Review – Steven Tyler’s “Red, White, and You” is a Sad, Pandering Joke of a Song

Steven Tyler’s move into country music raised a lot of eyebrows when it was first announced. It seemed to be just another washed up rock star moving to “country” in an effort to make money; cashing out on the hot trend in popular music. Unlike Poison’s Bret Michaels or Uncle Ezra Ray, Steven Tyler’s country debut was actually good. “Love Is Your Name” was a surprisingly country sounding love song. And despite falling short of the top 30 on the Country Airplay chart, it seemed to establish a bit of hope that maybe Steven Tyler would take the move into country music seriously. HA! The joke was on us because Tyler rips a page straight out of the bro-country bible for his second country single, “Red, White, and You.”

Musically, the song isn’t anything to write home about. It’s a generic pop country anthem with acoustic guitars, electric guitars, and a simple drum beat. The verses are quieter, building up to the roaring chorus where all the instruments blend into one loud noise. Seriously, for a man who led one of America’s greatest rock bands, this ultra generic production is just sad to listen to.

It’s the laughably terrible lyrics that bring “Red, White, and You” to its demise. I think the song is about Steven Tyler lusting after a girl, but it’s hard to tell what he’s singing about with incoherent onslaught of bro-country tropes. Tyler lets you know right away that this entire song is nothing more than a pandering pile of crap when the native New Yorker sings about the Georgia night. Then the rocker-turned-country sellout name drops Tom Petty and works his song titles “American Girl” and “Free Fallin'” into the song. Tyler ends the second verse by mentioning girls in cut-offs, name dropping his label, pulling a Toby Keith and saying “kiss my ass” (because ‘Merica), and then referencing a Springsteen song. “Trying too hard” doesn’t even begin to describe the writers’ attempts at making sure this song is relevant. “All the bad girls rockin’ those cut off jeans, and good old boys driving Big Machines. And you can kiss my ass, can’t help but say, it’s good to be “Born in the USA.” For the love of God, “Born in the USA” is not even close to a patriotic anthem! But neither is “Red, White, and You” so I’m not surprised.

And that’s not even the worst offender of the lyrics. Steven Tyler manages to put a Tom Petty song in a line about a vagina with “Free Fallin’ into your yum yum.” WHAT?! Is he trying to out-do Florida Georgia Line’s “pink umbrella in your drink”? This song is such a desperate cry for attention and relevancy, it’s not even funny. It’s just sad. The cringe-inducing shouts of “baby” and “sweet potato pie” pile onto the joke that is “Red, White, and You.”

I’ve come to two possible conclusions about “Red, White, and You.” The first is, as I’ve said throughout the review, that this song is a cry for attention. It’s a little kid kicking and screaming in the toy aisle at the store. The second possible conclusion is that this song is a brilliant parody of every Luke Bryan, Cole Swindell, and Florida Georgia Line song ever. I know that the first one is far more plausible than the second one, but I don’t want to imagine that these lyrics actually exist as a real attempt to get on country radio. I know that some of Aerosmith’s singles weren’t exactly deep, but even “Love in an Elevator” seemed aware of its silliness. “Red, White, and You” though?  It’s a cringe-worthy attempt at a real pop country song. It’s a sad joke with no noticeable self-awareness of how low it stoops.

Grade: 0/10

5 thoughts on “Review – Steven Tyler’s “Red, White, and You” is a Sad, Pandering Joke of a Song

  1. southtexaspistolero February 16, 2016 / 1:20 pm

    To repeat my comments from elsewhere:

    Didn’t really think too much about “Love Is Your Name,” other than it was kinda meh. Not outright FGL/Luke Bryan bad, but not really anything to write home about either. I did think at the time, though, that one of two things was going to happen:

    • Tyler would be one and done, the song would flame out and we wouldn’t hear anything from him again; or

    • We would get something like this.

    After all, it’s not as if, like Don Henley, Steven Tyler had a respect and love for Real Country Music instilled into the fiber of his being as he grew up in East Texas listening to one of the greatest country music stations of all-time (KWKH out of Shreveport, Louisiana, the 50,000-watt powerhouse that was the home of the Louisiana Hayride). But it’s still embarrassing just the same. The lyrics are bad enough, but instrumentally it’s pure fluff. You strip the lyrics away and it sounds almost like something Kelsea Ballerini would have recorded, or Taylor Swift back when she was still marketing herself as a country music artist. And in a way, that’s the most damning thing of all, especially when you compare it to everything Aerosmith recorded up until about 1982 or so. If this is anything to go by, Steven Tyler as a musician doesn’t have a shred of self-respect left.

    And there’s more than one bitter irony in that song’s mention of Tom Petty and “Free Fallin’.” What’s that, you ask?

    Well, in addition to the fact that Tom Petty himself has made no secret of his disdain for the type of “music” Steven Tyler is subjecting us all to once again….Petty’s drummer, Stan Lynch, co-produced — and co-wrote every song on — Don Henley’s Cass County, which of course was widely (and quite justifiably, IMO) praised as one of the best country albums of 2015. You compare the two and it’s like night and day. On one hand you have Steven Tyler trying to keep up with the bros when that sound is more or less on the way out already, and on the other hand you have Henley singing duets with folks like Merle Haggard and Dolly Parton (the latter of which is a cover of a Louvin Brothers song from 1958). I’ll admit Cass County wasn’t quite as in my wheelhouse as all the Texas music we bought last year or the new George Strait album, but it was still quite good.

    I suppose if there’s any consolation to the whole thing, it’ll be that everybody else is going to see Steven Tyler’s country experiment as the embarrassment that it is. Of course, a lot of these people will be Sam Hunt/Luke Bryan/FGL fans, but hey, any chair in a bar fight, I suppose…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Derek Hudgin February 16, 2016 / 1:35 pm

      The production is egregious by Steven Tyler’s (Aerosmith’s) standards. Tyler is trying way too hard to remain relevant and score a “country” hit.

      Liked by 1 person

      • southtexaspistolero February 16, 2016 / 1:47 pm

        No kidding. I remember hearing years ago that Steven Tyler was a fan of Alan Jackson, so suffice it to say I was extremely disappointed when I heard this.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Raymond February 16, 2016 / 2:15 pm

    Looo, on the bright side. Steven Tyler is way too old to ever score a hit.

    Now for the song well it sucks. I mean how overproduced, Steven’s voice is so screechy.

    Like I said be thankful this will never be a hit.

    Like

  3. Amanda February 17, 2016 / 3:00 pm

    Oh god, that yum yum line is dreadful. Dethrones FGL’s pink umbrella in your drink lyric, although that one’s stupid as well. “Love is Your Name” was at least decent, but this song sucks.

    Like

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