Everywhere we turn, there are signs that the tide is turning in country music for the better. Chris Stapleton and Sturgill Simpson are turning the tables on the awards shows, a new generation of traditionalists like William Michael Morgan and Margo Price are finding surprising traction, and songs of substance are even starting to make their way back on to the radio.
But it’s not all rosy. At the same time, it seems Music Row in Nashville is still searching for the bottom when it comes to certain singles, with the only solace being many of them are failing when years before they would become the biggest songs of the year.
So to vent our frustration and hold Music Row’s feet to the fire, let’s select the worst songs of 2016 out of the assembly line and torch the bloody hell out of them for sport. Forgive me mother for there will be numerous instances of foul language.
Steven Tyler – “Red, White and You”
America, I think all of us as individuals need to indulge in a really deep-minded and personal moment of reflection, and ask ourselves why as a people we spend billions upon billions of dollars of our gross domestic product on national defense to stockpile all manner of weapons of war and raise an army of fighting men and women, when within our midst we’ve been bestowed a weapon capable of mass destruction so diabolical and absolute, it could waylay hoards of invading armies on the spot, all while making the rest of the world writhe and recoil in such abject fear that a more potent deterrent to any manner of aggression towards our fair soil or our way of life could never be procured. And no, I’m not talking about the arsenal of intercontinental nuclear missiles that could destroy every living thing on Earth seven times over, I’m talking about the abhorrent and ungodly scourge that emanates from Steven Tyler’s mouth when he performs the song “Red, White & You.”
I would rather let Iran obtain weapons grade plutonium and a missile delivery system capable of reaching the mainland United States than listen to this artifice of gross misogyny and patriotic self-aggrandization. Because as long as “Red, White & You” is playing, freedom has no value, and life is not worth living.
Fiercely loyal and relevant to the country music themes blazing with popularity in the summer of 2013, “Red, White & You” is slavish pandering to the “Peach Pickers” country influence, while licking the balls of bands like Florida Georgia Line. Tyler sings about the beauty of the “Georgia night” like he’s a 16-year-old corn fed Southern boy getting busy with his girlfriend in the back of his hand-me-down Chevy, when in truth he’s a 67-year-old Manhattan native living in Boston who looks like the white version of RuPaul wearing a Bonnie Raitt wig.
Florida Georgia Line (feat. Backstreet Boys) – “God, Your Mama, and Me.”
You thought we had it bad having to choose between a psychopathic power-hungry maniac, and a corrupt sea hag hosebeast for President? Well imagine a scenario where we elected both. Together. In one big shit sandwich that we’ve all must spend the next four years taking big healthy bites from. That’s basically the malignant puss-oozing ruptured brain tumor of a song you get when you marry Florida Georgia Line—the most acrid, commode-circling swill ever conceived in the history of country music—with the apex douchebags of the embarrassing boy band phenomenon known as the Backstreet Boys, rubbing uglies together to make a mutated hellspawn audio baby to be birthed backwards into your poor supple ear canal in the form of the song “God, Your Mama, and Me.” (from the Dig Your Roots review)
Luke Bryan – “Love Me in a Field”
Like the unwanted advances of a male superior that uses their aura of overbearing power to justify wanton unavoidable passes upon your poor defenseless frame, fully knowing their position of authority will shield them from any repercussions, and any efforts to be awarded recompense for their inappropriate actions will only result in more injury as they exploit their position of power to circumvent all avenues of justice, the audio emanations from Luke Bryan’s new song “Love Me In A Field” move upon you so offensively, scandalously compromising your private space and the security of your personhood, you feel nothing short of violated as the music sweeps across your skin like a pair of fresh hands hell bent on performing a bout of heavy petting that is completely unauthorized and impermissible by law in the majority of jurisdictions and municipalities in this great land.
Of course directly comparing actual sexual assault to the displeasure one may find in the bombardment of even the most noxious musical concoction like the one Luke Bryan has brewed up in his single “Love Me In A Field” is disrespectful to such heinous acts and its scores of daily victims in a world that seems to be trending towards the ultra-misogynistic after so many years of inroads towards equality and respect. But Luke Bryan’s ridiculous ode to having intercourse in arguably the most inexplicably inhospitable places possible makes the subject of the mistreatment and objectification of women especially topical.
