
September 29, 2015 @ 9:57 am
As I type this Alabama is playing ….”Love in the first degree”. What happened
to just good music? We all know the answer. Very sad.
September 29, 2015 @ 11:04 am
My question is this. If you view the iTunes reviews and YouTube comments it is obvious people aren’t falling for this and are sick of material like this being labeled country. Yet, somehow this music still becomes popular and successful. Where are these people that are buying this music? All of the comments I read are negative.
September 29, 2015 @ 12:17 pm
Well first off, it looks like both George Strait and Don Henley could beat Thomas Rhett for sales this upcoming week if early predictions hold. But I totally agree, it’s a little mind boggling. I think that mainstream country consumers will listen to anything corporate radio shoves down their throat and won’t question it, and are too lazy to interact with the music beyond listening. The folks that bother to leave reviews or comments online are more engaged with music, and are willing to take the extra time to have their opinions be heard. But the like/dislike factor for Thomas Rhett, Florida Georgia Line, and a lot of these artists going this direction is HUGE. That’s one of the reasons we know it is unsustainable.
September 29, 2015 @ 12:48 pm
What Trigger said about radio is exactly right. If you regularly monitor the charts Cody, you’ll realize that once country radio starts pushing a song, that is when it will really take off as far as sales go. Which also then ends up lending itself to being earworms too of course and that will drive sales a bit. As far as comments go, generally people are a lot more likely to report on something when they don’t like it as opposed to when they do.
September 29, 2015 @ 5:50 pm
That’s actually incorrect. Follow windmills on Twitter she dispels that myth very often that sales are not tied to success of a single. It certainly can be but especially with the Bros many times isn’t. She goes into much more deapth many times over than I ever could or would want to.
Radio is tied to major market stations and has a trickle down effect after that. Label decides to spend a whole bunch of money on promoting the single and its to major market stations. It’s about $750k for a top 30 single and double to go to top of the charts. Media base/country aircheck and billboard are the two reporting entities that will gauge a songs success on either charts. 2,000 country stations that are labeled in America that but only 146 are media base and 149 are billboard. (Not in this convo but 92 report to Texas country radio). Reporting stations have to pay to the entities to report (and some will report to both). A spin is worth more and recorded of a bigger weight on a major market station than a small market. Labels just go after the major market spins and if it does well there will be possibly top 30 and when the rest of the stations pick it up. Radio adds weekly are to reporting stations only as the count.
September 29, 2015 @ 8:22 pm
I’m not only confused as to how she came to some of those conclusions but even if it were true how it would relate to the correlation between airplay and digital downloads. The timing of each individual single’s downloading spike speaks for itself I would think.
September 30, 2015 @ 4:30 am
Had to reply to this one as the other didn’t have a reply for me. Windmills has long in depth articles she writes that dispel the myth. Especially for women and how the male success and the agenda they push toward them does not correlate to AirPlay sales. Why trigger uses her semi often in his articles and so does Grady smith of the guardian (he also had a few videos that went viral too, the 2013 one on what country music in that year was his). Kacey musgraves has sold 125k of her album, sturgill Simpson is at 151k, and neither have no mainstream AirPlay really. Jessie James decker regularly will top iTunes singles charts if she releases new music and she has none. Case in point the top album this week will be don Henley “cass country” with 77-82k projected sales, next is George strait at 75-80k, and finally Thomas Rhett at 65k-70k. Jason isbell, Aaron Watson, blackberry smoke, and Alan Jackson have all led the albums downloads this year with no radio AirPlay. Those are a few case in points I can list off the top of my head. I listed mostly albums but she will list singles. All you have to do is tweet her and she will provide it. She writes it under a blog name which I forget but always provides the facts. Many songs that went number one by the males just do not have the correlation of downloads to what they should be.
September 30, 2015 @ 7:41 am
Those figures are for mere moments in time that last maybe a day or two. The artitsts we are talking about end up having Gold records at the very least and those certifications are not reached until the songs actually become singles. What takes place when something new becomes available is entirely different. Because if they were actually played on radio they wouldn’t fall off the Itunes chart after a day. These artists develop sustainable sales over the life span of a single.
September 30, 2015 @ 8:10 am
I should have given you an example as well. Take Sam Hunt, his last 3 singles have gone Platinum. Those singles did not get those certifications until the songs became singles and started getting spun on radio. The success the songs had from the album release is entirely separate. While his happened to be great we’re still talking about usually at least a 700,000 unit download difference between then and when the song actually gets spun on radio. Look at his single right now, Break Up In A Small Town, the song is being downloaded by people as we speak. Watch where the song goes on radio and Itunes.
September 29, 2015 @ 11:39 am
If you want shit, try my album
September 29, 2015 @ 12:11 pm
The CDB thing really got me. I’ve never seen more name dropping in country music as I’ve seen with the Bros. They may as well just put a disclaimer on their albums warning the listener their music can’t stand on its own legs.
