Oh Screw Me. Sugarland Is Back.
For six glorious years, God Almighty graced us poor little creatures moving about the face of the earth looking for shelter and sustenance by abstaining from raining any new Sugarland material down upon us as the band stayed on indefinite hiatus, with the real possibility of staying mothballed until eternity. A stage collapse with fatalities, and their ridiculous “steampunk” album Incredible Machine had put a decent-sized kink in their ability to continue on as a commercial enterprise.
But just like all great things must come to an end, so has the Sugarland intermission. Let’s not be too dramatic here, there are much worse things. Remember when Sugarland was a troika, and actually played country music before kicking out the 3rd member Kristen Hall because she didn’t fit the, ahem, pop country profile? Since packing Sugarland up in a Rubbermaid and stowing it in the attic in 2011, we’ve seen the emergence of country rap in the mainstream, followed by Bro-Country, Florida Georgia Line, numerous Entertainer of the Year trophies for Luke Bryan, and now Sam Hunt and Walker Hayes.
But still, the re-emergence of Sugarland kind of blows. Now they’ll be challenging Brothers Osborne for Duo of the Year, and their dumb singles will somehow make it onto your favorite Pandora station.
Of course we haven’t been completely devoid of the Sugarland personalities since the shuttering of the home office. Jennifer Nettles has still been out there oversinging on the top of notes, and Kristian Bush released an album as well. Truth be told, their solo material was not nearly as diabolic as the duo together, though aside from maybe a couple of songs it was nothing worth seeking out mind you. But just like that bad couple who make great friends separately, but together bicker so much they ruin your otherwise kick ass pool party, I just fail to find the magic of a unified Sugarland. And that sucks, because kick ass pool parties are really really cool. You get the grill going, the kids keep themselves entertained in the water, Aunt Shirley brings over that potato salad that everyone loves, maybe you get the corn hole or washers setup out and pitch a few. And then Sugarland’s “Stuck Like Glue” comes on the Bluetooth speaker and everything goes to shit. Seriously Pandora, if we wanted to hear pop country, we’d put on a pop country station.
The story of Sugarland very much mirrors that of another adult contemporary outfit masquerading as country—Lady Antebellum. During their much-appreciated hiatus, Hillary Scott actually put out a decent Gospel album with her family. Charles Kelley’s solo effort had its moments, however fleeting. And Dave Haywood did whatever he does in his free time, I imagine putting on puppet shows in elementary school libraries for 2nd graders or something.
But of course just like Lady Antebellum, Sugarland gets back together again, and it’s the same pop country pablum. I was waiting to voice my displeasure with this reunification until I actually heard some of the new material, because hey, you never know. It’s not even about Kristian Bush and Jennifer Nettles not being talented. It’s about the results being incredibly sub par, and that’s what you get with their newest single, “Still The Same.” And yes, let’s take a moment to bask in the irony of the title.
The fake drums at the beginning of “Still The Same” start you off on a bad foot, and I’m sorry, but Nettles needs to find the much more natural pitch of her early career. The song is just drenched in sameness. “Still The Same” also attempts to rekindle old memories of Sugarland’s past, but while some folks may remember a few of their early songs like “Baby Girl,” others will reminisce on the terrible “Stuck Like Glue,” and the 44 separate lawsuits stemming from the stage collapse. Though I will stick up for Sugarland on this point: ain’t their fault they happened to be on stage at the Indiana State Fair when a storm blew through. They’re pop country lackeys, not stage production managers or safety coordinators.
Anyway, Sugarland’s back, and it’s still Sugarland. Why couldn’t we ring in the new year with a reunification of a band people actually want to hear, like .357 String Band, or the original lineup of the Steeldrivers for a one-off live album, or perhaps the Oasis brothers could put their bullshit aside. But no, it’s Sugarland resolving whatever differences, and once again releasing the scented candle music of country.
December 21, 2017 @ 12:27 pm
“And Dave Haywood did whatever he does in his free time, I imagine putting on puppet shows in elementary school libraries for 2nd graders or something.”
Good Lord that is funny!
December 21, 2017 @ 12:38 pm
I might be one of the few, but i enjoyed a few songs from early in their career like “Just Might Make Me Believe”, “Down in Missisippi”, and “Want To”. After they released their “Love on the inside” album i stopped listening as their music went in the wrong direction. This song seems to continue that direction. I’ll pass.
