Showing posts with label Buddy Jewell. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Buddy Jewell. Show all posts

Apr 5, 2022

Still More Worst Country Songs of the Last 4 Decades

By Bobby Peacock

I really didn't want to do this, because I feel that I've let negativity get the best of me lately. But I just found too many songs not to do a part three. This is the last one, I swear.


"Arab, Alabama" by Pinkard & Bowden

The only thing keeping me from also including "Libyan on a Jet Plane" is that I can only find a live version. This one's dated "jokes" about the PLO, Cubans hijacking planes, South Americans smuggling drugs, and Fidel Castro marrying "one of Loretta's sisters" read like a couple of racist hillbillies thumbing through the newspaper and riffing on everything they see. And that's before we get to them referring to Middle Easterners as "sheet heads"; a list of offensive stereotypes is just that. But what do you expect  from a couple buffoons who think that shoving the word "cock-sucking" into a song called "Censor Us" is a punchline? (And more importantly, how did one of these guys also write "You're the Reason God Made Oklahoma?”)

"Everybody's Sweetheart" by Vince Gill

I hate to do this to Vince Gill. But that one line, "shoulda kept her barefoot / Barefoot and pregnant all the time"... yeah, that's some really ugly sexism. There is no way to deliver that line correctly, and I'm surprised it wasn't more controversial even in 1988. And it's a shame that I'm letting it come down to that, because the central idea on its own -- the conflict one feels in a relationship where both people are touring musicians (in this case, Janis Oliver of Sweethearts of the Rodeo) is a great idea for a song. But to actively wish disdain on your own spouse's career, and in such a crass, misogynstic fashion to boot? Thankfully he treated the same topic more tactfully with "The Radio". And I really can't see him saying anything like this about Amy Grant.

"I Loved 'em Every One" by T. G. Sheppard

After the "worst of the '80s" list dropped, I had a DJ e-mail me and thank me for including "War Is Hell (On the Homefront Too)". He stated that he also dislikes how most T. G. Sheppard songs are "about getting laid" and I realized just how true this is. (His '70s songs, like "Devil in the Bottle", sound like a completely different artist.) Plowing through women like an allergy sufferer through Kleenex is bad enough when you're not even trying to assign any personality or emotion to them; outright admitting that not one, but several of them were prostitutes is just the added layer of squick. He may be hoping they had some fun, but I'm just hoping that everyone got tested for STIs.

"Red Neckin' Love Makin' Night" by Conway Twitty

Among an otherwise decent run of singles in the 80s, hampered only by some dubious cover songs ("The Rose"), we get him setting the stage for the chest-thumping boogie-country of Hank Jr. and the sleazy "drink beer with a hot girl in a truck" of bro-country. The only difference is since this is 1981, the music's on an 8-track instead. Conway's attempts at asides and breaking from meter only make the song sound more forced and drawn out than it needs to be -- not that the horribly-scanning lyrics ("I got a six-pack of longnecks in the trunk on ice / Ooh, but you sure look nice") do him any favors on this front. What a waste of the usually reliable Max D. Barnes and Troy Seals. Even "Tight Fittin' Jeans" manages to be a million times less sleazy.


"Better Than a Biscuit" by John Berry

For a long time, the three tracks off John Berry's two unreleased Capitol albums seemed to exist nowhere on the Internet. "The Stone" and "Over My Shoulder" are both good songs, but this one... oof. I'm not opposed to food songs -- hell, "Weird Al" Yankovic built a career on them -- but there has to be some thought put into them. While the production is looser than usual for him, it's wasted on some of the worst lyrics I've ever heard. "Somebody call the Colonel, she's finger-lickin' good" (dude, I don't want to know what she was doing to your fingers), "She'd make any turkey breast look like a can of Spam,” and let's not forget the hook: "she tasted better than a biscuit double-dunked in red eye gravy.” It reminds me of "Fancy Like" in just how blatantly un-dignified it is -- even if, unlike that song, it actually bothers to sound country.

