|Thanks to Jill on Instagram for the idea!|
May 23, 2022
Aug 6, 2021
The current Poop Rating of the Mediabase Top 20 is (-4) overall which is a 5 point improvement from May (the previous time we did this chart). The peculiar thing about this chart is the wide variance of quality. There are several truly excellent songs and several bottom of the barrel offerings. Usually, there’s a lot more mediocre going on. The worst song (just like May) is Dan + Shay’s “Glad You Exist.” The highest rated is Kenny Chesney’s best song in ages, “Knowing You.” The glacially slow pace of country radio is on full display here as half of these songs were also on the chart TWO FREAKING MONTHS AGO. Yawn.
Chart info from Mediabase/Country Aircheck.
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Two of the finest songs of the last decade are I Don’t Dance and I Drive Your Truck. The former has been played on Spotify alone 67m times, the latter a mere 24m times. The voice of Lee Brice, sort of like Tim McGraw’s (in fact a lot like the voice of Tim McGraw), carries both of those songs.
Much like "My Old Man," the new Zac Brown song which does this without programmed drums and synths, this song is another to be found in the sub-genre of Dad/Son-country. It could also be a message to young writers seduced by the headlights of modern country; head to the trunk, where’s there is gold to be found in mining the human condition.
We have a while to wait for the album, self-titled (like Tim McGraw’s first album) and out in November. Tim is on tour this year, still plugging Damn Country Music, which contains "Humble & Kind," a song written by a mum to her kids but sung by Tim, a dad of three.
Musically there are two magical moments in Boy: Lee’s little chuckle in the second verse after the word ‘stubborn,’ and the slide guitar sound before the sombre final chorus which ends on the line ‘run like he’s bulletproof and total a car, too.’ Country must realise that, above other genres, it puts family first, rather than the act of making babies.
"Boy" is thus one of those ‘advice’ songs country music offers (some star or other has just put one out called "Speak to a Girl"). It’s a song from a dad to his son, who will ‘always be my boy’ even if he is genetically programmed to repeat the mistakes of his dad. The middle eight is tender, as the dad feels sorry that his son is off – on his gap year? To NYU? To fight for his country?
Lee is a father-of-two, soon to be a father-of-three, and he must have seized on this song when it was sent to him for consideration. "Boy" was written by Nicolle Galyon (Automatic, It Ain’t Pretty) and Jon Nite (Strip It Down, We Were Us, Think a Little Less). It’s a winner, and an example of what contemporary songwriters in Nashville can do when they step off the tailgate.
After five years of drinking beer, cruising and eating a catfish dinner, country music is hopefully waking up to what Chris Young would call a Sober Saturday Night. If it lasts a few years, so much the better for top quality songs about real things coming out of Music Row and given the confidence to make headway into the charts and people’s playlists.
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"I Drive Your Truck" was a bracing, emotional tribute to a fallen soldier that out-kicked its coverage, so to speak, and went to number one on a wave of both critical and popular acclaim.
"Parking Lot Party" is exactly what you think it is - an anthem for getting pre-sauced in the parking lot before a concert. It's a country keyword fest. Redneckism porn.
Trucks are represented:
"Tailgate buzz just a sippin' on suds"
"A little Marshall Tucker on the radio"
"25 tall boys on the chill"
A nod to hip-hop hype men:
"Cause there ain't no party like the pre-party
and after the party is the after-party"
Also, "it's about time to pass that shine around," because what suburban country boy party is complete without a little "moonshine" bought at the grocery store?
It's summer single release season, so none of this is unexpected. It's a disappointment however, coming from Brice, who's proven himself a strong writer who usually steers clear of cliche. I suppose the setting (as opposed to that presumably highly-rutted farmer's pasture all the other parties happen in) makes this a little more unique, but it's really just "same song-different verse."
The fact that the tailgate party never actually proceeds into the concert venue, due to too much fun and possibly financial issues, adds one minor original turn to the story, but really, this is stock Nashville fun. There's even fake crowd noise and a radio station intro (on the album version: I haven't heard the radio mix) to take "PLP" into pure cheese territory.
Thomas Rhett, his dad, and Luke Laird also had a hand in the writing of this tune ...because of course they did.
Let's hope Brice dips back into his well of creativity on the next outing. Nothing to see here.
Feb 6, 2013
George Strait - Give It All We Got Tonight
It's a new song from King George. What else do you need me to say? I'm just happy it's getting airplay and is steadily rising up the charts. Not the best song of his career, far from the worst...but it's George.
