If we’re being honest, country music continues to improve across the board, including in the mainstream as we continue to get farther and farther away from the Bro-Country era. But there are still some stragglers and terrible songs out there that are worth exposing to the sunlight and watching them whither. After all, using hyperbolic sarcasm to smear stuff we don’t like is fun, and pleasing to the old soul.
And don’t go crying “Hey, wHy Don’T you FoCUs On the gOOd STufF !?!” If you want, go check out the Single of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year nominees then. There is plenty of positive stuff to pay attention to also. But right now it’s time to have some fun at the expense of others.
P.S.: We’re looking for prominent singles here for the most part, not album cuts.
Brantley Gilbert – “Rolex® On A Redneck”
If I only had two bullets and was in a room with Vladimir Putin, Aleksandr Lukashenko, and a speaker blasting “Rolex® On A Redneck,” I’d shoot the speaker twice. Screw sanctions, get Elon Musk to deploy some low orbit satellites over the Russkies blasting this hot garbage, and they’ll be out of Ukraine and relinquishing their claim on Crimea and Donbas in less than 24 hours. Just make sure that a public broadcast of this song wouldn’t instigate a war crimes tribunal in The Hague for crimes against humanity.
Larping as a ode to hard working rural folks, “Rolex® On A Redneck” is really just a laundry list of product endorsements from Gilbert for stuff actual farmers would never be caught dead with. Dusty Bumpkins on a sorghum patch outside of OshKosh isn’t sporting a Rolex® unless it was smuggled out of a POW camp in some dude’s ass like that storyline in Pulp Fiction. Nor would he pay $1,200 for a plastic Yeti® cooler when he can just fill a galvanized horse trough with ice. And he wouldn’t pay $4,500 for a brand new camo-wrapped Benelli® shotgun when his Mossberg handed down from three generations will take down a turkey just fine. (read full rant)
Walker Hayes – “Y’all Life”
The ultra-lame dad energy blowing off of Walker Hayes is so pronounced, it’s sitting on the couch blaming its farts on barking spiders, and out in the driveway checking your tire pressure. Once again he brings his idiotic hip-hop gesticulations and phrasing to the most lily white of songs possible. Barney the Purple Dinosaur has more soul than this. When Steve Earle said that bad country music is just “hip-hop for people who are afraid of Black people,” Walker Hayes and “Ya’ll Life” is exactly what he had in mind.
And what’s up with this dude’s obsession with America’s fleet of deplorable corporate eateries? He single-handedly brought Applebee’s back from the point of embarrassment with “Fancy Like,” and now he’s out here name-dropping the Olive Garden? Ladies, if a dude take you to Applebee’s on a first date or Olive Garden for an anniversary, do yourself and the entire gene pool a handsome favor and don’t fuck him.
Russell Dickerson – “She Likes It” (feat. Jake Scott)
The only thing worse than Walker Hayes and “Fancy Like” is the generic version by this 3rd-tier semi-star with a striking resemblance to the Beeker character from the Muppets if his honker was replaced with a hook boner super glued to his face. Russell Dickerson looks about as awkward as an erection poking through your Sunday best as you kneel down in front of your preacher for holy communion.
Dickerson is one of the two or three dozen nameless dickheads who’ve earned multiple #1’s on country radio for no other achievement than being a male on a major label. 99% of America couldn’t pick this dude out of a lineup. But apparently wanting to break into the 2nd tier, Russell scrubbed any last vestiges of anything resembling “country” out of his sound and recorded this vapid and odious chick lit version of a bad “Boyfriend Country” song that needs to take its weak shit to the Hot AC side of the dial and never associate itself with country music ever again.
Cole Swindell – “She Had Me At Heads Carolina”
Adding to the dubious legacy of new songs that bastardize old ones, Luke Bryan’s former merch bitch Cole Swindell does Jo Dee Messina’s classic “Heads Carolina, Tails California” dirty. We’ve already had to suffer through Keith Urban bastardizing Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried” guitar riff with his godawful song “Coming Home,” and of course Sam Hunt sampling the sainted Webb Pierce’s “There Stands The Glass” for his horrible “Hard To Forget.” Now Cole Swindell does his worst trying to ride the 90s country craze.
Where the original song written by country greats Tim Nichols and Mark D. Sanders embodied the spirit of being young and filled with endless freedom and possibilities, Swindell’s version is just about hooking up with some Karaoke-singing floozie in a Lower Broadway drunken bachelorette shitbar. And despite a little steel guitar in the mix, “She Had Me At Heads Carolina” is yet another song that extols the virtues of 90s country in the lyrics, but not in the sound or the spirit of the song itself.
Of course Messina and the original song’s writers signed off on this because it’s making them mailbox money since they were added to the credits, but perhaps the worst part about Cole Swindell’s version is that it was everywhere this summer, shooting to #1 and remaining there for multiple weeks, and getting under the fingernails of actual country fans everywhere.
David Morris – “Carrying Your Love”
Speaking of besmirching country classics, move over Keith Urban, Sam Hunt, Cole Swindell, and everyone else, because this talentless tractor rapper has everybody beat. Criminally sampling King George Strait’s “Carrying Your Love With Me” and then running it through a Smurf filter, this fusion track is as offensive to the ears as someone screaming at you to go suck your mother’s dick.
There are head injury victims, and folks that define the most severe end of the spectrum just out of the non-verbal range who can make more coherent and entertaining noise than what the mush-mouthed David Morris drools out here. This dude barely sounds qualified enough to pick the cigarette butts out of urinal cakes, let alone to be propped up in front of the public for entertainment. It feels ableist to even be paying attention to him, like ogling at a Barnum and Bailey oddity.
Where are all the heavies from the hip-hop community shitting on these terrible cultural-appropriating crackers?
Shania Twain – “Waking Up Dreaming”
“Waking Up Dreaming” rips off the rhythm of The Cure’s “Close To Me” just like Shania’s “Any Man of Mine” ripped off Queen’s rhythm for “We Will Rock You.” It also features the most unusual suite of electronic embellishments on Shania Twain’s voice that make her sound outright inhuman. This is what also what helped ruin her last album Now.
Shania could be doing what other 90s country stars are currently doing, which is growing old with their music, and going back to their roots in an era when 90s country is very popular once again. Instead, Shania Twain is going 80s glam, and continues to chase some rekindling of her pop flame, which at this point, puts her strangely at odds with the direction the rest of Nashville and country music are going. There will still be an audience for this vacuous pop music that tries to play off drag queen popularity with its imagery. But that place won’t be in country.
Lee Brice – “Soul”
Frank Ray – “Country’d Look Good On You”
Dustin Lynch – “Party Mode” (Did Holler really name this their Song of the Year?)