Review – Eric Church’s “Roller Coaster Ride”

 

Without a doubt, Eric Church’s 2014 album The Outsiders was an all-around success for him. It easily reached #1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, is certified platinum and as of September has sold over one million copies (a feat that is becoming rarer and rarer in today’s world of music). Not only was the album a commercial success, but received plenty of critical acclaim too. It was even nominated for Best Country Album at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards. So it’s no surprise to see Church and his label elect to release a sixth single from the album, despite this being a rarity for an artist not named Taylor Swift. This sixth single is “Roller Coaster Ride.” It follows the previous single “Like A Wrecking Ball,” which peaked at #11 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart. And just like that single, I’m once again perplexed by the sound of this new single.

“Roller Coaster Ride” starts out well enough with the sound of a catchy, steady drum beat. It’s not country, but makes for a nice rock sound. When the chorus kicks in, the song goes straight pop with a hint of rock thrown in. The instrumentation in the chorus is mainly a synth guitar and tambourine. Towards the latter part of the song, Church tries to pull a Sturgill and go psychedelic, but instead it just feels half-baked and thrown in for the hell of it. The one part of the instrumentation I did like in this song though was the dark piano interludes that shows its head throughout. If only there was more of that and the drum play with some steel guitar thrown in, this song could have actually been something interesting.

The song itself is about a man who is dealing with his feelings and thoughts after being dumped by a woman he loved. He compares it to a roller coaster ride, which I guess is alright. But I can’t help but remember that Luke Bryan released a similar single just last year titled “Roller Coaster.” It just feels like a lazy comparison to me. Similar to “Like A Wrecking Ball,” I feel once again Church could dig deeper as a songwriter and give something more. The two main complaints I have with The Outsiders and now both of Church’s last two singles are the instrumentation and the songwriting. I’m glad this is most likely the final single from that album, so we can finally move onto something else from Church because I’m getting sick of dissecting music from The Outsiders.

And I want to take a moment to say something to Eric Church fans. Every time I write something about Church and criticize him, you come after me like I’ve just thrown your first-born into the Grand Canyon. There’s no need for this anger. If you enjoy “Roller Coaster Ride,” good for you. Don’t get your underpants in wad because somebody doesn’t have the exact same opinion as you do. If you want to disagree, that’s cool too. But in a respectful manner, just like I respectfully reviewed this song and every other piece of music on this site. Now as for “Roller Coaster Ride,” I find it to be not much of a country song and very much a pop-rock song. Overall the song just has a weird cohesiveness about it and that makes it hard for me to get into it. This song has a few good things going on, but a lot of weirdly bad stuff too. “Roller Coaster Ride” is pretty mediocre and you’re not going to miss much if you don’t hear it.

Grade: 3.5/10

Advertisements

10 thoughts on “Review – Eric Church’s “Roller Coaster Ride”

  1. Meh, I disagree this time. This is actually a pretty good song, with some catchy beats and lyrics. The songwriting is actually pretty strong at some points. At least it’s better than anything Luke Bryan, FGL, or Sam Hunt ever released. I’d give it a 7/10.

    Like

  2. A huge let down, especially from Eric Church. Some of my all time favorite songs are from him. Hearing him go from fantastic songs like “Sinners like me” to this stuff is heartbreaking. 😥

    Like

  3. WTF did I just listen to? Autotune, terrible attempts to be psychedelic, weak lyrics, safe pop rock production. Good lord, Eric Church has a huge misstep here.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Yeah, this is the experimental (and “genres don’t matter”) side to Eric Church. This is why he is a hit-or-miss artist for me. I love him when he is on target, like “Talladega,” easily the best song on the album. But then he does this crap. I’ve just come to expect it from him, and yet I still like him.

    Interestingly, we can compare this to Zac Brown’s similar forays into pop and synth on his latest album. What is my judgment? Eric Church is far superior. Even when Eric is bad, he is at least amusing and surprisingly thoughtful in the composition of the song. When Zac is bad, it’s just bad.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. “The Outsiders” is without a doubt the most divisive album of 2014. People generally seemed to either love or hate it.

    Breaking from the norm for me, despite a lot on the album which was not particularly country, I actually really liked the album. As I said, much of it may not have been very country, but I found very little on it to be offensive to the genre the way I do with FGL, Luke Bryan, Thomas Rhett, and Sam Hunt. Why? Well, I suppose because despite a more rock-influenced sound on this record, there actually seemed to be a lot of effort put into it. And there actually seemed, at least to me, to be country elements, at least buried somewhere within the songs.

    Was it a genre defining album? Not by any stretch, but it’s hard to argue that it may be a career-defining one for Church, whether one likes the album or not. Let’s not forget that Johnny Cash is claimed by multiple genres, as is Elvis (both are members of both the CMHoF and the RnRHoF). (I’m not trying to claim Eric Church as being on the level of either of those artists, I’m merely pointing out that artists can successfully make music in more than one genre).

    I think what I like about Eric Church is that, despite all his ego and bravado, I don’t get a sense of phoniness from him. I don’t see him as trying to pass himself off as something he’s not. I don’t see him as an interloper in the genre. Personally, I don’t even see “The Outsiders” as selling out. It’s a unique album, and definitely not pure country music, but I respect it as an album that was well planned and well executed.

    And I can see why many may not like it. But for me, it was an album that I found to be very well crafted and well made.

    Like

  6. Yeah this one felt like a filler tune on the album. I’m honestly surprised they’re still pumping out songs from the Outsiders to radio. Also, as an aside, Dark Side is probably the best song on that CD. Too bad that never got to “See the light of day”.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “Every time I write something about Church and criticize him, you come after me like I’ve just thrown your first-born into the Grand Canyon. There’s no need for this anger. If you enjoy “Roller Coaster Ride,” good for you. Don’t get your underpants in wad because somebody doesn’t have the exact same opinion as you do. If you want to disagree, that’s cool too. But in a respectful manner, just like I respectfully reviewed this song and every other piece of music on this site.”

    exactly!! I’m so tired of this church fans pretending that Eric is the best musician ever. And it really sets me off when people call him “true country”, “outlaw country” or “the last Cowboy”. HELL NO. any true country artist would never release crap like this or ‘The Outsiders’ (song).

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This doesn’t elicit a passionate response either way for me.

    “Roller Coaster Ride” just strikes me as inoffensive filler, albeit with more interesting production than you typically expect for filler tracks.

    *

    Firstly, there’s no notable red flags with the songwriting. I will admit the opening couplet is effective at drawing my initial attention and make for my personal favorite lyrics in the track. However, as a whole, it’s a topic that has been exhausted and redundantly explored beyond compare, and there’s little else interesting about this take on the emotional aftermath of a failed relationship.

    I will add, however, that Church has this tendency to rely too heavily on “cops and robbers” cliches with his songwriting. One of numerous examples off the top of my head is of “Hungover & Hard Up” (a song I otherwise enjoy quite a bit) where he says: “The hurt keeps calling me: ‘Come on out we got you surrounded!’ Yeah the bottle in my hand is loaded and
    I ain’t afraid to use it tonight.”………………and he relies on that crutch yet again when he sings “Pain points his gun, and I hold my hands up high!”.

    The point I’m making is that Church has often proven he has a knack at sharp, descriptive lyrical quality that doesn’t even rely on those “tough guy” crutches, yet several times too often he tends to fall back on those image-centric cliches like he does here. All in all, though, I’m okay with the lyrics.

    *

    As far as production is concerned, this is a far cry from anything resembling country, so it must be docked points on account of this being marketed as a country song.

    Beyond that, however, this isn’t a bad song on that front either. I’d much rather listen to Sturgill Simpson, or maybe Grizzly Bear or The Abigails if I want to satisfy my psychedelic country and/or folk sweet tooth, but this does stand out a bit from mainstream country/”country” radio as a whole at the moment. It does sound a bit too somnambulistic, though. and despite the decidedly more pop-sensible production with touches of U2-esque reverb in the outro, I can’t imagine this having nearly as much staying power after its run at radio as “Give Me Back My Hometown” or “Talladega”.

    *

    Finally, from a vocal standpoint………………..I can’t help but feel Church falls short of leaving any emotional impact, or making many listeners care.

    I’m no NASCAR fan in any way, shape or form……………….but “Talladega” really spoke to me as a song about the ephemeral nature of bonding experiences, especially in one’s youth/glory days, and the reflective melancholy that growing up and looking fondly back on can elicit. Church absolutely unpacked the emotional essence of that song and hit that out of the park, as did he with “Give Me Back My Hometown” (especially when he vents a mix of anger and vexation in the song’s bridge). On the flip side, he achieves emotional intimacy strikingly well on “A Man Who Was Gonna Die Young” and a sense of urgency aggrandized by being a protective father on “Dark Side”.

    Here, though, Church’s delivery can’t help but seem flat and paint by numbers. He limits himself to a pensive, mumbled lower register through the verses, and delivers the chorus in a plaintive sing-songy fashion. And that’s about it. He doesn’t articulate any rising action, nor hits a climatic point, It just makes for a forgettable record all around due to a dry interpretation of it from an emotional standpoint.

    *

    All in all………………….again, I don’t think “Roller Coaster Ride” is a bad song by any stretch. It’s definitely not a country song, though, and even for a track on its own merit regardless of genre, this would only rate smack dab in the middle in relation to the album’s other tacks from best to worst, let alone stand as painfully average compared to other radio tracks as a whole.

    I’m thinking a Decent To Strong 5 out of 10 for this as a song in its own right, but downgraded to a Light To Decent 4 as far as country songs are concerned. Pretty much your prototypal take-it-or-leave-it filler offering.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Disappointed to see this is his next single. It’s not by any means terrible and it’s better than half of what’s on the radio but in this day that’s not an accomplishment. That record was a mixed bag for me. I’m a huge Eric Church fan but I don’t understand what he was doing on half of it. In my opinion Talladega was the only radio friendly song on the record and when that was finally released I was wondering what he would do next. I know it’s not anymore country but I would’ve like to seen Devil Devil or That’s Damn Rock and Roll released. I hope on his next record he goes back to his sound instead of trying different stuff. At least it wasn’t a bro country/edm/rap album.

    Like

Comments are closed.