The poor object of Luke Bryan’s affection is forced to perform sexual intercourse amidst the serrated edges of cotton shrubs, the intrusive ears of corn protruding from 10-foot stalks, atop mounds of beets (have you ever had a raw beet riding in the small of you back whilst a 200-lb human hunches atop you?), and possibly the worst, out in a field where cows may or may not have shat very recently (as explained in the song). This could only be written by city slickers who only know about farm life through proxy, because anyone whose had their hands on the roughage soliloquized about so lovingly in this song as an idyllic love nest would never want their exposed posteriors or privates potentially interfacing with such knobbly and brambled plant matter.
I’d rather have Donald Trump grab me by the mangina than listen to this. (read full review)
Jerrod Niemann / Lee Brice – “A Little More Love”
Nothing says country like a couple of doughy, late 30-year-old washups trying to squeeze their cellulite into lycra-blended muscle shirts two sizes too small, and rapping over a reggae beat to try and save their trainwrecked careers. I could be positively ripped on a Jamaican spliff, and still this racket would sound like noise pollution and the worst example of cultural misappropriation possibly ever perpetrated in mainstream country. We can expect this nonsense from Jerrod Niemann who is directly responsible for opening the door for Sam Hunt to come along with his EDM bullshit, and now that Arista Nashville has shitcanned Niemann after his terrible record High Noon flopped, he went down the street to the sinking ship of Curb Record to try and salvage what is left of his laughable career by signing his life away to that black hole of an operation.
Meanwhile Lee Brice, who is basically the only commercially-successful star left in Curb’s empty barn, burns through any and all good will built up from decent songs like “I Drive Your Truck” to slavishly pander for a summer hit. This song tries to double up on star power and still whiffs.
Chris Lane – “Fix”
Like a solely synthetic, man-made stimulant meant to target the central nervous system with the most cataclysmically corrosive toxins that are able to be ingested into the human body for the sole purpose of eliciting a short-term physiological boost, but result in diabolically negative outcomes like the sinking of cheeks, the rotting of teeth, and the presence of sores on the skin, until ultimately a portal of hell on earth opens up for the individual where they find themselves estranged from friends, unemployed, stealing from family, and slouched over in a dank alley giving some street boss a hummer just to secure their next score, pop artist Chris Lane, and specifically his song “Fix” are like a scourge of society—a contagion—eroding all propriety and eating away at scruples until a palpable infectious malaise runs rampant throughout all the peoples of the Earth, and inhumane discord settles over our collective experience like a debilitating pall, addled by the overwhelming outcome of an unfortunate addiction.
If “Fix” was a batch of meth, it would have spontaneously exploding in the face of Chris Lane, shooting him out of his singlewide and across the trailer park, giving him first-degree chemical burns all over his pretty, pretty face.
What would fall and hit the ground faster in the vacuum left where Chris Lane’s self-awareness is supposed to be, a dense pound of his excessive ego, or a pound of air from his vacuous cranium? The answer is “Fix”—an abhorrent effort to assemble any and all obvious and transparent pandering mechanisms known to pop music’s collective brain trust for the sole purpose of launching a new Music Row record label that the world needs about as much as another affiliate of ISIS. (read full review)
Jana Kramer – “Said No One Ever”
What kind of fresh hell in a chemical tan has been dragged onto country music’s front stoop and left like the carcass of a disease-ridden rodent murdered in a sewer by a mangy alley cat to fester of some Godforsaken stench that’s so diabolical you’d rather asphyxiate to death than take one more sweet breath on this mortal coil??