December 21, 2017 @ 3:01 pm
I think you’re probably in the majority. They started off with promise. Their debut album, Twice the Speed of Life, is a solid effort on the whole, but the follow-up Enjoy the Ride is where the promise starts to fizzle a bit. And by the third album you mention, hope is pretty much gone. Although, I do like “Already Gone” from the third album.
Unlike some others, I really love her voice. I guess I’m a fan of nasally voices with a noticeable Southern drawl. Her vocal control is not always on point and can be exaggerated at times, but I still like her singing.
December 21, 2017 @ 12:51 pm
”I imagine putting on puppet shows in elementary school libraries for 2nd graders or something.”
Trigger …you’re killin us ..
Bush : …well……is it time yet Nets ?
Nets: …look …just so you’ll stop asking me that question every two weeks ..OK OK OK …let’s record again .
Bush: ….yaaaaayyyyy we’re gonna make a record, we’re gonna make a record ..yayyyy .
Nets: …calm down calm down Bushman ….ONE record and a short tour to see how it flies . That’s all I’m agreeing to. And you’re lucky I’m agreeing to that , for God’s sakes . I’m still trying to figure out why YOU on stage with me sells this shit but ME on stage with me can’t sell squat ! What do you bring to this thing besides a hat anyway ????
Bush: I promise , Nets …I’m gonna be way more involved . I’m gonna practice my mandolin really really hard and I’ll sing better and I’ll …..I’ll do…..whatever you want me to do ,that’s what I’ll do .
I just KNOW we can sing worse shit than what’s on the radio. WAYYY worse . Heck , Nets …we did it before didn’t we ?
Nets:…Yeah yeah yeah …we did it before . But damn I don’t like having to turn up the twang anymore than people like me turning up the twang . WHY do the suits always want me to do that ? I didn’t have to do that on the Christmas specials ! Damn I hate the twang .That’s country shit , that twang is .
Bush : Ah …c’mon Nets …it’ll be fun masquerading as a country act now that country is WAAYYY more pop and rappy than we tried to make it . We can out-pop..out rap and out-reggae ANY country act out there ….Bring it Sam ….bring it Maren ….bring it BACK Taylor ( is she really BACK again ?…WTF …..if that pop shit ain’t workin for HER why did WE ever think it would work for US ?? )…..never mind ….everybody …just BRING IT !
Nets: I gotta drop the kids at school …I’ve gotta run …I’ve got a few minutes after lunch …maybe we can make up a song ………layda Bushman ……and PULEEEZE …lose the hat ! Its not cool anymore .
December 21, 2017 @ 12:53 pm
I always hated her voice. So nasally….
December 21, 2017 @ 9:18 pm
I know people who have negative physical reactions to the sound of her voice–similar to like Kramer when he hears Mary Hart’s voice.
December 22, 2017 @ 5:11 pm
That sound when you get an assorted pack of kazoos and slide whistles sucked into your nasal cavity…
December 21, 2017 @ 12:55 pm
I don’t have anything to add, I just want to be counted among the negative comments.
December 21, 2017 @ 12:55 pm
”……and once again releasing the scented candle music of country.”
hahahahaha….one of your best articles Trigger ..
December 21, 2017 @ 1:06 pm
Oh crap. One of my mom’s favorite songs of all time is their awful 2008 hit “All I Wanna Do”….”all I wanna do ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh…”
She just *loves* the woman’s growly voice. I thought I wouldn’t have to hear them again.
Oh, my mom also loves Little Big Town’s “Pontoon.” Ughhhh.
December 22, 2017 @ 4:30 pm
Jesus man ….that’s EVERYBODY’S mother isn’t it ?
December 21, 2017 @ 1:21 pm
Still better than Sam Hunt and Walker hayes
December 21, 2017 @ 1:38 pm
On this, I shall agree.
December 21, 2017 @ 1:31 pm
What does Dave Haywood do, and why is he in that group? He can’t sing, I’m not even sure they plug his guitar in.
Any article that rips on him is funny.
