The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [March 7]

Thomas Rhett sucks

Each week I take a look the Billboard Country Airplay chart and grade the top 30 songs. The grading format I use each week is every song will receive either a +1, -1 or a 0. These will then be tallied up for an overall score, or pulse of the current top thirty country songs, with the highest possible score being a +30 and the lowest possible score being a -30. How do I determine if a song is rated a +1, -1 or 0? The rating it received on the site by either Derek or myself will determine this. If it hasn’t been rated yet, then I will make the call. Songs rated between 7 and 10 receive a +1. Songs rated between 5 and 6.5 receive a 0. Songs rated 4.5 or lower receive a -1.

The goal of this exercise is to evaluate the current state of mainstream country music and determine if it’s improving or getting worse. Let’s take a look at this week’s top thirty. (By the way this will now come out on Wednesday every week. I have a new Friday feature debuting this week too.)  

  1. Thomas Rhett – “Make Me Wanna” -1 (Up 1)
  2. Blake Shelton & Ashley Monroe – “Lonely Tonight” +1 (Up 2)
  3. Randy Houser – “Like A Cowboy” +1 (Up 2)
  4. Brett Eldredge – “Mean To Me” (Up 3)
  5. Jason Aldean – “Just Gettin’ Started” -1 (Up 1)
  6. Florida Georgia Line – “Sun Daze” -1 (Down 5)
  7. Luke Bryan – “I See You” -1 (Down 4)
  8. Chris Young – “Lonely Eyes”
  9. Darius Rucker – “Homegrown Honey” -1 
  10. Cole Swindell – “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey” -1 (Up 2)
  11. Lee Brice – “Drinking Class” +1
  12. Chase Bryant – “Take It On Back” -1 (Down 2)
  13. Zac Brown Band – “Homegrown” +1 
  14. Sam Hunt – “Take Your Time” -1 
  15. Dierks Bentley – “Say You Do” +1 
  16. Jake Owen – “What We Ain’t Got” +1 
  17. Keith Urban & Eric Church – “Raise ‘Em Up” (Up 3)
  18. Tyler Farr – “A Guy Walks Into A Bar” +1 
  19. A Thousand Horses – “Smoke”
  20. Lady Antebellum – “Freestyle” -1 (Down 3)
  21. Miranda Lambert – “Little Red Wagon” -1 (Up 1)
  22. Eric Paslay – “She Don’t Love You” +1 (Up 1)
  23. Billy Currington – “Don’t It” -1 (Up 1)
  24. Easton Corbin – “Baby Be My Love Song” -1 (Up 1)
  25. Kenny Chesney & Grace Potter – “Wild Child” +1 (Up 1)
  26. Tim McGraw & Catherine Dunn – “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” +1 (Up 1)
  27. Joe Nichols – “Hard To Be Cool” -1 (Up 1)
  28. Canaan Smith – “Love You Like That” -1 (Up 2)
  29. Kelsea Ballerini – “Love Me Like You Mean It” -1 (Re-enters Top 30)
  30. Josh Turner – “Lay Low” +1 (Re-enters Top 30)

Kristian Bush’s “Trailer Hitch” fell from #21 to out of the top 30.

Toby Keith’s “Drunk Americans” fell from #29 to out of the top 30.

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -4

The pulse remains the same at -4 this week, despite some changes. Kristian Bush’s “Trailer Hitch” basically ran its course on radio and as a result dropped from not only the top 30, but the top 60. Toby Keith’s “Drunk Americans” finally fell from the top 30, although it fell just outside of it so there’s a chance it could come back. There is some good news for Josh Turner fans, as his single “Lay Low” has re-entered the top 30 after dropping from it last week. I thought this would happen and with more older singles continuing to drop from the top 30 he should have no problem staying in the top 30. The other song that re-entered the top 30 this week was Kelsea Ballerini’s “Love Me Like You Mean It.” As you know I don’t like this song and hopefully I’ll have a review soon explaining why.

Once again we have a new #1 this week in Thomas Rhett’s “Make Me Wanna.” While it’s certainly not an improvement over previous #1 Florida Georgia Line’s “Sun Daze,” it’s encouraging to see “Sun Daze” only last one week on top. In fact it had a huge drop this week along with Luke Bryan’s “I See You.” If this continues they should be out of top 30 within two weeks and this would greatly benefit country music. If I’m Florida Georgia Line I would be concerned because not only is “Sun Daze” is dropping like a rock, but “Sippin’ On Fire” is stalling near the bottom of the top 60 on the country airplay chart. Also don’t be surprised if “Lonely Tonight” is the new #1 next week.

The biggest gainers this week are Brett Eldredge’s “Mean to Me,” which moved up three spots to #4 on the chart and Keith Urban and Eric Church’s “Raise ‘Em Up” moved up three spots to #17. “Raise ‘Em Up” is climbing the chart fast and should eventually reach #1. The biggest losers this week are Kristian Bush’s “Trailer Hitch,” which fell from #21 to out of the top 60, Florida Georgia Line’s “Sun Daze” fell five spots to #6 and Luke Bryan’s “I See You” fell four spots to #7. Another song with a noticeable drop is Lady Antebellum’s “Freestyle,” which fell three spots. With a lot of new singles rising behind it, this song should be out of the top 30 sooner rather than later. As for songs outside the top 30 I could see making it in the top 30 soon, I expect Brad Paisley’s “Crushin’ It,” Carrie Underwood’s “Little Toy Guns,” Gloriana’s “Trouble” and Rascal Flatts’ “Riot” to all make it within a few weeks. Paisley and Underwood are pretty much guaranteed, Gloriana is radio friendly and Rascal Flatts just started their Vegas shows, which should mean a bump in radio play.

As always be sure to weigh in on this week’s chart in the comments below!

34 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [March 7]

  1. bob February 25, 2015 / 11:30 am

    I’m not rooting for the Paisley song to do well. Although I never was a big fan of his voice, I liked his funny songs (at least, funny to me) like “Celebrity”, “You Need a Man Around Here”, “Online”. etc., and the more subtle humor in “Waitin’ on a Woman”. This “Crushin’ It” song is terrible.

    Like

    • Josh Schott February 25, 2015 / 2:42 pm

      I agree “Crushin’ It” is terrible. I cringe upon hearing it. I also like those other songs you mentioned, especially “Celebrity.” Perfect blend of humor and realism.

