Review – Keith Urban’s “The Fighter” (feat. Carrie Underwood)

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With the Ripcord era, Keith Urban has descended into straight up pop music. He’s always had a pop influence in his songs, but there’s always some kind of country element present. That’s now gone for the most part. I reviewed Ripcord last year to shine light on how bad music is bad music no matter what genre you put it in. His newest single “The Fighter” is the most shining example on the album. Obviously not country from the first seconds of the song, we get obnoxiously loud synth and drum loops making me think I’ve found a wormhole back to the 80s. That’s immediately the first impression I get from this song: bad 80s music. The lyrics of this song are somehow more ridiculous. We get the unbelievable premise of Urban being the man who fights for his woman, an image I don’t think I’ve ever thought of when it comes to Urban. Carrie Underwood joins in on the song as the woman of this man’s desire he saves from her scares and problems. Again ridiculous because I see Underwood as a strong woman capable of holding her own without the help of Urban of all people. Underwood’s contribution are also pretty damn scant, as she sings the same three lines for most of the song before a couple of verses in the bridge. After thinking about it more, this song reminds me of another terrible song: Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger.” Just like this song, it has an impossible to believe premise (Adam Levine having the moves like Jagger), a really cheap beat and a strong vocalist barely showing up (Christina Aguilera). The only things I would give “The Fighter” over “Moves Like Jagger” is that it’s more catchy and has a better hook. But this doesn’t save this terrible song. When you have a country song that’s closer to bad 80s music and Maroon 5, you know you’ve got something truly horrendous.

Grade: As a country song, 0/10. As a pop song, 2/10

 

Recommend? – No way!

 

Written & Produced by Keith Urban and busbee

The Hodgepodge: Is Pop Radio Better Than Country Radio Right Now?

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A look at the current state of country radio and really mainstream country music in general.

Yesterday in this week’s current pulse of mainstream country music, I was pretty frustrated and exasperated with country radio. The reasons being of course is that nothing new is being tried by country radio and the songs with substance are getting harder to find. They’re simply rehashing the same old crap. Case in point: Jason Aldean’s new single “Tonight Looks Good On You” is surging and will undoubtedly reach #1 on the chart. It’s just another version of Aldean’s 2014 hit “Burnin’ It Down.” On top of that it’s a Dallas Davidson song. I mean come on! I thought country radio had moved passed Davidson’s bullshit, but apparently not.

So as I normally do when I get frustrated with terrible music, I go listen to music I enjoy. As I sat and listened to Hozier’s excellent 2014 debut album, an idea came to me for this week’s Hodgepodge. Why not take a look at pop radio and compare it to country radio? It’s a perfect time to do so when many country stations across the nation are playing blatant pop music. When Kanye West and Ed Sheeran are getting airplay on country radio, you know shit has hit the fan and country stations have run out of answers. So to conduct this comparison, we’ll take a look at the top 20 on the Billboard Top Pop Songs chart from last week and compare it to the top 20 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart from last week. The same exact rules will apply to this as the current pulse that runs every week.

The -3 score on last week’s pulse will not be used, since it’s the cumulative score of the top 30. Only the pulse of the top 20 will be used. By taking away the bottom ten songs, the pulse of the top 20 is 0. That will be the score we use to compare to the pop chart. Today you will get to see the very rare occurrence of yours truly evaluating pop music. See what you’ve done to me country radio? So without further ado let’s take a look at the Top Pop Chart:

  1. Taylor Swift – “Style” 0
  2. Maroon 5 – “Sugar” 0
  3. Ed Sheeran – “Thinking Out Loud” +1 (Sheeran is awesome)
  4. Bruno Mars & Mark Ronson – “Uptown Funk” +1 (This song is great, despite being overplayed)
  5. Pitbull & Ne-Yo – “Time of Our Lives” -1 (Pitbull sucks no matter what genre he is in)
  6. Ellie Goulding – “Love Me Like You Do” -1 (A terrible Fifty Shades of Grey song)
  7. Kanye West, Rihanna & Paul McCartney – “FourFiveSeconds” 0
  8. Natalie La Rose & Jeremih – “Somebody” -1
  9. Calvin Harris & Ellie Goulding – “Outside” 0
  10. Ariana Grande – “One Last Time” -1
  11. Nick Jonas – “Chains” +1 (I’m surprised I liked this)
  12. Zedd & Selena Gomez – “I Want You To Know” +1
  13. Taylor Swift – “Blank Space” -1
  14. One Direction – “Night Changes” -1
  15. Lillywood & Robin Schulz – “Prayer In C” 0
  16. Flo Rida, Sage The Gemini & Lookas – “G.D.F.R.” -1 (Flo Rida is the Toby Keith of pop music. He just keeps hanging on.)
  17. Jason DeRulo – “Want To Want Me” -1
  18. The Weeknd – “Earned It” -1 (Another terrible Fifty Shades of Grey song)
  19. Usher & Juicy J – “I Dont Mind” -1 
  20. Tori Kelly – “Nobody Love”

So the total current pulse of pop music is -8. Wow! It’s even worse than country radio! Yet country radio is borrowing from it. It shouldn’t be borrowing period from pop music, whether it’s better or worse. Still country radio is borrowing from a genre that is even worse. There are genre lines for a reason. The only common denominator between both groups of songs is the club theme. You can thank Sam Hunt for bringing this into country music. Music about going to the club is just plain dumb and it’s why people laugh at artists like Pitbull and Flo Rida. I will say though I would take pop’s club music over country’s club music.

After this not very surprising revelation, I think I can safely say that all of radio is nothing but a vast wasteland of garbage songs. Country radio isn’t the only one lacking substance. However it’s imperative if I point out the big different between both. Country radio and pop radio historically have been viewed completely different by listeners. Pop radio is a mix of several different genres all in one place for casual listeners to hear. Upbeat, fun, party songs are the norm for pop and everyone pretty much knows this. You don’t hear a lot of songs that you would consider classics get on pop radio today, save for the likes of Adele and Hozier maybe. In years past you had icons like Michael Jackson dominating pop, but I don’t see any singers like Jackson on the horizon.

Country radio on the other hand was always viewed by people as a place to go for songs about life, love and other themes that explore deeper meaning. It was the genre of substance. You could hear a song like Vince Gill’s “Go Rest High On That Mountain” and be brought to tears. George Strait’s “Give It Away” or Garth Brooks’ “The Dance” connected with anyone out there whoever had their heart-broken. Go back a little over ten years and you could hear a song on country radio like Josh Turner’s “Long Black Train” that had a great message to anyone of any age. These are the kind of songs that made country music what it was. It was what made you and me fans of country music.

Now an entire generation views country music as a laughing-stock full of songs about drinking, debauchery and partying. That respect country music once held in popular culture has eroded away. People turn on country radio and don’t even recognize the genre. Some people don’t even turn on the radio. Sure there is plenty of great independent country music out there and sites like this help spread the word of it. But why would people seek it out? After what they hear on country radio, it makes them run away from the genre. They’ve got such a sour taste from country radio that they won’t even try the good country music. Country music fans need something to believe in and hear to reaffirm their faith in the genre. Will we get that before it’s too late? For the sake of country music, I hope so.

Upcoming/Recent Country Music Releases

  • Will Hoge will come out with his new album Small Town Dreams next Tuesday. A couple of months ago we got a taste of what’s to come on the album and based on that I’m expecting this to be a good one. Derek will be reviewing this one, as Hoge is one of his favorites.
  • Kristian Bush’s debut solo album Southern Gravity will also be released next Tuesday. The lead single “Trailer Hitch” was a surprisingly good song, so it’ll be interesting to hear what the rest of the album sounds like and whether the sound of Sugarland is evident at all.
  • The third notable release next week and the biggest in the independent realm is Pokey LaFarge’s Something In The Water. This could quietly be one of the best releases in April.
  • On Monday, Jason Isbell tweeted: “New new album is done and mastered.” So maybe we’ll get this sooner than July? I certainly hope so. We should at least hear the first single from it very soon.

