Song Review – Keith Urban’s “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16”
Well that’s it folks. If we weren’t starring at the moment when any and all vestiges of the roots of country music had been completely eradicated from the mainstream before, then we are certainly doing so right now. It’s no longer a narrative about trying to hold onto the last little pieces of what made country music different from other genres. That ship has sailed. “Country” has now been completely expelled from the country music genre. It’s now a question of how do we rally whatever support is left to storm the castle and take it back, or at least earn enough respect to have an audience in the king’s court or win a wing in mainstream country for actual country music?
Keith Urban’s “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” is nothing exceptionally bad compared what we’ve been seeing from male country artists and this current Metro-Politan trend. This is more an illustration of the permeation and dominance of the trend now that Keith Urban has become the latest to fall under its sway. You didn’t see Keith Urban chasing Bro-Country a couple of years ago, did you? This is a guy who was the CMA Entertainer of the Year a decade ago. Keith Urban is now 47-years-old if you can believe that, and like so many others, there wasn’t the strength or will of the fight to resist where Sam Hunt has taken the genre.
Making this affair even more sad is “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” really includes the worst of both Bro-Country, and this new Metro-Bro business. It’s a laundry list song of the highest order, and a drum machine-driven, R&B bass-line dance song.
But I almost don’t want to hate on this song as much as I should. Like a lot of these Metro-Bro offerings, it’s not as immediately offensive as a lot of what crowned the Bro-Country era, or even the early EDM-inspired country songs from Jerrod Niemann and others. Like other recent Keith Urban singles such as “Somewhere In My Car” and “We Were Us,” there’s a drive and vitality to the song, and a pace to the pentameter of the lyrics that is appealing without compromising melody. Also making “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” a little more interesting to the ear is the way it modulates chords at the end. It’s no “These Eyes” by The Guess Who, but it is an interesting wrinkle that shows a little more effort than just throwing more rhythmic layering on top of a drum machine beat.
If I heard this come on a pop station, I probably wouldn’t take huge exception with it. The issue is that it’s being called a country song, and being released to country radio. Forget there’s nothing country about it, “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” aggressively pursues the erosion of many country music prerequisites and values. By speeding up the electronic drum beat coming out of the bridge, it leaves no doubt in the minds of listeners that human hands weren’t involved in many of the sounds emanating from this song.
And why are we praising John Cougar in this song as opposed to a country artist? Why not John Cash or John Conlee? If Keith Urban and other country stars want to kneel at the altar of Mellencamp, that’s one thing. Much of mainstream country has been reconstituted nostalgia from “Little Pink Houses” and Bob Seger for years already. But as sad as it was to see country music aping classic rock instead of forging its own legacy, at least it was indicative of the heartland more than just the shallow references to Pepsi-Cola and Wheel of Fortune that “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” leans on.
Mellencamp sang about how “the simple man pays the bills that kill,” and how “life goes on after the thrill of living is gone.” But what is Keith Urban singing about? “I’m a teenager,” he chimes, “Never grow up, never grow old!” This endless summer and endless youth sentiment is the exact opposite of what Mellencamp sang about.
“John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” talks about Kris Kristofferson’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down” and Don McLean, but instead of being baptized by the sounds of country music, the protagonist prefers his baptismal be through rock and roll. And of course it doesn’t help that nothing else about the song is indicative of country. Even the sentimental and reserved bridge is simply pandering to mainstream country’s religious base.
This song was written by Shane McAnally, Ross Copperman and Josh Osborne, which if you’re looking for the songwriting triumvirate behind this “new sound,” they might be it. Shane McAnally—for all his great Kacey Musgraves work—is the puppetmaster behind Sam Hunt. And Ross Cooperman was the guy that worked on Brett Eldredge’s “Lose My Mind” and others.
I don’t care how catchy it is, “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” is not even close to country, and for that, it deserves total disqualification.
Two Guns Down.
June 9, 2015 @ 6:42 pm
I couldn’t even last 10 seconds, awful! Sad some of Keith Urban’s earlier stuff was ok, not traditional but listenable.
June 13, 2015 @ 6:03 pm
You sound like such an old fart. It’s an awesome song y’all.
June 21, 2015 @ 4:47 am
Ya know, I do have to agree II don’t feel that Keith Urban belongs in the country genre. His music doesn’t speak “country” at all in my opinion… I personally like the lyrics to John Cougar John Deere John 3:16 but that is not an attribution to Keith Urban or country
June 9, 2015 @ 6:43 pm
I’m from Indiana and I grew up on John Mellencamp. In fact, it’s his Scarecrow, Lonesome Jubilee and Big Daddy Albums that led me to discover Country music in the first place. So with that being said, this song is downright offensive. For every Jack and Diane, there’s five Rain On The Scarecrow’s. And also, the readers of this site and its writer would definitely enjoy Mellencamp’s Rough Harvest album.
