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

Country Perspective’s 2015 Worst Album of the Year

When it came to mainstream country music, I thought it couldn’t get any worse than bro country. Allow me to say that I was dead wrong. This past year we saw mainstream country take in influences from Funk, R&B, rap, and just about anything else. To sum it up: everything was country music in 2015 except ACTUAL country music. Needless to say, there was plenty of music glued to the bottom of the barrel to choose for this award. When I reviewed Thomas Rhett’s Tangled Up, I thought I had heard the worst album of the year. But there was one album worse. There was one album that completely exemplifies everything wrong with mainstream country music from the past three years. That album, my friends, is none other than Old Dominion’s Meat and Candy.

Old Dominion takes the spoken word/R&B influences of Sam Hunt and combines them with the bro country douchebaggery of Florida Georgia Line to make some truly awful songs. The band’s debut single, “Break Up With Him,” has already been heavily criticized on this site and was nominated for Worst Song of the Year. That song merely scratches the surface of the cocky, dude bro attitude found on Meat and Candy. “Wrong Turns” is a song that sounds like a rejected Florida Georgia Line song. “Half Empty” plays on the glass half full/half empty motif for a “will you hook up with me tonight” song. “Beer Can in a Truck Bed” is a song that compares the narrator’s sexual intentions to a literal beer can rolling in a truck bed. “Let the night do what it does best. Shake me up and baby turn me loose. I just wanna roll around with you.” And “Said Nobody” uses the pop culture phrase “said nobody ever” as the hook for a song about wanting to get with a girl. “Don’t come any closer; Don’t give me a kiss cause I don’t wanna taste your lips. Said nobody, said nobody, ever.” Somehow I believe people have said that before, and I wouldn’t be surprised if lead singer Matthew Ramsey has heard a few girls say that to him.

Meat and Candy is the 1997 Batman & Robin movie of country music: a terrible, campy media piece that’s loud, shallow, and full of awkward, cringe-worthy lines. The album is nothing more than 11 songs about wanting to have sex with a girl. Any girl. Old Dominion screams desperation in their hook up attempts with some of the lamest pick up lines and moves:

  • “Strictly outta curiosity, what would happen if you got with me? Kissin’ you would hit the spot with me. Come on skip a couple rocks with me.” – “Snapback”
  • “Hey girl, what’s up?” – “Break Up With Him”
  • “No pressure, whatever, just do what you gotta do, but if I was you I’d tell him that it’s over, then bring it on over.” – “Break Up With Him”
  • Completely changing your interests and personality so she’ll like you – “Crazy Beautiful Sexy”

That is more creepy than it is charming. The icing on the cake of Old Dominion’s desperate, douchey approach to women is in “Til It’s Over.” The entire lyrics basically read as “girl, there’s no pressure but I want to have sex. Seriously though, no pressure, you can say no and leave. But I really want you stay. But for real, no pressure you can go. But I really just want you to stay and have sex.” The way these guys lay out the story is mind numbingly idiotic. Take a look a the song’s chorus.

We can keep it on the couch
And keep the lights on
Naked makin’ out, or keep our clothes on
Don’t worry ’bout where it’s going
If it dead ends, or if it’s headed
Up the stairs or down the block
If it last forever or until one o’clock
It is what it is ’til it was what it was
Let it do what it does ’til it’s over
If it’s right then it’s right
If it’s wrong then it’s wrong
Let’s keep playing the song ’til it’s over

There isn’t one redeemable song on Meat and Candy. All 11 songs do nothing but add to the pile of bro country songs. It’s the album born out of the Tinder hook-up culture of 2015 and acts as the poster child for all dude bros who do nothing but chug cheap beer and expect any woman within sight to be willing to have sex with him. Meat and Candy combines the worst parts of country music’s worst sins of the last three years and boils them together for an album of nonsensical noise. In a year with a ton of bad music, Old Dominion has given us the worst of the worst.

