Showing posts with label Keith Urban. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Keith Urban. Show all posts

May 15, 2013

3 Up 3 Down: May '13



3 Up

Jake Owen - Anywhere With You
Really, Trailer? My selection of this song is more an example of how bad the charts are right now than an indicator of how good this song is. It's a catchy bastard for sure, but it's nothing new. It echoes umpteen songs that came before it about the place a love interest resides/visits being where the singer wishes to be. Owen's solid vocals and the wailing guitar hook make the song. I should hate it, but I can't. "Anywhere With You" would probably have fit in fine in the 90's (with the guitars dialed down a touch), and that's probably the reason for its guilty pleasure status with me. As long as Jake stays away from crap like "8 Second Ride," he's one of the few bright... well, um... not dim, lights on the country charts, if only because of his selection of hook-laden, semi-country tunes and his impassioned delivery.
B-


Easton Corbin - All Over the Road
Corbin's reluctance to record songs that glorify pasture parties or feature hip-hop breakdowns seems to be holding the talented singer back quite a bit. Hard not to root for somebody like that. This is a breezy, nearly weightless bit of country-lite goodness that (required Strait comparison coming) wouldn't have sounded out of place on an earlier George Strait album. It's hummable, foot tappable and so polite that it has a hard time elbowing its way into the forefront of the average listener's mind through the crowd of blazing guitar solos and moonshine references all too prevalent around it on the charts. It's also a gem.
A-


Kacey Musgraves - Blowin' Smoke
A no-doubter. Kacey's latest single that won't go any higher than #10 on the charts (mark it down) is smart and sneaky while sounding relatable and lightly cynical. It's clever and real, working both as a snapshot of a day at the diner and a prod at people who are always making plans and proclamations but never following through. Unfortunately, it doesn't work at a level that makes Jane-soccermom or Jeff-collegeguy not feel depressed while listening to it so we'll just have to be happy it's charting at all.
A

3 Down

Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift (ft Keith Urban) - Highway Don't Care
This tries hard to sound deep. Modern radio listeners mistake intent for effect, so expect lots of soulful, eyes half-closed singing along in the carpool lane. Unfortunately, "Highway Don't Care" is neither insightful nor tuneful, so this is a dud on all counts. Taylor's refrain is as grating as you might expect, the chorus is annoying and repetitive, and Keith Urban's guitar playing is nearly unnoticeable on this throwaway.
D


Florida-Georgia Line - Get Your Shine On
I've been over songs or phrases about "getting your anything on" since the late 90's so this is a non-starter for me. I'll give FGL one thing: they've crafted a signature sound that is unmistakable even in a sea of sound-alikes. It's not a signature sound I approve of, but it's certainly caught on beyond reasonable expectations. Also, these guys don't even pretend to go any deeper than the above ground pool half-filled with Pabst empties in the back yard of their trailer. So there's that. No pretense. Does it sound like I'm praising these guys?
Well...
D


Blake Shelton - Boys 'Round Here
The most dangerous song released to country radio in a decade or more, "Boys 'Round Here" is a genre-shifter disguised as mindless entertainment. It has a far more universal theme than Aldean's similarly hick-hopped "1994" and also comes from a pop culture icon with less baggage. On the surface, it's just another laundry-list country song whose verses happen to be rapped (not spoken, as BS bs'es). Beyond that, it's a top ten smash that will make dollar signs appear in record executives' eyes and slowly rewire the synapses of the easily-led masses to expect more urban sounding "country." When stuff like this becomes the norm, SCM's long-predicted monoculture will be at hand. Dress accordingly.
F

Jan 12, 2012

Snap Judgements - Promo Only Country Radio January '12


Like I've said before, Trace's songs are usually gold nuggets or turds. This one actually falls somewhere in the middle, for the first time in a while. The lyric resembles something I'd have written back in my aspiring lyricist days. Which is to say, a decent idea with a few good lines thrown in, but doesn't have much new to say. The tune is kinda unmemorable.. okay, very. Trace's general charm will probably lift this into the top 20, but it doesn't sound like a smash.
C+

Why he (actually, our old friends the LoCash Cowboys wrote it) chose to give it a grammatically incorrect title is beyond me. That's the only thing really different about this song from his last 20 singles. You not gonna be surprised by the formula: anthemic guitars, plucking banjo, uplifting lyrics, female friendly subject matter, foot-tapping beat, solid guitar solo. That's Keith's career in a nutshell. Nothing offensive here - completely catchy and totally interchangeable with most of his other songs.
C+

David Bradley - If You Can't Make Money
"If you can't make money/make out with somebody/if you can't make money/make love"… that's the gist and it goes no deeper. Nice sentiment, but I'd like to see it developed a little further. It's a tolerable song, but David's vocals aren't particularly distinctive. The cheesy crowd cheering at the end knocks this down half a grade.
C

Wow, she doesn't sound like Carrie Underwood for a change. And the instruments are all country.. the instrumentation, however is rocked up. Oh no, the chorus is half "oh -whoa-ohs." Not cool with me, almost ever. "We got homegrown in our genes" opens itself up for way too many jokes. Okay song, but the chorus destroys it for me. Oh yeah, and she name drops Jason freakin' Aldean. WTF?
C-

