When I first heard this song, I was taken aback by it and really didn’t know how to feel about it. First off, it wasn’t a beach song. Chesney has been living off these songs for the last decade, so when it wasn’t a beach song I think my ears were startled because they’ve been trained to expect it. Chesney’s last hit single, “Pirate Flag,” was just awful and had been a while since Chesney has done something that made me think. Second, is that supposed to be hipsters on the cover of this single? Is this Chesney’s new angle? I digress. Compared to other blogs that strive for more traditional sounding country music, Country Perspective isn’t as hard on Kenny Chesney for his songs. They aren’t meant to be taken seriously and they’re certainly easier to listen to than Florida Georgia Line and Luke Bryan songs. And that is the case once again with “American Kids.”
The song starts out with an electronic/acoustic beat, evoking similar sounds to Sugarland’s “Stuck on Glue,” another song I absolutely can’t stand. But you’ll realize that this song isn’t anything like that one and comparing the two is kind of silly. Chesney then begins to sing and the lyrics are blatantly laundry list. Several brands are listed off and other clichés about growing up in America are named. Now notice I said blatantly because this song is meant to make the listener experience nostalgia. While some listeners surely will experience nostalgia from hearing “American Kids,” I really don’t experience any nostalgia. Others will probably feel this way too because you really can’t sing a song about nostalgia, which is what this song is all about. It’s got to be the subject of the song that evokes it. For example, Alan Jackson’s “Chattahoochee” reminds me of my days of youth in the summer spending time with my friends. Nostalgia is a personal thing. You can’t sing about a bunch of clichés in hopes to appeal to everyone’s nostalgia because everyone is different.
Now if you approach this song with the attitude of being carefree and fun, it’s a pretty good song in this aspect. I was tapping my feet as I listened to it because it is a very likable song. The clapping and the shouts of “hey” are a little annoying, but I’m able to overlook it. The instrumentation in “American Kids” tries to be like Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers, but it’s a light version of those respective bands’ sound. But that works because this is a party, summer anthem song that you dance to and aren’t supposed to find any significant meaning to it. I’m happy there isn’t any EDM or rapping involved. That in itself is an accomplishment.
I’m appreciative of Chesney trying to go outside the box. His last album Life On A Rock was a huge disappointment and didn’t garner a lot of attention. When making this next album apparently Chesney and his team had recorded and mixed the entire album when Chesney decided he hated it and they completely scrapped all of the material. They then made this song and the rest of his upcoming album. At least this shows Chesney cares about his music and isn’t trying to just makes “hits” like Jerrod Niemann admitted recently. “American Kids” is on fire on the iTunes charts and on Billboard. Expect to hear this play on radios for the rest of the summer.
Take this song for what’s it worth: A feel good song that is fun and light-hearted. It’s hard to hate “American Kids,” but I don’t love it either.