Every year we wonder if it can get any worse, and while there are positive signs for country music’s future all over the place, the bad stuff somehow continues to only get worse. The only saving grace is that many of the songs highlighted below have become commercial flops, whereas in previous years it would be a virtual Top 10 on the country charts.
Steven Tyler – “Red, White and You”
America, there is an impending Presidential election, and 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.
While “Red, White & You” makes an ironclad case for itself as the worst “country” song in the history of recorded music, it indisputably takes the top prize for the worst lyrical line the world has ever been forced to behold.
“You pulling me a little bit closer, Heart beating like a big bass drum
We spinning’ on a roller coaster, A “Free Fallin’” into your yum yum…”
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. Meanwhile “A Little More Love” sits outside the Top 40 heading into July, and the video can’t must 120K views in a month. This song tries to double up on star power and still whiffs.
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.
By the end of “Said No One Ever,” Jana Kramer repeats the title phrase so many times and with such machine gun rapidity, you would actively volunteer to stump for your least favorite candidate for President if it guaranteed to shut it up. Hopefully cooler heads can prevail, and the entirety of Western Civilization can come together, put political differences aside, and roundly renounce “Said No One Ever” as a legitimate or viable form of human entertainment. (read full review)
Dallas Davidson – “Laid Back”
When I heard that Dallas Davidson was working on a new solo album, it sounded like just another stupid plan to offload his leftover Bro-Country material now that the songs aren’t selling so well. Harmless. Sure, release a solo album Dallas, and take one last gasp as the Bro-Country songwriting king before you’re relegated to the refuse pile of country music’s most deplorable era.
But apparently, Davidson is all serious about this and shit. I don’t know if he’s trying to get on the radio or make some big splash in the culture at large, but he’s recruited a bunch of rappers and other folks to collaborate with. And let me tell you folks, “Laid Back” is a dog.
Davidson still thinks that tractor rap is his golden goose, but when his upcoming album is released, it’s destined to be the oddity of Hastings discount bins in America’s backwaters. I’d rather hear Weird Al cue up a mic and make farting noises with his armpits than this fake rap bullshit. And I hope General Motors sues Dallas Davidson for ripping off their emblem for this white trash ode. Invest your Bro-Country royalty money wisely Davidson, because you ain’t going to be making much more of it headed in this direction. (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.
Clare Dunn – “Tuxedo”
There’s bad. And then there’s immediately clasping your hands over your ears and running away screaming while you attempt to reason how something so vile could ever be proffered for human consumption, and use its mere existence as Exhibit A for why the American culture has gone completely to hell in a shit basket. Clare Dunn’s new single “Tuxedo” rounds out to be the latter version.
One maxim that you can apply to most modern mainstream country music is that melody has been replaced with rhythm, and story has been replaced with lists. Aside from some selections from country music’s Bro-Country era, Clare Dunn’s “Tuxedo” might be the perfect example of this trend, while giving us the best specimen of a female version of Bro-Country we’ve heard heretofore: Objectification, lists of qualifiers of what makes someone or something country and cool, and the employment of Ebonic annunciations straight out of the playbook of Tyler Hubbard from Florida Georgia Line.
“Tuxedo” scores straight A’s and checks all boxes on the terrible music depth chart, even though it would have been nothing worse than forgettable if it wasn’t for the horrifically monotone verse layout that has less topography than the Bonneville salt flats, and sounds like it’s being sung by the cracker version of Nicki Minaj. (read full review)
Jason Aldean – “Lights Come On”
So often in modern country the task of songs is to reaffirm the importance of country songs to the listeners. There’s songs about songs, songs about radio, songs about songs on the radio, songs about what it means to be country, songs about what a country song should mean, songs about love, songs about songs about love, and songs about songs about falling in love when a song about love or country comes on the radio, and so forth and so on. It’s like a revolving door to make sure you never lose sight of just how important mainstream country music is supposed to be in your life.
“Lights Come On” takes this approach into a new arena. Since songs themselves don’t really make that much money anymore, and music as a business is now mostly centered around going to see your favorite mainstream artist in concert, now we need songs affirming the importance of the concert experience too. “Lights Come On” isn’t really about anything, just like many of the songs about songs in mainstream country. “Lights Come On” is about itself. It’s an arena concert song about arena concerts, and how hard working people enjoy arena concerts, targeted toward hard working people who enjoy arena concerts. You see how all of this works?
Much of mainstream country music today—and there’s no better example than “Lights Come On”—is simply a tool to keep the consumer-driven society churning out positive results through re-affirming the life patterns of “work hard, spend hard” people who lead lives that are highly productive for the economy, yet also pour most of their proceeds back into the economy, keeping the whole system flush. The reason corporate country reaches so many people is because it offers such an easy solution to identify yourself as a person through this all-encompassing, all-inclusive corporate cultural package that controls what you think and how you spend your money and time from cradle to grave. That is why corporate sponsorship is such a part of today’s country music. Listen to the radio and it’s hard to tell when the music ends and the commercials begin. “Lights Come On” perfectly illustrates this. (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)
Chris Lane – “Fix”
Comparing love to a methamphetamine high shows the level of class that Chris Lane and “Fix” bring to “country” music. This douche nozzle who once failed an American Idol audition as a white boy rapper has now made his move into country. Saving Country Music has been purposely ignoring Chris Lane and “Fix” for the majority of 2016, hoping that like so many Bro-Country hopefuls, he woefully fails at his bid for country music stardom and just disappears. But “Fix” is finally finding some legs. Make no mistake, “Fix” is so sinister, it will be dealt swift and punishing justice in its own dedicated manner in due course.