Review – Brad Paisley’s “Country Nation” Is Hokey Schlock

Brad Paisley Country Nation

I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. I called this back in August 2014 when I reviewed Brad Paisley’s new album Moonshine In The Trunk. This is what I wrote regarding “Country Nation” in my review:

I guarantee it was created for the sole reason to play in bumpers on ESPN during college football season.

Sure enough this prediction has come to pass for the 2015 college football season, as this song has been playing on ESPN on the opening weekends of college football season. Paisley was the special guest picker on College Gameday in week one. This has what it’s come to for Brad Paisley: he’s essentially become Kenny Chesney. Point out as many good Chesney songs as you want, but at the end of the day many roundly mock him for his cheesiness and the same is happening to Paisley now. Both deserve it. I didn’t plan on reviewing “Country Nation,” but Paisley decided to take it a step further and release this as a single to country radio. He forced my hand and now I’m going to give it the criticism it deserves.

“Country Nation” is one of the most cliché, corporate, formulaic song I’ve heard this year (written by Paisley, Chris DuBois and Kelley Lovelace). Out of all the terrible singles this year, I think this single had the least amount of effort put into it. This song is literally about nothing. It opens up with Paisley singing about steel mills and other blue-collar worker colloquialism. But this doesn’t define us. No, it’s the logo on our caps according to Paisley. Then Paisley goes into full laundry list mode and I cringe extremely hard:

We’re Mountaineers, we’re Volunteers
We’re the Tide that rolls, we’re Seminoles
We’re a herd of Longhorn steer
We drive Ford and Chevrolet
Cheer 24 and 88
We crank up our music Friday nights
On two thousand country stations
Yeah, we’re one big country nation, that’s right

I don’t know whether to laugh or throw something. Perhaps both! He name-drops popular college football team’s nicknames, which ensured ESPN would pick it up. By the way I should probably mention I’m a huge college football fan who has had to sit through years of terrible music during the season and this one may be the worst yet. The only one that I would say top it is Fall Out Boy’s “Centuries.” For those who also watch college football, you’ll know what I mean. Back to the name-checking: next Paisley mentions Ford and Chevrolet. Sucking up to corporations! Anyone with a brain could see through this. Then he subtly mentions NASCAR, as the 24 and 88 reference NASCAR drivers Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. It should be noted that Paisley also has a strong affiliation with Hendrick Motorsports, which I know because I’m a NASCAR fan too and Paisley sucks up to the team every season on social media. He then tops this big bowl of sucking up off with kissing up to patriotism and country radio.

You get the picture? This is the most nauseating, kiss ass song ever. Paisley essentially writes a love letter to his corporate benefactors and calls it a song. Some may say I’m being too harsh, but remember Paisley’s history of music. He’s been making huckster cornball music for years and he’s now reached the point of making so much of it that it’s at an over-saturation point. You can only go to the same well so many times before people are absolutely sick of it. It shows that Brad Paisley is bored with his music and just throwing out songs that he can knock out in his sleep. He’s desperately pandering to mainstream relevance by releasing songs like this to country radio.

“Country Nation” is a perfect example of why Paisley and country radio currently get no respect. There is no creativity, effort or emotion put into this song. Sure, it has a country sound and the instrumentation isn’t offensive, but who cares? When the lyrics are so by the book and pandering, you essentially tune the song out and ignore it. This will probably be the final single from Moonshine in the Trunk for Paisley, as it’s the fourth single from it. The only good single released from it, “Perfect Storm,” unsurprisingly has been the best performing from it, as it reached #4 while the others didn’t go above #12. I don’t expect “Country Nation” to go above it either and it’s really what it deserves. Avoid this song at all cost and hope Paisley learns his lesson from releasing embarrassing crap like this song.

Grade: 2.5/10

39 thoughts on “Review – Brad Paisley’s “Country Nation” Is Hokey Schlock

  1. Derek Hudgin September 14, 2015 / 11:10 am

    “Brad, give us five lines that name big football schools and we’ll pay you a bunch of money. And just fill in the blanks for the rest of the song. It doesn’t actually matter, so don’t bother trying to make it sound good.” – the NCAA marketing person who pitched this song idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lorenzo September 14, 2015 / 11:44 am

    Come on! 0/10? really Josh, I understand your criticism towards this but after all it’s not that bad! The instrumentation is very good and the lyrics can also be interpreted in different ways (I don’t follow football and some casual listenings made me think this was about country music fans). but what I don’t really get is how ever you can put this at the same level of mindless garbage like vacation, crash and burn, 1994, bottoms up, donkey, anything goes, kick the dust up or ready set roll.

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    • NoahHibiscusEaton September 14, 2015 / 2:09 pm

      I do respect Josh’s style of reviewing, and while I disagree more strongly with where he’s coming from in this particular review, I do understand his frustration as someone who first appreciated Paisley via his earlier career albums.

