On The Furor Over Blake Shelton’s Song “Minimum Wage”

Look, I’ve made an entire career out of rearing back and reefing guys like Blake Shelton and their bad “country” songs square in the nuts. But the flack he is receiving over this dumb “Minimum Wage” song is completely unfounded and inappropriate. It is an embarrassment to the spirited and necessary criticism of pop country in all of its acrid incarnations to go apoplectic over this song for the stupid and mealy-mouthed reasons these uptight brunch moms are citing, and they need to uninsert the sticks up their asses post haste, and move on to something of actual importance.

The latest social media-fabricated furor ensued after Blake Shelton made a surprise appearance on NBC’s New Years Eve extravaganza with Carson Daily, and premiered the video for a currently-unreleased new song called “Minimum Wage.”

“You can make a six pack on the carpet, taste like a million dollar bill. You can make a one bedroom apartment, feel like a house up on the hill. You can make my truck out in the driveway, roll like a cleaned up Cadillac. Girl, lookin’ at you lookin’ at me that way, can make a man feel rich on minimum wage.

Those were lyrics I found on the Internet. I haven’t even heard the whole thing yet, and neither have many of the folks complaining about it. They just know it’s a popular sentiment to take on Twitter to rack up likes and retweets to get that sweet, sweet dopamine rush social media addicts crave.

The assertion here is that millionaire Blake Shelton is being both tone-deaf and insensitive by talking about feeling rich on minimum wage while so many are struggling right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And hey, it’s not like this is a stance that doesn’t have some very minor semblance of merit.

But my God, to make this into the most important topic of the last week in country music and entertainment is an embarrassment. Dozens of outlets have taken the same original handful of a half dozen angry tweets from Internet Karens, and used them as the premise for articles. Not only are folks embarrassing themselves by calling for the cancellation of Blake Shelton and this song, but the institution of journalism is embarrassing itself by playing ball.

Yeah I’m mad about this song. I’m mad that a bunch of uptight busybodies are making me have to defend Blake Shelton and a song that talks about “tasting” a million dollar bill. I mean, those don’t even exist. And even if they did, the last thing you need to be doing in a pandemic is putting your tongue on money.

But the jokes on you if you’re taking this song literally, and from the perspective of Blake Shelton personally. Did Johnny Cash really shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die? No, he didn’t. Was John Fogerty really “Born on the Bayou?” No, he was born and raised in Berkeley. Get the fuck over it, it’s called a story.

Sure, authenticity in music should matter, especially in country. And far be it from be to defend the honor of Blake Shelton’s authenticity. But this song is simply about centering the audience’s perspective on how love is always more important than money. Sure, tell that to the mother of three trying to pay rent while working 2nd shift at McDonald’s. But is that Blake Shelton’s fault? Frankly, during a pandemic when so many folks are hurting is probably the best time to underscore the importance of love, especially while the forces of division attempt to sow envy in so many to divide us politically.

The problem with money is you can always have more of it. It never solves all of your problems, and it never imparts the most important element in life, which is happiness. And see, here I am now trying to spread fortune cookie wisdom based off the premise of a stupid Blake Shelton song that I haven’t even heard yet.

How about with so many hurting, with a pandemic raging, and many scraping to get by, we focus on being outraged about more important things, like all those state and local health officials who forbade so many from working their jobs—minimum wage or otherwise—turning around and taking 10 days off over the Holidays instead of getting vaccines into arms? But we don’t dare criticize them because they don’t make as good of a punching bag as a rich country star.

You want to rage against a country song tone deaf to this place and time, pull up Luke Bryan’s “One Margarita.” Once we actually hear the full-blown studio effort of Blake Shelton’s “Minimum Wage,” perhaps I’ll take a big smelly shit on it myself. But now that everyone has a Twitter account, it’s amateur hour, and it’s not helping matters, it’s hurting by being outraged and uptight over the most minor of issues to the point where people tune out worthy criticism of these artists and country music’s institutions when it’s truly warranted.

It’s a pop country song. It’s harmless. What’s harmful is the infuriated nature so many take towards any perceived slight against their moral position. We are fit to be tied over “Minimum Wage.” Yet “Wet Ass Pussy” is deemed to be so prophetic and empowering, it was named the #1 song in all of 2020 according to Rolling Stone and NPR. Then when Cardi B says she won’t play if for her two-year-old daughter because it’s inappropriate, the Twitter mob comes after her too. See how this works? Sure, watching Ben Shapiro recite the “WAP” lyrics and getting outraged is laughable. But guess what, so are you when you make such a big deal over a Blake Shelton song you probably haven’t even heard yet.

Stop it.

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