June 9, 2015 @ 6:47 pm
This is like the Disney version of Mellencamp—all of the cultural references, but none of the soul or real-life perspective. It makes the struggling Heartland sound like an amusement park.
June 9, 2015 @ 7:18 pm
That’s just solid fucking GOLD, Trig….
John Wayne Twitty
June 9, 2015 @ 8:51 pm
Aretha Franklin could sing the phone book and make it sound good.
Today’s “male” “country” “singers” read a list of things that exist and autotune puts it in key.
June 13, 2015 @ 9:54 am
Clearly Urban has spent much less time living in the heartland than Mellencamp has. I hear more country influence in Mellencamp’s songs than in Urban’s. I’ve always had the impression that Keith Urban didn’t understand the country culture or way or life.
June 9, 2015 @ 6:44 pm
Shane McAnally is in my opinion doing more damage with this new trend than Dallas Davidson did with the Bro trend. I think there is a big oversaturation of McAnally songs on the air right now and even Kacey Musgraves songs are starting to sound cheesy and formulaic.
June 9, 2015 @ 10:26 pm
Kacey actually just did a video for Fallon about how she wrote “Biscuits”
It was almost part of “Follow Your Arrow”
June 9, 2015 @ 6:49 pm
There is absolutely fucking NOTHING country about this song.
Country music has jumped the shark on a rocket powered jet ski.
June 10, 2015 @ 7:57 am
just like i did
June 10, 2015 @ 7:54 pm
June 9, 2015 @ 6:56 pm
“I”™m a 45 spinning”™ on an old victrola, I”™m a two strike swinger, I”™m a pepsi cola
I”™m a blue jean quarterback saying I love you to the prom queen in a chevy
I”™m John Wayne singing in California, I”™m a Kris Kristofferson Sunday morning
I”™m a mom and a daddy singing along to Don MacLean at the Levy”
Not the worst written verse I have ever heard, but it is another variation of the typical checklist country song. Your average Bobby Boner will hear this and say they can relate to all of that, so of course this song will do well.
The electronic drums and R&B sound is just as common place on country radio as it is on a station that would play Drake or P(uff) Diddy(daddy). It happens while the country fan sleeps and the next logical step is a song that criticizes Cash, Waylon, Willie or Merle and radio listeners will agree, because they are told too, and then country music will be nothing more than a cassette tape in a bargin bin.
June 10, 2015 @ 5:10 am
Better if he said he was a 3-0 swinger (implying he swings for the fences, doesn’t play it safe, etc.). Keith should’ve picked up on that from his childhood of playing baseball, right?
June 10, 2015 @ 9:02 am
I believe their form of baseball is called “cricket” or something like that
June 10, 2015 @ 6:16 am
I’d have to rate that verse as “horrid” at best, wherever that fits on the worst to not worst scale.
June 9, 2015 @ 6:57 pm
These tracks remind me of the auto drums on my radio shack keyboard when I was a kid. i made it 10-25 secs too.
June 9, 2015 @ 7:00 pm
This is a good title looking for a song worthy of it . It hasn’t found it . It starts and ends nowhere ….like the 4 bar drum loop that likely inspired it .Boring and repetitive musically , forgettable lyrically, ( buried syncopation -for-syncopation’s-sake delivery does nothing to help matters in this respect ) too trendy and too busy to withstand the test of time
– and yeah …for God’s sakes Keith ….TAKE A CHANCE on something that isn’t sure-fire ‘radio friendly’ . GROW…flex what’s left of that artistic muscle now that $$$ surely don’t count at this stage of your career.
Forgettable crap .
P.S. …its MELLANCAMP Keith
John Wayne Twitty
June 9, 2015 @ 8:53 pm
Johnny Russell knew how to make a list song-“Red Necks, White Socks, and Blue Ribbon Beer”
June 10, 2015 @ 7:59 am
who likes the white soxs?
June 9, 2015 @ 7:19 pm
I don’t hate Keith Urban, but this song is so awful, and a complete artist/song mismatch. He’s invoking all these American bro-country touchpoints, and yet these cannot possibly mean anything to him as an Aussie. So false! Let alone that it has no relationship to country music that I can hear. Makes me hate the universe.
June 9, 2015 @ 7:22 pm
To reprise my remarks from elsewhere:
If you ever doubt the existence of a loving and merciful God, consider the fact that Keith Urban did not burst into flames at the mention of Kris Kristofferson here. Frankly, I could have told you years ago that this was where Keith Urban was going to end up. He has never once shown any fidelity to country music beyond the extent he could make money characterizing his flavorless mush of music as such. And he has constantly defended the direction in which country music is going by using the same tired arguments about evolution that everyone else is using. Sure, he can play guitar, but I”™ve said it before and I”™ll say it again:
Country music has no shortage of talented instrumentalists ”” Jerry Reed, Steve Wariner, Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, Keith Whitley, and the list goes on.
