The Worst “Country” Songs of 2018 So Far

WARNING: Language

Well by the sound of it, country music still needs saving ladies and gentlemen, and is still searching for the absolute statistical rock bottom when it comes to quality and substance in songs. Though 2018 so far has been blessed with some improvement when it comes to certain singles from a handful of major label stars, defining the “worst” has officially reached new parameters.

So let’s cover our ears, pinch our noses, and set these stinking piles of refuse up to ceremoniously knock them down.

Keith Urban – “Coming Home”

Somehow, inexplicably, Keith Urban has figured out how to take the most iconic guitar riff in the entire 70+ year history of country music, and make it sound like the last dying gasps of a faulty smoke detector smacked repeatedly with a sledge hammer, and slowly drowning it in a bucket of 7-year-old used motor oil in someone’s garage. The generically-titled “Coming Home” downright filches the opening riff from one of the sainted Merle Haggard’s signature songs, “Mama Tried,” and spectacularly fails to flesh out anything around it that’s even close to fit for audio consumption by even the most idiotic of indolent and stupefied audiences rendered opinion-less by a cocktail of over-prescribed American designer drugs.

“Coming Home” is supposed to be about home sickness and a yearning for simplicity. The lyrics and video allude to someone lost in the impersonal feel of a concrete cityscape, and pining for the familiarity of the green and genteel country life. Yet the shitty production of this song is about as busy and disjointed as the scene surrounding a fatality accident within a construction zone smack dab in the middle of an urban cloverleaf traffic-snarled clusterfuck during the utmost peak of rush hour with quarter-sized hail raining down from a supercell that a tornado warning has just been issued for.

Unfortunately Merle Haggard isn’t around to put his boot on Keith Urban’s throat while the original lineup of his backing band The Strangers takes turns extinguishing their unfiltered Camel cigarettes on Urban’s scrotum. For the first time since Merle Haggard passed away in 2016, I’m glad he’s gone, so he doesn’t have to hear this. (read more)

Jake Owen – “I Was Jack (You Were Diane)”

Jake Owen ain’t Jack. And he ain’t no Mellencamp either. It appears the years of prolonged exposure to radioactive bronzer treatments have finally all but officially fried his brain, while the removal of the lovely locks once adorning his head may have cleaved off a few brain cells in the process. All that a mid 30’s Jake Owen is capable of now is rocking casual T-shirts really hard, mumbling lyrics in a monotone dirge, and glue sticking rearranged elements of someone else’s worn-out 35-year-old dusty Heartland rock anthem together like some adolescent making a caterpillar with construction paper.

Yes this song makes me nostalgic. It makes me nostalgic for a time in music when new songs from country artists weren’t complete and utter shite, when people had an original thought and idea when they walked into the studio to record a song, when the best artists of the day were able to compose an original melody, and a song relied on its own guts and expression to steal your attention.

Jake Owen’s new single “I Was Jack (You Were Diane)” ain’t a little ditty, it’s a big ripoff, and a dud. We’ve been saying for years that much of mainstream country is nothing more than warmed-over John Cougar, and here Jake Owen is giving us a glaring example on a silver platter without the need to diagram chord progressions or point out nuances in lyricism. Sorry, but ain’t digging your new Coke. (read more)

Parmalee – “Hotdamalama”

When you’re a third rail pop country band who was unfortunately named after something that sounds like a frozen treat Dairy Queen would put on sale at $1.99 for a limited time, why not sail your self-respect and dignity down Nashville’s mighty Cumberland River and sell out as hard as you can to scrounge together the very last dying embers of mainstream relevancy before your careers are eventually recycled through the audition rounds of The Voice, stimulating America to let out a collective “Who?” when they try to present you as someone who was previously famous?

Spectacularly relevant to 2014, “Hotdamalama” from Parmalee is the Bro-Country mega hit that never was, served with ragingly misogynistic language and imagery that would get you fired from 95% of 2018 workplaces with no severance and a sexual harassment lawsuit trailing your decommissioned ass out the door.

