When word got out this summer that Scott Borchetta had signed Maddie & Tae to the resurrected Dot Records and revealed their first single would be an anti-bro country song, it set the country music world on fire. Everyone was discussing it and eagerly awaiting to hear this protest song that would take down the loathsome bro country that has been plaguing the country air waves for years. While it certainly isn’t no “Murder on Music Row,” the song did live up to its name of calling out bro country. Several hit bro country songs were mentioned in the song and anti-bro country people everywhere loved it. The problem is taking down popular trends is hard. It’s even more difficult when the artists calling out a popular trend are brand new to music and are only teenagers. Borchetta put them in bad position, as anti-bro country fans looked to them as heroes and at the same time the vocal pro-bro country crowd was angry. Or they responded in a sexist manner like known douchebag Chase Rice. I’m not even going to link that disgusting tweet he sent out about the song because I’ll just get angry. Just take my word for it. So this pretty much forced Maddie & Tae to stand down and play the song off as good-natured parody, much to the chagrin of the anti-bro country crowd.
On top of this many felt this was a gimmicky song to start for the duo to start their career off with. I don’t know why Borchetta started them off with this song and instead just pick one of the songs I’m about to review off their debut EP. It would’ve been better if they did “Girl in a Country Song” as their second or third single, but I digress. They hurt their standing with the traditional country crowd even more when they had that sub par performance on Letterman back in September too. I didn’t want to pass judgment on them based on one song, especially one that is a protest song, so I’ve been eagerly awaiting to hear new material from the duo to get better idea of who they really are and what kind of music they want to make. I was a little disappointed to see only four songs on their new EP, with one of them being “Girl in a Country Song.” So since this is such a short EP I’m going to grade each song individually instead of as a whole.
“Girl in a Country Song” – I already reviewed this song of course back in July. It was quite popular on the site throughout the summer, along with other Maddie & Tae related content. If you missed my review here’s the gist of it: “Many people rush to call “Girl In A Country Song” a protest song. But this isn’t a modern-day “Murder on Music Row.” There is no venom or anger behind the lyrics in the song nor from Maddie & Tae in interviews. Think of this more as a parody song. It’s a tongue in cheek poke at the clichés of bro country. You can look at this song from two different perspectives. You can look at negatively because it’s another corporate produced trend in country music. Or you can look at this positively because many people will view it as a protest song. It’s going to wake up many people who have been blind to the bro country craze and make them demand better music possibly. I choose to look at this through the latter perspective. “Girl In A Country Song” is going to do more good than bad and for that I applaud it.” To read the full review click here.
“Sierra” – So here’s the first song after “Girl in a Country Song” and the first real glimpse at Maddie & Tae as artists. The song is about a girl named Sierra and according to Maddie & Tae she’s not a very good person. The evidence of this is Sierra dumping her friends, being cruel hearted and treating boys like crap. Now some people might find the topic of this song to be a little juvenile, but keep in mind this is coming from two teenage girls. This song sounds like it’s genuinely coming from them, which some people didn’t feel with “Girl in a Country Song.” Another good thing they do with this song is they utilize their harmonies well and is something I want to hear from them more. It’s really hard to describe the sound of this song. There are points where it sounds blatantly pop country and then other moments where it sounds decidedly country. There are audible fiddles at one point! This song is catchy, genuine and could do well at radio. One more thing is Maddie & Tae show their personality in this song, which is nice to see. (By the way I like the more stripped down acoustic version of this song in the video below)
“Fly” – This song is an inspirational song about not giving up and pursuing your goal. This is the first slow tempo song from the duo and I think it’s a solid showing. The theme of the song is a little generic, but I’ll take generic inspiration over a lot of other themes on country radio. Another thing to point out is the song seems to be pointed towards young girls, a void in country that needs filled after Taylor Swift left the genre. If the intent of this song was to appeal to young females it does a great job of this. This is the most country sounding song on the EP, as there is plenty of acoustic guitars and a banjo featured throughout the song. I wish the lyrics were a little better in this song. It has the exact opposite problem of “Girl in a Country Song”: Generic lyrics, but a great sound.
“Your Side of Town” – An upbeat song about heartbreak. Basically it’s what the song title says. The woman in the song wants her ex to stay on his side of town and she’ll stay on her side. It’s mostly country with some pop influences. To me it gives off a Miranda Lambert song vibe. The attitude is feisty and in your face, so that would explain the Lambert vibe. There’s not a lot of vocal range displayed here, but the I don’t think this song is trying to be serious. It’s more of a fun radio song. Once again fiddles make an appearance on the EP. It’s decent and does it what it sets out to accomplish.
After listening to this EP it’s given me a better idea of what kind of artists Maddie & Tae aim to be. Based off this little sample, they seem to want to have a traditional sound while at the same time sounding modern. I think they straddled this line well for now, but it will be hard to pull off on a full album. They need to pick one side and go with it (hopefully traditional). Again this is just a small sample and we still don’t have a full picture. With Big Machine Records currently up for sale along with all of it’s imprints, including Maddie & Tae’s Dot Records label, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with this duo in the future. If they don’t make enough money to suit the new owners I could see them getting the boot, which would be sad to see. The reason I say this is a possibility is because Nashville labels have demonstrated in recent years that they have no problem ditching female artists at the drop of a hat. Plus the duo seems to be a Borchetta project and he would be gone when new management takes over. Putting that aside, I think this was a good sample for the duo and I look forward to hearing future material.
To preview and buy Maddie & Tae’s self-titled EP on Amazon, click here.