And none of them ever had to have their place in country music justified by their instrumental talents. There”™s a reason for that.
June 9, 2015 @ 7:25 pm
Urban was never country to begin with. He couldn’t make it as rocker, so he switched genres and has been poisoning country ever since. Clearly he didn’t learn anything from his collaboration with Don Williams.
June 9, 2015 @ 7:40 pm
I was very disappointed with this song. What are you thinking Mr. Keith Urban?
June 9, 2015 @ 7:43 pm
Well, I can’t say I’m surprised whatsoever we have gotten this end result from Keith Urban.
After all, between obsessing over wanting to collaborate with Pitbull in an interview several weeks ago, to confirming cutting a song written by Florida Georgia Line in another, to already having released the bro-lite “Little Bit of Everything” as the lead single from his previous album, to featuring on Jason Derulo ‘ s latest album……………..what would you expect exactly?
The greatest issue I have with this release is how it’s an even more aggressive form of monogenre pop culture reference collage put to a beat than “American Kids” was. Yet, where two of the three proper nouns cited in the title are decidedly country or gospel identifiers, while the other is heartland rock………….the overly sterile and bombastic production squelched any soul implied in choice lyrics. They’re completely incompatible.
I mean, we get a frickin’ Green Day song name-dropped, of all things! If I want to listen to Green Day, why can’t I just turn off the radio and pull up SoundCloud? What’s next? BrokenCYDE? -__- -__- -__-
Yeah, I’m ready to declare 2015 as the most damaging year to the country music community by far. And the longer we go without a successful format split, the more I’m certain the format will fall into irrelevance much like mainstream rock radio…………..which on the surface sounds tempting to allow if it means draining the swamp, but it will also mean it will be so much more difficult to pass on this rich musical tradition to the next generation or two overall.
June 9, 2015 @ 9:37 pm
Nah, nothing can beat 2013 as the worst year of the genre. The drastic rise of bro-country that year pretty much opened a gaping wound in the heart of country music, and the bleeding has not truly stopped since.
June 10, 2015 @ 7:18 am
I honestly think this year might be pushing it. I agree with what you said about Bro-Country, but I cannot remember the last GOOD mainstream release in terms of singles, Maybe “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” by McGraw?
That’s all I can come up with off the top of my head. It says a lot about Country as a genre right now that Tim freakin McGraw is the guy cutting the deepest material at Country radio.
June 10, 2015 @ 9:35 pm
Not surprising that Tim McGraw is cutting the deepest material. He has a long history of solid, emotionally deep songs. In the current country environment, it was always inevitable that he would be easily besting the other male singers in quality.
June 11, 2015 @ 4:48 am
True that McGraw’s catalogue is far stronger than he is sometimes given credit for. That said, he also had been cutting some of the worst material over the past few years, so I’m glad he has rebounded from that.
Shane Mcanally sucks. I’m sorry, but everything he touches in the past year or so has been terrible. Even the last two songs he wrote with Kacey Musgraves (Family is Family and Biscuits) are terrible. I like Kacey, but her album is not shaping up to be another breakthrough judging by those two songs.
June 10, 2015 @ 11:18 pm
“After all, between obsessing over wanting to collaborate with Pitbull in an interview several weeks ago, to confirming cutting a song written by Florida Georgia Line in another,”
You have got to be kidding. How on earth does that happen? Pitbull and FGL aren’t even good enough to auto-tune Keith’s guitars. I can’t believe FGL gets any cuts by other artists, let alone better ones, when there are much better writers and songs out there. I hate to judge a song I haven’t heard but so far if you’ve heard one FGL song you’ve heard them all. What makes a Keith Urban pick a FGL song? He likes the song? Good marketing? Radio plays bro-country? He got a big discount?
June 9, 2015 @ 7:48 pm
I rather listen to Florida Georgia Line than this song and Jake’s garbage song “real Life”.
June 9, 2015 @ 8:43 pm
Well, the eyes are open, the mouth moves, but Mr. Brain has long since departed, eh Keith?
John Wayne Twitty
June 9, 2015 @ 8:49 pm
This is just plain torture. I’ve heard Charles Manson’s music and, although terrible, is wonderful in comparison to this. And it’s Charles fucking Manson…
Shania Twain, old Keith Urban, Faith Hill, early Rascal Flatts. They were pop country, and it was acceptable music. Sometimes even great music. Whatever today’s mess is, it’s not pop, nor country, nor music.
