When many country and Southern rock fans got their copy of Zac Brown Band’s latest release Jekyll + Hyde, they feverishly ripped off the cellophane, struggled with the stupid sticker the runs across the top edge and never comes off in one piece, and then put that puppy into the CD player so full of excitement and anticipation, they found themselves nothing short of crestfallen and shockingly confused when the first song coming out of their moderately-priced but still decent-sounding speakers was the completely formulaic EDM saccharine-fest called “Beautiful Drug.”
It wasn’t just the shock that Zac Brown had decided to dip his toes into the whole EDM craze, it’s that he’d chosen to start his album off that way, and that the song—beyond the sonic departure for the band—was so vapid and superfluous. Since then Zac Brown has been out there collaborating with Avicii, so it is all starting to fit in a much wider pattern. There’s also another EDM-style song on Jekyll + Hyde called “Tomorrow Never Comes” that may even be a shade worse than “Beautiful Drug.”
Zac Brown apologists came out of the woodwork to defend “Beautiful Drug” saying, “Oh come on, this is just Zac Brown doing what he wants to do. It’s just the band having fun. They won’t release it to radio or anything.”
Well think again.
According to the country music Antichrist and head of Big Machine Records Scott Borchetta, “Beautiful Drug” will be Zac Brown Band’s next single. Speaking at iHeartMedia’s current Music Summit in Burbank, California, Borchetta confirmed the news, and said they hope the song will cross over from country, seeming to allude that it will start on country radio, even though the song has absolutely no semblance of anything “country” to it aside from a token banjo, which makes the offense even more obvious.
Clearly this is Scott Borchetta’s answer to Sam Hunt, and it’s hard to see how “Beautiful Drug” will be anything less than a mega hit, putting a serious hurting on the sonic foundations of country music, and from a band that used to be one of the respites of substance in the mainstream.
As Saving Country Music said in the review of “Beautiful Drug”:
“Beautiful Drug” is not the Zac Brown Band spreading their creative wings. “Beautiful Drug” is not Zac Brown asserting his freedom as an artist. “Beautiful Drug” is not the boys from Georgia “defying genre,” though these excuses and many more will be levied in their defense, and you, YOU the sainted country music and Zac Brown fan will be charged with a treasonous level of closed-mindedness, misunderstanding, and attempts to stifle the evolution of music if you so dare to raise a peep in opposition to Zac Brown finally breaking loose of his corporate bonds to make the music he’s always wanted which in the case of “Beautiful Drug” is apparently hyper-EDM club pop dance music replete with bass drops and the most horrifically prototypical rhythm and structure employed in American pop music in its history. Sam Hunt, eat your ever-loving, Puma-wearing, flat-brimmed country interloping heart out.
There is one thing to take away from “Beautiful Drug” and one thing only: Zac Brown wants your fucking money America. I would label this a sellout moment, but even that seems to slight just what depravity of character the Zac Brown Band evidences by releasing this song, especially as the first track on an album. He might as well have just cued up a mic and screamed “Fuck You!” to start this thing off. Dig deep in those pockets, put your dollars on the table, and nobody gets hurt except the souls of country music fans. It’s time for the Zac Brown Band to get paid mother truckers, so quit your bellyaching and pony the hell up.