      Like

  2. Raymond February 25, 2015 / 12:11 pm

    Yay!!!!!!!!! Time for the Top 60 for me. Btw please if you do the new feature please tell me you’re not going too far at the most I can look at 2010 or maybe 2009 In my opinion the best time in country music for me was 2011-2012-
    1. Make Me Wanna -1. Well I’m curious of what he will do for his sophomore album.
    2. Lonely Tonight +1. When this is done I’m curious of how Ashley’s new song will do. Also of what Blake’s gonna release cause he probably at least won’t release Buzzin cause of Raelynn releasing a new song.
    3. Like A Cowboy +1. This is it either this or Lonely Tonight will get number 1 next week there’s a massive push now for this song it’s a win-win for me.
    4. Mean To Me +1. I can’t believe this passed Just Getting Started! Yes! Hopefully once this is done we see him with better material.
    5. Just Getting Started -1. This song appears to be slowing down maybe it could start falling hopefully sooner instead of later.
    6. Sun Daze -1. Next week this song should leave. Yay!
    7. I See You -1. I wanted to like this but everything fell flat. Ultimately his next album should determine where country music goes from here
    8. Lonely Eyes +1. I for one am excited for to see if it gets number 1 it’s a really good song despite slight bland production.
    9. Homegrown Honey -1. Mark My words this will come up short like Radio I say it peaks in April.
    10. Ain’t Worth The Whiskey -1. Talentless village idiot who rides the coat tails off the emperor (Luke Bryan)
    11. Drinking Class 0. Overall Just bland I’m not entertained by how it use to be.
    12. Take It On Back +1. You know what sue me I’m kinda sad the song is leaving but I liked the song with each listen it kept getting better.
    13. Homegrown +1. Who else is excited for their sophomore album.
    14. Take Your Time -1. If he wins new artist of the year I’m gonna punch a hole into my wall. Not joking.
    15. Say You Do +1. I say he gets number 1 in May.
    16. What We Ain’t Got +1. I think he will get one last week before peaking a Top 15 and I will be satisfied.
    17. Raise Em Up +1. This song should do well and I like it the more I listen to it.
    18. A Guy Walks Into A Bar +1. I’ve got a bad feeling he will get a Top 5 but not number 1.
    19. Smoke 0. Meh I can care less but I wish this song the best.
    20. Freestyle -1. Lady A will be gone next week. I really think they’ve hit the panic button. I say they release the title track totally radio friendly.
    21. Little Red Wagon -1. Way too polarizing to be a number 1 at most Top 10.
    22. She Don’t Love You +1. Pure country I hope he can get a top 5. But it’ll probably miss out on the top spot.
    23. Don’t It 0. Despite weird lyrics total ear candy it’s nothing special but man is catchy.
    24. Baby Be My Love Song -1. Screw this song it might get Top 20.
    25. Wild Child +1. I hope that this becomes a smash Kenny lately has been on a nice roll.
    26. Diamond Rings & Old Barstools +1. It’s so refreshing to see Tim back in the Top 30.
    27. Hard To Be Cool -1. Annoying. Top 20 but I don’t think he will keep up the success of his last singles.
    28. Love You Like That -1. Bland boring and vanilla. Top 20. This could be a sleeper hit.
    29. Love Me Like You Mean It 0. Despite pure pop production. I like her singing voice she just doesn’t give anything to hate unlike Sam Hunt I say Top 20 it MIGHT get Top 10.
    30. Lay Low +1. I hope it does well but I’m not confident in this it is really starting too rack up the weeks.
    31. Drunk Americans -1. Next week this song will leave.
    32. Crushing It -1. Boring Bland and pointless I say somebody blocks it from a number 1.
    33. Trouble +1. This song needs to do better digitally if it wants to succeed. PLEASE GIVE THIS A +1. I love it way too much it should get Top 30 next week.
    34. Riot 0. Boring but this is significantly better than their most recent material.
    35. Girl Crush +1. It’s weird the more I hear this more I like it. The production is surprisingly effective and nice and Karens awesome voice. This song is struggling on radio but not digitally.
    36. I’m To Blame +1. He does this simple and effective I like the roughness in his voice.
    37. One Hell Of An Amen +1. Simple effective and masterfully done I say this gets top 20.
    38. Young & Crazy -1. I wanna like Frankie but this song loses the charm Frankie had last year.
    39. Little Toy Guns +1. Carrie the queen keeps delivering and I heard she’s writing for Brandy Clark.
    40. Hell Of A Night -1. I say Top 30 but I think this killed Dustin’s momentum this is Dustin’s Freestyle or 1994 or Donkey.
    41. Going Out Like That 0. Boring bland. Omg though look at how few stations play it they just play the crap out of this song.
    42. Better Than You Left Me +1. I hope it does well I really do. If you look at Country Universes review it’s quite in my opinion puzzling.
    43. Fly +1. These girls should and will have a hit with this song.
    44. Gonna Wanna Tonight -1. I don’t see this going much farther.
    45. Pray For You 0. This song will leave sooner than later
    46. Run Away With You 0. Bland but there’s worse fish to fry.
    47. Sipping On Fire -1. Dumb autotune junk.
    48. Already Calling You Mine -1. It’s the new Redneck Crazy stalker song.
    49. Kiss You In The Morning -1. New Luke Bryan no that’s not a compliment,
    50. Eat Sleep Love You Repeat 0. Next .
    51. Country +1. The more I listen the more I like.
    52. Break Up With Him -1. I wanna like it but I don’t way too uneven for my taste one minute it’s good the next it sucks.
    53. Save Your Breath -1. He will probably be forgotten sooner or later.
    54. All Country On You -1. This guy just isn’t that good.
    55. Like A Wrecking Ball 0. WTH I just don’t know what to say it sounds jumbled and then cool.
    56. My Mistake +1. Love this song so nice to see more new women in country music
    57. Hit The Road -1. The new Dan + Shay that’s not a compliment.
    58. Riser +1. Wow pure country perfection love the song.
    59. Nothin Like You -1. These guys are so boring and bland there the duo version of Rascal Flatts.
    60. Just Another Love Song 0. This will probably leave next week for better or for worse I can care less.
    Total Score -1. It’s not bad but thers some trash that needs to be taken out.
    Please comment guys love to hear feedback.

    Like

    • Josh Schott February 25, 2015 / 2:41 pm

      I figured you would like this getting moved up two days. As for how far back I’m going with the past pulse, any year in the last 25 years is fair game at first. As for the current pulse, it’s a mixed bag. I expect some great new songs and some bad new songs. You can only hope there is more good than bad.

      Like

      • Scotty J February 25, 2015 / 3:05 pm

        Yeah I think you have to go back at the very least five years to really get past the bro era and some of it’s early warning signs that we see now when we look back but at the time they weren’t as obvious. It could really be informative for some of your younger readers (I’m in my 40s) to hear what mainstream country sounded like 10,15,20 years ago. It really is shocking when examined. The whole frog in the pot of boiling water thing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Pete Marshall February 25, 2015 / 3:15 pm

        Is Toby Keith going to release better songs on his new cd?

        Like

        • Josh Schott February 25, 2015 / 3:40 pm

          I’m not confident.

          Like

      • Raymond February 25, 2015 / 7:29 pm

        Well it looks to be enough good with Carrie Underwood Gloriana entering soon Rascal Flatts song isn’t half bad on its own.

        I like how my pulse the scores are better. You know country music is in a craphole when I’m in the negatives I’m a little more tolerable than others.

        Like

  3. Pete Marshall February 25, 2015 / 2:48 pm

    I hope Homegrown Honey go down the chart it is annoying. Eric Church new song is not one of his best. I’m sick of Florida Georgia Line. I really enjoy your reviews Josh. I have a same taste in country music and I agree with your opinions.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pete Marshall February 25, 2015 / 3:00 pm

    Are you going to review Kelsea Bellerini “Love Me Like You Mean it?