June 9, 2015 @ 8:49 pm
So the Sturgill shirt on American Idler was just an ironic hipster fashion statement since it obviously didn’t translate beyond the laundry…
June 9, 2015 @ 10:10 pm
Tunesmiff, I scrolled down do write the same thought. Fuckin’ give that schmedium Sturgill shirt to your daughter Keith. He needs to find himself; harken back to the “Only you can love me this way” again. Or call his buds Gary Clark jr and John Mayer to help get the groove back. He’s way better than this.
June 9, 2015 @ 10:14 pm
The two songs sound nothing alike but this song was definitely born from some shitty songwriter hearing, “We’re about John Wayne, Johnny Cash, and John Deere way out in here” in a Josh Thompson song and deciding to make some minor changes and hoping nobody notices.
June 9, 2015 @ 10:45 pm
Exactly my first thought upon seeing this title.
Obviously, the writers think that the audience is either too forgetful or too new to country to remember the hook of a hit country song from just 5 years ago.
June 10, 2015 @ 1:42 am
I immediately thought of Josh Thompson too when I saw the song title to this. Seems like a total rip off of Josh Thompson’s “Way Out Here”. I could always enjoy myself some Keith Urban but the garbage he’s been putting out lately is worse than the other artists selling out to this metro-bro trend.
June 10, 2015 @ 3:16 pm
I’m so angry about Turn it Up–it’s better than most but still so bad for JT. Change was going to be a great album. Every cut that leaked was fantastic. I hope he can eventually release all those tunes. I really want to own an album with “Comin’ Around” on it.
June 10, 2015 @ 6:31 pm
Turn It Up is pretty good but disappointing when compared to his first album. It’s probably because of him signing with Show-Dog Universal, a very shitty, extremely weak label. I’m pretty positive that Show-Dog is currently the weakest label, aside of Blaster Records which is the weakest of the weak. Cold Beer With Your Name On It is definitely an excellent modern country song, as well as A Little Memory (which Josh talked about releasing as a single eventually, but it has never happened…?). Hillbilly Limo was pretty cool so was Wanted Me Gone. The rest of the album is garbage IMO. Still, he’s an excellent modern country artist that could be pretty popular again if he got away from Show-Dog Universal. No one even knows he’s making music anymore cuz with Show-Dog he gets no airplay ever. All the good artists out there are on terrible promotional labels while average artists like Keith Urban and Luke Bryan are always sailing straight to #1 on the charts.
June 9, 2015 @ 11:39 pm
1) John Mellencamp dropped the “Cougar” in 1990, a quarter of a century ago.
2) The closest any of these guys get to a John Deere is, maybe, watching a John Deere commercial on TV, or buying an overpriced pre-distressed JD cap or t-shirt at the store.
3) Quote the New Testament all they want, but these guys live nothing that could be considered a life guided by Christian principles
4) I’m doubting whether they’ve actually read any Mark Twain.
5) And, oh, the song sucks.
June 10, 2015 @ 6:49 am
1) John Mellencamp dropped the “Cougar” in 1990, a quarter of a century ago.
Exactly. I believe that name was forced on him very early in his career. And he started phasing it out in 1984 with his Uh Huh album when he had enough clout to do so.
June 9, 2015 @ 11:54 pm
When Mellencamp was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, here is part of what Billy Joel said in his induction speech. Note his comments about the radio….
“Don’t let this club membership change you, John. Stay ornery, stay mean. We need you to be pissed off, and restless because no matter what they tell us””we know this country is going to hell in a handcart. This country’s been hijacked. You know it and I know it. People are worried. People are scared, and people are angry. People need to hear a voice like yours that’s out there to echo the discontent that’s out there in the heartland. They need to hear stories about it. They need to hear stories about frustration, alienation and desperation. They need to know that somewhere out there somebody feels the way that they do in the small towns and in the big cities. They need to hear it. And it doesn’t matter if they hear it on a jukebox, in the local gin mill, or in a goddamn truck commercial because they ain’t gonna hear it on the radio any more. They don’t care how they hear it as long as they hear it good and loud and clear the way you’ve always been saying it all along. You’re right, John, this is still our country.”
That is what Keith Urban and his committee of songwriters will never, ever understand.
June 10, 2015 @ 8:00 am
the rock and roll hall of fame is a joke
June 10, 2015 @ 3:48 am
What a dog’s breakfast!
