Recently it was just announced that this fall Disney is launching Radio Disney Country. Then it all made sense to me. What am I referring to? I’m referring to all of the straight pop music that’s been churned out as country music this year. I mean this isn’t anything new and we’ve witnessed this for a few years now. But this year it has been worse than normal. The poster child for Radio Disney Country of course and the first to comment on the announcement is Kelsea Ballerini. Her music fits perfect with what Disney wants. The male face for this Mickey Mouse country music is Hunter Hayes, as he’s mentioned in the announcement too. Again, not a big surprise. Hayes has always made pop country or pop music in his short career so far. Only his decent guitar play and the fact that the music being made around him is even worse has shielded him from more criticism than expected. Well after seemingly disappearing for a while, he’s back with his new single “21.” And he hasn’t changed one bit.
“21” is very much in the same vein of the offerings we’ve gotten from Ballerini and Dan + Shay. It’s straight pop music with an acoustic guitar buried in the background. This is your standard adult contemporary sound that we’ve heard for years now from “country” artists. In other words, the instrumentation on this song is bland and unimaginative. The song itself is…well bland and unimaginative too. It’s about life always being a party and how you should live it up like you’re young everyday. It’s the delusional bullshit that television brainwash teenagers into thinking everything is fine all the time and there are no consequences mentioned. I also think Hayes is trying to have sex with a girl, but he’s going about singing it in the most PG, clean way possible:
You and I, girl, we gotta get away
And make tonight the best night of our lives
We get it, Hunter. You want to go parking, but you don’t want to blatantly say it so parents won’t get angry at their children for listening to your music (they should be angry you’re listening to Hayes period, but that comes down to preference). I thought it was neutered enough with the bros of country music substituting the word “horny” with “crazy” because apparently that’s too risqué for country radio (yet Florida Georgia Line gets away with the “pink umbrella in your drink” line). I digress.
I have nothing else to say about “21.” This song is so boring and lacking that I can’t even get angry about it. The quality is staying the same in mainstream country, but the offensiveness is starting to subside and instead we get the safest lyrics possible. The word “risk” doesn’t exist in the vocabulary of mainstream country artists. They’re putting out the most squeaky clean, milquetoast songs they can put out right now. I’m not sure what’s more maddening to me right now: these completely boring songs or artists like Thomas Rhett releasing blatant Motown ripoffs. Hunter Hayes is capable of more and instead like his fellow peers decided to release something that is neutered and not country in every way. “21” is pop music and it does not belong in country music.