Review – Cole Swindell’s “Flatliner” (feat. Dierks Bentley)

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I didn’t review Cole Swindell’s sophomore album You Should Be Here. If I had tried I probably would have fell asleep. The majority of the album was the most safe, banal and vanilla music I heard on an album in 2016. This isn’t necessarily bad, but might be worse than outright bad music because this is easily forgettable. Yet this was also still an improvement. The key word though is majority because Swindell’s new single is one of the exceptions, “Flatliner.” Of course the song opens with the obligatory sound of flatlining on an electrocardiogram, which sums up the pulse of many songs on the album. This gives way to obnoxiously loud, pop rock country production. It’s annoying, but for once Swindell’s song has a little energy. The song itself is about a woman who makes a man flatline from her exterior beauty, or tl;dr it’s another song about a hot girl according to a bro. Swindell delivers this painfully thin theme with the same old mediocre vocals. Of course this just isn’t enough, as Dierks Bentley joins in on the song. His own latest album Black wasn’t enough to help destroy his credibility apparently. No, he has to join Swindell in uttering lines such as “Dang girl, I’m done. I ain’t never seen no one, poppin’ it like a cold one, droppin’ down like oh oh.”At this line I’m done with this damn song. Congrats to Cole Swindell and Dierks Bentley for releasing the first moronic bro song of 2017. What’s even worse about this song is the more you play the worse it gets. The combination of the sub par production, painfully shallow lyrics and the annoying vocal delivery from both Swindell and Bentley makes “Flatliner” a creatively dead song with very little merits about it.

Grade: 1/10

Recommend? – Hell No

Written by Cole Swindell, Jaron Boyer and Matt Bronleewe

Review – Jordan Rager’s “Southern Boy” is Confusing

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This post was written by a past guest contributor for Country Perspective. 

These days in mainstream country music, you have to keep a watchful eye on new artists bursting onto the scene. Some try to fight the good fight for country music (Jon Pardi, William Michael Morgan, Mo Pitney), while others just want to make music that’s “hip” and “connects with the young ‘uns” (Cole Swindell, Kane Brown). Jordan Rager is in the latter camp.

You know how people make jokes that Cole Swindell is Luke Bryan 2.0? Well, now we seem to have a Jason Aldean 2.0 with Jordan Rager. The difference between the two (Cole and Jordan that is) is that Cole looks to Luke as a lifelong friend, whereas Jordan looks to Jason as an idol and influence. Jordan originates from Loganville, Georgia (same state that Aldean is from), and is currently signed to Broken Bow Records (same label that Aldean is on, noticing something?). And really, I hate to judge based off only two songs, but I’m not sure who Jordan is. Yeah, he’s a big fan of Jason, I get it. But what about Jordan? After hearing what was originally going to be his debut single, “Feels Like One Of Them,” all I could gather was that the song was a carbon copy of an Aldean throwaway track. His new single, “Southern Boy” also does nothing to tell me about who Jordan is, which is one of the many things that puzzles me about this song.

When asked about the song “Southern Boy” by the Rowdy’s Jason Scott, Jordan proclaimed, “this song is inspired by losing somebody and you’re not sure how to get through it. You keep carrying on. You stay strong through it.” Based off this description, I was expecting something in the vein of “You Should Be Here” by Cole Swindell or “Drink A Beer” by Luke Bryan. Instead, this song isn’t about death at all, but rather a mid-tempo number where Jordan is joined by none other than Jason Aldean.

Written by Luke Laird, Barry Dean, Jeremy Stover and Jaron Boyer, “Southern Boy” is performed by Rager and Aldean speaking somewhat as mentors to an imaginary southern boy. The two offer advice to the boy such as never compromise your roots, enjoy Friday nights with friends and always be true to your family. Really with a title like “Southern Boy”, I was expecting something way worse than this, and to be honest there’s really no egregious lines here. The overall problem with the song is that the lyrics are cliché and never really have time to develop into something more. The song just lists off a bunch of checklist traits that are normally expected in a good ol’ southern boy. Really, this song is just a big wasted opportunity. After all, considering that this song has a teacher-student type of lyrical atmosphere to it, and considering that Jordan cites Jason as a major influence, why not just make Jordan the southern boy and have Jason being the one giving advice? You know, turn it into a song that tells advice about how to handle life on the road and all the craziness of the music industry? Pass on advice to someone who actually looks up to you? As this song is, having two males playing the exact same part in the song is completely unnecessary.

Vocally this song has another issue. I’m certainly not against bringing in some help for your debut single, but the problem with this song is that Jason helps a little too much, to the point where this feels more like Jason Aldean featuring Jordan Rager than the other way around. It doesn’t help matters either that the two sound extremely similar to each other, to the point where it can be hard to discern who’s singing at certain points in the song. Leaning on Aldean as a crutch may work for Jordan this time around, but I feel that it’s the wrong choice to make for a debut single. Granted, you don’t have to stand out much to get a hit in mainstream country music, but still I think the average fan is just going to think this is a Jason Aldean song and not even realize this is someone else’s song.