Like the reference to These Eyes though 🙂
June 10, 2015 @ 5:28 am
I’ll be the first to say I really love Keith Urban. His old music recalled Fleetwood Mac, Glen Campbell, & some of the poppier 90’s country acts. Sure it wasn’t Johnny Cash, Mel McDaniel, or Keith Whitley, but damn it was good in its own crossover country pop right with some great guitar. See: Somebody Like You, You’ll Think of Me, You’re my Better Half, Homespun Love. Anyone who know any history of Keith, knows his musical background is straight country and he worked exceptionally hard to get to where he is now. I don’t know why he is throwing his own style away. This new R&B bro country stuff is really shitty. I think genres are silly. Good music is good music if it comes from the right place. This doesn’t.
June 10, 2015 @ 5:48 am
Lol, at least he knows who Kris Kristofferson is. I get the feeling that 98% of country artists today would go, “You mean that old guy from the ‘Blade’ movies?”
The songwriters must have looked Kris up on Wikipedia. 😛
June 10, 2015 @ 5:48 am
I thought this title was a bit familiar. Anybody ever hear of Due West? This one is much better
June 10, 2015 @ 5:48 am
Will Hoge just posted on his Facebook something like….. “There’s a song out called John Cougar, John Deere and John 3:16. Good luck today folks”. Lmao!!!!
June 10, 2015 @ 7:41 am
Boy, Hoge has been dropping some great one liners recently. He’s got some buddies in the mainstream world. Hopefully he’s ruffling some feathers.
June 10, 2015 @ 9:36 am
Yeah he’s fun to follow on fbook. Usually pretty witty. Seems like he has a pretty good sense of humor.
June 10, 2015 @ 6:48 am
Why does it always seem to take three people to write this stuff? Once again, songwriting that gets exponentially worse in direct proportion to the number of people credited. I have this image of Keats calling Shelley and saying let’s get together and write some odes. Of course, he couldn’t because they didn’t have phones, but you know what I mean. Three writers always tells me “product,” nothing meaningful going on here, folks, move along.
June 10, 2015 @ 12:24 pm
The more writers, the more teams you have pushing the songs to artists/label. Simple as that. The better chance of it getting cut. The better chance of it making money in the long run.
June 10, 2015 @ 6:51 am
I went to a John Mellencamp show about 4 years ago & it was absolutely incredible. It was in a big fancy theater. He had no opening act, instead he showed his own documentary. He traveled the country particularly in places hit the hardest by economic fall & hurt the worst by job outsourcing, the steel belt etc. he showed stories of local farmers losing their land, he was also recording an album he recorded at Sun Studios and also in the hotel room Robert Johnson recorded in. It was so well done, so gripping. After showing the film he played what I would say was about 80% folk songs all themes that were shown in the film. It was so amazing. I had tears during some of the songs. I got through the night only hearing 3 pop rock songs which he treated as a joke he picked plastered giddy middle aged women out of the first rows to dance & sing with him, it was fun. There was an older gentleman sitting beside me all dressed up fancy pant type & everytime Mellencamp would start another folk song he would say something like “I came here to rock God Damnit, play the hits!” I think everyone should go see him. John Mellencamp’s music has gotten better & gained more substance over the decades. He does a lot of charity work to help farmers & families keep their land. He is no doubt in touch with blue collar people & the heartland. As we all know name dropping an artist with credibility in a song doesn’t make one more credible. This song is awful, really bad.
June 10, 2015 @ 7:01 am
As we all know name dropping an artist with credibility in a song doesn”™t make one more credible. This song is awful, really bad.
Much less, name dropping an artist’s old showbiz name that the artist couldn’t stand. Figures, though.
June 10, 2015 @ 9:40 am
For years, Mellencamp was dismissed or outright derided as the “poor man’s Bruce Springsteen”……………..and while I can understand how it would be easy for many to say when he had less clout as an entertainer to call his own shots, I’m relieved he is finally getting the critical acknowledgement he has long deserved in my eyes.
If anything, I’d say John Mellencamp is a rare breed of entertainer who has only gotten better as he has aged all-around, while Bruce Springsteen…………..as much as I’ll always love him…………….has regressed especially on the lyrical front over this past decade. He still gives it his all when playing live, but I can’t help but feel “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions” was his last great album, and everything since then has been mediocre by his standards (though each of his albums have moments that stand out).
In contrast, Mellencamp is at his peak in quality, in my opinion. Which is saying a lot, considering I loved “The Lonesome Jubilee”, “Big Daddy” and also consider “Human Wheels” a devastatingly underrated album.
June 10, 2015 @ 10:28 am
Noah, I have read similar things from you on Bruce and I have to say that I couldn’t agree more. The Seeger Sessions is the last studio album of his that I feel enthusiastic about. I wouldn’t call Devils and Dust a great album, but it was at least good and I find it more rewarding than any of the albums since Magic. I thought Magic was OK, couldn’t stand WOAD to the point that I traded it in, was largely bored by Wrecking Ball and skipped High Hopes. Human Touch is sometimes called the worst Bruce album, but I always thought it was pretty good and I would take it over any album since Magic.
