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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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