Jun 28, 2017
There’s a movement in country called, to me, ‘Boy Deserving Success Gets Success’. Aaron Watson, country’s ‘underdog’, has hit the sales top 50 and the airplay top 40 with "Outta Style;" William Michael Morgan has gone "Missing" with a sound that uncorks the bottle of wine labelled ‘1994;’ Jason Isbell has the number one record in country with zero airplay on non-satellite stations; and Jon Pardi is going to score his third number one with his smart new single, "Heartache on the Dancefloor."
It’s about a girl who attracts the protagonist with her moves on the dancefloor but who disappears before she can be found. There are about eight great rhythmic earworms in this song, including the chant-along ‘moving through my mind’ and the post-chorus ‘yes she is, yes she is’, which becomes ‘where you at, where you at’ in the final iteration.
The setting is a bar in a ‘west coast town’, which is smart as Jon is a Western act rather than a country one (the record is California Sunrise). The use of the word ‘wandering/ wondering’ in the chorus is smart: Jon is both walking to find her, and thinking about the girl constantly. ‘That girl is killing me so I put on this song!’ he says of his attempts to catch her in that same bar night after night. So what Jon is doing is describing imaginary heartache, which comes from not even talking to a girl; it’s sort of a psychic (or psychotic) passion for a girl. Maybe he dreamed her…
The image is instantly identifiable to anyone who ever visited a bar and saw a purty lady on the dancefloor. This time, Jon doesn’t even need to mention boots to get a hit.
"Well, to be perfectly honest, the data shows that blah blah advertisers blah format blah blah audience retention fart fart." explained Johnson. "We have research firms who've collected enough information over the years to determine that callout scores prove yada yada yada poop monkey ass."
After the "bro country" phase seemed to fade from the airwaves in recent years, many fans expected radio to become more open to female singers. Surely, letting listeners hear some great songs by badass women on a slightly more frequent basis might transition them into being more open to the plethora of great female country artists trying to make it in the business these days. With mainstream country stations across the country reporting dipping ratings, offering more options and building toward the future certainly couldn't hurt.
Mr. Johnson didn't seem to agree with that supposition. "I mean, you have to understand that this is a business." he continued. "When we survey our active listeners versus other industry terms I'm using as a smokescreen to avoid telling you the truth, blah blah hillbilly sandwich and so forth."
As well as Johnson explained the situation to us, we felt he was still leaving something out. We pressed him, and he broke.
"Okay okay," shouted Johnson. "Girls are yucky!" "Are you happy now, Mr. investigative journalist hater man?" "Girls are icky. They have those thingies on the front that make me confused. Most of these broads write or perform these deep and interesting songs that our listeners don't like because we've brainwashed them over the years to reject anything that isn't about partying in trucks and getting handjobs in a bar and whatnot." "And the girls scare me. I don't like them."
We thanked Mr. Johnson for his candidness as he left for a free lunch with someone pushing Walker Hayes' new single, which Johnson was going to add to WDIK's heavy rotation anyway.