The amount of bad music produced by mainstream country in 2015 is staggering. I’ve lost track of how many bad reviews we’ve had to write. But a lot of the bad music has come via singles, as that’s the focus of many artists today. This just isn’t the case with country artists, but artists across all of music. The concept of the album is a lost art in many cases. Despite artists not caring about albums as a whole as much, many of them pack just enough good album cuts to make it mediocre. But every once in a while there’s an album that forgets this and simply releases a bunch of bad music. That is the case with the new album from Canaan Smith titled Bronco. Smith is a relative newcomer to the genre and 2015 has really been his break out year. His second career single “Love You Like That” is currently in the top five of the Billboard Country Airplay chart and he landed an opening gig on Dierks Bentley’s tour. I’m not sure what propelled him to this level of success so quickly, but I can assure you it’s certainly not the music from his debut album Bronco.
Bronco kicks off with “Good Kinda Bad,” a song that uses the word good a ridiculous amount of times. To be exact, Smith utters it 27 times. Doesn’t that seem a little overkill on the word, “good”? The song itself it like Jason Aldean’s “Burnin’ It Down” meets Brantley Gilbert’s “My Baby’s Guns ‘N Roses.” The usual tropes about alcohol and women are thrown in too. This is a forgettable attempt at the sexy R&B country trend. Canaan Smith does spoken word on “Stompin’ Grounds” and it couldn’t be any worse. Can this spoke word trend just die already? Look what you’ve done, Jake Owen! From the production to Smith’s voice, the entire arrangement for this song is just annoying and weird. I can’t even describe it, other than it’s terrible. The lyrics are blatantly checklist and the theme is small town stomping grounds, the most overused theme in country music.
Smith’s current single, “Love You Like That,” is next. Derek already reviewed this song and I completely agree with his sentiment on it: Overall, “Love You Like That” is just a boring, uninspired country love song. Not one ounce of creativity was put into this song from the production to the writing. It’s not terrible and there are certainly worse songs that have been released this year. Yet, the song is far from good. By the way you should read the full review on it, as Derek conducts a hilarious hypothetical Q&A on the song. This is followed by “Hole In A Bottle,” which at least tries to be country, but once again the lyrics are uncreative and unimaginative. Jeans, boots and drinking excessively are the tropes this song is centered on. Like we haven’t heard this song before. The instrumentation isn’t bad on this song, but the lyrics completely bog down this song. Get used to me repeating the latter part of that last sentence.
Joe Nichols has “Yeah.” Easton Corbin has “Yup.” And Smith has “Stuck.” Anytime I see a one word titled song from a bro artist, I get weary and for good reason. The song entirely centers on this one word and becomes an annoying ear worm. “Stuck” is no different, as this word is sang 59 times throughout the song. Holy. Crap. If this gets released as a single, I guarantee it will make my worst country songs of 2015 list. I just don’t understand this obsession with these type of songs and how someone can get actual enjoyment out of these torturous songs. Smith, like Jake Owen on “Real Life,” tries his hand at late 90s pop on “One Of Those.” The reason I say late 90s pop is because of the production. The song is about a man who brags to a girl he’s a walking, talking clichéd southern boy you hear about in every checklist country song. He wears a ball cap, blues jeans, drinks beer and was raised on the Bible. How is this impressive to a girl again?
Just when I thought Smith couldn’t get any worse, then comes “Mad Love.” The first indicator this song is just bad is the R&B, pop influenced production that every mainstream country artists is trying their hand at. But when this song takes a turn from bad to truly horrendous is the chorus. Just look at these lyrics:
We got that mad love
Haters gonna hate us
Yeah, you and me together
Some kinda crazy
But that’s us
Doin’ our thing
Throwing more gas on the fire
Sure as the rain
Rolling off of this roof
You’ll get her crying
Like Johnny and June
We got that mad love
Can’t stop this mad love
Are you kidding me? The “haters gonna hate” line? Can it get more childish? Also I thought Taylor Swift put a trademark on that line. Regardless, this song instantly loses any credibility and respect once this chorus is uttered. This is another worst country song of the year candidate.
“Love At First” is another cheesy, laughable attempt at R&B influenced country by Smith. I don’t think Aldean even had this many terrible R&B styled songs on his 2014 album. Smith does his best attempt at a sexy voice on this song and all I want to do is laugh. He doesn’t have the talent to pull off a romantic song. It also doesn’t help that the lyrics for this song are not romantic in any way. It’s like something out of a bad teenage rom-com. Smith fellates America on “American Muscle.” He praises the American spirit and American products and I’m just pretty much checked out on this album. I will give him credit for actually giving the production on this song some life and making it somewhat tolerable. It’s pretty bad that this is one of the better songs on the entire album.
More R&B bullshit is on “Two Lane Road.” Smith tries to sing high-pitched and sounds like Justin Bieber before puberty. On top of that Smith does more terrible spoken word that makes me cringe. And of course this is uttered several times in the song:
Oh by the way this could also be a candidate for Country Perspective’s Worst Country Song of 2015 award. I think Smith is starting to give RaeLynn and Kelsea Ballerini a run for the money for our worst of the year awards.
This truly terrible album mercifully comes to an end with “Bronco.” And it looks like Smith has pulled a Chase Rice here. Just like Rice’s 2014 album Ignite The Night, the final song and title track of this album is easily the best on the entire album. Smith honors his late brother Nathaniel on this song, who died in a car crash. You can hear the emotion behind Smith and the lyrics on this song. Just like Rice’s “Jack Daniels & Jesus,” “Bronco” is a truly flabbergasting song, considering the ten songs that precede it are complete crap. If only there were more songs like this on the album because this is a true country song.
There isn’t much else to say about Bronco, other than it is a giant train wreck with the exception of one song. Canaan Smith took the most clichéd and tiring tropes and combined them with terrible, non-country production and instrumentation to give us an album that is spectacularly bad. What’s worse is that Smith had a hand in writing almost all of these songs. The only time he dug deep was on “Bronco.” I’ve reviewed a lot of bad music on Country Perspective, but this is the second-worst album I’ve ever reviewed here. The only one worse than this won Country Perspective’s 2014 Worst Album of the Year award. I thought Kelsea Ballerini’s The First Time was going to run away with the 2015 Worst Album of the Year award, but Canaan Smith just made this a two-person race. Avoid listening to Bronco at all costs. You can’t get much worse than this album.