      Of course, I was introduced to Paisley via his first albums as well, and I just come to a different take on the quality of Paisley’s material. The way I see it, he has had a tendency to serpentine between pandering to Mainstream sensibilities and challenging mainstream conventions with each album if his more recent career.

      “5th Gear” pandered, then “American Saturday Night” challenged. “This Is Country Music” pandered, then “Wheelhouse” challenged. Now he is in the midst of a pandering phase again.

      But here’s the thing. Even when he’s pandering, he still is smart not to sacrifice an ear to melody and craftsmanship. And he can still be witty and/or incisive, like with “American Flag On The Moon”.

      That’s why I shrug when I read the part of this review that said he doesn’t care about the quality of his music anymore. That’s just not true to me. He is blatantly pandering here more desperately than ever, that’s for sure, but he still sounds like he cares at least.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lorenzo September 14, 2015 / 3:37 pm

        I completely agree! I also respect Josh’s style of reviewing, but I can’t understand how this got a 0! I’m disappointed myself by Brad’s new album, i don’t think there’s anything wrong with this review itself. and based on this review I tought the song would’ve got a 3/10, or a 2/10. to me this is totally uncomparable to some of the garbage we see on country radio!

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  3. Rick September 14, 2015 / 11:53 am

    Actually “Perfect Storm” was a number 1 song. “Riverbank” peaked at 2, while “Crushin’ It” reached the 9 spot. You’ve always used the AirPlay charts for the pulse and other reviews, don’t switch up to the Hot Country charts just to try and prove a point.

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    • Rick September 14, 2015 / 11:58 am

      Also, “Perfect Storm” was one of the few songs this year to top the charts for more than a week.

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  4. ellie September 14, 2015 / 11:57 am

    I used to be such a big fan of Brad Paisley. I used to buy all his albums but i can not get into th last 2 albums. He needs to make more songs like Whiskey Lullaby and He didnt have to be

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  5. Lisandro Berry-Gaviria September 14, 2015 / 12:10 pm

    This is just a dumb and embarrassing song (although it was far from being the worst on “Moonshine In The Trunk”…that’s a sad statement). At this point, though, I’ve kind of gotten used to stupid formulaic cliched songs, so this doesn’t quite get on my nerves the way a song like “Break Up With Him” might.
    I’d probably give this a 1/10, for the decent instrumentation. Not quite the worst of the worst IMO.

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    • NoahHibiscusEaton September 14, 2015 / 5:46 pm

      “4WP” is the worst song off the album in my opinion (the “Oh, he’s just parodying bro-country!” excuse doesn’t fly to my ears)…………..with “Crushin’ It”, “River Bank” and “High Life” the other duds. “Cover Girl” and “Goin’ Green” are forgettable too.

      I’d consider the title track, “Perfect Storm”, “American Flag On the Moon”, “Shattered Glass” and “Me And God” the best tracks, with “Limes” also a decent sing-along.

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  6. Cobra September 14, 2015 / 12:55 pm

    Yeah, I remember this song from when MITT came out and thinking it was pretty bad, and this just brings back all those memories.
    Not sure if I’d go so far as to give it a 0 (I’d probably give it 1 star), though to be honest, I can’t really think of any reason why it would even deserve that single star, except for maybe it’s not as bad as “Sun Daze,” or “Friend Zone.”

    Do you consider this a “worst song of the year” candidate?

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    • Josh Schott September 14, 2015 / 1:57 pm

      No, I won’t be considering this for worst song of the year. It’s bad, but it doesn’t touch some of the other crap that has come out.

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      • NoahHibiscusEaton September 14, 2015 / 2:32 pm

        But in grading it 0/10, that would make this tied for “Worst Song” in a crowded field, yes?

        Sorry if it feels like I’m putting you on the spot, just trying to see you clarify your grading rubric is all.

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  7. NoahHibiscusEaton September 14, 2015 / 1:54 pm

    Eh, while I agree with the main premise of your review in that it does smack as a French kiss to corporate sponsorships………….I felt like the latter part of your review lost some focus when you said he “stopped caring about the quality of his music.”

    I don’t buy that conclusion. All things considered, “Moonshine In The Trunk” may not be up there with “Part II”, “Mud on the Tires” or “American Saturday Night”, but it has its moments and I have to say Paisley and Rogers still gave a knack at producing music that is textured and melodically sharp.

    “Country Nation” at least gets that right, as well. I would have preferred the title track or “Limes” as the fourth single personally, but I get why this was selected and it honestly doesn’t fail from a melodic and technical standpoint and I did enjoy the instrumentation a fair bit.

    That said, the lyricism does weaken this considerably: the aspect of your review I concur with: amounting to a song that’s the critical equivalent of a shoulder shrug.

    I’m thinking à Decent to Strong 5 out of 10 for this one. Neither a net boon or decline for mainstream country music as a whole.

