Dec 27, 2011

Worst Country Singles of 2011

Click the songs titles to listen, if you dare.

This is what happens when ball cap sporting posers like Jason Aldean and Brantley Gilbert rule the roost in Nashville. Copycats. Sure, Tyler may have been around just as long as those two, but he didn't get a push till now, so it's all about record execs seeing dollar signs. When the first line mentions a "turned around camouflage trucker ball cap," you know what to expect from there. Tricked out tractors, Stetson cologne, fishing metaphors, city-girls-gone-country… it's all there. Oh, loud guitars too, but that's a given… it is a country song after all.

9. Justin Moore - Bait a Hook
I thought Justin had turned a corner when he introduced his new album with the solid "If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away," but the rest of the album proved to be an entire collection of laundry list "how damn country I am" songs. And this one… I can't believe it hasn't come under critical fire for it's unspoken implication that a girly-drink-swilling, sushi-eating, Prius-driving boyfriend is more likely a closeted homosexual than a man deserving of the gal's love. If every man who can't skin a buck was unworthy of a female's partnership, I'd be out of a marriage y'all. And who the hell doesn't know who Jack Daniels is? The sissy boy this song is aimed at, that's who.

8. Trace Adkins - Brown Chicken Brown Cow
This porn joke turned country song turned puppet porn video served to cement Trace Adkins as the most scattershot artist working the top 40 these days. Trace has put out several songs in the past decade I'd name as my favorite commercial country tunes of the era. He's also put out at least 6 that are so indescribably bad, it's hard to see how they didn't top the country charts. It's not the hay loft love-making that makes this so bad - it's the terrible pun hook and the perverted farm animals who fight each other to get the closest view of the corn shucking. Even Trace knew this song was terrible, he pulled it from release to be spared the shame of the song not even cracking (huh huh, I said cracking) the top 30.

7. Big & Rich - Fake I.D.
Admittedly, I didn't hate Big & Rich's first album. It's over-the-top dumb fun and attempts to be nothing more. Since then, B&R have obviously struggled to recapture that juvenile attitude and hormone-filled energy to no avail. "Fake ID" proves their most awkward attempt at reconnecting with their youth. Think Travis Tritt flaming out with that awful "Girls Gone Wild" song a few years ago, or Clint Black uncomfortably parading around on the beach in a sleeveless T-shirt and jorts on the "Summer's Comin'" video. Kenny Chesney is the only older artist who can get away with that crap. This song has no weight whatsoever, no good hook, no interesting story, no soul. It's just a foolhardy attempt to get back on the radio with a lowest common denominator-aimed song that's more contrived than it is fun. Who wants to hear a thirty-something and a forty-something singing about trying to score fake ID's? It just doesn't make sense.

6. Tim McGraw & Gwyneth Paltrow - Me and Tennessee
The most annoying track on this countdown - "together we're singing/forever we're singing" goes the cringe-inducing chorus. Gwyneth isn't terrible, but her voice would be more suited to Colbie Calliat style singer-songwriter pop, rather than country. Ack, there's that chorus again - followed by some "yeah yeah yeah's" like they didn't know what else to fill the awkward space with. Awful. Damn near unlistenable. Yeah yeah yeah yeah.

5. Sawyer Brown - Smokin' Hot Wife
Sawyer Brown has now channeled the cheesy energy they once used to select their wardrobes into their music. The Bellamy Brothers-meets-Jimmy Buffett breezy island tune only tries to mine the popularity of similar Kenny Chesney and Zac Brown songs from recent years, but it adds nothing to the dopey lyrics. I suppose it might be okay for a 20-40 something artist to have a song by this title, but when it's from the 53 year old Mark Miller, it's just kinda creepy.

