Breaking Down & Examining The Quality of #1 Country Songs: 2015

Homegrown

Last week in comments section of the The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music, reader Nadia brought up the great point of Eric Church’s “Record Year” being the first great song (+4 or better) to top the charts in a few years. It really highlighted the importance of Church landing the #1 spot at country radio with such a quality song. The last song to do this in my book was Zac Brown Band’s “Sweet Annie” in 2013 and before that in 2011 with Zac Brown Band’s “Colder Weather.” Only three songs were able to rate a 9 or better in the last five years and top the Billboard Country Airplay chart. That’s kind of crazy and really puts things into perspective. This sparked me to think further and made me want to look back at the quality of #1 country airplay songs throughout the years. So that brings us to this new semi-regular feature and that’s picking a year and taking a look how I would rate the #1 songs of that year. The rankings will work exactly like The Current Pulse does, so if you’re not familiar with that criteria just take a look at the most recent one linked above. Reaching #1 is a big deal for an artist, which is why I want to look at the strength and quality of songs that are supposed to be smash hits. When I think #1 song, I think it should be pretty important not just to the artist, but demonstrates the direction of the industry at the time as a whole. We’ll start off with last year’s #1 songs…

  • January 3-10: Tim McGraw – “Shotgun Rider” +2
    • McGraw has been in the midst of revival/comeback the last few years after drifting aimlessly with Curb for years and then going through that whole “Truck Yeah”/”Lookin’ For That Girl” phase. McGraw in other words rediscovered who he was and why people loved him in the first place. “Shotgun Rider” went a ways in helping fuel this comeback and at the time was refreshing to hear after the bro era. There’s nothing that significant about this love song, but it’s solid all around and decidedly country. 7/10
  • January 17-24: Brad Paisley – “Perfect Storm” +2
    • Paisley admittedly pissed me off with his 2014 album Moonshine in the Trunk because it felt like a pandering, low-grade effort from him in comparison to his full capabilities. The previous single before this was “River Bank,” which really caught my ire. This song kind of got back to what he does best and that’s heartfelt love ballads. In the last two years it’s safe to say this has been his best single. It’s also the last song he’s had reach #1 on the airplay chart (granted great timing helped aid it). 7/10
  • January 31: Kenny Chesney – “‘Til It’s Gone” 0 (Note: This was the last and only time the Pulse has ever been positive)
    • The story of Kenny Chesney’s career is beach music and playing it safe. In this case it’s the latter. This schmaltzy love song really does nothing to standout and it’s kind of telling I had to listen to it again because I really didn’t remember it. That’s how I feel about most Chesney songs though. 5/10
  • February 7: Eric Church – “Talladega” +3
    • This song has grown on me from when I originally heard it. It’s definitely one of the better ones from The Outsiders, an album I didn’t care for at all. Church really nails the nostalgic/reflective tone of this song and gets the listener to buy into what he’s singing. 8/10
  • February 14-21: Luke Bryan – “I See You” -2
    • The quality starts to take a big dip here, folks. “I See You” is an overproduced, pop rock mess of a breakup song. The point of a country breakup song is to express sorrow and sadness. Yet this song feels more happy and upbeat. Instead of trying to understand it I just tell myself its Luke Bryan and this par for the course for him. 3/10
  • February 28: Florida Georgia Line – “Sun Daze” -5
    • And here we have a 2014 finalist for Country Perspective’s Worst Song of the Year. Yet it didn’t win (you can thank Jerrod Niemann). This song not only has an annoying reggae beat and sound, but an annoying whistle too. Florida Georgia Line’s singing is at its most grating and by Florida Georgia Line of course I mean Tyler Hubbard because the other one never sings. Then you get to the lyrics, which are just a dumpster fire of quality. Two horrific lines stand out in particular:”Rock a little bit of hip-hop and Haggard and Jagger” and “I’ll sit you up on the kitchen sink
      And stick the pink umbrella in your drink.” These lines are disgusting and offensive in so many different ways. I never want to hear Hubbard sing about his dick again. 0/10
  • March 7: Thomas Rhett – “Make Me Wanna” -4
    • Overtly slick production and a blatant pop sound back this slow jam sex song. It’s easy to forget how bad this one was from Rhett because he still wasn’t that well-known and it proceeded a much clearer offensive song. There’s nothing country about “Make Me Wanna” and really nothing country about Rhett still. Just make sure you continue to forget this one. 1/10
  • March 14: Blake Shelton & Ashley Monroe – “Lonely Tonight” +1
