Review – Chris Lane’s “Fix” is Pure Pop Trash

Chris Lane Fix

You thought 2015 had some bad mainstream country music? Welcome to 2016, where the bottom of the barrel keeps going lower than anyone could imagine. When Sam Hunt burst onto the scene in the early summer of 2014, I became quite fearful of the ripple effect his success would have on mainstream country music. Keep in mind this was in the midst of bro country reigning supreme on the radio. Hunt came along and managed to produce something even worse. And it’s become an even bigger monster than bro country. Now everywhere you look a new artist or group of spiffy, clean-cut pop artists in suits are “going country” by throwing together some electronic beats and dance club lyrics.

Meet the newest one, Chris Lane. The first time some of you may have come across his name is in the summer of 2014 when he released a single called “Broken Windshield View.” It completely pandered to bro country and I remember just ignoring it, as it didn’t end up getting that much traction. It reached #45 on the Billboard Hot Country Song and had decent sales. Once that song ran its course Lane disappeared for a little while and has now re-emerged with “Fix.” So right away we can establish that Lane is willing to pander to whatever is popular to become famous and well-known. It’s currently rising up the charts quickly, with the big reason being that this current slick R&B, pop phase is still in mainstream country music’s system. And it just continues to get worse with this song.

Chris Lane’s “Fix” is an abomination of a “country” song and really even a pop song too. The song begins with cheap guitar licks and Lane crooning “Hey girl.” Even after its death, bro country’s effects are still felt in this new era of metro country music. Then the chorus kicks in and this song gets even laughably more worse. The chorus:

I’ll be your smooth ride, that late night, your Walter White high
I’ll be your first time, that so right,
Get you falling in love at the end of the night
That good ish, that long trip, that sugar on your lips
That favorite habit, gotta have it, you can’t quit
I got your fix

Where do I begin with these garbage lyrics? I think first and foremost the Walter White namedrop stands out. You see Lane has to namedrop him because 1) love here is being compared to drugs. 2) this makes the song look “cool” and “edgy” 3) Breaking Bad was a popular television show, so they’re hoping this translates to the song. And these are all very stupid reasons. I’m beyond nauseated of country songs comparing love to drugs. 2010 called and Ke$ha wants her lyrics back. It’s just outdated, embarrassing and reminds me of glam rock in the late 80s. Then you have the fourth line of the chorus. Sugar of course is referring to cocaine, as again the whole love being compared to drug references litter this song. But before that the phrase, “good ish,” is dropped. I’m sorry, what? Once again country music borrows another outdated term from another genre. As defined by the Urban Dictionary, ish is: “Slang term often used to replace “shit.” Derived from the process of editing the vocals of rap-songs by reversing the curse words so said song could be played on radio or television.”

This song is everything but country music. But don’t take my word for it. Here it from the people behind this song yourself. From an interview in Billboard in November 2015, Chris Lane and everyone behind the song admit that “Fix” isn’t really a country song. From the interview (props to Zack for bringing it to my attention):

But during downtime at a 2015 recording session, Lane broke into a random song in high falsetto. No one remembers for sure what it was — Usher, The Backstreet Boys, Justin Timberlake or Nick Jonas have all been mentioned as possibilities — but Lane’s tone was intriguing to producer Joey Moi. And it sparked a complete change in direction.

“It definitely was a defining moment for me,” says Lane, “because that ultimately led us to finding ‘Fix.’ “

Lane represented a change in direction for “Fix,” as well. The song has a dance-ready groove that leans toward The Bee Gees or Maroon 5, and country wasn’t even on the radar when it was written in February.

You know Joey Moi, the producer behind Florida Georgia Line and Nickelback? He’s also responsible for this monstrosity of a song. Moi later goes on to say, “We had to countrify it.” So Lane and Moi enlist some of the most infamous country music hit makers in Nashville to make it happen: Abe Stoklasa (co-wrote “The Driver”), Jesse Frasure (co-wrote Florida Georgia Line’s “Sun Daze” and Thomas Rhett’s “Crash and Burn”) and Sarah Buxton (co-wrote Keith Urban’s “Put You in a Song” and The Band Perry’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely”). Frasure in particular has been popping up on a lot of bad hit country songs lately and I’m guessing is the one responsible for the “ish” line.

But wait there’s more. Later in the interview:

A big portion of that was putting real musicians in place of the demo’s synthetic atmosphere. Ilya Toshinsky perfectly recreated the waterfall guitar sound and added chunky rhythmic parts, while Russ Pahl laid on atmospheric steel. A number of words were changed to make it more PG for country radio, particularly “good shit,” which became “good ish.” And Moi coaxed an abundance of breathy breaks and whines out of Lane that they refer to internally as “sexhales.”

Sexhales? Yeah I’m done. There’s nothing else that needs to be said about this song. “Fix” is one of the most blatant attempts I’ve ever seen of making a hit song to appeal to the mass. The look behind the curtain to see “how the sausage is made” makes the song even more repulsive and disgusting. This is not artistry, but rather cold and calculated manufacturing of content to sell. There is nothing thoughtful, original or appealing about this song. Most importantly it’s not country in any way, shape or form. “Fix” is just plain bad and everyone responsible for it should feel bad.