I agree with you on Human Wheels.
June 10, 2015 @ 5:35 pm
“Magic” was a strong B-grade album to my ears. I did appreciate the raw energy driving the majority of that album and it had a few outstanding cuts (“Long Walk Home”, “Devil’s Arcade”, “Gypsy Biker”)……….but just wasn’t as consistently gut – punching as his string of 80s albums were, nor “The Rising”.
Then “Working On A Dream” came, and I dare argue that is his worst album to date. “Human Touch” was his worst album prior to that in my opinion because of how sanitized it sounded, but at least the performances had enough heart. And at least “The Ghost of Tom Joad” tried to tackle more headier themes and had an oblique appeal I can respect looking back (still a mess, but a compelling one.) But “Working on a Dream” was just bland, banal and mostly lifeless to me.
“Wrecking Ball” was an improvement, but it still wasn’t up to pat with “Magic”, even. Springsteen is BETTER than polemics. Leave the polemics to Ani DiFranco and Anti-Flag! I expect more nuance and narration from Springsteen.
June 10, 2015 @ 1:22 pm
For years, Mellencamp was dismissed or outright derided as the “poor man”™s Bruce Springsteen”
And I can honestly say that I never understood that. I always far preferred Mellencamp to Springsteen. Granted, it probably had a lot to do with my thought that BS was and is one of the three most overrated acts in the history of popular music, but I really like most of not all of Mellencamp’s stuff. “Rain on the Scarecrow” is one the greatest songs of all time, in any genre of music.
June 10, 2015 @ 5:51 pm
In truth, I do believe Springsteen ‘ s critical acclaim during the 70s and most of the 80s, on through “Tunnel of Love”, was well-deserved.
Simply put, I think it’s more an issue of Mellencamp not being given his dues BECAUSE elitists stuck their noses in the air and scoffed: “Heh, lookin here………..a Springsteen wannabe with a prettier head of hair!” But I didn’t buy that impression myself. Mellencamp ‘ s lyricism is actually a lot more direct with blue-collar consciousness and concerns, I’ve thought, while Springsteen ‘ s has usually been more like portraits of specific characters. I appreciate both, but Mellencamp ‘ s lyrics just have more populist fervor as well as descriptive depth to back them up because of the conviction driving his gruff vocals.
Mellencamp was never deliberately trying to emulate Springsteen. His later career output proves how bountiful his influences and idols are, and I respect him in his drive not to let time and age hold him back or make him complacent. If anything, his newest albums are his best.
June 10, 2015 @ 7:58 am
More ass kissing to rock and roll. It would cool for country singers to actually like country music. Keith Urban is better than this. I also cant stand him singing this song. What does he know about baseball and Chevys? Urban claims that Keith Whitley is one of his biggest influences. I don’t see his influences in his music at all. Golden Road was KU last attempt at country music.
Even Tim McGraw has enough balls to release country music. Tim has chased every trend, but yes even Tim McGraw put out some pretty damn good country radio hits over the last year. “Meanwhile back a mommas” “Shotgun Rider” and “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” were country. Those songs would not fit anywhere but in this genre. I never thought Tim McGraw would be the most country guy on the radio. Not in a million years! None of the established artist are even trying to push country. Blake Shelton and Brad “same old guitar rift” Paisley have been around for over a decade. Is it so bad and scary to release a fucking country song. I am ranting……..
June 10, 2015 @ 8:40 am
I see your point and I agree, but Mellencamp is far more country than Urban will ever be. A co-founder of Farm Aid and truly concerned about the heartland, not sitting on American idol.
June 10, 2015 @ 8:57 am
I like John Mellencamp too.
June 10, 2015 @ 8:19 pm
“Even Tim McGraw has enough balls to release country music. Tim has chased every trend, but yes even Tim McGraw put out some pretty damn good country radio hits over the last year. “Meanwhile back a mommas” “Shotgun Rider” and “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” were country. Those songs would not fit anywhere but in this genre. I never thought Tim McGraw would be the most country guy on the radio. Not in a million years! None of the established artist are even trying to push country. ”
Man you NAILED it with your Tim McGraw comments here. I’m not a fan of his radio hits for the mostpart …but I learned a long time ago that he finds THE BEST songs for his album cuts and , as you point out , his last few singles could ONLY fit in the country genre . Good on him for using his ‘clout’ to deliver the COUNTRY goods where other main-streamers just refuse to . Sure wish we’d see Joe Nichol , Josh Turner , Easton Corbin and a few others with the gift to sing a REAL country song take some cues from Tim and send a message .