The 31-year-old songstress might as well have sold out the Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville, promoted the show of a lifetime, sold scalped tickets on the secondary market for three figures, and when everyone showed up, wheeled a dumpster full of soiled baby diapers to center stage, lit it on fire, and then announced over the public address system that we could all go fuck ourselves. (read full review)
Chase Rice – “Whisper”
Sure, why not? Depicting a date rape is an excellent premise of a country song in today’s environment. As bad as his peers are, Chase Rice is the only country artist whose songs require a safe word to listen to. Or if lyrics like “What if I shut ya up with my lips on your lips” get you randy, then dive right in I guess. Chase Rice will parley is 1/5th writing credit on Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” into his own Bro-Country career, or he will expend every last shred of human dignity he has left trying.
About the only saving grace with “Whisper” is that it has already flopped so demonstrably, Chase Rice’s career is teetering on the brink of extinction. #56 is the best this song could do on radio, and those dumb bastards will play anything. Chase even wrote an open letter apologizing for the single before it was released. When you’re basically admitting your song is a prime example of vapid suckitude before anyone even hears it, you know you’ve become Music Row’s ultimate tool.
Thomas Rhett – “Vacation”
I remember stories from my vacation Bible School days of the wrath of God taking the form of floods, pestilence, famine, and fire and brimstone. But I guess I missed the part about the unleashing of such audio frightfulness that mankind would pray for nothing less than the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to come galloping through a fiery crag in the sky to shepherd in the absolute and complete annihilation of all existence as opposed to being subjected one more second on this mortal coil in audience with such abominable and merciless audio torture.
That was my experience of listening to Thomas Rhett’s “Vacation.”
Seriously, fuck this song. And while we’re on the subject of supernatural beliefs of the Western World, I swear if any, ANY of you bastards tell me this Thomas Rhett audio abortion is “evolution,” then I, The Triggerman from savingcountrymusic.com, will personally come to every one of your houses in a single night like Santa Claus, and take a dump on your bedroom pillows. I’m serious. I don’t want to hear any noise about “Well Thomas Rhett has always had other influences besides country.” Take that weak shit back to the comments section on YouTube.
Thomas Rhett’s “Vacation” had fourteen songwriters. FOURTEEN OF THEM! Which about equals the I.Q. points required to enjoy this aggressively simplistic scacharrine-laced dumpster fire of a regurgitated mashup, or the I.Q. measurement one will attain if you listen to this “song” on repeat. (read full review)
Dierks Bentley – “Somewhere On A Beach”
Not even a mean, echo-filled guitar tone driving “Somewhere on a Beach” could graduate this effort to anywhere near redeemable. It’s just bad. Real bad. It’s so bad, it’s hard to know where to start unraveling the badness, but let’s start by bemoaning this new trend in pop country songs to troll ex-lovers by bragging about how you’ve moved on. Isn’t navigating the madness of human love hard enough without some asshole saying “Nanny nanny boo boo” to you when all you’re trying to do is mend a broken heart? We got this same thing from Luke Bryan’s new ear screw with Karen Fairchild “Home Alone Tonight.” It’s all about going out and having a good time, and then rubbing it in you ex-lover’s face. What the hell is this, freaking high school? Get over yourselves. And all of these songs are centered around people’s stupid-ass phones.
What separates “Somewhere on a Beach” from all of the other Dierks Bentley sellout singles is the emergence of the rounded off vowels and dropped S’s that accompany the effort to instill a song with the metro Ebonic hipness indicative of Sam Hunt, which of course goes part and parcel with the narration of douchebag behavior.
“Somewhere on a Beach” is just a big shit sandwich, and all Dierks Bentley apologists are going to have to take a bite. Yeah yeah, wasn’t Up On The Ridge an awesome album, and weren’t a bunch of cuts from Riser inspiring, and isn’t it refreshing to see Dierks can laugh at himself with his Douglas Douglason & Hot Country Knights gimmick. But none of this will make this monstrosity go away. (read full review)
Clare Dunn – “Tuxedo” (read full review)
Dallas Davidson – “Laid Back” (read full review)
Brantley Gilbert – “The Weekend” (read review)
Brett Young – “Sleep Without You” (read review)
Jason Aldean – “Lights Come On” (read full review)
Dustin Lynch – “Seein’ Red”
Luke Bryan – “Move”
Thomas Rhett – “T-Shirt”
Blake Shelton – “She’s Got A Way with Words”