    Like

    • Josh Schott February 25, 2015 / 3:40 pm

      Hopefully

      Like

  5. NoahHibiscusEaton February 25, 2015 / 6:52 pm

    Firstly, I’m not surprised “Sun Daze” only got a single week at #1.

    We’re living in a time where the top spot is like a revolving door most of the time: where competing record labels acquiesce and decide together when any given release that’s already in the Top Five will get to #1. The only obvious notable exception is the “freeze period” spanning between the latter part of the holiday season through mid-January: when you have holiday music, followed by year-end countdowns, resulting in the tendency for labels to resist releasing new songs and instead “freeze” their current songs being pushed. Tim McGraw was the beneficiary of the “freeze” with “Shotgun Rider” this past freeze period, while “Stay” by Florida Georgia Line was at the right place at the right time the freeze period of 2013-2014.

    Otherwise, you just can’t expect to see songs have huge runs at #1 anymore much like “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” or “Amazed” accomplished a generation ago. This is the era of the revolving door, and for any release to enjoy more than two weeks at #1 is equivalent to a hit getting six or more weeks at #1 beforehand.

    *

    Secondly, “Trailer Hitch” had a very admirable run, but the writing was on the wall three weeks ago, and I correctly predicted it would hit a brick wall by the time it itched the Top Twenty.

    It’s a shame because I love the message of that song as well as Bush’s positive energy, but it admittedly sounded a bit too out of place in the current radio environment. Still, it did better than I expected and I’ll take it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • bob February 25, 2015 / 8:08 pm

      I like your “top spot is like a revolving door” comment. I’ve noticed that since I check out the media base top 40 almost every week out of curiosity, not as guide to buying music. There’s very little there that I like. So it appears that who gets to #1 and when is fixed. Doesn’t seem much different than the old payola days I grew up with listening to rock music on NYC radio in the late 50’s and early 60’s.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Kevin Davis February 25, 2015 / 6:52 pm

    It’s worth noting that “Like a Cowboy” is at its peak position, even though it was released in May of 2014! That’s an astonishingly long time on the charts. If it makes it to number one, then that would be a very good sign for country music. If it doesn’t top the chart in the following week, then it will probably never make it to the top — just my prediction. Regardless, for a genuine ballad to climb to #3 is quite an achievement in today’s market.

    By the way, “Homegrown Honey” is more and more annoying with each listen. It is one of the most boring and trite songs on the radio, almost at the same level as a Luke Bryan song. In fact, it could have easily been a Luke Bryan song, though I am sure that Luke would have somehow managed to make it worse. Sorry, just needed to vent a little! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raymond February 25, 2015 / 7:26 pm

      Like A Cowboy is getting one last push for number 1 this week it’s going up against Lonely Tonight they’re promoting both so much so both are pushing for them

      Darius should bounce up from that monstrosity hopefully and things should be better from him.

      Like

    • Josh Schott February 25, 2015 / 8:29 pm

      Vent away! By the way “Like A Cowboy” is still around because when they first released it as a single it stalled big time. But because they continued to push it, through sheer will they made it stick finally.

      Liked by 1 person

    • NoahHibiscusEaton February 25, 2015 / 11:49 pm

      Stoney Creek Records (a subsidiary of Broken Bow Records) definitely deserve a whole lot of credit in being faithful to their artists and truly fighting for them.

      It’s been nothing short of impressive, to say the least, in observing Randy Houser net four hit singles over the past two years after a string of failed single releases nearly sent him into obscurity while signed with Toby Keith’s ShowDog/Universal label. It is very rare to see a B-artist rebound as triumphantly as Houser has. And while Houser is capable of cutting better songs overall than some of the fluff on “How Country Feels” like “Sunshine on the Line”, “Absolutely Nothing” and his three lead hits……………….I’m confident he’ll deliver because 1) his preceding release, “They Call Me Cadillac”, was impressively country and also had several standout moments lyrically, and 2) he has said in recent interviews that ever since becoming a father, there are tropes and topics he used to write about that he will no longer write about including “sippy cup country”, which suggests he’s ditching bro-country and similar done-to-death fodder.

      And, to be fair, even his current album features solid standalone cuts. “Route 3 Box 250 D” is quite a heartbreaking gut-puncher of a closing track (even if it would have benefited more from a more distinctive production). “Power of a Song” and “The Singer” showcase his vocals exceptionally well. And “Shine” hits home to my ears for some reason. I like the sense of urgency, that mix of desperation and hope in hard economic times, that song has and also can only imagine it would sound great and colossal in a live setting. Houser has more of the right idea than the majority of his male peers on how you can achieve a middle ground between appeasing the radio gatekeepers and still cutting songs that matter.

      And Stoney Creek Records have been at the center of making this impressive comeback possible.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Scotty J February 26, 2015 / 12:12 am

        Yep he is capable of so much more. In my opinion ‘Anything Goes’ is one of the best country songs of this century. Just a great song with a perfect performance. We need more like that.

        Like

      • Kevin Davis February 26, 2015 / 11:53 am

        Thanks, Noah, that’s very informative.

        Like

  7. NoahHibiscusEaton February 25, 2015 / 8:42 pm

    Finally, my rankings: (Part I of II)

    *

    1. Thomas Rhett: “Make Me Wanna” -1. (Another blatant display of laundry-list Tinkertoy assembly songwriting. And the disco-country approach just strikes me as gimmicky, not to mention half-assed. What’s next for Rhett: “Downhome Funk”? -__- )

    2. Blake Shelton: “Lonely Tonight (Featuring Ashley Monroe)” 0. I’m sorry, but not only has this failed to grow on me………..I’m just more dreadfully bored by this than ever. This is basically synonymous with “playing it safe”. Vocally they both sound good, but the production lacks teeth as do the lyrics which are both boorrrrrrriiinnnggggg. “Need You Now” remains a much better case as to how to offer a serviceable pop song that nonetheless has an air of darkness and edge to it on this topic.)

    3. Randy Houser: “Like A Cowboy” +1. This has been overplayed to death, but it doesn’t disqualify how refreshing it is to hear a power ballad with nods to Westerns circa 2015 A.D. Sure, the production is slightly too arena rock for my tastes, but this is still pretty solid all-around from generous doses of lamenting pedal steel, to honest, straight-forward lyricism to Houser’s excellent, aching vocals.

    4. Brett Eldredge: “Mean To Me” 0. Much like “Lonely Tonight”, this is just……………there to me. Eldredge is undoubtedly a competent vocalist who occasionally reminds me of James Otto, and it’s no exception here, but the songwriting seems scattered and the production is just way too vanilla. It’s pleasant enough, but it’s going to lack staying power.

    5. Jason Aldean: “Just Gettin’ Started” -1. This song is synonymous for “Why should I care? It’s obvious you don’t!” For an Aldean single, this is surprisingly lifeless and sluggishly just plods along, not to mention is lyrically basically a regurgitation of “Take A Little Ride”. Sure, the latter was irritating too, but at least Aldean sounded engaged in that otherwise lunkheaded rocker. Here, he sounds like he must have been laying down on a futon while singing this.)