Is this a Montgomery Gentry cover? Nope. Kracker's saying "America's my hometown" here, pandering to everybody, not just small town lovers. Tuscaloosa, New York, San Diego, everybody gets mentioned so hopefully every radio station will play it. This sounds like something of a hit, but it's pretty dull - one chord and the truth. On a positive note, Kracker's vocals are getting better. Nothing to see here.
C

Love and Theft - Angel Eyes
Is this a Jeff Healey Band cover? Nope. There's only two guys in the group now - so which one's love and which one's theft? Eh, really dull song. A Jeff Healey cover would have been better. "There's a little bit of devil in her angel eyes" ….who cares? Female friendly, for females who don't really care what they're listening to, anyway. Yawnz.
D+

Rodney Atkins - He's Mine
Rock! Oh wait, country. But it's got a rocking swamp groove. Is this a declaration that he wants custody in the divorce? This is a tried-and-true Rodney Atkins formula tune… several story snippets framed by an interlocking chorus that fits each scenario. Not as godawful as some of his recent singles, but meh.
C

George Strait - Love's Gonna Make it Alright
This was my least favorite song on George's new album at first, but it's grown on me. You would think George + repetitive chorus would = boring, but it doesn't here. It's kinda cheesy, but he can do whatever he wants at this point and it'll sound just fine. 
B

This started with some promise with a little well-defined regret in the lyric, but it's all downhill from there. Crap. This is ready-made for a Glee episode. Schmaltzy show-choir girly junk. I was embarrassed someone might hear me listening to this. They make Lady Antebellum sound like Megadeth.
F

Billy Currington - Like My Dog
I kinda liked this the first time I heard it, but it never struck me as single-material. Still doesn't, but my opinion of it has dropped. The edits drive a nail into this song. What? You can't say "hell" on the radio now? If this promo only collection is any sign, 2012 will be the most neutered (see what I did there?) year ever in country music. Also, the dogs barking as censorship of the word "bitch" sounds like it was edited in on an old Emerson cassette tape recorder. Awful.
D

Craig Campbell - When I Get It
Another edit-out of "hell." Really people? Hell hell hell hell hell hell hell. Get over it. This song is a deep consideration of the times we're living in. Not really, but it does hit on the economic problems we're living through, with a bit of humor. It's okay, that's about all I can say about it.
C

Andy Gibson - Wanna Make You Love Me
This guy's voice has about as much grit as greased plastic. Sissy crap. I guess Andy noticed that Chuck Wicks wasn't on the scene and decided to jump into his namby-pamby slot. Wait, that sounded homo-erotic. Sorry, this utterly sucks. Jimmy Wayne could pound this guy into submission.
F

Levi Hart - We All Make Mistakes
Sound like an Uncle Kracker song at the start. More middle-of-the-road radio ready country. I've heard this guy is good, but this song wouldn't bear that out. The chorus is very nearly catchy, but not quite. The guitar work sounds canned. Boring. 
D

Sugarland with Matt Nathanson - Run
Do I have to? I like some of Matt's music. Not this. Can't Sugarland write an actual chorus anymore? If it wasn't for all the caffeine I'd consumed today, I'd be gone by now. If Zzzz was a grade, I'd give it to this song. 
D+

This song isn't anything special, but at this point, anything with an actual melody sounds like a masterpiece. This one has one. The lyrics are unspectacular but the tune makes this listenable. Coulda been a hit in the late 90's. Not sure about now.
C+

Toby Keith - Red Solo Cup (Album Version)
This is the one with the naughty bits. Testicles and whatnot. I guess I have to actually nail down my feelings about this song now… I've been beating around the bush because I don't know. I like a lot of the stupid lyrics. The chorus irks me because it's decidedly ramshackle and tossed-off, but an earworm none-the-less. Uh, well… 
C-

Toby Keith - Red Solo Cup (Vegetables - Explicit)
This is the one where "testicles" is replaced with "vegetables." That's dumb. In a song this flimsy, it's enough to knock off a grade.
D-

Toby Keith - Red Solo Cup (Bleeped - Explicit)
This is the one where "testicles" is replaced with "whoop!" Even dumber. 
F

Sep 29, 2011

Snap Judgments: Promo Only Country Radio September '11

Promo Only Country Radio September 2011
(click the titles to hear the songs)

George Strait – Here for A Good Time 2:57
A solid single from ol' King George. It incorporates partying and a little philosophy with relative ease. It also exudes all the charm Strait is known for. Nothing earth-shattering but a strong tune.
B

Brett Eldredge – It Ain’t Gotta Be Love 3:04
What a voice. As long as this guy selects/writes good songs, he's going to be good for the genre. This is a catchy track. Mid-tempo rocker about a one night stand ...or one weekend stand, anyway. I'd rather hear this than most of what's on the radio these days.
B-

