Jennifer Nettles is the Kathy Bates of country music, and I’m not talking the Fried Green Tomatoes Kathy Bates. Where some female performers like to exhibit personas such as the sweet girl next door or the strong Southern Belle, the Sugarland co-singer apparently thinks a psychopathic yandere cross bred with a hyper-spastic oversinger is what will curry the favor of the mindless drones of mainstream country, and get the singer’s solo career the attention it so desperately needs to cling to the dying echoes of a relevant pulse.
What a cacophonous shitbag of embarrassing tastelessness the glucose-fueled “Sugar” aspires to be. Screw the “If you don’t like it, just don’t listen to it” mentality. For the sake of any and all self-dignity, I feel it is an imperative to publicly distance from such an effort as a country music fan, and fervently admonish it to hopefully shelter the innocent from such slipshod efforts and acute mayhem evidenced in this audio and visual abortion.
“Sugar” as a song is offensive enough from the sheer pablum it exudes from second one, bouncing around with all the super-catchy mellifluousness of a marshmallow-laden breakfast cereal jingle, until you get to the inexcusable innuendo from Nettles about tasting the 41-year-old mother’s pre-menopausal “cherry pie,” giving rise to unhealthful journeys of the mind no self-respecting listener should ever be forced to slog through.
And only then you get to the video, and Holy Mary Mother of God . . .
Now let’s stop down for a second and offer a little context: Before a stage collapse in August of 2011 killed five people right before Sugarland took the stage, what arguably killed the duo’s career was the ridiculous hyper-pop single “Stuck Like Glue.” In the video, Nettles is shown obsessing over a guy that she then attempts to run over with a station wagon, eventually kidnaps against his will, holds him hostage in a warehouse, and drugs him to do her bidding however she pleases. The video ends with Nettles punching her kidnapped victim in the face. Yes I know, it’s all theater, so let’s not over-react.
But Jennifer Nettles’ overacting is absolutely unbearable, and what’s the premise of this new “Sugar” video? Yes, let’s now line up half a dozen stereotypical sexpot males wearing construction belts, suspenders, and blue collar shirts, then drug them, disrobe them, and have them prance around in some bullshit choreographed drug zombie flashdance. I mean what disease of the mind gave rise to this heinous premise?
And even that is not the worst part of “Sugar.” The looks on Jennifer Nettles’ face at certain moments in this video is enough to disturb the most steeled and desensitized of intellects. At the 2:20 mark of the video, Nettles makes the mother of all malevolent aw shucks faces, and then shortly after there’s some weird-ass scene where Nettles and some other chick are working a roller pin in a moment with strange sexual overtones. If that isn’t enough, at the 1:55 mark, there’s gratuitous isolated product placement shots for Domino Sugar and Beats headphones that make you wonder if you just got switched over to QVC. Nettles overacts so hard, she makes Jim Carrey look like Marlon Brando.
And what’s up with Jennifer Nettles’ choice of headgear? I saw a preview of her hosting the CMA Country Christmas special, and she had a quarter-sized top hat perched on the side of her head, and here she’s wearing a flowery dollop that seems to lend to the whole psychologically disturbed ambiance of “Sugar.” Nettles has descended into patterning herself around a mascot on the front of some fruity cereal box . . . if Toucan Sam or the Lucky Charms leprechaun was a psychotic, kidnapping, victim-drugging narcissist. It makes one wonder what really happened to the forgotten 3rd member of Sugarland Kristen Hall that seemed to silently disappear overnight because having a woman who looked like she should be heading up the Justice Department wasn’t good for marketing.
And yes, let’s not overlook what the public sentiment would be about the actions portrayed in these videos if the perpetrator was male.
Jennifer Nettles is not nearly the talent wasteoid portrayed in “Sugar” and “Stuck Like Glue.” I’m surprised every time I see her perform something subdued. When she’s not oversinging in some wide-mouthed tone, and the content is actually worthy of human consumption like her 2013 single “That Girl” (which of course was summarily ignored by most), she’s not half bad. But taking saccharine pop songs and turning them into reverse-misogynistic psychological thrillers needs to die.