Review – Michael Ray’s “Real Men Love Jesus” is Trash in Every Way

Michael Ray, a pretty face from Florida singing pop country, somehow got a number one song in country music with his debut single. Ray was pushed, pulled, molded and thrown up to the number one spot on the airplay chart with “Kiss You In The Morning”, an ultra-cliché, paint by the numbers bro country hookup anthem. Naturally, with a successful debut single, it makes sense to release a follow-up single to radio. And Ray picks a song that’s even more cliché and stupid: “Real Men Love Jesus.”

I don’t even know where to begin to dissect this lyrical train wreck. I guess the easy place to start is how many cliché “country boy” tropes Ray sings about. Excuse me, these are tropes about “real men” not country boys. (I’ll get to this in a bit). Writers Lance Miller, Adam Sanders, along with Brett and Brad Warren hit on just about every single piece of country cliché imaginable. Fishing, fast cars, football, cowboys, outlaws, living life too fast, dancing, pretty girls dancing, cold beer, blue-collar pride, mama, fighting when necessary, charming, and never giving up. Oh, and a reference to a classic country song. It’s like they only listened to the third verse of “You Never Even Called Me By My Name” to learn how to write a country song. Honestly, the only thing that’s missing here is American pride. Quite frankly, I’m glad we’re spared a shoehorned line about loving the troops, unlike another Adam Sanders penned song.

But here’s the kicker of it all. According to the song, if you don’t like or do any of the things mentioned, you’re not a real man. If you prefer beer and conversation on the patio with a buddy over a dance club, you don’t exist as a man. If you work a white-collar job where your hands don’t get dirty, might as well hand in your man card now. And if you don’t believe in Jesus, then you’re a fake man. This song is 100% pandering bullshit to southern white males. All the damn tropes these writers toss into this mess have all been used to describe country boys, but have simply changed the description to “real men.” That’s got to be the most close-minded view of gender since RaeLynn.  I can’t even put into words how terrible this damn song is without turning this review into an f-word infested essay, and even that might be a better read then these dumb-ass lyrics.

This song flat-out sucks. I don’t care that the instrumentation is a mid-tempo acoustic melody that actually resembles country music. Johnny Cash could sing these lyrics and it would still be a terrible song. In fact, if Cash wrote and sang a song called “Real Men Love Jesus” then it might actually be good. Cash has a better head on his shoulders than the five people who wrote and sang this song combined. After I heard “Kiss You In The Morning” I didn’t think there could be a more clichéd song in existence. And I can’t believe I’ve been proven wrong. “Real Men Love Jesus” is shit and Michael Ray should stop making music if he’s going to continue recording cliché-ridden, boring, stupid, pandering, shitty songs.

Grade: 0/10

I’m not linking this garbage. Instead, here’s a better song about being a “real” southern man.

Album Review – RaeLynn’s Me EP

One of the many The Voice alumni from Team Blake, RaeLynn is still looking to establish herself in country music. Why country music? A because she was coached by Blake Shelton. B because country radio is so diverse in pop sounds and influences that even RaeLynn’s bad pop music can find a home. I’m going to be frank, the production of this EP is rather awful. Where other “country” artists like Lady Antebellum or Sam Hunt released albums that featured decent pop music, RaeLynn’s new EP, titled Me, is crappy pop music combined with country elements. RaeLynn also clearly shows that she’s singing songs for young, teenage girls, further polarizing herself from the general country population. There are only five songs here, so I’ll break them each down.

“God Made Girls”: This song faced quite a bit of criticism from Josh and I last year. And, rightfully so, the song was nominated for worst song of 2014. I can’t really say anything new about this song without beating a dead horse, so here’s a short snippet from Josh’s original review of the song: “This song is insinuating that girls were made to look pretty and basically be objects for guys. Isn’t that what these lines are saying? A girl should live up to the stereotypes.”