Grade: 0/10

Review – Eric Paslay’s “High Class” is Low Class Garbage

Eric Paslay High Class

Not another one! This has been the year of the sellout in country music, as artists who once captivated us with their quality music have turned to the dark side if you will and released music pandering to the current trends of the genre. Among them are Gary Allan, Zac Brown Band, Jake Owen, Brett Eldredge and Reba McEntire. The list continues to grow and one name I didn’t expect to end up on it was Eric Paslay. He impressed me with his 2014 self-titled debut album and even more when I saw him in-person. His last single, “She Don’t Love You,” was a candidate for Country Perspective’s 2014 Song of the Year award. I’ve constantly praised him on the site as one of the up and coming artists to watch in mainstream country music and someone who could bring substance back to a genre sorely lacking it. Now out of nowhere Paslay has turned his back on what made me like him with the release of his new single “High Class.”

This song starts out well enough with the sounds of acoustic instruments. Then the drum machine kicks in and Paslay utters a line about having “a night to go out in style.” That’s when you realize this is about to get real bad. It gets terrible in fact. Here are the chorus lyrics:

Rent us a car, show up late. Valet this ride.

Credit on my cards, money in the bank at least for tonight. 

Keepin’ my shades on inside, all dressed in black.

“Escalade, these Luccheses yeah baby cadi up this lac

We ain’t on the list, but we on the list when you look like this and you walk like that

Skip the line baby and don’t look back. Tonight we high class. 

Holy shit these are terrible lyrics (written by Paslay, Corey Crowder and Jesse Frasure, who is also responsible for “Sun Daze” and “Hangover Tonight”). As you can see this song is about going to the club and partying because that’s the newest theme in country music that has to be beaten to death. Paslay goes on to sing about how great the DJ is and how all the girls are like, “I heard he taught Timberlake.” So we get a Justin Timberlake reference as the cherry on top of this steaming pile of crap of a song. Keep in mind this song follows up “She Don’t Love You.” These lyrics are all set to a dance club beat and some loud horn sounds are pumped in throughout the song. But don’t worry the token banjo is buried in their too. Paslay also borderline raps in the bridge of this song.

I don’t know what to say, folks. I’m speechless. This is just flat-out embarrassing and quite frankly sad. Paslay is a talented artist and he’s reduced himself to making noise pollution like this. We’ve reached a new low and I just don’t know if I can keep covering these type of songs. It hurts my music loving soul. The name country music has been so tarnished I don’t know if it will ever return to its rightful meaning. How can you come back from so many terrible songs like this and be considered a meaningful genre again? I don’t think you can and it’s why I think so many actual country artists are now identifying themselves as Americana. I’ve seen people say it before and I will say it again: actual country music is now Americana. What I saw at the 2015 Americana Music Awards was amazing and made me feel alive. Country music just depresses me. It’s a lost cause. Pack up your bags and head over to Americana if you want to hear the real stuff. Eric Paslay’s “High Class” is just another example of the shit show country music has become and will continue to be for the forseeable future.

Grade: 0/10

I don’t feel like linking the song. I don’t like to pollute the earth. And go listen to the new album from the Turnpike Troubadours.

Review – Clare Dunn’s “Move On”

Clare Dunn Move On

June was an absolutely stacked month for country music releases. We had more than enough stuff to cover and it has certainly kept us busy. Now at the beginning of July it’s the exact opposite, as there is pretty much no new music being released in the first two weeks of the month. It’s a giant lull. This is due to the fact that the universal music release day is being moved from Tuesdays to Fridays, starting this week on July 10. So with a free two weeks, it finally gives me time to cover some stuff that I missed from earlier in the year and artists that normally fly under-the-radar. One of those artists is Clare Dunn, an up-and-coming artist from southeast Colorado. Dunn signed with Universal Music Group Nashville and BMG in late 2014 after being tabbed as a “Highway Find” on Sirius XM The Highway and receiving good amount of radio support through satellite radio. From the YouTube clips I’ve heard from her, she impressed me. So when I saw she came out with a new single, “Move On,” I was anxious to give it a listen and review.

Well it’s certainly an interesting song, that catches my ears I can enjoy. “Move On” is a high-energy anthem that starts fast and remains fast throughout. It was written by Dunn and Jesse Frasure. It’s about a woman trying to get a shy guy to make his move on her, after being just friends for a while. These lines in the chorus say it best:

You’re on the sidelines wasting time when you could be winning with me
All them days are over, all them red lights are green
So move on, move on, move on
Make your move on me

The lyrics are kind of clever and catchy. Dunn’s voice sounds good and the production doesn’t overshadow it. The instrumentation draws you in and keeps you hooked. This song has everything it needs to be great…for pop radio. What? You actually thought I was going to praise this straight pop song being marketed as country? All of what I said above is true if this were Pop Perspective. But this is Country Perspective. So here are my thoughts on it as a country song: it isn’t. This song isn’t country in any single way. The instrumentation, the lyrics, the production, none of it sounds or feels country. This is a pop rock anthem that while catchy, doesn’t belong on country radio.

I will say this though: I enjoy this song as a pop song. It’s not good at all as a country song. Most of the time I hate the pop music being marketed as country, as both country music and pop music (see Sam Hunt and Kelsea Ballerini). So if I were grading this as a pop song, it would get a positive mark from me. But I’m not grading this as a pop song. It’s being marked as a country song, so it will be treated as such. The instrumentation and production completely ruin this song from being considered good. I bet an acoustic version, you know actual country instrumentation, would make for an all-around good song. The lyrics aren’t bad and Dunn shows her chops, even though it’s not showing her full potential as a singer. So if you’re into pop music, check out “Move On.” If not I would suggest to move on from this single from Clare Dunn.

Grade: 1.5/10

Here’s the acoustic version, which as I said, sounds better: