Jerrod Niemann Appears to be Finished at Sony Music Nashville

Two years after releasing the infamous “Donkey” as a single to country radio, Jerrod Niemann appears finished at Sony Music Nashville. Niemann has become irrelevant at country radio ever since “Donkey” was a huge flop at radio and commercially. Many Niemann fans have been fearful that his spot at major label Arista Nashville was in jeopardy and now it appears he is no longer on the label. Suspicion first came up when he recently released a new single “Yellow Brick Road,” an old song that was on a record of the same name he released in 2013 under the label Aria Tree Records. The song was written in 2006 by Niemann, Billy Joe Walker and Ray Termini.

Sony Music Nashville, which Arista Nashville is an imprint under, has yet to publicly announce anything or issue any official statements regarding the status of Niemann. Nothing has been announced from Niemann himself either. He is also still listed on Sony Music Nashville’s official site as an artist. Country Perspective has reached out to Sony Music Nashville and has yet to receive a response. If we do receive official word or something is announced, this story will be updated.

In the meantime we can only speculate. If this is indeed true, it is not a big surprise at all. Niemann’s latest single “Blue Bandanna” failed to crack the top thirty at country radio, despite being a return to his original sound. Niemann’s reputation and appeal has been tainted ever since he released the aforementioned “Donkey” to country radio. It was the follow-up to his smash EDM-laden hit “Drink To That All Night,” which reached #1 on the country chart and #34 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was easily the biggest hit of Niemann’s career and the first country song to be heavily influenced by EDM to have big success. However, many country fans saw it as a “sell out” move by Niemann and a betrayal of his original sound. Niemann of course defended the song fervently in interviews.

But this was just the beginning of the end for Niemann, as him and label quickly put out a remix of the song featuring Pitbull, which I thoroughly tore apart. It did pretty much nothing on the charts, as Niemann and company hoped to replicate the success Florida Georgia Line saw when they remixed “Cruise” with Nelly and shot to superstardom. In a panic move, Arista Nashville decided to follow this up with “Donkey.” It relied on EDM even more heavily and the lyrics were at best childish and stupid. For those unaware or don’t remember, it won Country Perspective’s 2014 Worst Song of the Year award. Derek rightly gave this song the thrashing it deserved:

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.

I myself remember remarking on numerous occasions how this single is probably the death nail of Niemann’s mainstream country career and may never recover. While bro country fans’ standards may be low, even they rejected this poor excuse of a song. I hate to say I told you so, but I did. And I’m not taking pleasure in seeing Niemann’s career bomb. It’s never good to see someone lose a job or a contract. No, this is just a simple reminder to any artist who is thinking of selling out or betraying their core fans what happens when you listen to a label executive. While selling out may get you fame and fortune in the short run, it will probably come back to bite you in the ass in the long run.

(By the way I would post the music video, but they took it down. I guess they realized how stupid it looked.)

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”………