That’s not to say however that “Southern Boy” is without redeeming factors. The mid-tempo vibe actually works well with this song, as it gives both singers a chance to at least try to pour some emotion into this, even if it ultimately comes across as empty. The production also isn’t half bad, and sort of fits a nice rock-country vibe. Other than that however, there’s a lot of wasted potential with “Southern Boy” and I can’t say that it’s ultimately a good song by Jason Jordan.

Grade: 2/10

Review – Dierks Bentley’s “Somewhere On A Beach”

Dierks Bentley Somewhere On A Beach

No! No Dierks! No! I mean we all kind of saw this coming from Dierks Bentley. On pretty much every album, Dierks releases at least on bad single that caters to mainstream and radio appeal to satisfy his label. On his last album Riser, it was “Drunk on a Plane” (which actually wasn’t too bad). On his Home album, it was “5-1-5-0” (I never want to hear the word “po-po” again). The previous album before this was Up On The Ridge, a bluegrass concept album that was easily his best work and didn’t appeal to mainstream whatsoever. But before that was Feel The Fire and it’s stupid single was “Sideways.” I think you get the picture. Everyone knows the deal with Dierks Bentley and the way he approaches singles and albums. The stupid single is usually in no way indicative of the quality of his albums, which are always solid.

We better hope so because if Dierks’ newest single “Somewhere On A Beach” would be indicative of the album, then we’re in for something terrible. All of those other singles Bentley has released to appeal to mainstream country were at least somewhat palatable and didn’t make you want to turn the radio dial when you heard them. This new single? It’s easily the worst I’ve ever heard from Dierks Bentley. The title is a dead giveaway in terms of the quality of song you’re going to get here. Mainstream country music has trained me to panic when I see the word “beach” in a song title. And my panic was right once again.

The song begins with a textured, funky guitar play that is quite intriguing at first. It’s actually quite enjoyable in the first half of the song, but as it goes along I find myself more irritated at it. The sound gets louder and more drowned out and allows for no nuance to the listeners’ ears. At the end of the day it’s not much different from your standard Brantley Gilbert song that passes off overproduced rock music as country. It’s passable, but not enjoyable. This isn’t the worst part of the song. That goes hands down to the lyrics. They’re just plain awful in every way. I couldn’t believe my ears that Dierks would be willing to record such shallow, vapid and cliché lyrics. Just look at the chorus:

I’m somewhere on a beach, sippin’ something strong
Got a new girl, she got it goin’ on
We drink all day and party all night
I’m way too gone to have you on my mind
She got a body and she’s naughty
And she got me like you ain’t never got me
I’m gettin’ sun, gettin’ some and I ain’t slept in a week
Yeah, I’m somewhere on a beach

Yuck! This is stuff straight out of a Florida Georgia Line album with some Kenny Chesney themes sprinkled in. You have the beach, the shortening of words, referring to women as girls, the overdone party lyrics and worst of all the objectification of a woman’s looks. The song is about a man who has broken up with his woman and is now “bouncing back” by going to the beach, partying and hooking up with his new girl. And based off the smugness and sexualization of the lyrics, I don’t blame the ex for ditching this guy. This is just Luke Bryan’s “Home Alone Tonight,” only at the beach instead of the club. That’s the only difference between “Home Alone Tonight” and “Somewhere On A Beach” really.

Another strong indication this song wasn’t going to be good is the fact that it took five writers to pen this song. It’s amazing that it took only five adults to write this Dylan-esque song, huh? The five geniuses behind this song are Michael Taylor, Jaron Boyer, Alex Palmer, Dave Kuncio and Josh Mirenda. None of these names I recognize, but I’m sure they’ve written many other musical classics in their time.

This song is sure to be a hit, as mainstream country fans and pop fans eat songs like this right up. As for fans of Dierks Bentley, I’ve seen a mixed reaction to this song. I think many are just ready to hear the album like the rest of us. The name of the album is Black and Bentley promises it to be about exploring relationships. Based on his track record, it should be good. However, “Somewhere On A Beach” will most likely be the biggest dud on it and the song you will most want to avoid. This song is easily on the level of some of the worst songs I’ve reviewed in recent years during the bro country and metro country eras. Just because this is Dierks Bentley, doesn’t mean he gets a pass. “Somewhere On A Beach” is absolutely terrible. If this song was food, it would be McDonalds. It appeals to the lowest common denominator of taste and it sells like crazy. But it has no nutritional value.

Grade: 1/10