Oh how I’ve waited to talk about you Mr. Thomas Rhett. With the site approaching its first year anniversary coming up, I noticed that neither Derek or myself have yet to review something produced by Rhett. Well I guess you could count “Small Town Throwdown,” but he was only a featured artist and not the main artist. So this is the first time I’ve had a chance to formally review a Rhett song. I’m just going to get this out of the way upfront: I’ve disliked every single song Rhett has released. Nothing about his career has impressed me. Rhett, just like Cole Swindell and Chase Rice, has cashed in hard on the bro country movement and became a bigger name in the process. Many in 2013 rightly took aim at Luke Bryan’s “That’s My Kind of Night” and Blake Shelton’s “Boys ‘Round Here” for being absolutely horrible songs. But Thomas Rhett’s “Get Me Some of That” deserved just as much scorn and it never got it, despite being at the same level of terribleness as Bryan and Shelton’s songs.
Fast-forward to present day where bro country is now pretty much dead in the water. Surprisingly showing good foresight, Rhett has seemed to move away from bro country and turned to a different sound. The problem is this new sound may just be as bad as Rhett’s bro country sound. Rhett is now making R&B infused, Bruno Mars-type songs. In fact he released a cover of Mars’ “When I Was Your Man” and has spoken in great length in interviews of how much he idolizes him. For almost any genre, this is a good thing to hear from an artist. Mars is undoubtedly a talented artist who not only makes smash hit songs, but smash hit songs with great quality. Just look at “Uptown Funk,” which has been THE song of 2015. I’m a huge fan of Bruno Mars. There’s a problem though with Rhett adapting Mars’ style into country music: it simply doesn’t work.
Case in point: Rhett’s new single “Crash and Burn,” the lead single from his new upcoming album that just came out. The Mars influence is palpable throughout the song and it sounds awkward as hell mixed with the sprinkled in country instrumentation. The production is messy and all over the place, despite the chorus portion of the track being quite catchy. This will no doubt hook a lot of casual listeners. The song itself is actually good. It’s about a man who continues to let romantic relationships fall apart, but realizes as another door closes he learns another lesson. The song has a decent message with a good hook. I really have no problem with the songwriting on this song, so kudos to Chris Stapleton.
Now I’m going to get to why this song ultimately doesn’t work: Rhett himself. You give this song to Bruno Mars, take out the awkward production, replace it with Mars-like production and you have yourself a mega pop hit. I would also enjoy the hell out of it. Rhett’s version of this song is terrible because Rhett does not have the charisma and soul of Mars to pull the song off. You need a high energy singer with great chops to make this song great and Rhett simply doesn’t have that. I feel like the instrumentation swallows his voice on this song. You notice everything else on this song before Rhett’s voice. This is by design of course because the catchy beat is what will pull in gullible casual listeners. They don’t care about the fact that this song isn’t country in any way possible.
The cold, hard truth with “Crash and Burn” is this is just another attempt by country to hawk sounds from other genres in a desperate attempt to win back the temporary cross-over popularity it had with bro country. Don’t give me this crap about country music evolving. Changing the genre sound completely to the point where you can’t tell it’s country music anymore is not evolution. Artists like Rhett say it’s evolution because it’s the laziest and most brainless excuse you can trot out. Their fans and the corporate country outlets eat it right up too. When it comes down to it “Crash and Burn” is a song in the wrong genre performed by the wrong artist. Many will applaud this song for being different, but I jeer it for the poor excuse it is to make pop music and label it country. You should do the same too.