At the beginning of my Ray Scott review, I mentioned the first time I came across him was on a Totally Country album. It was Totally Country Volume 5 to be exact and it was released in February 2006, so it was music that popular in 2005. There was actually one more Totally Country album released after volume five, which I also own. I owned four at one point too, but I lost it along the way. Anyway the reason I wanted to go back and look at this greatest hits type CD from nine years ago is to see how different country music sounded then compared to now. Let’s take a trip back in time and see what it was like in 2005-2006 country music.
The album begins with Miranda Lambert’s “Kerosene,” her first hit single and the song that launched her career. It was later certified platinum. While this song does have a traditional country sound, this would be the base for pretty much the majority of Lambert’s hit songs. A song about a woman who found her man cheating or doing something wrong, with veiled threats from the woman or in this case a blatant threat. I really don’t like the violent undertones in these type of songs, as they’ve pretty much become cliché with Lambert. Nonetheless I would take this song over some of her more recent material.
The second song on the album is Gretchen Wilson’s “Homewrecker.” Once again it’s another female country song about cheating and veiled threats. While Wilson is pretty traditional with her music, this song in particular annoyed me because it was overplayed so much on radio. Yes at one point I was annoyed by a song by a female being played too much on the radio. Things have definitely changed in nine years on country radio. Wilson has disappeared from country radio, although she’s still signed with Big Machine and Scott Borchetta.
Up next is a fresh-faced Dierks Bentley’s third ever single, “How Am I Doin’.” This song reached #4 on the country chart and it was his third top 20 hit. Bentley was still a newcomer at this time, but he was well on his way with this great start to his career. Today he’s one of the biggest stars in country music and most of the time is making great country music. Even his most annoying hit, “Drunk on a Plane,” isn’t as bad as the worst songs in the genre today. If only the G6 line was removed from the song, I would’ve maybe liked it. Anyway “How Am I Doin'” is an upbeat heartbreak song and it’s the type of song I would love to have back on country radio. But alas there are no tailgates.
This is followed by a song I’m sure most country fans are familiar with, Big & Rich’s “Comin’ To Your City.” This was another song that was killed by being overplayed on the radio. But disregarding that this song isn’t that bad. It’s a fun song that isn’t offensive to the ears lyrically or thematically. As I said in my recent Big & Rich review, I have no problem with the duo. Sara Evan’s “Suds in the Bucket” is up next, a pop country song I don’t mind. This was one of the handful of songs that reached #1 for Evans. This came during her peak years of her career, from the early 2000s to the mid 2000s. Just like Gretchen Wilson and other female country artists, she has been swept aside by country radio. I hate you bro country.
Now the next artists on this album you may have forgotten about. It’s Van Zant and their biggest hit, “Help Somebody.” Do you remember these guys? To refresh your memory, the duo is made up of brothers Donnie and Johnny Van Zant. Their brother is the late Ronnie Van Zant, the former lead singer in Lynyrd Skynyrd. The duo started out in southern rock, just like Lynyrd Skynyrd, but shifted to country music in the mid-2000s. They signed with a major label, Columbia Records, and they put themselves on the map with their first single, “Help Somebody.” It would be the biggest and only top ten hit for the duo. This was followed up with “Nobody Gonna Tell Me What To Do,” which peaked at #16 on the country chart. After this the group slowly faded out from mainstream country music and I completely forgot about them until I came across this CD. They’re still active today, but haven’t released an album since 2007.
I’m sorry I have to bring up this song now, but if I have to hear it again you’re going to have to hear it again also. Cowboy Troy’s “I Play Chicken With The Train” was one of the first hick-hop songs to rear its head in the mainstream country scene. That’s because of his association with the MuzikMafia, headed up of course by Big & Rich. The duo sings the chorus of this song and this is not one of their better moments in their career. Now I know Big & Rich weren’t being serious when they introduced hick-hop into their songs and it was meant to be a joke. Unfortunately there were people who heard this and thought this should be turned into a serious thing. Now hick-hop is common in country music. Thanks a lot John and Kenny! You should have known Nashville loves these type of horrible ideas. I’m not placing whole blame on the duo, but they certainly shoulder some of it and it’s a reason why some people can’t listen to their music. Listen if you dare:
Montgomery Gentry’s “You Do Your Thing” is next. This was back when the group still actually made decent country music with southern rock influence. In fact this duo was quite popular during this time and received regular airplay throughout the 2000s. This song is about minding your own business and doing what you want. A simple, but good message. Fast forward to today and you can tell this group is a shell of its former self. They released a song called “Titty’s Beer” a few years ago and that was when I lost all respect for them. I’m not going to link that monstrosity of a song because I don’t hate my readers.
The next two songs on this album are Craig Morgan’s “Redneck Yacht Club” and Keith Anderson’s “XXL.” These are the two songs that made me buy this album. Yes, I know what you’re saying to yourself. “What the hell, Josh?” In my defense I was a teenager and the lyrics for these songs appeal to teenagers. I’m sure you’re not proud of your music tastes when you were younger too. That’s one of the good parts of growing up. You grow out of immature lyrics and terrible songs, moving onto the grown up music. Both “Redneck Yacht Club” and “XXL” were the forerunners and templates for bro country today. Novelty sounding songs with checklist lyrics that appeal to the lowest form of thought. These were big hits for both artists and neither are relevant today. I call that a win. Someday we’ll be able to say the same of bro country artists today.
This is part one of the article. Check back next Thursday for part two!