"Don't Take the Girl" by Tim McGraw

As my disdain for "Humble and Kind" showed, I'm not afraid to go after some of Tim's more beloved songs. Even when I was 7, I thought this was hackneyed. From the forced name-drops in the first verse (Jimmy Johnson and Tommy Thompson? Really?) to the robber at the movie theater to the now-grown woman dying in childbirth, the melodrama just gets thicker and more contrived as it strains to match the hook. "Same chorus, three meanings" is such a common country music trope that can be done well or badly like anything else, but the lengths to which this one stretches are far beyond my suspension of disbelief. His whiny vocal does nothing but prove how much more nuanced he'd get in the coming years. It's not hard to see why I can only find one other charted single for either writer...

"Genuine Rednecks" by David Lee Murphy

How is this is the same David Lee Murphy behind such thoughtful songs as "The Road You Leave Behind" and "Dust on the Bottle"? Even worse is how blatantly he's ripping off his own "Party Crowd"; while that one had the setup of a likable everyman just wanting to ease his broken heart, this one lacks any semblance of setup other than "I want to party". There's an annoyingly judgmental tone to lines like "if you don't like them, you won't like me" and "where I do belong, it don't come with a crystal chandelier", combining with an overdone fake twang. It's not hard to see why this brought his singing career to a screeching halt, and it's only worse in hindsight when you follow the trail from this to his worst co-write by far, Josh Thompson's "Way Out Here.”

"The Man Song" by Sean Morey

My dad used to listen to The Bob & Tom Show when I was young. This was my first exposure to awkward foul-mouthed male comedian-singers whose work has mostly aged poorly, such as Tim Wilson (who, incidentally, co-wrote the aforementioned "Arab, Alabama"). From that same mold comes Sean Morey, who doesn't even really bother with the whole "singing" part. Instead, he recites rote non-jokes about a henpecked husband ("I wear the pants around here... when I'm finished with your laundry") that, even by 1998, seem extremely outdated, sexist, and not funny. But what do you expect from a man whose idea of a Christmas song is racist stereotypes, and whose apparent comedic pinnacle is called "The Hairy Ass Song?”


"Help Pour Out the Rain (Lacey's Song)" by Buddy Jewell

While the curiosity of a child is only natural, this song goes off the rails fast. No kid that isn't in the comic strip The Family Circus is going to think that the Milky Way Galaxy is literally a candy bar, or that angels "pour out the rain". (What you believe about Heaven is ultimately up to you, but I think most people -- even kids -- know that it's not just a visit.) And of course, this doe-eyed naïveté moves the narrator to pull over, cry, and pray about meeting Jesus, all while recounting the situation in a schmaltzy "la da dee" croon. Again, you can believe whatever you want as long as it's not harmful, because it's turtles all the way down the line. But this is the kind of over-the-top contrived schmaltz that doesn't even belong in a PureFlix movie.

"I Don't Know What She Said" by Blaine Larsen

I admit that I never cared for Blaine Larsen. Most of his songs (I'll give him "How Do You Get That Lonely") felt as if others were forcing this suave Southern gentleman style onto him against his will. But the only one that actively annoyed me was this one. Thankfully it isn't overtly racist like "Illegals" or "This Ain't Mexico,” and it at least bothers to get the Spanish mostly correct (outside a couple jokey lines like "señor blah blah blah blah"). But it still has a smug, condescending, and borderline creepy tone toward the attractive Mexican woman. It's hard not to read this as a horny 20-year-old trying to get laid. And cringeworthy "no one actually says that" lines like "J.Lo had nothing on her" don't help, either.

"I Got My Game On" by Trace Adkins

Most of Trace Adkins' novelties didn't bother me much. I'm not gonna say that "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,” "Swing,” or "Ladies Love Country Boys" are good, but they at least seem like plausible everyman scenarios. This is just a rich cocky asshole bragging about his Cadillac, platinum credit card, Armani suit, and alligator boots, not to mention all the tail he's getting. Exactly what part of this is supposed to be entertaining or even relatable to anyone not among the elite? Maybe it catered to the people who would later watch him on The Apprentice. But for those of us who want no part of testosterone-fueled power fantasies, I'm just left wondering why he was so anxious to withdraw "I Wanna Feel Something" for new music if this is what he had to offer.

"I'll Walk" by Bucky Covington

This one almost feels like a parody of the old "use the chorus in three scenarios" trick. How do they go from having a fight on prom night, to her getting hit by a drunk driver, to him suddenly turning around any marrying her? The setup is so contrived, not to mention downright manipulative by dismissively framing the woman in the song as the vehicle for a horribly predictable outcome. There's no other emotion -- no guilt on his part, no anger on either of theirs. "The Walk" by Sawyer Brown was a million times better at recontextualizing different "walks" between two people, and "The Impossible" by Joe Nichols a million times better at handling someone overcoming a handicap.

"Lost" by Faith Hill

Faith's bombastic country pop diva shtick was never my cup of tea outside "Cry,” and it was pretty passé by 2003. While Fireflies relegated the bombast to the deep cuts and went with an okay-to-great batch of singles, I guess she just had to get one last awful power ballad out of her. (I would expect no less out of a "hit factory" style songwriter such as Kara DioGuardi.) There's no semblance of originality to be found in this already outdated and sterile approach: "if it's a dream, don't wake me up,” "with me everywhere I am,” "can't believe we've come this far" are all belted to the rafters as if they're the most important truisms in the world when they're barely good enough to even put in a Hallmark card. At least "Red Umbrella", love it or hate it, had flavor.

"Maybe She'll Get Lonely" by Jack Ingram

This one came out at the same time as Lee Brice's "Happy Endings,” another song in which the narrator hopes that his ex will have a change of heart. A lot of songs have done it, and maybe if there weren't a much better take on the same premise out at almost exactly the same time... nah, this one would still be just about the least amount of imagination given to this premise. Screen door, kicking up dust, praying, turn that wheel around, love her/need her/can't live without her, too far gone -- there isn't a single original or interesting line that has even the tiniest bit of personality. There's barely even setup, and the hook is just weak-willed at best. This was around the same time that Pat Green was getting all of his edges sanded off in a failed attempt at going more "mainstream,” and for both him and Ingram, the results were just pitiful pandering that pleased nobody.

"Nothing Catches Jesus by Surprise" by John Michael Montgomery

What... is this song? One of the last credits for Waylon Jennings before his death, the first major misfire for Tom Douglas, and the first song that inspired me to write a part three to this list. Each couplet is just baffling in how random it is:"Catching Babe Ruth, catching Roger Maris / The way you caught my eye in Paris, Tennessee.” Every line afterward seems to be at least trying to aim at a parallel between worldly contradictions and an unlikely marriage working out, but misses its mark by a country mile. And what does Jesus have to do with any of it? How is any of this mishmash suggesting that anyone is trying to catch Jesus by surprise?

"The Obscenity Prayer (Give It to Me)" by Rodney Crowell

What a step down from his best song "Earthbound.” The "satire,” if you can call it that, is of a rich right-wing douchebag who wants a hot wife, a good body, booze, etc. -- but doesn't want to work for it. And it's delivered with no sense of subtlety, irony, or humor. Line after line is on-the-nose to the point of cringe: "I despise all bleeding hearts / I don't patronize the arts.” "You're tryin' to get me to show some compassion / Man, that's so outta fashion.” "The Dixie Chicks can kiss my ass / But I still need that backstage pass.” The song just drones on and on, long after it's made its thuddingly obvious point. I really hated to do this to the usually very talented and smart Rodney, but thankfully this and the equally navel-gazing "Sex and Gasoline" were the only missteps of his entire career.

"Redneck Anthem" by Ty England

Highways & Dance Halls seemed to finally mature Ty England after two mediocre hat-act albums, so how did he end up backsliding this hard? Sounding far weaker than ever, he plows through some of the worst redneck clichés on the planet in a manner that makes his previous groaner "Redneck Son" sound like Merle Haggard in comparison. He crams the phrase "jacked up" twice in the first verse alone, then lists off such things as sleeveless shirts, aggressive jingoism, "mow our lawn with a billy goat," guns, daddy, Skoal, NASCAR, and even a name-drop of Larry the Cable Guy's "git-r-done" catch phrase. The album leans into this caricature all the more with "The NRA Song,” "Stick to Your Guns,” and "Texans Hold 'Em.” I think even Jeff Foxworthy would tell this guy he's making rednecks look bad.

"Tail on the Tailgate" by Neal McCoy

You can hate "The Shake,” but ultimately I find that one too goofy to be bothersome. This, on the other hand, does not get a free pass. This guy gets a beat up old truck from his brother, who points out the one thing I don't want to know: "hey, I fucked a lot of women in this truck.” At that point, the only reaction should be "eww!" But instead, this sleazy little pervert takes the truck and does exactly the same thing with an already cliché party in the woods. While he tries to dismiss it with a "that ain't what you're thinkin'", how else am I even supposed to interpret that hook? It's fitting that this was an early Rodney Clawson co-write, because it fits right in with all the bro-country songs he'd later write.

"Whistlin' Dixie" by Randy Houser

Having "Dixie" in the title isn't even a concern when at least half the lyrics are a billion times worse. Let's start with "learn how to talk straight, not back / Or my little white butt get a whippin'" for some parenting as horrible as the grammar. Add to the pile shotguns, naked Southern women, drugs, and food, and then scream it over an overly-loud mishmash of guitars, and the result is headache-inducing on so many levels. At least "I'm All About It" seemed more lighthearted, but it's not hard to see why his second album got delayed. Thankfully, the downward slide from the very good "Anything Goes" would later be reversed in favor of the much better "Like a Cowboy" and "What Whiskey Does.”


"Fly" by Maddie & Tae

Hey, look, another motivational cliché song with a nonsensical hook. I thought we stopped doing those in 2002. "You can learn to fly on the way down" is not an inspiring image. If you're falling, it's too fast for you to suddenly learn how to fly; instead, you're just gonna face-plant into the ground. And now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's count off the clichés: "heart's a mess,” "find a way to make it,” "keep on climbing" (wait, weren't we just flying? Why are we now climbing?), "we've come this far,” "more to this than just the breath you're breathing.” While the song does sound less processed than others like it, that's not saying much when the lyrics are this bad. And why does it randomly shift from third to second person halfway through?

"High Class" by Eric Paslay

This song sounds like if "Uptown Funk" shat itself. As he tries to come off as the country boy who's still "street" enough to crash even the ritziest of parties, Eric Paslay does nothing but embarrass himself. What the hell does "Cadi up that Lac" even mean? Is he listening to the Lacs in his Cadillac? (The closed captioning on the official YouTube upload says it's "cattle up this 'Lac", which makes even less sense.) Not to mention the zero copula (that's the technical term for omitting verbs, as in "tonight we high class") that tiptoes dangerously close to "white person using AAVE". Add in the most forced name-drop of Justin Timberlake since "I'm a Saint,” and the result proves that you can't spell "high class" without "ass.”

"Hope You Get Lonely Tonight" by Cole Swindell

If I were to rank songs for "worst production choices,” this would be neck and neck with "Bob That Head.” The loud-ass drum machine that sounds like driving over rumble strips, the overdriven muddy guitars, and Cold and Rainy's wallpaper-paste voice all combine into sound (but no fury), signifying nothing. Maybe better production and a different vocalist might make this at least tolerable -- actually, no, it'd still be about drinking and kissing on a tailgate, drunk late-night sexting, and two white-trash doofuses screwing. So yeah, Michael Carter, I think you're off the hook with this one. Cole, however, can just go back to being the Save-a-Lot brand mayo that he is.


HARDY really started off on the wrong foot. I ended up hating this song so much that I also hated "ONE BEER" entirely by proxy until I finally analyzed it on its own merits. I get that he's at least trying to deconstruct the "list off redneck clichés" trope by one-upping them, but just like "The Worst Country Song of All Time" (which he also had a hand in), just doing the thing you're riffing on louder isn't the same as subverting it. And there is literally no reason for any song to include a lyric as gross as "I piss where I want.” Just like most Joey Moi productions, this one is all processed guitar and Auto-Tune. HARDY has had a few flashes of brilliance on there, but he started off so thoroughly on the wrong foot that I almost dismissed his entire career by proxy.

"The Rest of Our Life" by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill

I'm gonna be honest: I've never liked most Tim and Faith collabs because I find their vocal styles too dissimilar. And it's especially bad here, because Tim is way out of his range, straining and shaking to catch up to Faith's bellowing (especially on the chorus). And I can tell that Ed Sheeran wrote this, because it has his whimper-y sweet little nothings all over it. Other than jarringly out-of-place names for their kids (which has zero buildup, by the way) and somehow working in the word "waistline" (seriously, not even "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Fat" did that), it's just a bunch of mushy platitudes with no narrative connection. This just sounds like an even more embarrassing "Shape of You" clone.

"Honey Jack" by 17 Memphis

The intro to this, which sounds like a vaporwave remix of Kiiara's "Gold,” is probably the worst way to start out a song since "Bob That Head.” Then come the trap snares, played on quite possibly the same broken-as-fuck drum machine used on "Hope You Get Lonely Tonight.” Underneath this extremely ugly interior are laughably juvenile lyrics that take on backroads, whiskey, trucks, phones, etc. Both members of the duo actually have decent voices and there is some chemistry on the recording, but it's hard to tell with the farting synths, jackhammer drum machines, and Auto-Tune doing everything to drown them out. It's easy to see why these two didn't go anywhere.

"21" by Hunter Hayes

When your song's hook is "gonna party like we just turned 21" and you still sound like you're in kindergarten, what other reaction should I even have? I legitimately laughed out loud the first time I heard this. I want to like Hunter Hayes because of his child prodigy nature, but for the most part, his discography has leaned way too far into Disney Channel-esque teeny-bopper fluff for me to care. "Wanted" pissed me off by being extremely stale and one-dimensional, but this one annoys me for the opposite reason. It calls for an edge that Hunter just does not have. His musical image was already too squeaky-clean, and the song is just too lethargic for lyrics about "going crazy". This just sounds like a slower version of Rascal Flatts' "Summer Nights,” which itself is just an only slightly-less-bad rewrite of Hot Chelle Rae's "Tonight, Tonight.” And you know what they say about copies of copies.

"You Look Good" by Lady Antebellum

No, this isn't about the naming controversy. However, that whole scenario did make me reassess this duly lamentable group who does almost nothing but blandly emulate the worst of cheesy soft rock. Charles is as stuffy as ever, Hillary is as pitchy as ever; put them together, and you're just mixing two different bottles of warm water. Even with the horn section behind them, these two are just way too bland to even begin to convey the flash of spending New Year's in a penthouse or head-turning dudes in black jeans and shades. This is less outwardly offensive than Eric Paslay's attempts to crash upscale big-city parties, but it's almost more embarrassing in just how out of place they seem. (Fun fact: both "duly lamentable" and "blandly emulate" are anagrams of "Lady Antebellum.”) 

Jan 24, 2020

The Worst Country Songs of the Decade (2000-2009)

The Worst Country Songs of 2000-2009

By Bobby Peacock a.k.a. TenPoundHammer

"Bob That Head" by Rascal Flatts
If Gary LeVox screeching "BOB THAT HEAD!" at full blast doesn't scare you away immediately, then you must be the most stoic person alive. Not that the rest of the song is any better. Even after the label wisely sent out an edited version, it still didn't change the dopey, meatheaded proto-bro-country lyrics about riding around town with a hot girl in your car -- a theme that fits Gary LeVox about as comfortably as a pair of size 36 slacks from Ross Dress for Less.

"Bonfire" by Craig Morgan
Like I pointed out in the 2010s list, this is the point where Craig decided that screaming everything in an over-exaggerated drawl was the same thing as singing. To be fair, "party in the woods" songs weren't nearly as omnipresent as they would be in later years, but the harsh sonic surroundings do nobody any favors. Can you believe Kevin "That's Just Jessie" Denney wrote this?

"The Bumper of My SUV" by Chely Wright
As the AV Club once pointed out... how does Chely in the song know that she's being flipped off because of her bumper sticker? Why does she act so bluntly defensive over something she's only assuming? Why does she turn around and make such broad assumptions about that person? Maybe that person doesn't go to a private school. Maybe they don't give two shits about your bumper sticker. Or your stance on war. Or that fact that this song just drones on and on without any melodic changes.

"The Christmas Shoes" by NewSong
Most CCM is just too slickly produced and stridently sung for my tastes. But rarely can I hate it on message alone -- if you find something like "I Can Only Imagine" (which I took off this list at the last minute) uplifting, then I won't fault you for it. But what exactly is uplifting here? We've all heard the Patton Oswalt routine so we all know what's wrong with its message. But the sterile production, the pompous lead vocals, and the zombie children singing on the last chorus just really send it over the top, don't they?

"The Climb" by Miley Cyrus
I hate motivational songs. I hate pop songs being sent to country radio for no reason. I... actually don't hate Miley at all. But this is just a mountain of motivational clichés with no real narrative thought or emotion, and it certainly feels like a climb to listen to.