    • I remember being quite happy for Monroe to get this opportunity from Blake to be heard by more people. I was also happy to see her associated with a #1 song. But now looking back at this song, I’m not nearly as smitten to it as I was originally. It’s pretty dull by both artists standards and could have been so much more. Luckily Monroe’s vocals and Blake’s charisma elevate it just enough. Then again this sounds like a damn masterpiece after the last two songs, so that perhaps explains my higher enthusiasm originally. 6/10
  • March 21: Jason Aldean – “Just Gettin’ Started” -3
    • Tell me what’s more vanilla and uninspiring: this or Aldean’s most recent #1 “Lights Come On.” They’re essentially the same rocker-infused anthem that says nothing. 2/10
  • March 28: Brett Eldredge – “Mean To Me” -1
    • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….Oh I fell asleep. This song makes me sleepy with its uninspired production and cliché, banal lyrics. Eldredge is a fine vocalist, but this is generic at it’s finest. 4/10
  • April 4: Cole Swindell – “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey” -2
    • You’re not worth the whiskey, Swindell. You’re not worth giving a full review for this subtly vindictive song. 3/10
  • April 11-28: Zac Brown Band – “Homegrown” +3
    • Ah it feels so long since we’ve had this Zac Brown Band. This was the lead single for Jekyll + Hyde and you all know how I feel about that album now. When I reviewed “Homegrown,” I said it gave me high hopes for the album. This was the exact type of song not only to get people excited about that album, but what should be on country radio in this day and age. It deservedly got a three-week reign at the top and I remember it even hung on the chart for another month after falling from the top spot. It was a true hit in every sense of the word. 8/10
  • May 2: Sam Hunt – “Take Your Time” -5
    • This was the song that kickstarted the reign of terror of Sam Hunt. I loathe this song with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. To the naive and quite frankly clueless listener, this is a sincere and sensitive love song about a guy treating a girl right. In reality, this song is all about Sam Hunt perfectly playing to a girl’s emotions so he can get down her pants. It’s deceptively creepy, sleazy and in no way country. 0/10
  • May 9-16: Dierks Bentley – “Say You Do” +1
    • This another song I remember liking a lot more originally, but now not so much. It’s an above average love song at best, even by Dierks’ standards. There were better songs on Riser, but then again just like “Lonely Tonight” this song has the benefit of being propped up when put next to all of the other terrible songs around it. 6/10
  • May 23: Keith Urban & Eric Church – “Raise ‘Em Up” 0
  • May 30: Tyler Farr – “A Guy Walks Into A Bar” +2
  • June 6: Billy Currington – “Don’t It” -2
  • June 13: A Thousand Horses – “Smoke” -1
    • This one has definitely worn thin on me since I originally reviewed, some thanks in part to the absolute success it had getting hits. It’s one of the top five most popular posts ever in the history of this blog. And one of the reasons why is because people wanting to know the name and identity of the stripper in the music video for the song. I’m dead serious and there’s still to this day some stray hits based off this Google search. Why in the hell do you want to know the name of the damn stripper? A Thousand Horses has pretty much been irrelevant since this song had its run. And they even had Dave Cobb produce their debut album. But hey they’ll always have that stripper video.
  • June 20: Florida Georgia Line – “Sippin’ On Fire” -4
  • June 27: Kenny Chesney & Grace Potter – “Wild Child” 0
    • I remember being told by some readers I should be praising this song more and I just had a pretty lukewarm response to it. Over a year later it’s still pretty lukewarm. Go listen to “You & Tequila” instead.
  • July 4: Kelsea Ballerini – “Love Me Like You Mean It” -4
    • This is the best example of bro pandering.
  • July 11: Blake Shelton – “Sangria” -3
    • With time every Blake Shelton single now gets even more annoying and grating on the ears. He’s a wizard in churning out sterile production backed, annoying ear worm songs.
  • July 25: Canaan Smith – “Label Pushed Song You Don’t Remember the Name Of” -3
    • Seriously can you remember it without Googling?
  • August 1: Jason Aldean – “Tonight Looks Good on You” -3
  • August 8: Brantley Gilbert – “One Hell of an Amen” +1
  • August 15: Luke Bryan – “Kick The Dust Up” -5
  • August 22: Michael Ray – “Kiss You in the Morning” -4
  • August 29: Zac Brown Band – “Loving You Easy” +2
  • September 5: Frankie Ballard – “Young & Crazy” +1
  • September 12: Sam Hunt – “House Party” -5
    • One of the most annoying songs I’ve ever heard. It’s vapid and completely lacks in substance in all facets of music.
  • September 19: Dustin Lynch – “Hell of a Night” -4
  • September 26: Thomas Rhett – “Crash and Burn” -5
  • October 3-17: Kenny Chesney – “Save It For A Rainy Day” 0
  • October 24: Brett Eldredge – “Lose My Mind” -2
  • October 31-November 7: Luke Bryan – “Strip It Down” -4
  • November 14-21: Old Dominion – “Break Up With Him” -5
    • One of the douchiest songs I’ve ever heard and yet it didn’t win worst song of the year. Thanks, Sam Hunt.
  • November 28-December 12: Chris Young – “I’m Comin’ Over” +1
  • December 19: Dan + Shay – “Nothin’ Like You” -2
  • December 26: Blake Shelton – “Gonna” -2

Overall #1 Song Pulse for 2015: -61

 

Break Down of Number of Each Pulse Score

+5: None

+4: None

+3: 2 (Eric Church’s “Talladega” and Zac Brown Band’s “Homegrown”)

+2: 4 (Brad Paisley’s “Perfect Storm,” Tim McGraw’s “Shotgun Rider,” Tyler Farr’s “A Guy Walks Into A Bar” & Zac Brown Band’s “Loving You Easy”)

+1: 5

0: (Three of the four are Kenny Chesney songs)

-1: 2

-2: 6

-3: 4

-4: 6

-5: 6

 

So in 2015 there were 39 songs to reach #1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart. Of those 39 songs, a whopping 24 of these 36 songs were in the negative. That’s 2/3 (or about 67%) of all #1 songs for the year! It gets even worse, as 1/3 of the #1 songs have a score of -4 or worse, indicating horrendous or of horrifically bad quality (33% of the #1 songs). On the flip side, there were zero songs that I considered great or excellent to reach the top of the airplay chart in 2015 and only two songs I would consider pretty good to reach #1. Needless to say I would have to evaluate the quality of #1 songs in 2015 to be quite shitty. The year actually got off to a great start, as three of the first four #1 songs were positive. Then you look at the end of the year, from September 12 onwards there was only one positive song to top the chart (ironically having the longest reign on top during this time). I would be willing to go out on a limb and say this was one of the worst stretches in the history of country radio. Also there was only one solo female artist to top the Billboard Country Airplay chart in 2015 and that was Kelsea Ballerini. Meanwhile Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton and Kenny Chesney each had three #1 airplay songs in 2015. Of their nine songs to top the chart, five have negative scores, three have neutral scores and one has a positive score.

Let me know what you think in the comments below of the songs and this new feature. And feel free to ask me about my grades for the songs. 

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23 thoughts on “Breaking Down & Examining The Quality of #1 Country Songs: 2015

  1. The funny thing is that a lot of the critically acclaimed songs of 2015 just missed the top spot songs like
    “Something In The Water”
    “Burning House”
    “Diamond Rings & Old Barstools”
    “Girl Crush”
    “Little Toy Guns”
    and “Smoke Break”

    All of these songs just missed out on the top and well it’s kind of saddening as all of them were pretty big hits. Just some food for thought.

    I also went ahead and looked at 2014 just for the heck of it, yeah the only songs that are pretty good that hit #1 were “Sweet Annie”, “I Hold On” and for me personally I was always a fan of Lady Antebellum’s “Compass” but besides that it’s a hot pile of garbage week after week until “I Don’t Dance” and “Girl In A Country Song” managed to hit the top.