December 21, 2017 @ 1:33 pm
I need to stop reading this at work. Because I burst out laughing at the title and then lost it at the puppet show. Thanks Trigger! Needed that laugh. Not this comeback though. Can’t they just go the hell away and stay there?
December 21, 2017 @ 1:36 pm
At least Stuck Like Glue was catchy and kinda pop-country sounding.
Still better then Bro-Country and Sam Hunt.
Overall they’re just boring (almost as much as Lady A), with some decent songs here and there.
North Woods Country
December 21, 2017 @ 3:52 pm
No. I’d rather listen to Walker Hayes’ new album for 24 hours straight than ever have to hear “Stuck Like Glue” or “All I Wanna Do” again.
So annoying, and her fake twang just sucks. I’m still waiting on that Justin Moore/Jennifer Nettles duet to see who would sound more ridiculous.
December 21, 2017 @ 6:46 pm
I don’t think it is possible to survive listening to Walker Hayes for 24 hours straight. Someone just ought to drop a massive speaker of him into North Korea and watch them surrender in minutes.
December 21, 2017 @ 9:39 pm
Justin’s a stud
December 21, 2017 @ 1:54 pm
Such sad news, then you remind me I found out .357 String Band too late to see them live. Kinda makes me wanna just go down on a bender
December 21, 2017 @ 1:56 pm
this sounds like a song that would play in a big megachurch right before joel osteen comes out and rips everyone off. praise sugarlard
December 21, 2017 @ 1:57 pm
I really hate them.
December 21, 2017 @ 2:15 pm
If you hate the song, then why spend so much energy writing about it? It can’t be because that’s your duty as a music critic, because you spend maybe three sentences analyzing the actual music and the rest firing zingers for the sake of being cool. Additionally, bringing up the stage collapse in a random song review six years after the fact is irresponsible and disrespectful to everyone affected by the tragedy, even if you “stick up for them” by not accusing them of negligent manslaughter.
The only purpose of this article I can surmise is that writing about popular artists is just something you have to do to drive traffic to the site. If that’s the case, then be transparent about it, call the site something less incredibly pretentious than “Saving Country Music”, and get over yourself.
December 21, 2017 @ 6:14 pm
If you hate the article so much, then why spend so much energy bitching about it?
December 21, 2017 @ 2:40 pm
December 21, 2017 @ 2:57 pm
Seriously, Trigger, you need to write a novel.
Benjamin Kahlil Hassenger
December 21, 2017 @ 3:20 pm
December 21, 2017 @ 6:10 pm
I’ll believe it when I see it.
December 22, 2017 @ 12:18 pm
It’s a Christmas miracle!
December 21, 2017 @ 3:53 pm
Total complete dreck…it’s music for soccer mom’s who don’t like country music. I made it to almost 1:00, and had to put it to a swift merciful end.
Move along folks, nothing to see here.
December 21, 2017 @ 4:23 pm
On an unrelated note, have you heard anything about the release of the Band Perry’s pop dabbling, My Bad Imagination?
December 21, 2017 @ 4:41 pm
December 21, 2017 @ 5:10 pm
Kristina Bush held a CD signing at a Nashville-area Goodwill Store during CMA Fest the year he released his solo project. It was a great idea because that’s where all Kristian Bush solo CD’s end up.
December 21, 2017 @ 6:04 pm
(Un-)Popular opinion: i love the first album (Twice The Speed Of Life) when Sugarland was a trio.
“Still The Same” is more of the same Sugarland sound. Background music. No substance.
About Dave Haywood: he co-produced the first Post Monroe EP (with Whitney Duncan as part of the trio) & he co-wrote the song “Dixie Dust”.
December 21, 2017 @ 6:19 pm
F**k my life.
December 21, 2017 @ 6:45 pm
Gonna quote Johnny Cash on this one, “Put the Sugar To Bed”. Sorry… couldn’t help myself.
December 21, 2017 @ 6:49 pm
As easy as it is to bash Sugarland (and wow is it that easy), I do appreciate Trigger actually giving a balanced article on them. As others have noted, not every song they’ve put out is bad. Also, he went out of his way to ensure they are not blamed for the unfortunate stage incident. He also noted some promise in their recent solo releases, and on that note I have to say I really, really enjoyed Kristian Bush’s Trailer Hitch. With Sugarland all he does is stand there, try and look pretty, and sing a bit of background, but Trailer Hitch was a great message with music that I’ve heard much worse. As for the new release, I’m moving right on to something worth listening.