She got them sho nuffs coming in runner up
Panama city, wet T-shirt, Miss Banana
(Boats, boats) motor-boating
Man it’s a handful juggling all these emotions

Cutoffs clinging to her pocket
Talking ’bout a home run grand slamalamalama

What kind of mush mouth fuck nutted bullshit is this? You have to put out a concerted effort to make a song this bad. Face it Parmalee, it’s over. Don’t make America pay for your last dying prayers at relevancy that will go unanswered anyway. Take your “Hotdamalama” bullshit and bad haircuts back to Cackalacky, and learn how to sell washing machines or something because you’re finished. (read more)

Maren Morris – “Rich”

It’s Maren Morris, and a host of now purely pop women like Bebe Rexha, who are most responsible for the worst offenses on the country radio dial at the moment, and not just from the level of non-countryness of the selections, but just a downright immature slavish obsequiousness to materialism, image, and a pop culture trend chasing that makes these songs downright unhealthy for the ears of the masses.

“Rich” is about how wealthy Maren Morris would be if she got paid every time some beau of hers disappointed her. Sure, that may be one method of accruing wealth. Or, you could ride into mainstream country on a promising lead single that seems to pay homage to all the old greats (“My Church”), only to then pull a pop music Trojan Horse sneak attack, sell out as hard as humanly possible by cutting one pop song after another, and then release easily your worst, most embarrassing and monstrous single that straight up rips off the melody of Steve Miller’s “The Joker” to country radio to double your earnings, all the while attempting to shield yourself from criticism by trying to act like a “leader” to open country music up to pop sounds, and pound people with your political beliefs so Nashville’s clique of beltway journalists won’t just defend you, but scream “sexism!” and “mysogyny!” toward anyone who dares question if this music is simply fit for the country format.

Maren Morris is a leader alright. She’s leading country music right into a hellhole malaise of indolent stupidity with songs like “Rich.” Name-dropping Diddy, Prada, and Mercedes, slathering the whole effort in cultural appropriation, pandering to the least common denominator, how can anyone listen to this and somehow defend the effort as anything but a massive play for a handsome payout at country music’s expense? (read more)

Mitchell Tenpenny – “Bitches”

No. We’re not going here. I’m sorry. Consider this a line in the sand. Consider this an ultimatum. Nobody’s mother is being threatened here, mind you. We’re not veering off the rails or anything. But if there was ever a moment where dramatic action was called for in country music matters, this would be it.

This isn’t just an argument about taste, or classic country vs. contemporary country. This isn’t yet another droning discussion about what is country and what isn’t like the ones that go on forever and ever and never get resolved. This is an issue that should have all the denizens of country music of every shape and form in a tizzy, regardless of their allegiances or sensibilities, and locking arms to not allow the music that we all love take such a significantly degrading step backward.

Yes, let’s take a song that says “bitches” 25 times and turn it into a fucking country music “anthem.” What happened to tipping your hat to the ladies, and the rose of San Antone? You’re tired of “bitches,” Mitchell Tenpenny? Well you just ran afoul of a genuine, Texas-born, single mother-raised, red blooded American ASSHOLE who will pursue you and “Bitches” to the end of the earth if necessary to shield as many ears from this degrading filth so help me God. (read more)

Jordan Davis – “Singles You Up”

If there was ever a good moment for a well-manicured hipster beard to get unfortunately mangled in a piece of industrial equipment and/or farm machinery, now would be opportune. Or perhaps just an old fashioned dog muzzle could be employed, or a ball gag—anything that will keep this douche nozzle occupied and his mouth incapacitated from performing pop country’s latest pestilence presiding under the name “Singles You Up.”