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  2. A bad song can happen. But there are more & more bad artists. Artists without one decent single or a country-sounding track. Album filler songs can win awards now (Thomas Rhett & “Die A Happy Man”).

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    • I respectfully disagree “Die A Happy Man” was album filler. Sure it was a shameless Ed Sheeran ripoff. But “Die A Happy Man” was huge! It spent 6 weeks at the top spot on radio. That’s impressive no matter what way you slice it.

      To me an album filler is songs like “Chasing Down A Good Time” by Randy Houser, “Think A Little Less” Michael Ray, songs like that feel like they are bland an interchangeable. For as cliché as “Die A Happy Man” is it clearly found an audience as outside of “H.O.L.Y” I can’t think of another country song that performed as well as “Die A Happy Man”.

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      • Thomas Rhett and Valory Music Group knew EXACTLY where they were going with cutting “Die A Happy Man” for the album. They were banking on leapfrogging off of Ed Sheeran’s success with “Thinking Out Loud” and it is, for that reason, why it screamed hit single as opposed to filler.

        The closest example to filler on “Tangled Up” would be “Tangled”, “Single Girl” and “Like It’s The Last Time”.

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      • “Album filler songs can win awards now (Thomas Rhett & “Die A Happy Man”).”

        Ten years ago a track like “Die A Happy Man” was an album filler. The track was put together not written. Right here, right now a song like “Die…” is enough to reach the Top 10 & almost every Top 10 track goes to #1.
        Because a song “spent 6 weeks at the top spot on radio” is not sign for quality! It shows how weak the other songs are.

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  3. I remember the Canaan Smith song. “Love You Like That.” Believe it or not, it was one of my favorite singles of last year and one of the two songs I actually enjoyed off his album.

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  4. First of all, thanks for the shout-out! It’s deeply appreciated! =D

    I haven’t yet heard who won the duel between Eric Church and Chris Lane on Billboard bragging rights (I know Chris Lane wrapped up at #1 on Mediabase), so am direly hoping Eric Church narrowly held on. Either way, it is an encouraging thought that a song as great as “Record Year” has succeeded in topping the chart in a climate teeming with countless inferior fodder! =)

    Here’s how’d I rank 2015’s Number Ones:

    *

    January 3-10: Tim McGraw – “Shotgun Rider” +2
    (This wasn’t all that eventful, but it’s just that kind of song that feels like a warm hug each time you listen to it. The instrumentation easily achieves a middle ground between the traditional and modern, and the lyrics convey a romantic kind of connection at a time when almost every other song was of carnal intent. I still enjoy hearing this when it is played.)

    January 17-24: Brad Paisley – “Perfect Storm” +2
    (Sure: some of the lyrics are cheesy and Pat Monahan-esque (I’m never going to tire of using Train’s lead singer and songwriter as a metaphor for cheesy lyrics! 😉 ). But others are thoughtful and the song is especially elevated by a strong, sincere performance by Brad Paisley and some intriguing production.)

    January 31: Kenny Chesney – “‘Til It’s Gone” 0
    (There’s really no point for this existing: as evidenced by its pathetic single sales and Billboard Hot 100 chart placement. This is the kind of song no one asked for and no one is going to request from here on out. Everyone has already heard this before from Kenny Chesney with similar-sounding songs like “Don’t Happen Twice” and “I Go Back”. Still, to its credit………………..the fact it’s a generic facsimile of his previous catalog is the worst of its sins and, as a song itself, it’s nothing worth hating on any level. Consider this Oxford English Dictionary’s synonym for “agreeably forgettable”.

    February 7: Eric Church – “Talladega” +3
    (I really liked this when “The Outsiders” was first released, and it has only gotten better with each listen. What can I say? Eric Church has a masterful grasp of melancholic nostalgia. What I think really makes this song great is how effectively he paints vignettes in the verses in a way that feels personal to his own experience but, in the chorus, projects imagery and visuals that not just NASCAR fans, but fans of any sort of public event or tradition, can relate to from a coming-of-age standpoint. Because when you really dissect this, this is as much a song about the melancholia surrounding one’s fading embers of youth and trying to come to terms with that as a song about fond recollections bonding with friends. The “real world” can definitely be a harsh place, and there’s just something about the way Eric sings about shifting months that is stirring and really gives me pause. Even the searing guitar solo in the outro sounds legitimately like heartache. In spite of being one of the most conventional-sounding songs on the scattershot “The Outsiders”, t’s a deceptively brilliantly written track.)