December 21, 2017 @ 7:27 pm
Not as harsh as your Walker Hayes review but just as enjoyable.
Somebody needs to point out the obvious and you do it with toxic eloquence!
I happen to like Sugarland but that’s only because I don’t think of them as country. Hard to do the “disconnect” but lately, with the current state of music on country radio, I’m getting better at it.
jessie with the long hair
December 21, 2017 @ 8:38 pm
I thought they had a more original image with the fat lesbian in the band. That set them apart and was cool to not be so glossy or typical country image oriented. There music still sucks. I never liked any of it.
December 21, 2017 @ 8:53 pm
To be honest, I’ve never listened to either solo albums. I’ve never really liked sugarland, but never really hated them either. I will say, I thought Nettles was pretty good in the Dolly Christmas Specials. I’m not entirely sure what Kristina does for the band, as other commenters have noted, other than the hats? I do feel like Nettles could be good if she just dials it back a bit. I like a little twang, but I draw the line at “Reba” twang. Nettles out twangs Reba, by a lot. I do feel like Nettles has talent, it’s just misdirected. A little effort from her, the right songwriters, and the right producer… Maybe we need Stapleton or someone to set up a meeting with Dave Cobb and see what he can do with her. Worst case scenario, a mediocre Cobb album, which is still better than most everything on the radio. Best case scenario, Nettles finds a new sound and audience, produces something of substance, and NO MORE SUGARLAND. Not saying, just saying…
December 21, 2017 @ 8:57 pm
Like most groups and country singers, their old stuff is good and their new stuff SUCKS! Next please.
December 21, 2017 @ 9:16 pm
Brothers Osbourne? Ick…
December 21, 2017 @ 10:19 pm
Count me in as another who is not the least bit excited about this news. For the most part, I always found their music to be boring, like most other country from the mid to late 00’s. The only song of theirs I truly enjoy is “Want To.” I admit that “Stuck Like Glue” is sometimes a guilty pleasure for me, too. No, it’s not really country, but as a pop song, I don’t mind it, and yes I’d rather hear it over any bro-country or anything by Sam Hunt and Walker Hayes.
I actually found myself liking Jennifer’s solo music more than Sugarland’s. I especially really enjoyed “That Girl” and “Unlove You.” And again, even though it’s more pop country, I actually like her second solo album.
December 21, 2017 @ 10:23 pm
I’m kinda for this if it returns Lil Dale to his roots as a Sugarland fan. I think that was his comedic peak.
December 22, 2017 @ 1:31 am
It sounds like everyone that has made a.comment doesn’t like country music. So, why did everyone waste their time on writing a.comment and whoever wrote the article why did you waste your time writing it. I LOVE COUNTRY MUSIC ESPECIALLY SUGARLAND AND LADY ANTEBELLUM!
December 22, 2017 @ 11:44 am
Rebecca…you have answered your own question . Everyone here LOVES country music EXCEPT Sugarland and , obviously , Lady Antebellum , if you look at the most recent releases by these bands . If you look at the history of the genre , you won’t have to go too far back to understand why most mainstream ‘country’ acts today are most definitely NOT singing country music .They are pop singers /writers/producers trying to launch careers in a country market because younger country fans today are not aware of the difference in REAL country and pop music .
Do yourself a favour and introduce yourself to some authentic country music . You may not like it and that’s fine …to each his own , of course. You may love contemporary ‘country’ radio . BUT you will understand more clearly the point I’m making with regards to your comment above . This is NOT country music in anything but name .
December 22, 2017 @ 12:08 pm
The most ironic comment ever.
March 27, 2018 @ 3:50 pm
It’s because I love Country Music that I shit on Walker Hayes and Sugarland.
because they don’t make Country Music.
they came into a taco bell and fed me spinach and told me tacos evolved.
December 22, 2017 @ 1:35 am
I thought Brothers Osborne and Sugarland were the same band.
December 22, 2017 @ 4:10 am
The song sounds like an entry in a Disney song competition.
What is wrong with people.
