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

Review – Steven Tyler’s “Love Is Your Name”

Steven Tyler Love Is Your Name

It’s 2015 and I’m writing a review for a song by Steven Tyler. Not just a song by Tyler, but a country song. What a world we live in. One of the newest trends in country music is artists coming over from other genres where they’re no longer relevant and churning out their own brand of country music because country music will pretty much accept anything nowadays. This goes back to my argument about needing gatekeepers in the genre, but that’s a whole other can of worms. The person I believe to be the most responsible for this is Scott Borchetta. He started it by having his artists do a tribute album to Mötley Crüe last year. Not to mention he’s responsible for Florida Georgia Line, Brantley Gilbert and Thomas Rhett. Borchetta also signed Tyler to Dot Records. Still as much as I hate this as a fan, you have to applaud him for his business acumen. Borchetta is evil, but he’s smart and knows how to make money.

There is definitely money in a Steven Tyler country album. After all many old rock fans have flocked to country music, now that rock is non-existent in the mainstream realm. Everyone is aware of Steven Tyler of course through his heydays as the frontman of the iconic rock band Aerosmith. You can’t deny the major impact Tyler and Aerosmith has made on American music, as they’ve produced numerous great hits and a recognizable brand across the world. They also helped usher in one of the most influential hip-hop groups in history, Run-D.M.C. to crossover and mainstream success when they allowed them to cover “Walk This Way.” Needless to say Aerosmith has a laundry list of accomplishment and no way can deny their impact. So coming into this I’m well aware of Tyler’s successes and I knew there would be some musicianship on display in his lead single “Love Is Your Name.”

The big question though: Does it sound country? Surprisingly yes. I expected a much more rock oriented song and this is actually better than I expected it to be. The theme of the song is nothing complex, as it’s a love song about a man professing his feelings for a woman. Despite it sounding weird to hear Tyler in a country song, his vocals aren’t bad and fit more into the country sound than I thought it would. The instrumentation is a combination of a violin, banjo and guitar with drum loops. The sound is not too different from Mumford & Sons on their last album Babel. This actually sounds like something that comes from country radio, something a lot of songs on country radio right now can’t claim. So yes Tyler, the rock singer, sounds more country than country artists.

“Love Is Your Name” is not a bad song, but it’s not a good song either. There’s nothing special about it and the theme of the song has been done to death, although I think it was smart for Tyler to do a love song as his first single. The production is decent, but it could have been better. The same could be said of the lyrics. The “ohs” in the bridge are unnecessary and hurt the song a little. Other than that, this is an above average song that I think will do well at country radio. The former rock fans should enjoy it and many mainstream country fans should enjoy the song’s carefree attitude and simple theme. Tyler’s first foray into country music could have been much worse and this is the kind of start he needed (at the very least) if he wants to be taken seriously in the genre. Based on the current state of country radio, this will be one of the better songs on it this summer. Steven Tyler played it safe with this song, but it was the best choice he could make.

Grade: 6/10