Review – Jordan Rager’s “Southern Boy” is Confusing

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This post was written by a past guest contributor for Country Perspective. 

These days in mainstream country music, you have to keep a watchful eye on new artists bursting onto the scene. Some try to fight the good fight for country music (Jon Pardi, William Michael Morgan, Mo Pitney), while others just want to make music that’s “hip” and “connects with the young ‘uns” (Cole Swindell, Kane Brown). Jordan Rager is in the latter camp.

You know how people make jokes that Cole Swindell is Luke Bryan 2.0? Well, now we seem to have a Jason Aldean 2.0 with Jordan Rager. The difference between the two (Cole and Jordan that is) is that Cole looks to Luke as a lifelong friend, whereas Jordan looks to Jason as an idol and influence. Jordan originates from Loganville, Georgia (same state that Aldean is from), and is currently signed to Broken Bow Records (same label that Aldean is on, noticing something?). And really, I hate to judge based off only two songs, but I’m not sure who Jordan is. Yeah, he’s a big fan of Jason, I get it. But what about Jordan? After hearing what was originally going to be his debut single, “Feels Like One Of Them,” all I could gather was that the song was a carbon copy of an Aldean throwaway track. His new single, “Southern Boy” also does nothing to tell me about who Jordan is, which is one of the many things that puzzles me about this song.

When asked about the song “Southern Boy” by the Rowdy’s Jason Scott, Jordan proclaimed, “this song is inspired by losing somebody and you’re not sure how to get through it. You keep carrying on. You stay strong through it.” Based off this description, I was expecting something in the vein of “You Should Be Here” by Cole Swindell or “Drink A Beer” by Luke Bryan. Instead, this song isn’t about death at all, but rather a mid-tempo number where Jordan is joined by none other than Jason Aldean.

Written by Luke Laird, Barry Dean, Jeremy Stover and Jaron Boyer, “Southern Boy” is performed by Rager and Aldean speaking somewhat as mentors to an imaginary southern boy. The two offer advice to the boy such as never compromise your roots, enjoy Friday nights with friends and always be true to your family. Really with a title like “Southern Boy”, I was expecting something way worse than this, and to be honest there’s really no egregious lines here. The overall problem with the song is that the lyrics are cliché and never really have time to develop into something more. The song just lists off a bunch of checklist traits that are normally expected in a good ol’ southern boy. Really, this song is just a big wasted opportunity. After all, considering that this song has a teacher-student type of lyrical atmosphere to it, and considering that Jordan cites Jason as a major influence, why not just make Jordan the southern boy and have Jason being the one giving advice? You know, turn it into a song that tells advice about how to handle life on the road and all the craziness of the music industry? Pass on advice to someone who actually looks up to you? As this song is, having two males playing the exact same part in the song is completely unnecessary.

Vocally this song has another issue. I’m certainly not against bringing in some help for your debut single, but the problem with this song is that Jason helps a little too much, to the point where this feels more like Jason Aldean featuring Jordan Rager than the other way around. It doesn’t help matters either that the two sound extremely similar to each other, to the point where it can be hard to discern who’s singing at certain points in the song. Leaning on Aldean as a crutch may work for Jordan this time around, but I feel that it’s the wrong choice to make for a debut single. Granted, you don’t have to stand out much to get a hit in mainstream country music, but still I think the average fan is just going to think this is a Jason Aldean song and not even realize this is someone else’s song.

That’s not to say however that “Southern Boy” is without redeeming factors. The mid-tempo vibe actually works well with this song, as it gives both singers a chance to at least try to pour some emotion into this, even if it ultimately comes across as empty. The production also isn’t half bad, and sort of fits a nice rock-country vibe. Other than that however, there’s a lot of wasted potential with “Southern Boy” and I can’t say that it’s ultimately a good song by Jason Jordan.

Grade: 2/10

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10 thoughts on “Review – Jordan Rager’s “Southern Boy” is Confusing

  1. I don’t mind this song. The song lyrics while cliché never go down a head scratching turn. I also like Jordan Rager voice it has enough charisma and presence. The mid tempo production also works very well. My only real problem with this song is that if they featured Jordan Rager more prominently I mean this is marketed as his debut song. This song will probably be a hit but what will happen to Jordan’s career when Jason Aldean isn’t there he might be a one hit wonder.

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  2. So it seems we’re regressing to the checklists from the earlier part of the decade. Lovely. But remember, it’s the traditional country music fans who are keeping the genre stuck in the past!

    I wouldn’t so much mind Jason Aldean v. 2.0 if 1.0 had kept recording songs like “Amarillo Sky” and “The Truth.” But something tells me we’re gonna get more songs like “Burnin’ it Down”…

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  3. ‘Southern Boy’ by Jordan Rager= Who is that?

    ‘Southern Boy’ by Jordan Rager featuring Jason Aldean= radio adds!

    Pretty simple I think. Reminds of the 1980s when Michael Jackson would add backing vocals on new labelmates debut singles to get a little more publicity for the performer.

    They probably never gave a thought to whether Aldean’s presence helped or hurt the final product.

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    • How else were they to sell this boring cliche checklist song by a newcomer? Rather than giving this guy something new or different to sing to help him stand out, let’s have him record the 1,000,000th version of Southern Boy checklist song and toss Aldean in there so he has a chance to be heard. Rager’s management/producers are already misfiring on this one.

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  4. “Keep stealing those kisses from your southern belle
    Keep loving the Friday nights, keep rollin with your buddies
    Raise a little hell but just don’t cross the line”

    Exactly how is this supposed to convey getting over the death of a loved one? That Rowdy piece is full of PR spun BS to make the song sound more than just a checklist cliche.

    Also, I’m really glad Jason Aldean has his own Cole Swindell like protege now. -__-

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  5. As soon as I saw Rager was an alumnus of The Voice, I knew exactly what we would be getting. With the exception of Jake Worthington, that show has churned out the most predictable and boring artists. As pointed out above, nobody would care about this song if Aldean wasn’t part of it. That being said I expected this song to be an instant 0 and the fact that it’s not that atrocious is almost a win. With Aldean seemingly taking a break on putting new singles out, this song will probably rise up the charts quick unfortunately.

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  6. FYI, the “Southern Boy” is Cameron Scroggins, a guy that lost a long battle with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma late last year.

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  7. Jordan-Jason is out of his league vocally. Jason completely over powers him. This song will most likely do well, as it has Jason in it, but for this person’s first single? Bad, bad idea… will he have a second one? Hmmm…

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  8. I don’t see how this song could be more effective with Jason sharing his insights on the music business or life on the road. This was written as a tribute song. It is not advice to an imaginary boy. It describes the everyday experiences of a young Chattanooga boy whose life was cut short by cancer at age 16. Why should we expect mature subject matter, when Cameron died so young?

    The crucial lyric is “We’ll keep telling your story, so you’ll never be gone. We’ll keep carrying on, just keep carrying on”. The actual advice in the song is for the loved ones left behind to “keep carrying on” after their loss.

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