"Concrete Angel" by Martina McBride
I would never make light of child abuse. But like so many of Martina's songs, it feels like it was inserted into the song just to manipulate a bleeding-heart fanbase instead of tell an actual story.  Every second of this song is bombastic and overwrought and, as I've said before, it's like watching a Lifetime movie where everyone is screaming their dialogue.

"Country Boy" by Alan Jackson
When the first thing a 50-year-old man says is "I'm not a stalker", and then he follows it up with a blatant innuendo like "climb in my bed, I'll take you for a ride", all I can ask is why Herbert the Pervert got to record a country song. Not that the clunky melody, God-awful slant rhymes (asphalt/red dirt, help you/take you), and overlong verses (why does the song have two bridges?) do it any favors.

"Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American)" by Toby Keith
Spoiler alert: this list will have a lot of 9/11 and Iraq War songs on it. I have no problem with love of country. I have no problem with anyone who is pro-war or anti-war. What I have a problem with is over-the-top jingoism. (You do know that the Statue of Liberty would have to set down either the torch or the tablets to shake her fist, right?) But what really sent this song over the top for me was the "boot in your ass" line. It just promotes an aggressive, violent, xenophobic mindset and to me, reinforces all the negative stereotypes of the "MURICA" crowd.

"Girls Lie Too" by Terri Clark
I ultimately took the cringeworthy Gretchen Wilson knockoff "Dirty Girl" off this list (come to think of it, "Gypsy Boots" was pretty dreadful too). I decided that two factors make this song even worse: 1.) uninspired attempts at battle-of-the-sexes humor that are either trite or misandristic, and 2.) the blatant chart manipulation that got this song to #1 in the first place.

"God Bless the Children" by Wayne Warner and the Nashville All Star Choir
This guy's slick, strident, overly touchy-feely delivery makes the lead singer of NewSong sound like Leonard Cohen. He both looks and sounds like that child counselor that ends up flashing you. The song was done for an adoption charity, and as my sister is an adoptee I have no issue with his support. But as a musical product, this is cringeworthy in how unlistenable it is.

"God Only Cries" by Diamond Rio
"God only cries for the living 'cause it's the living that are so far from home." So He doesn't cry for the dead because they're no longer with their loved ones? He doesn't cry for the living because He wants them to be comforted in their loss? Does He want everyone to die so the angels can all be happy and no one has to cry anymore? The more I look at that one line alone, the more problematic it comes off.

"The Good Lord and the Man" by John Rich
I was way too soft on this song when I reviewed it for Roughstock in 2009. Where do I even begin? Describing Pearl Harbor as a "sucker punch"? Or how about saying that we'd "all be speaking German / livin' under the flag of Japan" if not for our soldiers? Maybe it wouldn't be too bad from another singer, but from someone who released a song called "Shut Up About Politics" and never managed to follow his own advice, this seems like a fine line between pandering and trolling.

"Have You Forgotten?" by Darryl Worley
Tired of hearing me rant about political songs yet? Just about everyone's picked this one apart for how much of a wrongheaded straw-man argument it is. And I agree -- regardless of the intentions, the song just adds up to a confused mess of patriotic rah-rah lines. And WHY IN GOD'S NAME am I still hearing "You say we shouldn't worry 'bout Bin Laden" on the radio in 2020?!?

"Here for the Party" by Gretchen Wilson
I actually kind of liked Gretchen Wilson. Her grit was refreshing even if a bit calculated at times. But this song was easily the weak link in her debut. It was one of the only times that she sounded forced and over-the-top, instead of letting the fun come naturally, and the whole song just fell flat. And it's probably also her shrillest vocal performance.

"I Ain't No Quitter" by Shania Twain
"My man does literally everything wrong, including excessive womanizing and infidelity. But I'm not getting rid of him because... uh, I'm stubborn?" What a wonderful positive message to send out. Especially when Shania gives one of the most deadpan, lifeless deliveries of her entire career.

"I Hope You Dance" by Lee Ann Womack featuring Sons of the Desert
I hate songs that consist entirely of motivational platitudes with no narrative or through line of any kind. This is one of the biggest, and one of the most infuriating simply for how antipodal it is to the rest of her discography. Even if I weren't as vehemently opposed to this kind of song, I would still find it as out-of-character as I would if George Strait suddenly started recording gangsta rap.