    6. Florida Georgia Line: “Sun Daze” -1. For nostalgia’s sake, can we officially sub-title this “The Pink Umbrella In Your Drink Song”? 😉

    7. Luke Bryan: “I See You” -1. Just instantly forgettable filler. Nothing more, nothing less. Still, the clumsy attempt at half-rap cadences in the second verse and chorus make this more -1 than 0.

    8. Chris Young: “Lonely Eyes” 0. It’s decent enough, but at the same time it only reminds me of how Young has undoubtedly made concessions just to maintain relevancy at radio. It sounds too polished. At least Young still sounds good and the lyrics have some nice descriptive detail to them.)

    9. Darius Rucker: “Homegrown Honey” -1. This and Easton Corbin’s current release (which I’ll be getting to below! 😉 ) are the only two songs that go so far as make my blood boil presently. The only question that remains is: “Why was this even necessary?” Rucker scored no more than a year and a half ago his biggest career hit off a cover of a traditional-leaning country song. You’d think he’d realize the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” motto……………..and yet he instead went the bro-country route. -__- )

    10. Cole Swindell: “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey” -1. Cole’s attitude in this song is what makes this very uncomfortable listening to. I swear I can imagine Swindell being tempted to include the word “bitch” in front of the song title if he had his way, because this is like the country version of Big Sean’s “I Don’t Give A F***”.

    11. Lee Brice: “Drinking Class” 0. What’s with the monk chants in the intro, end and verses? Also, for a supposed empowering blue-collar consciousness anthem, this sounds quite dreary (not to mention booorrrrriiinnnnggg). Cheer the buck up for Jove’s sake, you’re supposed to be getting wild and chasing away those workday blues. This is that type of song that sounds like a good idea on paper, but underwhelms once executed. Just listless and dull, and I won’t be surprised if it hits a brick wall as it enters the Top Ten.

    12. Chase Bryant: “Take It On Back” -1. Another lust song that is mistaken for a love song. Yeah, we get it Chase: you wish you could go back in time to have sex with this “stunner” that’s “hotter than hell in July”. He admittedly seems to have some guitar chops compared to most, but it’s not enough to save an otherwise forgettable production scheme matched with lame lyrics.

    13. Zac Brown Band: “Homegrown” +1. Despite being too lightweight lyrically, it makes up for it in its honest, harmonies and energy. I remain confident we’ll get better lyrical moments on their forthcoming release.

    14. Sam Hunt: “Take Your Time” -1. Firstly, Sam, you’re not Drake. You’ll never be Drake. Seriously, stop pretending you’re Drake. Secondly, the next person that says “Sure, he’s not country, but he’s a talented songwriter!” is going to hear from me………….because this rings absolutely hollow in its intent just like “Montevallo” as a whole is in its shallow lyricism. Seriously, if you talk like this in a club, it’s still going to come across as creepy more often than not. Just don’t go there.

    15. Dierks Bentley: “Say You Do” +1. The production is a little bland, but Bentley makes up for it in a strong emotive performance where you get he truly is desperate for a response. He sells this all-too-relatable feeling with earnest ache, and it successfully elevates what would otherwise be a forgettable 0 song in te hands of a less emotionally-committed vocalist.

    16. Jake Owen: “What We Ain’t Got” +1. Much like the departed “Trailer Hitch”, one of the wisest songs on the current chart listeners direly need to lend an ear to much more. Owen sounds devastated in his delivery, and the lyrics touch on equally as devastating truths regarding impermanence and human desire. It’s a miracle of sorts it got as far as it has in this radio climate, so I’m happy either way.

    17. Keith Urban: “Raise Em Up (Featuring Eric Church)” 0. Again, the phrasing in the latter half of each verse sounds exactly like that of the beginning of each verse in “Somebody Like You”, which is already an issue for me I can’t help but dwell on. Secondly, the lyrics are too Tinkertoyish. It’s as though the writers were playing the game of Life and then decided to string a list of typical life events together into the form of a “Life” jingle for this generation. The two do sound great together, though, and some of the imagery is nice.

    18. Tyler Farr: “A Guy Walks Into A Bar” +1 (The self-awareness is ultimately what really makes this refreshing and work to my ears. And he doesn’t make excuses either unlike most songs sung by males when reflecting on break-ups. The production is admittedly a bit too loud in the chorus, but I do appreciate how the verses allow him space for the words to breathe.)

    19. A Thousand Horses: “Smoke” -1. (For a song about combined feelings of lust/possible other feelings for a stripper that’s supposedly most influenced by the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Sknyrd, this sounds WAY too polished and poppy. I’m not saying they have to emulate The Cadillac Three’s brand of aggressive southern country rock, but come on. Also, way too repetitive.)

    20. Lady Antebellum: “Freestyle” -1. (This song is hardly the very worst thing out there, but it always struck me as epitomizing “trying way too hard to remain relevant and, ironically, not trying hard enough at the same time”. What do I mean by that? It’s as though they tried too hard to adopt the laundry-list, nonsequitur form of songwriting that has greatly undermined the genre as of late, but they forgot to do anything at all n making the production and vocals stand out in any remarkable way whatsoever. And seriously, if it wasn’t for a Macklemore name-drop, I wouldn’t even hear any lyrics stand out because they deliver them way too fast. It doesn’t surprise me it has proven a commercial disaster for them (it never even made the Top Fifty of the digital country single chart)………….because they’re trying way too hard to underachieve.)

    21. Miranda Lambert: “Little Red Wagon” -1. (Again, this is the type of song where I get why some really love it and others LOATHE it. And, honestly, from its oddball arrangement and quirky production to histrionics, I don’t mind it at al as an album track. But this is a radio single we’re talking about, and it’s inevitable even in the next week or two this is going to burn out on listeners VERY rapidly to where even those who initially enjoyed the track will be turning against it. This was only released as a single because most identify Lambert by her attitude and sass and this was to command the attention and curiosity of listeners. That still doesn’t make it a good radio single, though.)

    22. Eric Paslay: “She Don’t Love You” +1. (One of the three best songs on the chart presently (the other two being Mickey Guyton and Jake Owen’s singles. It’s quite rare to hear a song that makes you feel sad and sympathetic of BOTH the narrator and subject in equal measure, and yet Paslay absolutely nails it here. Paslay makes no excuses and, rather, observes how she used to be and that she has since changed…………until his final heartbreaking admission suddenly changes the song so dramatically where you find your head nodding sadly: “Oh, I see……..” and you want to give them both a hug.)

    23. Billy Currington: “Don’t It” 0. (I previously gave this a -1, but I decided after a few more listens it’s really more a flat, pleasantly forgettable 5/10 score song. The lyrics are cliched to death, but there’s also nothing offensive about them as it’s really just another dime-a-dozen song about a number of fun things a couple can do on an evening. The fact karaoke is ensconced in the chorus says it all: this is a song clinically designed for karaoke jukeboxes. And while the production is very pedestrian, at the very least it steers clear of the agonizing bombast and screechy guitars of his two previous singles and actually goes down easy in the vein of an early-to-mid 00‘s Hot Adult Contemporary kind of song.)