Montgomery Gentry – Where I Come from 3:20
Same song, new verses. Stock Montgomery Gentry tune. Thankfully, that at least means some twang, steel guitar and some of the trappings of what country should sound like. Of course that also means rocking and strutting. "Where I Come From" is pretty much "My Town Part 2." Not bad and it'll probably get them back on the radio but really.... can't we get some new freaking subject matter on the radio?
C

Sawyer Brown – Smokin’ Hot Wife 3:10
I smell cheese before this even starts. It sounds like a Bellamy Brothers song right off the bat, which I would prefer. Hmm, no this isn't good. It reminds me of some other song that I can't recall at the moment, but I'm pretty sure it's a direct rip-off of that song. This is worse than bad Buffett, and that's saying something.
F

Robin Meade – Dirty Laundry 4:17
I'm not expecting much from the CNN news caster... and oh shit, it's a cover of Don Henley. This is awful. Not as spectacularly bad as that Chenoweth chick's foray into country, but it's in that league. Make it stop. Robin, stick to your day job.
F

Danny Gokey – Second Hand Heart 3:42
Go away, Danny. I'm as tired of looking at you as I am Jared at Subway. Holy crap, this sounds JUST like Dave Matthews Band's "Crash" at the beginning. Unfortunately, it gets worse from there. Lots of shout-singing. I don't like it. Go away, Danny.
D-

Keith Urban – Long Hot Summer (Venti Mix) 4:31
Ooh, venti mix. Does that mean we get to hear lots of Keith shredding at the end? His timing is way off... hell, summer's even over here in the deep south. Keith's in his usual groove here... driving tune with a little banjo plucking in the background. Female friendly, anthemic. His schtick. Not memorable.
C

Craig Morgan – This Ole Boy 3:20
Craig probably stole this one from Blake Shelton. Sounds just like one of his sure-shot mindless hits. Okay, I suppose but I'm bored with this. Morgan better pray this catches on. He's teetering on the edge of being relegated to the Country Tailgate Tour with some 90's hat acts if he doesn't get a hit soon.
C-

Taylor Swift – Sparks Fly 4:19
Well, it sounds like a Taylor Swift song. Ms. Swift is most certainly NOT like a box of chocolates. She certainly knows how to craft a vaguely country pop tune that's sweet on the ears. Nothing more, nothing less. The gals 12-25 will love it.
C+

Blake Shelton – God Gave Me You 3:47
The least country song Shelton's ever put out (maybe aside from "Home?"). It's a fairly catchy power ballad, but it's also pretty standard fare aimed at the soccer mom demographic. It's a radio programmer's wet dream.
C-

Rock riff. Attitude. Testosterone. The gates are open, y'all. The Aldean copycats are lined up from here to Athens and Nashville's herding them in. No thank you.
D-

Alan Jackson – Long Way to Go 3:39
I want to like this a lot more than I actually do. It's not bad, mind you, but it sounds like too many AJ songs that came before it. Still, you can't complain too much about "Long Way to Go" filling up airspace that might otherwise be dedicated to some up and coming pop country poser.
B-

Billy Ray Cyrus – Runway Lights 3:40
If BRC had chosen some better songs throughout his career, he could have been a lot more than a punch line. He's got a strong, distinctive voice that deserves good material. This is a military-related tune, but for the most part, it doesn't dip too far into the flag-waving of most songs of this ilk. It's personal and relateable. It's also got a heavy Springsteen vibe. Not bad.
B

Martina McBride – I’m Gonna Love You Through It 3:44
Yay, another cancer song. Well, this is country music after all. Martina sounds good here, though kinda Leann Rimes-esque in spots. Hmm, just remembered October is breast cancer awareness month. That's a great cause but the calculated release time rubs me wrong. The overwroughtness also.
C

Ashton Shepherd – Where Country Grows 3:11
I love Ashton's voice and the fact that she's very traditional sounding. However, I can't be a hypocrite here. This is YET ANOTHER COUNTRY LISTING SONG. Sigh.
C+

Steel Magnolia – Without You 3:26
Did this accidentally get put on here when it was actually intended for the Adult Contemporary promo only disc? I half expect Sting or Train to come on next. This is pleasant enough, I suppose but just not what I want out of country radio. This group lacks excitement.
C-

Jeff Bridges – What A Little Bit of Love Can Do 3:35
This sounds different than the crap he's put out lately. Oh... Jeff Bridges.. not Jeff Bates. My bad. Catchy, bouncy, cool song. I love this but it's pointless sending it out to radio. Nashville likes glitter not gruffness.
A

Johnny Patton – Save the Jukebox 2:58
Ooh, this is a throwback. Sounds like a cross between Johnny Paycheck and Billy Joe Shaver. You could tell me it was recorded in the 70's and I'd believe you. Good stuff! No chance at radio, but we can dream.
B

David Adam Byrnes – She Only Wanted Flowers 3:47
Sounds like something from the 90's from the start. That's a good thing. Good voice, cool harmonies with another male voice. I dig this. Guys like this and Justin Haigh give me hope. Thumbs up.
B+

Jim Quick – Down South
Delbert McClinton-esque. It's pretty catchy, but way too standard bar band fare to ever make it to the radio. Production is a weak suit here too.
C-

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