    February 14-21: Luke Bryan – “I See You” -3
    (And this is an example of forgettable in a disagreeable way. Where Kenny Chesney’s paint-by-numbers “Til It’s Gone” at least sounded agreeable and also had a positive tone, “I See You” is an overproduced mess that isn’t country in the slightest and features lyrics that are superficially concerned with where a relationship went awry and getting over it. Yeah, sure Bryan: you romanticize the idea of regularly buying drinks with buddies, hooking up with a thousand girls and taking them home as a means of getting over the one that got away……………..and then what you dwell on in the chorus is not how her personality left an impression on you but, rather, dancing by happenstance one fateful day at that bar and then screwing her in the bed of your truck later that night. Starting to see why that relationship wasn’t ever meant to have staying power, Bryan? IT WAS ONLY A HOOK-UP! And until you learn to appreciate a woman beyond just her lips and her eyes and the way she moves, this song will remain the same for you. Ultimately it’s forgettable with the lack of a sticky hook and a “been there, done that” arrangement feel, but it’s still asking for demerits with songwriting that’s completely devoid of self-awareness and charm.)

    February 28: Florida Georgia Line – “Sun Daze” -4
    (Yeah I know: sacrilege that I didn’t give this a straight -5. Why is it I’m giving this very minor credit? It all comes down to the dobro solo and some of the production elements. The dobro actually is kind of awesome to hear in a radio song circa 2015 A.D. But, yeah………………..everything else being said negatively about this song is absolutely true and the lyrics are among the worst in chart-topping country/”country” radio history.)

    March 7: Thomas Rhett – “Make Me Wanna” -4
    (I’ve certainly heard worse production than this. But here’s the problem: it is completely unoriginal, boilerplate and was done solely to capitalize on Bruno Mars’ popularity. Thus, when you size it up to the music that inspired the short-lived “metro-bro” trend, “Make Me Wanna” is immediately exposed as a flavorless facsimile that feels woefully out of place on country radio. And that’s the biggest knock on this song: it’s NOT that it’s a Motown-leaning song being shamelessly marketed as a country song, but that it’s a terrible interpretation of Motown being passed off completely devoid of the soul that defines the genre and the stage presence and charisma that defined its beloved vocalists. Thomas Rhett’s performance here is completely inert and lazy and, when placing him back-to-back with Bruno Mars, the contrast is as clear as organic strawberry ice cream and rotting sauerkraut. This isn’t soulful. It isn’t charming. It’s devoid of energy. It’s devoid of identity. It’s cliched as all hell. And it sure as hell isn’t country.)

    March 14: Blake Shelton & Ashley Monroe – “Lonely Tonight” 0
    (I wasn’t impressed when this first came out, and it hasn’t grown on me ever since. It’s as banal as Adult Contemporary is typically known for. The vocalists sound great: that has always been made clear. But solid vocals alone aren’t going to save a song if the song, itself, was never interesting to begin with. How are we supposed to believe that this isn’t some cycle both ex-lovers are caught up in and they’re not learning from their mistakes following this rendezvous? The stakes are hardly pronounced in the second verse and bridge in highlighting the consequences such a decision will have: in that all we hear are generic “baby, I want you and you want me” utterances and “kiss-me eyes”. It leaves you wondering why they split in the first place if all they’re doing is doting over each other rather than acknowledging why they both need to move on after the sun comes up. There’s no reason for this song to exist other than to showcase Ashley Monror’s vocals being obvious fodder for radio.)

    March 21: Jason Aldean – “Just Gettin’ Started” -3
    (Another song without any point of existing. It basically screams: “I like that my lover is as horny as I am, perhaps even moreso!”. And that’s it. That’s all this song is about. Bragging about getting some in the opening couplet of the entire song, then proceeding to brag about how they’re so horny the probably won’t even make it to the party they were initially intending to go to in the chorus, then brags that he hasn’t “even got a taste of your love” in the bridge and that they’re just getting warmed up. Wow, this is the most subtle thing I’ve EVER heard! The production is boilerplate, boring mid-tempo fare so I can’t get too worked up over this in how forgettable it sounds. But yeah: in its short chart life, it was annoying listening to.)