“Kissin’ Frogs”: The basic premise of this song is that RaeLynn doesn’t want to tie herself down right now. Eventually she’ll find Mr. Right and they’ll live happily ever after, but for the time being, she just wants to have some fun. There’s a lot of fairy tale references: “I don’t need a mister trying to fit that perfect slipper on my foot” and “right now there ain’t nothing wrong with having fun and kissin’ frogs.” Also she specifically cares to mention “making out” as what she means by having fun to further confirm that this is meant for a young demographic. The song starts out with some nice banjo and mandolin sounds, which are quickly abandoned for a roaring pop beat in the chorus. And newsflash, RaeLynn still can’t sing, and the chorus sounds worse due to the fact that she’s borderline screaming.  In fact, the second verse starts out with “right now the only thing that matters is the radio and screaming every song.”  At least RaeLynn is a little self aware here. Yet sadly I could see this song faring well on country radio since the bar for quality right now is set so low.

“Careless”: As far as pop country goes, “Careless” has a rather safe, friendly sound. It’s the least annoying of the five. There are some pop effects with the melody, but overall it’s not bad. And in the hands of a better singer, it could actually sound like a good song. Lyrically, the song’s about one of those rotten relationships where the guy cares too little and keeping the ever-pining girl still hoping and waiting for things to change. Here RaeLynn ponders, “Maybe if I care less, you would care a little more.” The song still features a girl wanting a guy who’s probably a jerk, but the chorus flirts with the idea of her wanting to turn his attitude on to him “I bet if I turned this heart off, baby, it would turn you on. I bet if I blocked you, you’d be blowing up my best friends phone.” Oh, joy, yet another reference to “blowing up phones.” As empowering as “Kissin’ Frogs” and “Better Do It” are for girls, “Careless” is a song that confirms to girls that they should still try to make the guys care for them, regardless of how the guys really feel.

“Boyfriend”: RaeLynn has a crush on another girl’s boyfriend, but she’s not going to take him away. RaeLynn will just sit back and wait for the inevitable end of this relationship because she can see in the boy’s eyes that he’s also pining for her. The lyrics here are terrible. There’s a random name drop of Shania Twain that serves absolutely no purpose to the song or story. There’s also a line about how what’s meant to be will always find a way to be, which is bothersome because there’s no indication that this relationship has a forever feel. The worst part about this song is that RaeLynn does spoken word on the border of rapping. She can’t even sing, let alone rap. And yet, the rapping continues in the final track.

“Better Do It”: Just to get through the good of this one, the empowerment of the song that I referenced before is that RaeLynn wants her guy to make up his mind. Basically, you said you’re going to leave, so leave because I don’t want to deal with your mind changing every other minute.  Now to the ugly: the fact that I was able to sit through the whole three minutes of this atrocity is shocking. If the CIA wants some approved torture techniques, put this song on repeat at full blast. The first words we hear are from an annoying, distorted voice, presumably RaeLynn, saying with a valley girl sort of attitude, “If you say it, you better do it” over and over again. And that phrase is repeated all over the song. RaeLynn also borderline screams in the chorus, before she raps the bridge at the end. Throw in the awful pop production of this song, and I’ll claim that this song is worse than “God Made Girls.” It’s a way-too-early nomination for worst song of 2015.

This is the main problem with country radio’s current identity crisis. Now that bro-country is on it’s way out, we’re basically at a point where the producers don’t yet know who to target. So it seems to be a time where they’ll release a little bit of everything to see what sticks. RaeLynn’s Me EP is without a doubt targeting young teenage girls. And the worst part she’s targeting them with conflicting messages. Songs like “God Made Girls” and “Careless” reaffirm years of stereotypes and attitudes women should have in respect towards men and relationships. However, songs like “Kissin’ Frogs” and “Better Do It” have more empowerment to fight those stereotypes behind their messages. And as if I haven’t said this enough, RaeLynn cannot sing or rap. I can’t see how the general mass of country fans can buy into her. It seems like producers are trying to recreate early “Tim McGraw” and “Love Story” Taylor Swift with RaeLynn. Yet, RaeLynn appears to be too immature. Taylor Swift did show some maturity in some of her early songs, but even songs where she didn’t, there was an easy listening production to them. Me is incredibly annoying in its production, and with RaeLynn’s immature, pandering lyrics, I don’t see how anyone over the age of sixteen can find enjoyment from this EP.