"I'm a Survivor" by Reba McEntire
Starting off the song by declaring yourself to be a premature baby when you clearly weren't absolutely smacks of manipulation. It's the only thing that even gives this song any semblance of flavor, as the rest is sub-Jo Dee Messina level "you go girl" empowerment the likes of which does not fit Reba at all.

"I'm Already There" by Lonestar
Usually in the "when you coming home, Dad?" kind of songs, the father actually does come home at the end. But instead, this one just has the father coldly dismissing the family's valid pleas to come home. (At least I can see how "My Front Porch Looking In" could be uplifting...) Add some of Dann Huff's most bombastic, string-drenched power ballad production and Richie's overwrought singing, and you're just left wondering how this is the same band that did "No News".

"In My Daughter's Eyes" by Martina McBride
In my daughter's eyes, everyone lives in peace and harmony with puppies and sunshine and rainbows. My daughter is going to be so sheltered and doe-eyed when she becomes an adult, because she thinks such syrupy drivel is the truth. Maybe her daughter in this song is actually RaeLynn? This explains so much. At least this one wasn't an ear-splitting belt-fest.

"Iraq and Roll" by Clint Black
Yeah, you probably don't remember this song. It was only on his website for a short time. But lucky for you, the Wayback Machine saved it: Link... if you dare
The song actually starts off inoffensively enough, but then launches headlong into some absolutely laughable lyrics ("If they won't show us their weapons, we might have to show them ours / It might be a smart bomb, they find stupid people too") that seem like the insane ramblings of someone who's been locked in a pod watching nothing but Fox News since 2002.

"Jeep Jeep" by Krista Marie
What would happen if you made a bro-country song before bro-country was even a thing, but flipped the sexes? And gave it a really dumb dumb hook hook that repeats repeats words words for no reason reason? You'd get "Jeep Jeep", of course course. At least she ended up making far better music in The Farm.

"Kiss My Country Ass" by Rhett Akins
Country pride songs are a dime a zillion. Most of them are inoffensive enough, or sometimes even guilty pleasures. Some are even quite well-written. But this is infuriatingly dismissive from its title alone, and it only gets worse with the overly MURICA second verse. It's okay to be country; just don't be a dick about it.

"The Little Girl" by John Michael Montgomery
Nothing good can come from a song based on one of those sickeningly manipulative e-mail stories that got circulated in the early 2000s (nowadays it'd be on Facebook). Even at the time, I read Snopes enough to know how manipulative (both parents get murdered!) and unrealistic (how does he know that's Jesus?) the story is. In the words of Weird Al, "Stop forwarding that crap to me."

"Love Is" by Katrina Elam
Getting back to the subject of ear-splitting belt fests... how about an oversung, over-the-top power of love anthem that brings literally nothing new to the subject other than awkwardly shoehorning in the word "bling"? This sounds like the kind of Celine Dion/Whitney Houston/Mariah Carey knockoffs my mom used to listen to back in the late 90s, only at least 10-15 years too late.

"Loud" by Big & Rich
Horse of a Different Color is one of my all-time favorite albums for how balls-to-the-wall madly creative it was. But as early as the second album, I could tell that Big & Rich were starting to run out of ideas. And by "Loud", they were reduced to a bunch of party-hearty clichés without any semblance of creativity other than a couple of interesting guitar textures. Even their voices sound strained and off on this.

"Mr. Right Now" by Povertyneck Hillbillies
Hey, remember that time you heard what sounded like a local bar band that somehow got on your radio? No, not "I Loved Her First". That one's actually okay. This one, however, just sounds like an utterly uncreative bunch of guys who somehow snuck onto a few playlists. From the unoriginal title to the groan-worthy dance/chance/romance rhyme to the name-drop of Popeye the Sailor Man, this song just screams "not ready for prime time".

"One Voice" by Billy Gilman
Yet another entry in the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" country song movement sparked by "Holes in the Floor of Heaven". Lyrics about as subtle as a ten-pound hammer to the face (mom won't watch the news, meaning she's sheltered and oblivious), all sung by a kid too young to even know what's going on in the world as it is. Maybe an adult singer could have made this at least palatable, but Gilman just wasn't ready for prime time yet.

