Tyler Farr - A Guy Walks Into a Bar
While this new single from Farr might be a "song of the year" (ACMs or CMAs) contender with a stronger vocalist, it's still a surprisingly great tune. It shows the depth and wit that country songwriting used to be known for before it became a bro free-for-all. After yet another break-up, Farr realizes that his life is just a cycle of barroom loves gone wrong and frames it with the old "guy walks into a bar" joke format. It balances the hopelessness of the seemingly endless loop with the lightness of self deprecation. A winning single from a previously much-maligned artist here at FTM.
Tim McGraw ft. Faith Hill - Meanwhile Back at Mama's
Remember when Tim McGraw wasn't ashamed of his twang and was one of the best song pickers in the business? Neither do I, but this song certainly harkens back to Tim's better days. It's probably the most traditional sounding song on the charts right now, which wouldn't be so shocking if not for McGraw's recent run of autotune and bro-country bravado. This song is almost certainly bound for some awards show hardware. It's a strong addition to a solid career (if we cut out like 75% of his output for the last 10 years).
Kacey Musgraves - Keep It to Yourself
Sam Hunt - Leave the Night On
I suppose this isn't such a bad pop song, but the fact that it's told to us without so much as an elbow in the ribs or a knowing glance that this is country music really gets my goat. It's hip, in-crowd Jason Mraz lite with bro-country tropes thrown in. And this guy… dressed like a club kid and not even embarrassed about it, shoving 23 syllables into lines that should fit about 10, flat-brim caps, smug, tall, handsome… okay, my jealous hatin' is showing through, but I just can't stand anything about this. If bro-country is replaced by cool-bro-pop-country, we might be even worse off.
Swon Brothers - Later On
Technically, "Small Town Throwdown" or "Yeah" or the like are much worse than this song, but like Hunt's song, I fear this is where radio is headed. "Oh you're tired of truck party songs? Here are some less offensive truck party songs!" is what they're thinking. Bored is worse than angry when it comes to music and I'd rather dudes like Chase Rice fly their aggro-bro flags in my face than the Swons fly under the radar with their milquetoast brand of fun-time pop country. This is a big ol' pile of meh.
Rascal Flatts - Payback
Really? Gary Levox singing from the perspective of a player who's hoping to pick up a recently single female? This song has all the realism of a Michael Bay movie… with less character development. Tight jeans, throwin' down, get your feel good on? That's just the first verse. It doesn't' get any better. I don't know if this is any worse than "Bob That Head," their previous low water mark, but it certainly isn't any better.