Grade: 0/10

 

Country Perspective’s WORST Song of the Year Is…..

Mainstream country music in 2014 was a party: a party in a small town field, on the beach, in countless fields, riverbanks, and tailgates. And when the vanilla pop-country melodies got old, more and more hip-hop influenced sounds took over. This all came to a roaring rise in popularity when Jerrod Niemann found massive success with “Drink to That All Night.” Quickly rapped, auto-tuned verses on top of a club beat took Niemann’s song to the top of Billboard’s Country Airplay chart. At the time (however short-lived), “Drink to That All Night” was probably the most un-country song to achieve such success. So how did Jeorrd Niemann follow-up his commercial mega-hit? By releasing Country Perspective’s Worst Song of 2014: “Donkey.”

Yes, “Donkey” is what Josh and I believe to be the worst song of the year. Now, the song had some tough competition from Florida Georgia Line (“Sun Daze”) and Jason Aldean (“Burnin’ It Down”), but the fact of the matter is, “Donkey” has pretty much killed Jerrod Niemann’s commercial appeal. While “Drink to That All Night” topped the Airplay charts, “Donkey” peaked at 43 on the same chart. And Niemann’s current single, “Buzz Back Girl” merely sits at 35 at the moment. Niemann was on fire with “Drink to That All Night”; a simple, backyard bon fire, and “Donkey” extinguished that fire like a fire truck hose at full force. And if one song is bad enough to do that, then it’s bad enough to be the worst song of the year.

Why, you may ask, is it so bad? Well to start, Niemann’s voice here is way too distorted to make anyone believe it came from an actual human. This distorted robot provides us with an awful spoken-word rap about wrecking his truck and being left penniless. So in order to get to the party in town, Niemann hops on his trusty steed to ride him in. Just read the lyrics to the chorus. “Gonna ride that donkey donkey, down to the honky tonky, it’s gonna get funky funky.” I can’t believe that anyone with a pulse could actually think that these lyrics were worthy to be heard, let alone even put on paper. I have to imagine that everyone from the writers to the producers, even Niemann himself, were drunk through the entire process of creating this poor excuse for music. That’s the only possible explanation that I could accept for this song.

But the second verse here is just the worst damn thing ever. Firstly, there’s a name drop of George Jones and referencing Jones’ famous booze run on a John Deere. LEAVE THE POSSUM OUT OF THIS SHIT. HE DOESN’T BELONG IN YOUR STUPID DONKEY SONG. And sure, the jockey bros make fun of Niemann, but he doesn’t care, because the girls think it’s cool. Why do they think it’s cool? Again, just read the lyrics to get the full effect of the awfulness: “But the ladies think it’s cool, I kick it with a mule. I fill their glass, they tip them back; they dig the way I ride that ass and I do, you would if you could, too. They all walk funny when they’re done, riding you know who.” In third verse, Jerrod wants to pick up a girl and romp in the hay with her… well if that’s your go-to pick up line, good luck. And they actually pulled a donkey mask out for a live performance of the song. Maybe, just maybe, if this song was left on the album as a sort of fun joke for the fans, then it could have a just enough pass to avoid this distinction. But since they released the song as a serious single, it deserves to be hated on in full force.

I’ll leave you with this: The beat of Jerrod Niemann singing “gonna ride that donkey, donkey” sounds an awful lot like this song by 12 Gauge released 20 years ago. I only know that song from the National Cheerleading Championship routine from the 2004 movie Dodgeball. I’m thankful that Dodgeball didn’t come out this year, or “The Donkey’s” could have danced to the worst country song of 2014, and I would forever be subjected to listening to this crap while watching my favorite comedy movie.

Here’s to hoping 2015’s worst country song isn’t worse than “Donkey”………