June 10, 2015 @ 8:17 am
Urban lost the plot a long time ago, so this doesn’t surprise me. His last few have been total head scratchers.
The Ghost of Buckshot Jones
June 10, 2015 @ 8:29 am
I feel like I keep repeating myself, but this is a single? Once again, it feels like a 9th or 10th cut to fill out an album. Horribly generic, and practically aping we didn’t start the fire.
Seriously, there’s absolutely nothing to this song. No story, no change, just reciting a list of late 80’s tertiary pop culture references. Laaaazy.
June 10, 2015 @ 8:43 am
Oh look, they rhymed Chevy and levy. That’s new.
June 10, 2015 @ 8:44 am
Unfortunately, Urban’s music persona has largely lived up to his name. I’ve always thought he was a wishy washy, metro kind of guy who just wants to fit in. I recall that even in the early years of his career, he was one of those milquetoast “sensitive male” types who needed a shoulder to cry on, someone who appealed to women because he made them feel needed.
June 10, 2015 @ 8:52 am
about heydays commet about the rock and roll hall fame it is a joke heres why they will let anybody in watch this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpAD9WBogQc
June 10, 2015 @ 9:27 am
what a weird tune. I mean that in the worst possible way.
June 10, 2015 @ 10:28 am
EEE GAD!!!!! Keith’s been doing American A-hole too long!
June 10, 2015 @ 10:29 am
Chris Filer’s ‘John Deere, and John 3:16’ link- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uE39EFURPbY
Not sure if this one or Josh Thompson’s was out first, but Keith Urban’s makes the third song with those references arranged that way.
June 10, 2015 @ 12:05 pm
Is he actually referencing Green Day with that “boulevard of broken dreams” line? Did I really just hear that?
sweet on stuart
June 10, 2015 @ 5:32 pm
Darth, my first thought was Tony Bennett’s Boulevard of Broken Dreams from the 60’s.
June 10, 2015 @ 12:28 pm
This gives bad pop a very bad name.
June 10, 2015 @ 1:40 pm
Kim Mac millan
June 10, 2015 @ 2:40 pm
Kim Mac millan
June 10, 2015 @ 2:56 pm
Change is expected. Keith has a innate ability to rise to the occasion. All music has changed, just like the times!!!!!! Keith is all country, come on, bash Keith when there is a song considered “country” l kissed a girl”. I think Keith is amazing!!!!!!
Kim Mac millan
June 10, 2015 @ 3:03 pm
” GIRL CRUSH” !!!!!!
June 10, 2015 @ 3:10 pm
I listened to this song on half speed. Sounds truly amazing compared to listening to it at normal speed.
June 10, 2015 @ 8:21 pm
I listened to it at double speed and it was over a whole lot quicker . Sorry Keith .
June 10, 2015 @ 3:27 pm
The Chris Filer video for “John Deere, John 3:16” on youtube was posted back in 2010. The level of derivativeness in Urban’s recent music is huge. His self admitted use of Shazam is obviously a desperate crutch.
June 10, 2015 @ 4:41 pm
This song truly sucks. The question is, does it suck much worse than the wave of unabashed EDM pop songs we’ve been subjected to, with increasing frequency, over the past year or so?
June 10, 2015 @ 5:00 pm
I couldn’t even bring myself to listen to this, but after having read the lyrics on genius.com, the scattershot name-dropping and cliche`d images strike me as the worst sort of pandering — I suppose it was straining to achieve some sort of cross-generational appeal with its many references, but it comes across as too random to evoke any real, recognizable human experience. :p
Six String Richie
June 10, 2015 @ 5:15 pm
I don’t think this song will do that well. It will get off to a hot start but I doubt it’ll go #1. The “John Cougar” reference will go over the heads of at least 80% of listeners age 18 and under and the “John 3:16” will also escape some listeners. The “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” reference will go over the heads of some young listeners as well as a number of adults.
Country radio doesn’t like to play music that needs to be explained. This song contains to many references that will need to be explained to teens, who are now a core demo for country radio. Thus, this song will peak at around #5.
June 10, 2015 @ 5:57 pm
This is bad. I actually really like a lot of Keith Urban’s stuff, especially his earlier material. I even liked “Somewhere in my Car” (even if there was literally nothing country about it). I couldn’t last five seconds with this. I wasn’t high on his earlier single “Raise it Up”, either. It was a lot more country, but the cadence in the chorus was bizarrely similar to the verse of “Somebody Like You”. He’s clearly running out of ideas.
June 10, 2015 @ 6:32 pm
What an insult to the legend of John (Cougar) Mellencamp. John 3:16 was also an insult to the bible and John Deere into this garbage of this song. I want to puke and cry.
June 10, 2015 @ 11:58 pm
I refuse to believe that this really exists.