    24. Easton Corbin: “Baby Be My Love Song” -1. (This song literally, and I mean literally in the correct context here, makes me angry when I listen to it. Of all recording artists who have emerged in the past decade, Easton Corbin easily tops the “Greatest Disappointments/Underachievers In Country Music” list. Remember back then when Corbin was hyped as the next George Strait between his vocals bearing a resemblance to his and his choice of nontraditional production? Well, EVERY SINGLE SONG he has released to radio thus far has been lyrically lightweight and panders to tropes and trends. Now, after hitting a then-low with his shameless excuse-making for distracted driving on “All Over The Road”, he has anted that with this pathetic late-to-the-party bro-country song. Could you imagine George Strait singing: “You look so damn hot”? Could you magine George Strait singing: “Be the buzz in my Dixie cup”? Or “Girl, be my hell yeah”? -__- )

    25. Kenny Chesney: “Wild Child (Featuring Grace Potter)” 0. This falls short to my ears of being something special. Perhaps I’m being a little biased having loved their previous collaboration “You & Tequilla” and hoping they’d release something that sizes up to that triumph………..but while this track definitely has Its share of interesting and compelling imagery (especially calico ponies and kaleidoscopes) and they both sound good vocally…………..it’s missing something. I think the production is ultimately what keeps this from being a +1 to my ears most of all in how watered-down and dull it sounds, but even lyrically I think it fails to fully live up to the hype that this is a song meant to be empowering to women. Rather, it comes across as a string of non-sequiturs praising a specific free-spirited woman………..but that’s hardly the same thing as writing an anthem respecting women in general. So what I’m left with is a most admirable effort that doesn’t quite stick the landing.)

    26. Tim McGraw: “Diamond Rings & Old Barstools (Featuring Catherine Dunn)” +1. (Easily his best Big Machine-era single, and I’d argue his best since at least “My Old Friend” a decade ago. The theme has been traversed hundreds of times before, but who cares when everything about the presentation is spot-on and the ache is palpable?)

    27. Joe Nichols: “Hard To Be Cool” -1. (Yeah, we get it, Joe! You are in the twilight phase of your mainstream recording career and so you are trying to stick it out as long as you can by pandering to the Spring Break crowd. And yeah, we get that she’s hotter than hell. Anything else? 😉 )

    28. Canaan Smith: “Love You Like That” -1. (The lyric “I can never do it like a pretty city boy” single-handedly makes this deserving of a -1 grade. 😉 Ironically, everything else about the track is painfully inoffensive, albeit bland to tears. But when the only moment that stands out in your song is a cringe-worthy one-liner that Smith apparently deems the best lyric ever written in that he feels the need to repeat it in the bridge and coda as well in a rap-like cadence, you know you have a huge problem.)

    29. Kelsea Ballerini: “Love Me Like You Mean It” -1 (So let me get this straight. She’s lamenting how she’s had “her share of losers and users“ and has such high standards set in the chorus as to the kind of partner she seeks…………and yet in the very opening line of the song she says: “Oh hey, you with your hat back, mmm I kinda like that!” as a means of starting the conversation? Which guy with the hat back are you referring to, Kelsea? 😉 No wonder she hasn‘t had much success with dates. Besides that, her vocal style comes across as way too bratty like Avril Lavigne, and the production is sterile beyond all comprehension. Why, oh why, out of all prospective female singles on the chart does THIS have to be the one that has more measurable success at the moment? -__- )

    30: Josh Turner: “Lay Low” +1. Turner is the textbook definition of how to modernize your sound and retain accessibility without compromising yourself and trying too hard. This is driven b gorgeous, well-timed zephyrs of pedal steel and acoustic instrumentation, and something about Turner’s delivery accentuates the ache in why he definitely NEEDS to get out there away from the hustle-and-bustle with his love interest, or why he feels it is important and necessary to escape out in nature with her. This reminds me exactly why I loved his music in the first place years before.)

    *

    Net Score For First Half: -7

    Like

    • Raymond February 25, 2015 / 9:05 pm

      Wow that’s a little harsh. Lonely Tonight is probably for some a more reluctant +1 same thing with Drinking Class. LOL at the Cole Swindell line too bad it will be number 1. I’m curious of what makes Take It On Back about lust when I hear it feels more genuine about love. I like the Keith Urban feel again with Raise Em Up. I actually like Kelseas voice and her delivery the lyrics aren’t terrible but what gets me is the sterile production. Besides that I largely agree.

      Like

      • NoahHibiscusEaton February 25, 2015 / 10:51 pm

        Different strokes for different folks. “Lonely Tonight” just bores me to death listening to at this time, and “Drinking Class” hardly gives off the populist “Hell yeah!” swell it’s obviously going for beyond the first verse. I know in some of my other critiques I said they would have benefited by more edge or teeth in the lyrics or production, but because “Drinking Class” really tries to be more of a blue-collar conscious party song, I’d argue the opposite in that case in that it sounds too heavy and brooding to make you want to say “Hell yeah, here’s to us!” and have a drink over.

        I’m pretty sure Cole Swindell at least had that thought cross his mind when co-writing that song; seeing that he has been equally as influenced by rap and hip-hop as he has country! 😉

        Well, when Bryant keeps describing the female subject physically in the first verse, what other conclusion am I going to draw? He INTRODUCES her as a “stunner”, who’s “hotter than hell in July”. And if you truly love someone, why would you just say goodbye and not know why? Maybe he has since developed feelings for her looking back, but at the time it’s pretty obvious he wasn’t drawn to her by love…………….he was drawn to her by carnal attraction. Which obviously is nothing to be ashamed of because we’re all sexual creatures. But everything about the first verse connotes lust, not love…………and the second verse is more about where the narrator is at now, reminiscing on that time.

        Like

      • Raymond February 25, 2015 / 11:09 pm

        Ok I can understand Take It On Back Drinking Class. For some reason everything Ashley Monroe touches for me automatic +1. I’m a sucker for those types of songs.

        Thanks for your explanation. I admire your work.

        Like

    • bob February 25, 2015 / 9:33 pm

      Love the Paslay song which he co-wrote with Jennifer Wayne.

      Like

    • Applejack February 26, 2015 / 2:12 am

      Good stuff, Noah.

      Your comment was as entertaining as it was thorough.

      Like

  8. NoahHibiscusEaton February 25, 2015 / 10:33 pm

    (PART ii OF ii)

    *

    31. Toby Keith: “Drunk Americans” -1. (Just a lame attempt to replicate the success of “I Love This Bar” in stringing together a list of characters of diverse backgrounds for complete populist appeal. The problem? Firstly, this song doesn’t have the smoky, carefree and laid-back groove that made “I Love This Bar” a joy to many, and still remaining a playlist fixture. Instead, it sounds too watery and moody and pedestrian. Secondly, the songwriting is too ham-fisted, and also sounds disingenuously hollow when, in reality, we’re living in one of the most polarized periods of American history in the political sense. “Drinking Class” has its own shortcomings and issues too, but at least it doesn’t come across as dishonest like this track does.)

