Country music in 2015 has been a tale of two ends of the spectrum. On one end, there’s been a seemingly endless list of great country albums released. There has been non-stop quality music pouring out every week. Then on the other end of the spectrum, there’s been a steady release of absolute hot garbage and it’s all coming from mainstream country music for the most part. Just when you think you’ve heard the dumbest song of the year, another one comes along to prove you wrong. Old Dominion’s newest single “Break Up With Him” fits in with the latter. Old Dominion is a relatively new group made up of Matthew Ramsey (lead singer), Trevor Rosen (guitar and keyboard), Whit Sellers (drums), Geoff Sprung (bass) and Brad Tursi (guitar). They chose the name “Old Dominion” because it’s the nickname for the state of Virginia and all of them have ties to it. Believe it or not, they have some good songwriting to their credit: Ramsey and Rosen helped write Dierks Bentley’s “Say You Do,” Rosen helped write Chris Young’s “Neon” and Tursi helped write Tyler Farr’s “A Guy Walks Into A Bar” and some Randy Rogers Band songs.
With all of this in mind, it baffles me that Tursi is also the writer behind the group’s new single “Break Up With Him” (by the way Shane McAnally produced their new EP). But before I get to the song, let’s talk about this album cover above. I know I’ve bashed it on Twitter and right here on the site, but this needs a proper breakdown to describe its horribleness. What the hell are they going for here? From what I can gather, I think they’re trying to recreate the picture of George Washington and his men crossing the Delaware River during the American Revolution, but they just look like tools trying to emulate it. There’s an American flag jammed into the middle of it to show their patriotism (insert gagging here). Then they’re using their guitars to paddle the boat, which is like taking a playbook right out of 80s glam rock. Seriously go listen to cheesy 80s rock and this is the kind of goofy stuff that was in those songs. Finally there’s the awkward poses each member is in. I just…why?
The song itself is even worse than the album cover. It starts out with the spoken word, pseudo rap bullshit that Sam Hunt started to use in all of his songs and is now spreading like wildfire through country music (hello Jake Owen and Keith Urban). It’s annoying and adds nothing to the music. Why people get amusement out of this is beyond my comprehension. The song itself is about a man who’s drunk and calls up a girl he likes. Then he proceeds to tell her that she needs to break up with her current boyfriend and hook up with him. Say what? Basically this guy is whining and advocating for a girl to break up with her boyfriend, who is never mentioned to have done anything wrong throughout the song. This guy is such a whiny douche that he thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to break up a relationship, which by all indications is going fine, for his own gain. Could you find a clearer definition of an asshole than this guy? The vocals, when Old Dominion is actually singing, isn’t half bad. You could do better, but you could also do worse. In other words, their singing isn’t anything special. The instrumentation isn’t really country at all, as it has a pop beat for the most part throughout with the exception of light acoustic guitar play in the chorus. So once again nothing special from Old Dominion.
Country music has gotten enough terrible music from all of the bro country artists invading the genre and now Sam Hunt is leading in a wave of spoken word pop music that is even worse. This is my first impression of Old Dominion and it isn’t a good one. Releasing a single like this early in your career shows me a lot of what you’re trying to accomplish as artists. It shows that you only care about popularity and quality is the last thing on your mind. “Break Up With Him” takes the worst elements of Hunt’s “Take Your Time” and the worst elements of Tyler Farr’s “Redneck Crazy” to make one of the most irritable country songs of 2015. I listened to this a few times and started to develop a light headache. That tells you what you need to know about “Break Up With Him.” Avoid this song at all costs.