Who the hell is Jordan Davis you say? Well he’s that pop country guy; you know, the one with the beard. Because how the hell else would you tell him apart for the reams and reams of these generic pop country bros stacked up so thick up and down Music Row you need a cattle guard to get through them? You certainly couldn’t distinguish him due to the uniqueness of this song. He’s just the latest headed to #1 with a hackneyed tune full of urban vernacular and electronic drum beats, trying to take a bro jargon buzzphrase and flesh it out into something fit for human consumption, and stupendously failing.

Jordan Davis gives kick ass beards a bad name, just like his stupid song “Singles You Up” does for country. Leave the beards to the likes of Cody Jinks and Whitey Morgan there champ. (read more)

Sam Hunt – “Downtown’s Dead”

It’s not just that Sam Hunt isn’t country. It’s that Sam Hunt is the exact opposite of country. Quite literally. If you want to hear a song that is the direct antithesis of what a country song is, listen to a song by Sam Hunt. Country equals rural. Urban equals city. It’s very simple to understand. Country music is of the country. Urban music is of the city. And Sam Hunt is urban music.

Sam Hunt’s new song “Downtown’s Dead” is about a city. He uses references to the bustling and alive nature of an urban area as the setup to the premise of the song. “The city’s so in style, all you see for miles are people spilling in and out of cars” says the first line. The second verse starts off with the line, “Dancing in the strobes out here in the throws of loud house music.”

City style, and a bustling downtown street where people are spilling out of cars is not a country landscape. It is a city landscape. References to dancing in strobes to house music is quite literally the exact opposite of the experience of enjoying country music. That doesn’t mean that cities can’t be referenced in country songs. In fact country songs have referenced cities quite often in history to contrast the values and landscapes of the city with the country.

It’s not downtown that is dead. It is the country that is dead, forgotten by the modern urbanized perspective, paved over by progress, rebuked by culture as being outmoded and ignorant, and impugned due to political rancor. And we have people like Sam Hunt to thank for it. (read more)

Backstreet Boy AJ McLean – “Back Porch Bottle Service”

A.J. McLean, listen to me you Backstreet Boy-singing, choreograph-dancing, bad neck tattoo, black nail polish-wearing, interloping, carpetbagging, no talent-having son-of-a-bitch with a receding hairline and a shitty, arrogant attitude, if you think you’re going to waltz right into country music exhibiting the kind of “fuck everyone” candor you displayed on the red carpet of the ACM Awards, you’re about to get a big Waylon Waymore Watasha Jennings size 12 steel-tipped boot right up your dumb ass and an ugly wake-up call that this shit doesn’t fly in by God country music, asshole.

Here’s what A.J. McLean said to Billboard at the ACM Awards.

I am coming in, but I’m coming in to disrupt country. I wanna come in and shake things up. I’ve always loved country…But after we did ‘God, Your Mama, And Me’ with Florida Georgia Line… something just kind of clicked and I just got this overwhelming inspiration to just give it a go.

You know on second thought, screw it. What the hell is A.J. fucking McLean going to be able to do in country music? Sure, have him sign to Big Machine Records, write with a bunch of B-listers, record some Cole Swindell leftovers with busbee producing behind a laptop, and get spit out of the ass end of the industry in 9 months as a laughing stock like Steven Tyler. Sure, give it your best shot. But get ready to take on return fire if you’re going to start the process with this type of arrogant bullshit.

Welcome to country music, A.J. McLean.

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(Note, this excerpt is taken from this article. A proper rant for this song might be forthcoming.)

Dishonorable Mention:

• Mason “Yodel Boy” Ramsay – “Famous” (read review)

• Chris Lane feat. Tori Kelly – “Take Back Home Girl”

• Dylan Scott – “Hooked”

• Dustin Lynch – “Good Girl”

• Bebe Rexha and Florida Georgia Line – “Meant To Be”

• Keith Urban – “Parallel Line” (read review)

• David Lee Murphy & Kenny Chesney – “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” (read review)

• Kacey Musgraves – “High Horse” (read review)

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