"Sideways" by Dierks Bentley
One of the most atonal guitar/banjo intros I've ever heard, a chunky melody that flows like a year-old container of cottage cheese, a weaksauce hook, and one of Dierks' dullest deliveries. Maybe on the surface it just sounds mediocre, especially considering how phoned-in the entire Feel That Fire album was, but this song just has that extra degree of not caring that sends it over the top for me.

"Streets of Heaven" by Sherrié Austin
Another song with a perfectly valid topic: a mother's grief about possibly losing a child. But where it fails is in its attempts to browbeat God ("Don't you know one day that she'll be your little girl forever / but right now I need her so much more"). I'm an atheist and I still know that's not how you talk to God. Also, I thought Heaven's streets were made of gold. Not exactly the kind of thing that has a lot of traffic.

"Then" by Brad Paisley
This is actually one of Brad's better vocals and it has a good arrangement. Shame that the lyrics are absolutely unimaginative pap. (No lie, I correctly predicted nearly half the chorus, down to the insipid whole life/whole world/without you, girl rhyme on the first listen.) Even "When I Get Where I'm Going" had some flavor to it, but this is just beyond bland. What makes it worse is that overplay of this one kept the massively superior "Welcome to the Future" from going to #1.

"This Ain't Mexico" by Buddy Jewell
"You can call me a closed-minded, old-fashioned, flag-waving gringo". Yes, because that's what you are. By stapling on stereotypical mariachi sounds to your xenophobic rant against immigrants, along with head-scratching namedrops like Johnny Rodriguez (who was born in Texas, by the way). Oh yeah, and your desire to have that wall built... how's that working out for you 12 years later? I'm surprised you didn't work the word "wetback" in there somewhere.

"This One's for the Girls" by Martina McBride
Can I nominate "living on dreams and Spaghetti-Os" for one of the worst lyrics of all time? If not, then that still doesn't help this song's case. Messina had already beaten girl-power anthems into the ground by this point, and Martina makes it worse with some of the cheesiest lyrics I've ever heard, combined with a gaggle of girls on the obnoxious chorus.

"Troubadour" by George Strait
No, that's not a typo. Everyone hypes this up as one of his best, but I really, really don't get it. This song just feels like it barely exists. Like they just came up with 10% of an idea and left it at that. So you're a troubadour -- what does that mean in this context? Why doesn't the mirror tell the whole truth about you? Why did you rhyme "mirror" with "mirror"? What's your backstory? Why are you telling us so very little?

"The Way You Love Me" by Faith Hill
"If I could grant you one wish / I wish you could see the way you kiss." Um, that's not how wishes work. How did nobody involved in the creation process catch this? While there is an admittedly very clever use of key change on the chorus, that is instantly snuffed out by the bubblegum-pop lyrics (baby/crazy, never seen that one before) and the incessant "ooh"ing to stretch out the meter.

"What I'm For" by Pat Green
Yay, a list song of stock country-boy tropes. Never heard that one before. Let's see: technophobia? Check. Jingoism? Check. Random regional food and drink name-drops? Check, twice actually. Respecting your elders? Check. God? Check. And this is the song you pulled "Country Star" for?

"What If She's an Angel" by Tommy Shane Steiner
One of the last waves of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" movement and one of its worst. Ripping off "Don't Laugh at Me", a song I already dislike, in its first verse, and then somehow also forcing in abuse and cancer. It's like a genderflipped Martina McBride.

"When It All Goes South" by Alabama
Hey, who wants to hear a band of middle-aged men strain for cred by doing a G-rated ripoff of Kid Rock's "Cowboy"? Nobody, that's who. Not even their collab with 'N Sync was this embarrassingly bad.

"Who I Am" by Jessica Andrews
I tore this one when I wrote about Jessica Andrew forRoughstock back in 2013. It's always felt like two men writing what they think teenage girls think about because they haven't seen any teenage girls in 20 years. No teenager is going to be upset about not seeing the Seven Wonders or not winning a Grammy. Jessica did have good songs in her, but she just sounded dull and lifeless on these facepalm-worthy lyrics.

"You Are" by Jimmy Wayne
When it comes to cliché storms, this is Hurricane Katrina. (Too soon?) "It breaks my heart in two". "You are my love, you are my life." "Heart and soul." "My fantasy, my reality." It's like if you tried to write a country wedding song with a random number generator.


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