Brantley Gilbert’s “Country Must Be Country Wide”

So. The official country music douche Brantley Gilbert has himself a #1 song in the form of “Country Must Be Country Wide.” Our enemy has a new face friends and neighbors, and that face has a penciled-on beard and hoop earrings.

This day was inevitable. As one of the co-writers of Jason Aldean’s country rap super hit “Dirt Road Anthem,” a song that has sold more copies than any other in 2011, it was just a matter of time before Music Row tried to re-create that magic with Brantley himself. After all, he’s just so pretty. Gilbert, his rising fame, and this song’s success are due in large part to the blurring of genre lines between popular music. His medium is the mono-genre, which is illustrated many ways in “Country Must Be Country Wide.”

It starts off with an electronic drum beat, and when he says the opening line of “Go ahead and crank this one up,” it’s hard to tell if he aping a country accent, or an urban accent. The only thing for sure is that the accent is a put on. Check it out:

Oh wait, wrong video. 🙁 Honest mistake.

Boiled down, what you have here is a song stamped out of the typical laundry list country song formula with a few unique wrinkles. The most-obvious criticism is that Brantley sings about how “in every state there’s a station playing Cash, Hank, Willie & Waylon” when the idea finding these folks on country radio is quite laughable, hence the existence of sites like this one. So as a vehicle for Outlaw name-dropping like many country checklist songs do, this line fails, and fails hard. But try pulling that line off with “Flatts, Swift, Perry & Antebellum”–artists country radio actually does play. Yeah, not very catchy.

Most confusing is the message of this song. In one breath he’s talking about Copenhagen, boots, Wranglers, 4-wheel drives, giving shit to some poor guy for having Ohio license plates, all these country qualifiers. But then he seems to infer in his video, and by saying “Country Must Be Country Wide” that anybody can be country, including a black dude flipping burgers, and a beaten down mail boy in a cubicle farm. So which is it? I guess I’m not supposed to listen to the words, but just pay attention to how hot Brantely Gilbert is, and hope for his peen to come peeking out of one of the factory rips in his designer jeans while the catchy chorus gets flooded with overdriven rock guitar.

And what is that crazy symbol that keeps on showing up in the video, the hole with the two squibbles coming off of it? Well I printed it off and took it too the University of Texas anthropology lab here in Austin, and the professor of Near Eastern Studies told me it was a Sanskrit rune symbolizing a toad vagina. Huh, seems like a strange thing to include in a video, but whatever.

But don’t underestimate Brantley Gilbert folks. When I saw him this summer on The Country Throwdown Tour, he was an emerging songwriter with a decent following looking for a break. Well now he’s got it, and as a songwriter, we can expect him to be around for years to come. Performers who write their own songs, like Gilbert and Taylor Swift, are insulated from much of the current music contraction, because songwriting revenues are one of the few elements of music that have proven to be steady. Taste aside, Brantley has shown he has an ear for what works as the worlds of country and hip-hop collide.

And what’s that you say? That Brantley Gilbert symbol is his initials?

Eh, I prefer toad vagina.

Two guns down by the way.

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