    32. Brad Paisley: “Crushin’ It “ -1 (Please, Brad. Stop acting like you’re clever here. Billy Currington already covered the terrain you cover here better with “Pretty Good At Drinkin’ Beer” in that, while it was by no means a great song b any stretch, it was kind of enjoyable in that Currington comes across as genuinely laid-back, charismatic and believable and had a production to back it up. Here, Paisley obsesses with “bigness” and that makes him look obnoxious rather than populist. Oh, and there’s the line: “Just like George Freakin’ Strait, I’m the King of getting unwound!“ That is equally as offensive as the “Swervin’ like I’m George Jones!“ line in “Dirt Road Anthem”. Just STOP insulting our intelligence, Brad! Strait has certainly cut his share of drinking songs, but you know what separates most of them from your litter here? They were NUANCED and touched on the consequences of regularly/heavy drinking. That line was honestly an instant deal-breaker for me, but the track in general screams “Lame-O!“)

    33. Gloriana: “Trouble” 0. (This has had a much more rapid burn rate compared to just about any other song on the chart, I’ve found. At first listen, yes: it does sound a little interesting and it’s nice to see Gloriana experiment with more grit finally in their sound. But once you’ve listened to it a few times, I’ve found it has had a staggeringly precipitous burn rate and now the Gobstopper has lost most of its flavor and it just comes across as another poor (wo)man’s Carrie Underwood or Miranda Lambert getting-back anthem.)

    34. Rascal Flatts: “Riot” 0. (Honestly, among their better offerings in all recent memory. I can respect Gary LeVox for genuinely making an effort to listen to his critics and consistently focus on providing nuance to his vocal delivery since “Why Wait”. And he does a good job articulating genuine ache and interpreting a fear amost all of us can relate to. Too bad te production is about as vanilla as almost everything they’ve put out since the beginning of the Dan Huff era, though. This could have been something more.)

    35. Little Big Town: “Girl Crush” +1. (A deceptively brilliant song that works simply because of its understated production. Oddly sexy as hell and heartbreaking in the same breath.)

    36: Kip Moore: “I’m To Blame” 0. (It begins and ends with too fleeting a quality to leave a real impression on you. It’s just kind of…………..there. I do admire the roughness in Moore’s vocals, and I get why he has released a safer radio offering given he’s coming off of back-to-back commercial duds. Still, I don’t expect this to be anywhere close to a career hit for him, and also feel it isn’t enough to ensure persisting confidence among radio programmers for a full-fledged comeback either.)

    37. Brantley Gilbert: “One Hell Of An Amen“ 0. (Easily the best single of Gilbert’s career to date without a shadow of a doubt. The lyrics really hit home with devastating ache, and while the production is admittedly too generic with the paint-by-numbers 80s arena rock wallpaper, it is undoubtedly serviceable and works this context. So what hurts this? Well, Brantley’s voice. I acknowledge I may be biased, but his voice just doesn’t do it for me and keeps this from being something more. Still, respect this effort at maturity.)

    38. Frankie Ballard: “Young & Crazy“ -1. (I don’t particularly dislike this song at all. It just doesn’t so anything for me and doesn’t stand out enough to warrant a 0. I don’t expect this to have staying power as a recurrent like “Helluva Life” has.)

    39. Carrie Underwood: “Little Toy Guns” +1. (I’ve found myself straddling on the fence between a high 0 and a low +1 for this one, and what even keps this from being a surefire +1 is the fact the production is 100% pop-rock and I also feel could have had more teeth to it. After all, though it would probably be a stretch to say this song is about a child observing physical/emotional abuse in the household and more just a child observing her parents having a quarrel………I think the song would prove to be more memorable if there was more grit in the guitars or perhaps more militant percussion, maybe a more haunting bridge, to convey how when you’re a child soaking up everything like a sponge, it can be an especially terrifying place. Still, I’ve decided to be generous and reward this a +1 because despite my caveat, I respect Underwood for simply broaching this worthwhile topic and having the pipes to hit it home too.)

    40. Dustin Lynch: “Hell Of A Night” -1. (About three-fifths of the songs on “Where It’s At” feature tailgate sex somewhere in their respective lyrics. Absolutely not kidding. Once you’ve heard this cliched-to-death faux-rawker, you’ve heard 60% of Lynch’s entire album.)

    41. Reba McEntire: “Going Out Like That” -1 (I’m more frustrated than angry about this lame comeback single. After all, she also anchored her previous album six years ago with a lead single titled “Turn On The Radio” that clearly pandered to cliches at the time including DJs, Carrie Underwood-esque cattiness and Chevy trucks. Here, it’s virtually the same thing: except this time she’s pandering to the youthful club dance culture as well as bro-country with lyrics like “She’s the hottest thing in here!” and “She’s got her arms up like the floor’s on fire”. I may not have particularly liked Lady Antebellum’s “Bartender”, but at least they managed somewhat to capture the darkness residing at the core of that party song or what pushes her toward drinking and partying in the first place. Here, it comes across more hollow along the lines of “Hell yeah, that’s the spirit! Throw back those shots and forget him, girl!“. The production is bland, but nothing offensive or worth getting riled about either.)

    42. Mickey Guyton: “Better Than You Left Me” +1. (One of the best songs on the chart presently. A gorgeous yet heart aching slow-burning waltz that I hope to see inspire more records in this vein.)

    43. Maddie & Tae: “Fly” 0. (Okay, my following opinion may be controversial to some of you and I may be accused of “looking too deeply”, but here goes. While the production does a fabulous job at welding the somewhat traditional country with modern sonic and electronic flourishes, and their vocals also sound gorgeous here……….there’s just something about the lyrics that I find strangely bothersome and sloppy. Firstly, I couldn’t help but notice a strange inconsistency in narration here; where we go from the third-person in the first verse to the second person the whole rest of the song. This is problematic to me because it undermines any hope at narration, and instead retreats to pseudo-inspirational Tinkertoy songwriting habits much like your typical upbeat Martina McBride single. I’m sorry, but although I admittedly gave this a +1 upon first listen…………..upon noticing these glaring lyrical weaknesses and inconsistencies in subsequent listens, it has somewhat dampened my appreciation of what is otherwise a gorgeous-sounding song. I simply refuse to award lazy songwriting at any rate unless it‘s self-aware and meant to be simplistic.)

    44. Chase Rice: “Gonna Wanna Tonight“ -1. (Much like Aldean’s current hit, Rice doesn’t sound like he believes what he’s singing here. How do you expect to persuade your love interest to want to try something new tonight if you don’t sound like you’re in the mood yourself? And what’s with the dreary, moody production? Cheer the buck up, you sad sack! This is supposed to be a song about living life to the fullest, not a dirge! 😉 )

    45. The Swon Brothers: “Pray For You” 0. (Another one of those “It’s Just………….There.” songs. Lyrically it’s admittedly slightly ambiguous, but both the production and vocals are utterly unremarkable (the production reminds me too much of Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be”) that I don’t even care about researching what the meaning of the lyrics actually are. Expect them to be dropped from their label by the end of the year.)