June 11, 2015 @ 12:34 am
OK this doesn’t surprise me… but what I really wanna see is who the hell are the going to nominate for awards anymore with no women on radio and Hunter Hayes MIA and just small clan of dudebros? Maybe award shows will become so laughable they’ll be worth watching.
The Ghost of Buckshot Jones
June 11, 2015 @ 6:30 am
This track is just depressing the more I listen to it. I don’t *hate* Keith Urban, his slower, more downtempo stuff comes off as authentic, and really works for the most part. His up-tempo, poppy stuff is unlistenable, but over his career, he’s had some really great songs. His last few albums, I just don’t get.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brrsX8JAKFI – the Album cut of “Stupid Boy”, while maybe not “country” per say is still a great track, credit to Sarah Buxton for the song, but his tortured guitar bit and wails at the end of it really make the song.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSq0PiYVM9E – “You’re not my god” is another good track, and dark for “modern” country
Dammit. Who do we have to pay to get him back on heroin and doing downtempo stuff again?
June 11, 2015 @ 10:50 am
Welp, Eric Church had a big hit with Springsteen, so let’s name-drop another 80s heartland rocker cause that makes money, right? Pretty sure that’s all the “thought” that went into this song.
It’s not even surprising anymore when artists I had some respect for make trendy crap. Seems like it’s a new one every day. And that’s the worst, not even being shocked by it anymore.
June 11, 2015 @ 11:23 am
I know it’s not your main point and maybe this is my bias (grew up on the NY/NJ border), but Bruce has been a recording artist since the early ’70s. For my money, his best four albums (or maybe more accurately, my favorite four) were the ones he released in the ’70s. I know 1984’s Born in the USA is the one that put him in the stratosphere, but it was 1975’s Born To Run that put him on the covers of Time and Newsweek simultaneously.
June 11, 2015 @ 1:29 pm
I understand your perspective. I grew up in the 80s, so I immediately think of “Born in the USA.”
June 11, 2015 @ 10:52 am
What has been heard cannot be unheard. I feel sick now.
June 11, 2015 @ 4:45 pm
Take the lyrics out and you have the background music to a 2003 cinemax porno
June 11, 2015 @ 7:23 pm
Whether you find the song good, bad or indifferent I feel there is some Mellencamp/Keith Urban backstory that should be added to this conversation.
Beyond the fact that Keith just played NBC’s Red Nose Day a few weeks ago singing with John Mellencamp on stage for the first time (co-singing Pink Houses), his love of John is well documented. He first really started speaking out about how impactful John’s Lonesome Jubilee was on him during the promotion of Golden Road.
This is from 2013 people magazine: “Best concert? John Mellencamp, the Lonesome Jubilee Tour, 1988. It was the closest thing to a musical epiphany. I was at the point where I wanted to start writing songs but didn’t know what sort of music I’d make. A lightbulb went off, and I went, “Whatever’s going on down there is the answer.” It was as if someone said, “Take the things you love and make your own music.” ”
I think Keith’s natural love of John pushed him to pull the trigger on cutting this track just due to the name checking of him (even though the song really seems to have very little musical common ground with John, and John has made a lot of very musically different music).
October 8, 2015 @ 9:02 am
For all the haters…. Is this the deepest song in Keith’s catalogue? No. But it is an important one that celebrates rural heritage, the Christian faith, and nostalgia for a past generation. Keith voice is fantastic on it, and I disagree that this isn’t “country”. Remove the horse blinders (your sad, narrow definition of a genre) and simply review the song for what it IS, not what it ISN’T. I guess on a website titled “saving country music” I wouldn’t expect anyone to be capable of doing that.
June 14, 2015 @ 12:31 am
I love this song. A lot of country songs these days are not country. The songs are pop music. Keith Urban is not the only one who sings pop music.
June 14, 2015 @ 12:33 am
I love this song even though it is not country music. Lots of artists sing pop music in the country field these days. Keith is not the only one.
June 14, 2015 @ 11:21 pm
I find the syncopated fast-strummed chords evocative of Mellencamp’s sound on songs such as “Justice and Independence ’85”. I think it’s kind of clever, albeit somewhat cheap.
June 16, 2015 @ 7:55 am
Move with times. You guys commenting saying Keith doesn’t know what living in the country is all about don’t know what your talking about. Keith was raised in a semi rural town and has been playing Dolly Parton, Waylon’s Jennings, Emmylou Harris on live TV since he was 10 years old. See Apple Jack video on YouTube. He has extensively lived and travelled Australia’s outback towns most of his life. He supported Australian Farmers with farm aid early in his career. He is playing this stuff because it’s what people want to hear. Don’t get me wrong I love traditional country music too and so does Keith. He was raised on it!