Throwback Thursday Song

George Jones – “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes?” – You know how I was saying up above about how country music was the genre about life and connecting with everyday people? This song articulates that point perfectly. And it’s a song many country fans wonder today.

Non-Country Song of the Week

AC/DC – “Shoot To Thrill” – This is one of my all-time favorite AC/DC songs. The high notes blow me away every time.

Tweet of the Week

Anti-Bobby Bones tweets are always great. He’s another problem hurting country music, but that’s another post for another day.

Two iTunes Reviews That Will Make You Face Palm

Stupid EYB Comment 2

 

Stupid EYB Comment 3

 

I’ve been sitting on these gems for a couple of weeks. These were under Eli Young Band’s new EP Turn It On. The first one justifies this terrible EP by saying everyone’s going pop in country, so it’s fine. The other says it’s fine because they wrote all four songs. Here’s an easy way to determine whether or not a song or group of songs suck: people having to list reasons to justify why it’s good. People making excuses for it. A great song speaks volumes on its own merit and doesn’t need to be explained why it’s good.

That’s it for the Hodgepodge this week! Be sure to sound off in the comments! 

Album Review & Rant – Florida Georgia Line’s Anything Goes

(Warning: The following review/rant contains strong language and is intended for mature audiences, which I guess eliminates fans of Florida Georgia Line. Anyway you’ve been warned the language is graphic in this post.)

You thought you could fool everybody? You sneaky bastards thought if you put one decent song out it would keep the critics quiet. That only worked for a couple of weeks. Once I heard your other new singles, Florida Georgia Line I knew you were back to the same old shit. After listening to Anything Goes my thoughts are confirmed. There’s been a lot of bad music released this year, especially here in recent weeks. But the music wasn’t bad enough to make me angry. It was just boring, repetitive and forgettable. This Florida Georgia Line album is all of these things too, but the lyrics in some of these songs are so damn bad that it made me question why I even listen to country music. But then I look at my music library and reminded myself that Florida Georgia Line isn’t country music. It’s just straight up garbage in any genre. Prepare yourself for this review. It gets bumpy.

The Best Song on the Album

Normally it says best songs above, but there’s only good song on this entire album and it’s “Dirt.” This song is true saving grace from this album being a complete waste of time. And really after hearing “Dirt” so many times on the radio it doesn’t sound as good as I originally thought. If you missed my review of that single back in July, click here. I’m not going to waste any more words on it because it’s truly the huge anomaly of this album and really Florida Georgia Line’s career. I wouldn’t be surprised if they never made a good song again.

The Worst Songs on the Album

The rest of the album is basically a pile of crap, so let’s just take it from the top. “Anything Goes” immediately kicks off with auto-tuned hick-hop. My first thought is what did I get myself into? Did you miss the immature and stupid lyrics from these assholes? Well you’re in luck. Everything about this trashy, pop country song is bad. Hubbard’s vocals are flat as usual and the auto-tune is layered on thick. The lyrics are even worse in “Sun Daze.” One of the opening lyrics to this song: “Rock a little bit of hip hop and Haggard and Jagger.” Are you kidding me? The duo goes full asshat douchebag in this song from the production to the lyrics. And then of course the infamous line that has been discussed among serious country music critics for weeks: “Sit you up on the kitchen sink and stick a pink umbrella in your drink.” I think you know what the sexual innuendo is here. I had to stop after hearing this line. This is a bonafide candidate for worst country song of the year.