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    • Josh Schott September 14, 2015 / 2:26 pm

      You’re right about the line I put about him not caring about the quality of his music and I meant to edit this before publishing, but simply forgot. What I meant to put and will now edit in was that he seems bored with his music and this song shows it. This is the kind of song Paisley just sort of knocked out in his sleep it feels like. Paisley keeps it country sure, but the lyrics are so bad I think it completely nullifies it. Big & Rich didn’t even get this formulaic with another popular college football tune “Comin’ To Your City.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • NoahHibiscusEaton September 14, 2015 / 5:28 pm

        Oh, I see. I appreciate the clarification and do understand your point!

        Still, while I’m inclined to agree this screams “Paisley On Autopilot!”, I still view this as a competent release. Nothing that will stick in the memory or be noteworthy in his resume, and leaving something to be desired………but a competent one all the same. Competent in that it at least doesn’t sacrifice melodic and instrumental attributes.

        As fans of artists, it’s understandable that competent shouldn’t cut it when they’ve proven capable of much better. I get that, and I like to think I’m not handing out free passes to those like Paisley in this context. But here’s the thing: ultimately, I’m reviewing a song, not an artist. And, say, if Paisley co-wrote this but handed it to Thomas Rhett to perform and his producer to produce…………yeah, the chances are high I’d outright tear it apart because they betrayed the melody and instrumentation altogether.

        I gave this 5/10 because, as a song in its own right, I feel its other compositional parts make up a decent degree for its glaring lyrical shortcomings. Same with songs like “Play It Again”, “Don’t It” or much of Keith Urban’s more recent discography. They may all be empty calorie fluff with below average lyrics, but I at least regard them in a way for their potent technical songwriting.

        That’s just my reviewing style, of course! =)

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Dan September 14, 2015 / 2:05 pm

    frankly i don’t have any kind of problem with this song. it is not a narrative song. i don’t think there’s anything bad with a national football anthem. i do follow football and i can relate to it, it was really unnecessary to break it down this way!!

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  9. southtexaspistolero September 14, 2015 / 2:08 pm

    So it looks like what we have here is a mash-up of “Country Must Be Country Wide,” “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16,” and “This Is Country Music.”

    Once upon a time Brad Paisley was better than this.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Megan Conley September 14, 2015 / 2:45 pm

    Huge college football fan, and completely agree with you about “Centuries.” Not looking forward to hearing this every five seconds on ESPN this season. Having said that, as much as I hate this as a football fan, I don’t think it deserves a 0–instrumentation and melody save it from this. It’s not on the level of some of the other crap that has come out by any means, I’d probably give it a 3 as a reviewer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • NoahHibiscusEaton September 14, 2015 / 5:39 pm

      I generally enjoy Fall Out Boy (they’re more a pop group than a rock band now, but I still like them a lot for their energetic populist appeal, Patrick’s charisma as a frontman and eccentric use of other sounds)…………..but I agree “Centuries” is very grating.

      I absolutely LOVE “Uma Thurman” though. Such an infectious track and their use of “The Munsters” theme song sampling is brilliant and definitely fits the Tarantino-inspired idea of the song.

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  11. Josh Schott September 14, 2015 / 3:47 pm

    Okay I thought it over and I realized the grade I gave this was out of haste and anger, instead of reason and understanding like I do in all of my reviews before it. Therefore it is now a 2.5/10. And I won’t go any higher. I give “Country Nation” credit for having a country sound and for Paisley’s vocals being decent. I gave it no credit in the lyrics department however.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lorenzo September 14, 2015 / 4:52 pm

      Josh, I really appreciate your decision!

      Liked by 1 person

    • NoahHibiscusEaton September 14, 2015 / 8:28 pm

      And I don’t expect you to give the lyrics any credit. That’s the aspect of the song we can both resoundingly agree! ^__^

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    • Megan Conley September 15, 2015 / 1:13 pm

      I respect and appreciate your decision to change this and listen to the commenters, it takes a lot to admit your review came out of “haste and anger” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Zack September 14, 2015 / 7:03 pm

    Eh, don’t hate it, don’t love it.

    What’s funny is that in your initial review of the album, you filed this song away in the “Rest of the album” caegory rather than the “worst songs on the album” category (back when you graded it like that instead of track by track). Haha, my how things change! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  13. B November 21, 2015 / 9:10 pm

    The fact that the song changes the third verse to INSERT NAME OF LOCAL TEAM HERE makes this unarguably the most pandering, lazy and crassly commercial song ever recorded. He’s actually mocking the intelligence of his fans. It deserves less than 0/10.

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  14. handsomeblackcowboybrad1953 December 4, 2015 / 3:02 pm

    I’ve been writing Country song lyrics for some time-I’ve got 50 or so-and I could write (with the aid of some music and melody;I’m words only!!!!)MUCH BETTER STUFF than Paisley,Aldean,Moore,etc.,ever get as material.(Would it surprise you much to learn that I’m a black Canadian chap,62,and regarded cover boy handsome?)

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