Derek E. Sullivan
September 29, 2015 @ 12:24 pm
It doesn’t surprise me that this album is not very good. I didn’t care much for his first album, although I did like “And It Goes Like This.”
While I know there touring together and there’s a duet on Brett’s album. I just don’t see “Illinois” as a album-wide metro-bro release. I would debate that at least 7 of Brett’s songs would fit into any country era from the mid-90s on and three or four are country even by this website’s standards.
I know this is not a review of Brett’s album, I just had issues with the comment that his entire album is similar to Hunt and Rhett.
Six String Richie
September 29, 2015 @ 12:41 pm
I listened through at least portions of every track on this album. I give it a solid D. It’s not an F, only because Rhett has pretty good melodies, that stick in your head, and I actually did kind of enjoy “The Day You Stop Lookin’ Back” and “Crash and Burn” (even though Cooke should have gotten writing credits. Everything else on the album is of very low quality.
I rate this below “Illinois,” and above “Kill The Lights.”
Does anybody know how good or bad Michael Ray and Canaan Smith’s albums were? I’m trying to gauge how this album is to it’s competition.
September 29, 2015 @ 1:00 pm
Canaan Smith’s was terrible. Ray’s wasn’t good by any means, but the production on his didn’t offend me as much as many other albums released now.
September 29, 2015 @ 4:37 pm
Michael Ray’s album showed signs of promise in the production, but the writing is forgettable and Ray’s vocals lack character.
Canaan Smith’s “Bronco” is a disaster. Two of the album’s tracks are solid, dubious contenders for my Worst (Non-Single) “Country” Songs of 2015 list.
September 29, 2015 @ 12:59 pm
I think we are going to start seeing a lot of albums follow this new template/laundry list for a country album track listing much like Kill The Lights did. They’ve got their dirt road song, pop song, R&B song, their duet (which by the way in this one continues to beat on the dead horse trend in country right now of using the element of “Fire”, and it has a recycled melody as well), they’ve got their song they claim should be a wedding song, maybe a couple safe back-ups that the artist would normally cut incase people don’t buy the BS, and so on. And I have no problem with the idea of trying to put together an album with something different for everyone and all kinds of moods. But its just starting to feel too calculated in that regard.
September 29, 2015 @ 4:32 pm
Let’s face it: “I’m horny for you, girl! (But have to settle for an euphemism of that word, crazy, so to not scare away easy listeners!)”, “I can’t live now that she’s gone!”, and “This list of cool things is why being country is awesome!”……………..and the obligatory album-closing “Did I mention I’m a man of God too?” cut……………….are the ONLY moods you’ll find on a solo mainstream male “country” record.
September 29, 2015 @ 3:25 pm
Here Rests Country Music
“Are we headed down hill like snowball headed for Hell?”
Country Music is survived by it’s child Honky Tonk Music and grandchild Americana. memorial serves will be held in small town bars and empty dance halls across america.
September 29, 2015 @ 4:24 pm
There’s no need to elaborate on this particular review. It sums up exactly how I feel about “Tangled Up”, and I have no other distinctive points to raise.
Except that, I’m even more upset with Chris Stapleton for being culpable in what is likely to be my Worst “Country” Song (Non-Single) of 2015: “South Side”.
Let that sink in for a moment. Yes, THAT Chris Stapleton is partially responsible for offering one of the most life-threatening lyrical train wrecks of the year……………a crime even the infamous Dallas Davidson hasn’t quite matched this particular year! =X
September 29, 2015 @ 4:50 pm
Only listened to a few seconds of the song, I am certain the album is just as bad just based on the lyrics you posted, and also Napoleon Dynamite is a better dancer than this guy!
September 29, 2015 @ 5:57 pm
I’ve yet to listen to the album other than the current radio singles isn’t care for much. I’ll partially defend him a little as I still love the crap out of “beer with Jesus” and “get me some of that” I like much more than I should.
I met him maybe 4-5 years ago when he was doing a radio tour and “something to do with my hands” was perhaps top 30. Nobody knew who he was barely except me. It was a radio station eat and greet. Few of the djs and program director, perhaps 20 in total. Biggest song to get a rise was “front porch junkie” a goof song written by the warren brothers. Anyways six months later the program director is praising “beer with Jesus” in music row magazine but that’s another story. I had a Hank senior shirt on and unprovoked he started singing a few of his songs during it. He knows it at least! We talked about his fathers fan club as it’s the only one I ever joined I was a rhettneck. I’ll give him that.
September 30, 2015 @ 9:32 am
I understand what the reviewer is saying here, I had the same thought, “It’s not country.” However, I kinda like it and I’m gonna listen to it some more. Things change. Shania’s last couple CD’s sounded pure pop when they came out, hell she even made one pop. There’s such a huge variety now, thanks to the internet, that u can get your classic country, straight ahead country, and the pop/r&b/rock infused country. And…THERE’S ROOM 4 IT ALL IF RADIO WOULD PLAY A VARIETY!! Not Luke, Miranda, & Blake all the time. Please radio programmers, VARIETY!