4. Colt Ford - Country Thang
From my review earlier this year:
"Country Thang" is YET ANOTHER listing song about, well, country thangs. And among thangs that Ford would like you to know are fixtures for the rural set are misspelelingllings (see song title) and uncorrect grammar, because "that's how we does it" down here! We also does it barefoot and crazy while the tin roof sings. We live in the pines in a shotgun shack with a high-priced huntin' dog baying around back. I bet you'll never guess what our women-folk wear. Yep, cutoff jeans. Apparently, in some necks of the south, women's clothing stores sell ONLY cutoffs, tight jeans, bikinis and short skirts. I wish.
Hey Colt, you sure you weren't better at golf?

3. Robin Meade - Dirty Laundry
The hottie-news anchor releases her first country single (because the world needed another star gone country) and it knowingly references her day job. Unfortunately that's the only thing remotely interesting about this cover of Don Henley's "Dirty Laundry." The soulless Muzik Mafia-lite background music sounds like something she bought from a show choir karaoke website. Her vocals are tolerable, but nothing that should have made her think she could make it in a world of Carrie Underwoods and Miranda Lamberts. The chorus is grating as hell. I'm not surprised this didn't even make a ripple, even in the age of lowered-standards Nashville. Putrid.

I was starting to come around to Luke Bryan. He's clearly got some vocal talent. Some of his songs are pretty darn country-sounding. His cheesy-charm even got me to tolerate the dopey "Rain is a Good Thing."
Whatever good will Luke had built up with me was completely spent (and he went into debt) with "Country Girl (Shake it for Me)." This despicably dunderheaded dance-country crapfest exhorted his girl to shake her posterior for the catfish, squirrels, rednecks, flowers, trees, CMT execs… whoever. It rehashes every Nashville clichĂ© we hated the first fifteen times. claims this to be one of the song's lyrics: "with a gattle in her Bud to get a little wild." I'm pretty sure that's not right, but even a nonsense lyrics like that couldn't pull the IQ of this song any lower.

1. Kristen Chenoweth - I Want Somebody (Bitch About)
From my review earlier this year:
From the first word out of her mouth, you know the next three minutes won't better your life experience. By midway through the first verse (if you're still around), you're convinced you can write a better song with the local Montgomery Gentry cover band. By the chorus, you're feeling a growing sense that your organs are banding together to overthrow your mind for letting things go this far. By the end of the chorus, you're ready to jump into a Slayer mosh pit and leave the whole adrenaline and whiskey charged bunch lying in a pool of their own blood and broken limbs. If you make it to the end, you hate your ears. Or you're a blogger.
This one takes the cake as the worst country single of 2011. And it's not even close.

Notably left off the list: Toby Keith - Red Solo Cup; Brantley Gilbert - Country Must Be Country Wide; Jason Aldean - Dirt Road Anthem.
These songs, to varying degrees, at least had something worthy about them… don't get me wrong, I hate all three for different reasons, but "Dirt Road Anthem" is damn catchy, regardless of its lasting damage to the genre. "Country Must Be Country Wide" at least 'sounds' better than anything in my bottom 10. "Red Solo Cup" teeters on the edge between big-stupid-fun and just-plain-stupid for me, and some of the lyrics are lovably idiotic. I have a soft spot for intentionally moronic lyrics.


  1. This is a grade A list of terrible music.

  2. Ha. This is an excellent list. Mercifully, I haven't heard many of these songs and thanks to the heads up, I probably never will.

  3. I like the list but ... I think "Brown Chicken Brown Cow" was funny because of the voyeuristic and pervy farm animals, and Red Solo Cup is one of the better singles of the year, not one notably left off the list. I'd rather listen to the stupid fun of those songs than the vomit inducing earnestness of "Just Fishing" or the patriotic-inspired ignorance of "Made in America." But mostly I agree. "Country Girl Shake it For Me" and "Bait a Hook" show just how backward, ignorant, and detestable country music can sometimes be. I did like "Dirt Road Anthem" a bit because it had a rap in it, and it angered both the traditionalist and the racist elements of the fan base. That alone is good! But, on the other hand, the whole drunk driving on a dirt road schtick is lame. The fact that radio has no problem playing a song celebrating getting smashed and behind the wheel but it won't play a song about banging merely because some cows are watching the sex go down shows how messed up the values of country radio and its listeners are.

  4. You drove this nail through the wall and out the back door!! Ick, ick, and double ick is about all I can say to this lineup. ha!!

  5. And may I add, thank GOD I have never heard the Kristen Chenoweth song until just now, and it only lasted one verse. ICKKKKKKKKKKKKK

    But yeah

  7. Knock knock...Country Universe recommended you so I thought I'd pay a visit, and wow! Kindred spirits! (And great name!) Bless you for singling out hick-y grammar and spelelinglling as pet peeves. Boy howdy!!

    First, "Bait A Hook" belongs on this list because it's hateful, paranoid and ignorant, not to mention seemingly written from the Redneck Handbook of Cliches. One of all too many country songs defining its audience as rural, boozy, undereducated, and prejudiced against cityfolk. The contempt for urban life so prevalent on country radio now is completely bewildering to me; I don't hear "city" music berating the rural lifestyle, so why the relentless attacking? I do not get it.

    In fact, that kind of songwriting, or the ones suggesting country life is just one bucolic day at the fishin' hole, automatically qualify for my personal list of crap country, which includes "Way Out Here," "Home Boy," about 80% of the Montgomery Gentry and Jason Aldean catalogs and virtually anything (at all) by Justin Moore.

    I do blame corporate radio, which seems to despise diversity. I have to wonder whether Brad Paisley and Keith Urban might even get played if they were just starting out now. They're much too inclusive, positive and original. And literate. Even Brad's new CD, while not my favorite, is hugely preferable to the above shite.[/rant]

    Anyway, I'm happy to have found this site! Good work! Is there a "favorite" songs list? (Never mind, I'll go look!)

  8. Thanks for all the feedback. Bait a Hook definitely belongs on here.

    RowdyRed, nice to meet ya! Glad you like the blog. A "Best songs" list is coming... it's an all-genre list though; if you're an exclusively country fan, you'll have to weed through it a bit.

  9. You know, I see where you're coming from on these. To me, if you're talking about commercial music, the marketplace is the final word. Did it sell or not. Also, let's not underestimate the "music" part of the songs. Some of these songs melodies are very catchy and good to my ear.You joke about the guitars, but the great guitar work is amazing. The pickin' is at the highest level throughout. Not something to just joke about. I don't follow it closely enough, I wonder how these songs charted. I'll check into it. Another point, redneck cliches are a staple of country music. Always have been, always will be. Often there is a twist put on them. The old line about not using cliches in your lyrics is proven wrong on a daily basis. I find some merit in all of these songs. I think Chenowith's is the worst commercially. It just isn't country enough, and true to her roots, it is a little too broadway for the country market. True, none of these songs is in my to 100 all time, but that is a high standard. Just like with movie critics, many think they are being so cool to just put down other people's efforts, in as clever of a way as possible. As Noel Coward once said about such criticism, "I have to be content with the bitter pallative of commercial success".

  10. About one of the remarks above. "Corporate radio"? Give me a break. Country radio has always served it's listeners and music purchasers and it always will. I'd be more concerned about marxist radio than corporate radio.

  11. I agree with the post that says "The old line about not using cliches in your lyrics is proven wrong on a daily basis." I'm no songwriter and I'd love a songwriter to chime in but I'd assume that cliches are often a good thing in songwriting because so much music is listened to as background noise. People driving in cars, working in some business that plays the radio, or whatever, probably aren't devoting all their attention to the song. I'd guess that given that you've got to make the songs easy to relate to and like with minimal intellectual effort and cliches probably help. Just my newest theory.

  12. And I thought my song EAT MORE POSSUM was a bit over the top. Need some good songs? What a silly question!



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