December 22, 2017 @ 6:52 am
I actually like the song. I think Jennifer Nettles sounds fantastic. In my opinion she is one of the best vocalists in country music.
December 22, 2017 @ 3:27 pm
I agree, she is a very good singer.
Heard her sing live on a reality show a few years ago, she was a panelist, she can definitely sing very well.
In tune, good tone, good range.
December 22, 2017 @ 6:58 am
I am a big fan and happy their back, but very likely radio will not embrace them. Around the same time they separated, radio dropped George Strait, Reba, Alan Jackson and Martina and radio bacame unbearable. Doubtful they get a warm welcome.
December 22, 2017 @ 6:59 am
Sorry “happy they’re back” can’t stand auto correct!
Sir Honky Of Crackerdom
December 22, 2017 @ 11:01 am
Are you really a big fan? What is your favorite aspect of the group? Is it the stand-up-comedy-esque fake accent, or the fedora-wearing,neck bearded, suburban dweeb who tags along?
December 22, 2017 @ 1:44 pm
My favorite aspect is that they annoy you.
Sir Honky Of Crackerdom
December 23, 2017 @ 8:53 am
But there are so many folks who annoy me. Do you like them all?
December 23, 2017 @ 9:52 am
Yes, please list them all and I will add them to my playlist.
December 22, 2017 @ 7:44 am
Ah, Sugarland. The lady with the fake twang and the “guy” standing staring at her. Yes, they are still the same.
December 22, 2017 @ 8:21 am
Nettles vocals feel like an affection, rather than her honest singing voice, the lyrics are generic and bland, and yet….it is annoyingly infectious
December 22, 2017 @ 9:38 am
I would almost bet cash money that more people agitate for a Cross Canadian Ragweed reunion than give a shit about a Sugarland reunion.
December 22, 2017 @ 9:49 am
Dilly, Dilly to the reunification of .357 String Band!
December 22, 2017 @ 10:48 am
Well. here we go again.
“we need more women in Country music!”
Bebe Rhexa comes along.
“We need more women in Country Music!”
Sugarland is back.
But when I say “who cares the performer’s gender let’s focus on whether the music is good”
it goes like this
“waaaah a sexist we need more women in Country music waaaaaaah bebe rhexa doesn’t count even though it’s exactly what we wanted a woman waaaaaaah we’ll complain because the music sucks and then the programmers play less women so we can whine about women in country music more waaaaaaaah why does Fuzzy care about the quality of the music he’s so mean waaaaah we need more women in country music oh look sugarland is back I wonder how that happened.”
I just want to point out that if we focused on quality Country music, not only would bebe rhexa not be a thing but sugarland would not be back and maddie and tae would not exist either
but by all means please continue what you’re doing it’s working so well for Country Music
(this is not directed at Trigger but at the people who buy the records, just in case i am unclear)
Sir Honky Of Crackerdom
December 22, 2017 @ 10:56 am
I wholeheartedly endorse these remarks, Fuzzy. But I would definitely direct them at Trigger. He’s the one who cries the loudest about this make believe “issue”.
December 22, 2017 @ 11:46 am
This is the dumbest comment I’ve read on this site in 2017
December 23, 2017 @ 6:15 am
There are people that you know like Sugarland and Maddie and Tae. You make it sound like a crime to like those singers.
I want more women in mainstream country music because I like their music. Artists like Lauren Alaina, Cam, Carly Pearce, Maddie & Tae, Maren Morris, Miranda Lambert, Lady Antebellum, and Lindsay Ell are my favorite artists right now. Not because they all have female singers, it is because I like their music and resonate with it. To me their music for the most part is quality music.
I don’t get why it’s so hard for you to comprehend that some people like women in country music more than men so that’s why they want women to have more success in country music.
December 23, 2017 @ 7:04 am
The crime, is that people beg for women singers more than they beg for quality music.
and do you know what we got?
Bebe effin Rhexha!
This is what happens when people grovel and beg for female singers without demanding that the music doesn’t suck first!