    46. Big & Rich: “Run Away With You” -1 (I feel more sad and exasperated, as opposed to angry, with this duo. As much as I get their intention as to why they’re releasing safe, middle of-the-road fare to radio in a Hal Mary attempt to enjoy a lasting second wind commercially, here’s the thing: we KNOW they are much better than this. There’s NO excuse as to why they can’t release something that is in equal measures more accessible to current fodder as well as distinguishing somewhat from the rest of the herd. This is faceless, anonymous fluff that will be instantly forgotten and will ultimately fail to make this former Muzik Mafia duo stand out from all other corporate acts. They came to change Music Row, and now Music Row has changed them.)

    47. Florida Georgia Line: “Sippin’ On Fire” -1 (Trust me when I say there are worse songs on the current chart than this. This actually has a slid hook as well as an infectious melody line that keeps this from being completely worthless. And there also aren’t any particularly bad lyrics in this song that stand out. This is really a bro-version of “Lonely Tonight” more than anything. That said, the song is ultimately doomed to a -1 fate by overly loud, compressed to death production and mixing, and ridiculous amounts of Auto-Tune. It’s an overcooked High Fructose-dripping mess.)

    48. Parmalee: “Already Callin’ You Mine” -1. (I respectfully disagree with an earlier contributor that remarked this is the “Redneck Crazy” of 2015. While the lyrics definitely drive the “pushing your luck” too far hypothetically, the lyrics at least retain a degree of self-awareness in entertaining the possibility that he may be thinking too fast or reading things wrong. Farr’s toxic hit had absolutely no self-awareness whatsoever. Still, the first verse does come across as questionable and it isn’t until we get to the second verse where that self-awareness kicks in: which alone weakens this track in further perpetuating the idea that we ASSUME someone that catches one’s eye is on the same wavelength and we don’t even have to consent upon first meeting. I think, unlike “Redneck Crazy”, this song is well-intentioned but still problematic.)

    49. Michael Ray: “Kiss You In The Morning” -1. (Just overly cluttered in its sound and anonymous sounding all around. The timing of its release points to a possible breakout success at radio, but beyond that it isn’t a fitting career-building release.)

    50. Rodney Atkins: “Eat Sleep Love You Repeat” 0. (This is something of a guilty pleasure for me at the moment. His vocals have REALLY deteriorated over the past five years alone (he has never been a great vocalist, but I have always understood his appeal because of his warm, likeable delivery)…….but he nonetheless does sound right at home here and I have to admit it didn’t take long for the hook to get tattooed in the back of my mind. It’s nothing but empty-calorie radio fluff, but eh………I’ll take it.)

    51. Mo Pitney: “Country” +1. (This is pretty much precisely the type of song I’m STILL waiting for Easton Corbin to make use of his vocal gifts and cut, as well as Chris Young to cut for the first time since “Neon”. A poignant, heartfelt debut.)

    52. Old Dominion: “Break Up With Him” -1. (Have I told you that I HATE songs where the narrator pushes the subject into ditching their current boyfriend/girlfriend and instead hooking up with him/her? All they do is make everyone involved look like assholes. Seriously, I’ll never get why it is such a thing, and always has been, in popular music.)

    53. Josh Dorr: “Save Your Breath” -1. (When a song about sex sounds boring to your ears, you know you have a problem. There’s nothing particularly offensive about any aspect of this song, but the production is simply way too lightweight and pedestrian to fit a song of this kind of subject matter. Also, Dorr would benefit from enunciating his vocals more clearly. I can hardly make out what he’s saying on one too many lines.)

    54. Austin Webb: “All Country On You” -1. (I get what Webb was going for here. He was attempting to offer a tongue-in-cheek lash at both bro-country cliches, as well as vengeful Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert song cliches. At any rate, he still falls clumsily short here and the lyrics just ring as immature regardless. If anything, they don’t go far enough in pointing out the consequences of bro-country catcalls and that sort of behavior, and goes too far in basically exclaiming: “Wow, country girls can sure be vicious monsters when you agitate them, look out!” Again, I get what he was going for, but he executes that intent quite poorly and, to make matters worse, regurgitates the over compressed production and pseudo-rap phrasing and cadences that Joey Moi has entrenched in corporate country music circa 2015 A.D.)

    55. Eric Church: “Like A Wrecking Ball” 0 (This isn’t going to have any real staying power, but I don’t mind this for what it is. It’s lyrically straight-forward and earnest, has some nice descriptive language, and I do dig the rolling organ that drives this sex song. It won’t be remembered in even several years, but I’ll graciously take this over rivaling sex songs that are overproduced to death and come across as borderline-sleazy on the current chart any day.)

    56. Cam: “My Mistake” +1. (I’m impressed with this debut offering. The production veers a little too close to pop for my personal tastes, but I can’t complain too much when it is backed by a solid set of thoughtful, honest and introspective lyrics. There’s a tinge of self-awareness, coupled with vulnerability here, that makes this refreshingly stand out from most of her contemporaries. I’d rather see this trade places with Kelsea Ballerini, wouldn’t that be something? 😉 )

    57. Waterloo Revival: “Hit The Road” -1. (Rascal Flatts are struggling. Dan + Shay are struggling. What makes you think your fate is going to be any different If this release is any indication?)

    58. Dierks Bentley: “Riser” +1. (It doesn’t surprise me in the slightest this is charting solely off of unsolicited spins as a non-single. It’s easily one of the single best songs Bentley has ever cut to date along with “Here On Earth”. In equal parts intimately gut-punching and universally accessible, this is destined to be yet another hit for him if it ever gets the green light.)

    59. Dan + Shay: “Nothin Like You” -1 (Their previous attempt at impersonating Rascal Flatts only got them to #21 on the country airplay chart. Hell, Rascal Flatt’s own current single is struggling in the thirties as we speak. So what makes this duo think the answer to becoming a breakout success at radio is by impersonating Huff-era Rascal Flatts yet again?)

    60. Haley & Michael: “Just Another Love Song” -1. (When Kid Rock chose not only to reference Lynyrd Skinner’s “Sweet Hole Alabama” in his own hit “All Summer Long”, but sample both the riffs from that song as well as Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” as the song’s groove, that was one thing. But when you take it one step further and not only reference Lonestar’s “Amazed” in your song’s lyrics to death, but then dedicate an entire bridge to covering the chorus of that hit song as if we didn’t already know what the heck “Amazed” is, you know you have a problem and are trying way too hard to become relevant. Oh, and this song is instantly forgettable otherwise.)

    *

    Total Score For First Half (1-30): -7
    Total Score For Second Half (31-60): -10

    My Final Pulse: -17

    -__- -__- -__-

    Like

    • Raymond February 25, 2015 / 11:04 pm

      Man that is a scary score. I was the one who made the Redneck Crazy and Already Calling You Mine sorry. Man that was WAY too big of a Maddie & Tae nitpick it’s a little much. The only one I flat out disagree is Gloriana’s Trouble and while the theme is nothing new the weird country pop rock production I can’t place of what exactly it is killer harmonies vocals and sass really make me like this song but I can see your points. I think Run Away With You is something you should rather expect and just shrug your shoulders than be disappointed.
      Man your grading harsh. Noted but harsh. Love for you to respond.