September 30, 2015 @ 10:59 am
Variety is great, but don’t think that playing Jason Boland and Jason Aldean on the same station will fix the problem… The problem is that I bought a variety mix of assorted nuts, but for some reason there are onion rings in there too. The assorted nuts had plenty of variety, but the onion rings don’t belong in a bag of assorted nuts… I love variety, I listen to rock, country, jazz, and everything else, but I don’t want my onion rings in my bag of assorted nuts…
September 30, 2015 @ 4:00 pm
This album is a dud. “Die a happy man” is the only redeemable song on this album. I actually thought it was Clay Walker when I first heard it. I feel like he loves what he’s doing and that is a dangerous thing. Especially when he’s “redefining” a genre. Please stop. It’s embarrassing. It’s like when your drunk friend does karaoke to music that he never told you he liked and everyone wants you to get him off the stage.
September 30, 2015 @ 6:33 pm
I bought this album the day after it came out, not because I like Thomas Rhett or anything, but because I was curious as to what was on the album after he released such a different song to radio (Crash & Burn). To say the less, I was completely shocked while listening to this album. The reason being, as it is NOT COUNTRY MUSIC in any way, shape, or form! The lyrics are GARBAGE, extremely mediocre, no creativity or substance whatsoever and many of the lyrics are in the style of hip hop with some slang and ghetto talk added in here and there. I’m a guy who likes variety, as well as pop country music, and like it when some country artists shake it up a little bit with some new sounds, but Rhett has gone way too far, the goal on this album must have been to make it as least country as possible. The vast majority of the album is nothing more than a complete rip off of Bruno Mars. the music is funk, no country elements whatsoever. I don’t know why some people are saying “Die A Happy Man” is a country song, no it is not, its a complete rip off and copy of “When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars. Rhett covered that song and its posted on youtube, so I don’t know why he felt the need to reconstruct Bruno Mars song and make it his own when he probably could’ve just put the actual Bruno Mars cover on this album. The only songs I can listen to on this album and enjoy it somewhat is “Anthem”, “Vacation”, and “T-Shirt”. “Crash & Burn” is ok. Its honestly though a very mediocre, generic album with recycled top 40 pop music beats from the 90’s. Rhett is not a good singer to begin with but he sounded way better doing the bro country music from his last album, his voice is just not good and he has a poor vocal range. I have no idea why I like any songs on this album because it’s so crappy and not country in any way….I guess cuz the songs are catchy? I don’t know. This album is an insult to country music and I think Rhett should be forced to be transitioned to the top 40 pop genre, even though it’ll never happen cuz he’d never even get airplay on pop radio.
October 1, 2015 @ 7:01 am
This many be the only time Nigel Farage ever gets quoted on a country music blog, but to steal the UKIP leader’s phrase, Thomas Rhett has all the charisma of a damp rag (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqovTGjYjM4). He even looks like one on the album cover.
October 1, 2015 @ 5:51 pm
I gave in I bought this cd today.
December 2, 2015 @ 11:13 am
Y’all are ridiculous. How are you going to discredit Thomas Rhett for Making an album of music that he likes. He didn’t make that music for you. He made it because it’s who he is. He didn’t grow up on a farm, he grew up in a household with a talented father and tons of musical influences. He has said that the music he has made before wasn’t completely him and that “Tangled Up” allowed him to be more himself. Would you rather someone play music that they love or music that they have to fake? Now I am a traditional country fan myself, which is how I found myself on your site, but you can’t just completely discredit somebody because they made an album that you don’t like. That’s ignorant. How do you think country traditionalists felt when country gained more rock and roll influences. They embraced Willie Nelson from turning straight edge sit down performer into a full blown hippie. No one blamed Willie because he was being himself and so is Thomas Rhett. I’m not saying I like this album, but I am saying that regardless of the content of the record, Thomas Rhett is as talented if not more, than most today’s country artists. If you don’t believe me, go look up videos of him playing acoustically for some radio stations, he explains every song and plays his guitar with a blues scale in most songs and his voice is the most original I’ve heard.
June 19, 2016 @ 1:30 pm
I don’t think Thomas Rhett isn’t bad and at least he doesn’t talk in the middle of songs. By the way, he even said that not all of his songs are country and grew up listening to pop, rap, and every kind of music and doesn’t want to just to country. And you have to have some kind of talent to be able to sing different genres. And vacation is a really catchy and upbeat song
August 16, 2016 @ 8:14 am
Way late on this but I just “discovered” Thomas Rhett. If there’s a musical equivalent to “hate-watching” (hate-listening?), this album is it. What a pile. If it wasn’t bad enough, the final track Learned it from the Radio is possibly one of the very worst songs of any genre I’ve ever encountered.