I couldn’t care less the gender of the performer as long as the music was good Country Music!
but I can’t get that because people are making such a big deal of the gender ratio and none of them bother with actually caring the quality of the music
If you can’t be bothered to demand that the music by any performer be quality and sound like Country Music then just stop.
because by going on about anything else than whether or not the music is actually good and actually Country Music you created Bebe Rhexha
I wish people would stop ruining Country Music for the rest of us
December 23, 2017 @ 8:20 am
Here’s what you’re not getting. For some people women singers equal quality music. For some people they like women singers. Taste is subjective. For me I feel like the women in country music are making better music than men and I think the majority of female in mainstream country music are making good music.
I don’t even think the country music fans that want women wanted Bebe Rexha. You know who they do want? Carly Pearce, Cam, Lindsay Ell, Lauren Alaina, to name a few because for some people they make great music.
I’m gonna repeat myself. For some fans women make better music than men as a whole. It has a little bit to do with the gender but I think it also comes with the fact that some fans feel like women are making better music than men and it’s frustrating that women don’t get that much success when for me I resonate and like female artists more. Not because their female, but because I like their music more.
December 23, 2017 @ 9:57 am
I also don’t get why he’s calling other folks out for obsessing over the topic, when he veered so completely off the road to get to it that it pretty much reveals he’s obsessed over it himself.
December 23, 2017 @ 8:22 am
Post hoc ergo propter hoc (Latin: “after this, therefore because of this”) is a logical fallacy that states “Since event Y followed event X, event Y must have been caused by event X.” It is often shortened simply to post hoc fallacy.
Post hoc is a particularly tempting error because temporal sequence appears to suggest causality. The fallacy lies in a conclusion based solely on the order of events, rather than taking into account other factors potentially responsible for the result that might rule out the connection.
A simple example is “the rooster crows immediately before sunrise; therefore the rooster causes the sun to rise.”
December 23, 2017 @ 3:18 pm
Walker Hayes and Sam Hunt sing right before the apocalypse ….therfore they are the cause for the apocalypse . Yup ….that’s about right .
December 23, 2017 @ 5:02 pm
If Walker Hayes is singing the apocalypse already happened
December 24, 2017 @ 8:28 am
Not hard to figure out. You can’t fix the women problem on Country Music radio until you fix the stupid problem on Country Music radio.
Sir Honky Of Crackerdom
December 22, 2017 @ 10:53 am
I’ve always wondered how that little sawed-off, neck-bearded Bush dweeb got his foot in the door.
There’s not a Country bone in his body. His “talents” couldn’t be more generic. And he’s not even mildly attractive, by any definition. Why did Nettles, who can’t sing, but is at least is a babe, hitch her wagon to that nerd?
December 22, 2017 @ 12:12 pm
Nettles can definitely sing. She just chooses to do it in the most annoying way possible.
December 22, 2017 @ 11:45 am
I just never understood why she has to end every song sounding like someone is yanking on her pubes. Just out of nowhere she starts “YEEEEAAAAWOOAAHHHHHHEEEEEYYYAAAAAHHHEEEHHHHHOOOWWW”
WTF is that?
December 22, 2017 @ 5:09 pm
I LOVE Jennifer Nettles..
She could sing the phone book and I’d listen.
Yeah,yeah…not country…poppy top 40 drivel…
Yup they’ve made a TON of crappy tunes, but they’ve also released some excellent music over the years in my opinion .
First two albums are friggin’ great…Baby Girl, Settlin’, Want To, Everyday America, Stay, Already Gone, Down In Mississippi…these are Country songs through and through. Even though they have decided to broaden their palette and create music outside of the country music genre, their first two albums ,for me, will always be required listening.
And Zac is right on the money.
December 22, 2017 @ 5:42 pm
You suck, Willie.
December 23, 2017 @ 12:52 am
You mean required if one ever finds themselves in the mood to repeatedly punch themselves in the balls and have an appropriate soundtrack? Because that is about all I get from this, or any of their back catalog.
December 22, 2017 @ 5:41 pm
The guy looks pretty country, in a Volkswagan Passat driver kind of way.
December 23, 2017 @ 7:29 pm
ok, I got about 30 seconds in.
what in the hell, that ain’t no kinda damn country music.
December 24, 2017 @ 5:58 am
Baby Girl was a terrific song. That’s all I know.
July 17, 2018 @ 2:02 pm
I have found this chick super annoying since that heinous duet she did with Jon Bon Jovi that ripped off the melody from Mr Tambourine Man and twisted it into massive suckage