      Like

      • NoahHibiscusEaton February 26, 2015 / 12:19 am

        And I acknowledged in prefacing my review of “Fly” that it would likely be controversial. But I had to be honest that the lyrics were really bothering me in how sloppy they look on paper. Then when I thought about it a little more, it became clear that there’s about as much depth to that song lyrically as to a Martina McBride “inspirational” song. There’s nothing wrong, per se, with having songs that are like Hallmark cards or “Hang In There” cat clinging to a clothesline poster equivalents. What I have an issue with are songs that try to project themselves as deeper than they actually are: mostly strings of well-intentioned platitudes.

        That’s what “Fly” reads like to me. Its lyrical shortcomings are just too glaring to me to ignore, and I don’t doubt it looks like nitpicking to some, but at least I made an effort to back up my thoughts in my previous post.

        *

        That’s initially the vibe I got when I first heard “Trouble”.

        But……………I’m not sure. The flavor diminished from that Gobstopper faster than a typical single to my ears. Now it sounds decidedly uninteresting when paired up to a whole lot of other faux-rock stompers saturating the charts. Still, I give Gloriana credit for veering away from trying to mimic Lady Antebellum, and trying something with a little more snarl.

        *

        You might be right on “Run Away With You”.

        Part of it is I’m just too stubborn-minded. I KNOW they’re capable of more because they already have proven it with “A Horse of a Different Color”. Now I obviously don’t expect them to Xerox that album, nor do I want them to………………….but the point is the album wasn’t just chockablock with zany, off-the-wall energy and theatrics. No, they also proved way back then that they can also pen stirring ballads. “Holy Water” and “Deadwood Mountain” proved this. But even noting that we haven’t quite gotten to where understated ballads can top the chart again, it is too much to ask for that their radio singles have some energy driving them? They just sound flat and inert in their singles this era. I don’t know……………..it just isn’t a good sign when even Rascal Flatts has expressed more energy in their single releases this era than Big & Rich have.

        *

        Damn right my grading can be harsh.

        But let’s put it this way. At least you KNOW when I genuinely love something, and can explain why I love or have an issue with any given work in equal measure! And, sometimes, what may sound cold is really just tough love! ^__^

        Like

    • Scotty J February 25, 2015 / 11:13 pm

      Generally agree with most of your grades with the exception of maybe ‘Riot’ which I’d give a -1 and that Cam song which is in no ways country so that would be a -1.

      The Reba McEntire song is an embarrassment for a 60 year old woman to be singing. A sad attempt to remain relevant.

      Like

      • NoahHibiscusEaton February 26, 2015 / 6:31 am

        And yet, I remain hopeful we’ll get at least several solid cuts on Reba McEntire’s forthcoming album.

        Even “All The Women I Am” had a handful of solid moments: of which one was released as a single (“Somebody’s Chelsea”) that unfortunately bombed. If she at the very least keeps this tradition going in not having albums become chockablock with radio filler, I can mostly forgive her.

        But……………………yeah………………………”Going Out Like That” is depressing listening to, really.

        Like

    • Josh Schott February 26, 2015 / 12:14 am

      Haha that’s a pretty negative score. Great commentary as always Noah! Your comments on Dustin Lynch had me laughing hard. By the way, if you think this is a bad Reba song just wait for her to inevitably release the Sam Hunt-penned song from her new album as a single. Not only will Reba probably get a lot of attention, but more will praise Hunt. I’m pretty confident in this, although I hope I’m wrong. And I’m right there with you in your anger in Easton Corbin. He’s just pissing away his talent on terrible songs. I would say the same for The Swon Brothers. I really enjoyed them on The Voice and they seem like great guys. The problem they have is their hypnotized by Blake Shelton and the label executives. So if they’re released by their label at the end of the year like you predict it may be the best thing for them. It could be a big wakeup call for the duo, similar to Love & Theft.

      Like

      • NoahHibiscusEaton February 26, 2015 / 6:52 am

        I may sound like a Negative Nancy to some here, but hey: at least I make an effort to back my points up and it also makes the kudos sound all the more triumphant and radiant! 😉

        *

        What?!!! Reba covering a Sam Hunt song?!!! SAY. IT’S. NOT. SO!!!!! (runs and cries in corner) -__- -__- -__-

        *

        My opinion of “All Over The Road” (both the album and single) proved quite unpopular to most of my peers. I still stand by my opinion the single sends a terrifyingly irresponsible message and is an embarrassment to his potential, while the album…………….in spite of respectable production and vocals across the board…………….is marred by shamelessly lightweight songwriting that makes it sound tragically forgettable. All it does is remind me of George Strait, thus painting him as a poor man’s George Strait, and only makes me want to turn some of Strait’s better albums on.

        If “Baby Be My Love Song” is any indication, his forthcoming third album will be no better and just as shallow as everything else he has released to radio in his entire recording career to date (“Clockwork” was alright, but hurt by dull production while “I Can’t Love You Back” easily could have been much more and set the bar way too low).

        *

        The Swon Brothers are going to be dropped from Arista Nashville by year’s end, mark my words.

        And saying this has nothing to do with schadenfreude. Neither of their singles are good, but they’re not bad either. They’re just painfully average and interchangeable with the plurality of their peers. “This Side of Heaven” was the only song of theirs worth writing home about, while “95” is the only song worth hating on any level. Everything in-between is just there. That sums up The Swon Brothers in a nutshell.

        But I’m willing to bet promoting “Later On” was one of the greatest money losers of any country release over the past twelve months. Arista Nashville promoted them so aggressively following their appearance on “The Voice” and all they could muster was a Top 15 peak for that single with both terrible single and album sales.

        RaeLynn is being shoved down our throats in a rather similar fashion, and while she has fared better than The Swon Brothers in sales, actual listener interest barely stacks up with the hype she has been getting. Listener callout for “God Made Girls” was pretty pathetic in aircheck surveys, and it was mostly buoyed in the first place by Clear Channel’s “On The Verge” treatment and multiple high-profile televised performances. Yet, even then, its chart run was erratic. I am certainly rooting on her to get better as a vocalist and songwriter, but everything she has released thus far isn’t deserving of seeing the light of day commercially.

        In fact, I’ve already seen a live performance of her forthcoming followup single “For A Boy”. Unfortunately, she succumbs to the exact same mistakes as “God Made Girls” in its songwriting in regurgitating and reinforcing antiquated gender stereotypes. -__-

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    • Raymond February 26, 2015 / 8:44 am

      It’s funny with Trouble the more I listen to which I have to cause my radio station refuses to play it the more I like it for me the lyrics despite cliches I think for what it is right now in the charts it looks better 10 years ago Trouble would’ve been bland but now it looks better.

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  9. Pete Marshall February 26, 2015 / 7:37 pm

    Noah
    I agree with your scores and I don’t like Reba’s new song.

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