Miranda Lambert - Mama's Broken Heart
This is the kind of song that made Miranda famous, but better written. She's taken the "wronged girl dealing with a breakup" theme and infused it with more wit and personality than she was capable of earlier in her career. Comparing a more genteel generation's coping mechanisms to her own wide-open approach, Lambert salvages the weak (for her) single era of her Four the Record album with a gem.
Lee Brice - I Drive Your Truck
The title had me wincing before I ever heard the song. Being the open-minded individual I am (okay, I was hoping to be able to make fun of it), I gave it a shot and was shocked. This isn't the first "drive the vehicle of a departed soldier to honor and remember him" song (Bobby Pinson did it a little better with the Tracy Lawrence cut "If I Don't Make it Back"), but it's full of passion and power. The more hard-hearted among us won't be able to get past the title and the Nashville-sheen, and that's a shame. "I Drive Your Truck" is a strong contender for mainstream country song of the year.
Jason Aldean (w/Luke Bryan and Eric Church) - The Only Way I Know
This is more of a talking-country song than a hick-hop song. That's literally the only thing I can say about the song that isn't negative. It shoots for the top of the charts by offsetting the lack of melody and substance with star power. Luke Bryan's corny flow is the only thing that gives the single any semblance of personality. Eric Church, too cool to rap, phones in his bridge. It's another typical "we're country and this is what we do in the country" song that will be tossed on the scrapheap of unmemorable #1 hits that Nashville churns out like sliced bread these days.
Blake Shelton - Sure Be Cool If You Did
Blake's latest pop-country confection starts with awkward slang (I was gonna keep it real like chill...) then drops off into drudgery and kowtowing to the young female demographic. If this is where "one of those people that gets to decide" where country is going is taking it, I'm not on-board.
The Henningsens - American Beautiful
Oh joy. Another vocal band a'la Gloriana and Lady Antebellum. Because there aren't enough of those. Another country song with "America" or "American" in the title. Because we're suffering from a lack of vaguely patriotic songs about country girls. The other day I was listening to the country station (because my 5 year old wanted to) and apparently this song played right before Gloriana's latest. I thought it was just one really long, boring tune until the DJ said that, in fact, it was two separate songs.
Jul 25, 2012
Zac Brown Band - The Wind
Unfortunately, it seems the band led off this new album's single era with the best song of the bunch. That doesn't do anything to blunt the impact of this thoroughly enjoyable, heart-racing bluegrass pop-country tune. Probably one of the best commercial country songs of the year.
Lee Brice - Hard to Love
I've read people comparing this to a couple of Tom Petty songs, but I don't really hear it. What I hear is an undeniably catchy, honest-sounding modern country song that veers a little too close to adult contemporary at times, but still stands above the fray. It's well-written, decently performed and thankfully free of trucks, cutoffs and beer.
Jerrod Niemann - Shinin' On Me
This is hardly, barely a country song, but it just sounds so damn cool. Niemann's laid-back delivery, left-of-center instrumentation and the crisply askew production makes this winner of a summer song, avoiding nearly all the cliches so common to this season on commercial country radio. Is it the best written song ever? Of 2012? Of this month? Probably no to all of those, but it's darn sure a treat for the ears.
Little Big Town - Pontoon
I hope that's out of their system now. This is a talented band. I'm not sure why they took the easy route to.. oh wait, yeah I do: $$$. These guys have great voices and up to this point have released pretty decent singles. This dunderhead song broke that streak. It's a lockstep summer anthem with nary an original thought and a goofy "motorboatin'" hook to hook the teens and pervs. Not really anything redeeming about this song. Do better, LBT.
Tim McGraw - Truck Yeah
What else can be said, really? I could copy and paste all the synonyms for "feces," but I already did that the time Bucky Covington covered Nickelback. Can you believe this is actually worse than that? It's improbable but true. Also, if Tim continues in this direction, he will easily overtake Luke Bryan and Brantley Gilbert on FTM's shit-list within months. For the love of all things decent and good, Tim, stop this. You're embarrassing yourself.
Blake Shelton - Over
It's not that this is such a horrible song, but it's a mediocre potboiler right at the time Shelton should be delivering massive hits to cement his place as an A-Lister (please shape up Blake! I'd rather have you as an A-Lister than Luke Bryan!). It's a position-holder to keep his brand on the charts and his name in listeners' ears. Blake is at the apex of his fame - shouldn't he use this position to cut and record the best Nashville songwriters have to offer? This is fluff that nobody will remember in… yep, already gone. I honestly can't make this song play in my head even after listening to it for review. It's that forgettable.