The next song is called “Good Good.” I’m not joking. What a creative title! It’s just another damn party, feel good song. Shania Twain is name-dropped, which I’m sure will please traditional country fans. You will lose a few IQ points after listening to this ridiculous song. It’s as smart as the “creative” title. “Smile” is about….all who am I kidding. It’s the same old shit from Florida Georgia Line on this song. They’re drinking and trying to screw some girl. That is all they do. If actual songwriters got a hold of this song it could’ve been a sentimental song. Instead it’s just another overproduced pile of shit. The writers of this song are Chris DeStefano, Ashley Gorley and the king of shit mountain himself Dallas Davidson. Surprisingly this is the only appearance by Davidson in the album.

Other than “Dirt” every single song literally has the same theme up to this point. “Sippin’ On Fire” is about drinking Fireball, but that’s name-dropped in every Florida Georgia Line song. At this point it’s just getting boring. I guess this song is supposed to be a slower song, but to me it’s just another bad song. In the first minute of “Smoke” every single bro country trope is mentioned. I guess to let you know right off the bat that this song also sucks. I just don’t see how anyone can like these songs. They all sound the same, with just rearranged lyrics. If you can stomach the bro country tropes this song isn’t the worst. But then again the bar hasn’t exactly been set high with this duo. The song is about remembering a past girlfriend and actually could’ve been a great song if they just took away all of the horrible, cliché lyrics. “Bumpin’ The Night” is a hooking up, drinking song where I can say pretty much the same thing about it as I just did with “Smoke.”

I can’t prepare you for the next song “Angel.” Part of the chorus for this song is one of the cheesiest pickup lines of all-time. You know the one I’m talking about. This is actually verbatim: “Did it hurt when you fell from the sky?” Hahahahaha! Holy shit! Once you stop laughing from the amount of cheesiness in the chorus the duo actually attempts to be serious in this song. You can’t be taken serious though after uttering such a cliché line. The bro country tropes are light. But the instrumentation is way overproduced. Another song if re-written that could’ve been good. I’m thankful they at least provided this moment of comic relief.

“Confession” actually isn’t a party song. Color me shocked! It’s about reflecting on your past. It tries to be sentimental, but it just doesn’t feel genuine to me. Then again after hearing “Angel” I don’t think I can ever take this duo seriously ever again. It was hard enough before that song. “Like You Ain’t Even Gone” proves Tyler Hubbard should never do spoken word. He isn’t talented enough. And yet here he is doing it on this song. You should only do spoken word if you’re talented and I have an album review coming up where the artist does the art form justice. I don’t even know what this song is about and I don’t care. I just never want to hear it again.

The album mercifully comes to an end with “Every Night,” which reminds of Maroon 5. That should tell you all you need to know about this song. There is one line I would like to point out though. Hubbard sings at one point that “the neighbors probably hate me.” No Tyler that would be everyone who has any kind of respect for decency and not committing crimes against humanity with such horrendous music. It just isn’t traditional country fans, but anyone who hates horrible music.

Overall Thoughts

An Avicii ad played on Spotify as I listened to this album and it sounded just as country as Florida Georgia Line’s songs on Anything Goes. I had to point this out because of how true it is and sad the current situation is in mainstream country music. Maybe some artists are actually striving to make better music, but some clearly want to hold onto bro country with a death grip. And I can’t blame them because it has made a lot of people rich. I have to think at some point though that even the mainstream crowd will get tired of this shit. Everyday I wake up and hope that America has finally given up on Florida Georgia Line and they give them the Nickelback treatment because Florida Georgia Line is truly the Nickelback of country music. Ironically Joey Moi, who produces Nickelback’s albums, also produces Florida Georgia Line’s albums. I told myself “Dirt” was going to prevent this album from receiving a zero, but after listening to it I’ve changed my mind. When you have 11 other songs that are so horrible it tends to cover up the one bright spot on this album. Florida Georgia Line’s Anything Goes deserves to be the first ever album on Country Perspective to receive a rating of zero.

Grade: 0/10