    March 28: Brett Eldredge – “Mean To Me” 0
    (Eldredge sounds solid here, and there are moments where the lyrics provide some sincere-sounding sentiment and imagery. Ultimately, though, this just didn’t leave any sort of impression on me at all. It’s a wedding song for the sake of having a wedding song. There’s always heightened demand for wedding songs and history has repeatedly shown they tend to be most profitable as has been made clear by recent hits that many have decided pass off as wedding songs like “Die A Happy Man” and “H.O.L.Y.”. I don’t know……………it may just be me, but I find most “wedding songs” to be the most boring music of all and adamantly think it doesn’t have to be that way. Bruno Mars actually succeeded in making his wedding song sound energetic and euphoric with “Marry You”. Etta James’ classic “At Last” deserves its legendary status as a quintessential wedding song because of the longing that informs her vocal performance and the emotional nuances summing up the relief in having finally found her partner, along with some strings that sound equal parts whimsical and wistful. I can even see why Clean Bandit’s “Rather Be” seems to have become a favorite in wedding playlists with its more subtle approach to house music while maintaining an air of energy and soul. But this? It’s like vanilla ice cream that has been diluted in a bucket of tepid water so it more closely resembles milk, then diluted again so it most closely resembles a glass of water with milk extract, and then poured into a ice cube tray. Good for Brett, but we deserve better than that.)

    April 4: Cole Swindell – “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey” -4
    (The only thing sparing this from -5 territory is the production. It sure as hell isn’t country, but at least it sounds like honest-to-God band instrumentation as opposed to Sam Hunt-esque studio trickery. But this is the type of song that, when you really unpack the lyrics and Swindell’s sneering tone, it is really toxic. Rarely have I heard a song that has attracted a lot of apologists like this one: insisting what he’s thinking is a natural reaction when a man experiences a break-up, while others have claimed it’s not meant to be taken seriously and is really a song about a disgruntled guy that has been dumped on trying to play it cool when he clearly isn’t over the break-up. But I don’t buy either interpretation in the slightest because Swindell does NOT have the vocal chops, dexterity and nuance to interpret and, thus, legitimize the latter excuse…………….and that we have a whole canon of country songs in which the subjects approach the situation much more maturely than he is. It can be debated how misogynistic the lyrics are, but one thing they definitely are are childish and unattractive by any measure. Besides that, they pander to checklist cliches like the phoned-in shout-out to the troops (Zac Brown, eat your chicken-fried heart out.) It’s simply a painful song to listen to that acts on our least-desirable impulses.)

    April 11-28: Zac Brown Band – “Homegrown” +2
    (Speaking of Zac Brown: yeah, I will admit that this has slightly cooled on me somewhat in that the production does sound a bit too machine-made. Still, there’s a heart to this song that wins me over. You notice it when Brown and his co-harmonizers hum the chorus hook and there’s an evident longing, a wistfulness, still resonating in his love of all they value as home to them. The lyrics aren’t anything special on paper and are actually wrought with the same sort of cliches as in “Chicken Fried”, but they don’t hit you over the head either and “Homegrown” is simply one of those songs you have to hear to really appreciate as opposed to a lyrics sheet.)

    May 2: Sam Hunt – “Take Your Time” -5
    (Have I mentioned how much I HATE this ode to entitled males disingenuously masquerading as sex-positive feminists for the sole purpose of getting into their pants? The creep factor literally short-circuits with songs like this. And what makes this most dangerous (yes, I dare using the word dangerous to describe this song) is that, on the surface, it seems harmless at first with the sensitive-sounding melody line and Hunt singing about how he didn’t mean to bother her but he just couldn’t walk by without saying hi to her. But by the time you get to the second chorus especially, it’s blatantly clear what the narrator’s intentions are and he is exposed for the emotionally manipulative, philandering creep that he is. It gets ugliest in the bridge: saying “I don’t wanna go home with you, I just wanna be alone with you.” Yeah: so much about saying earlier that he wasn’t going to waste his lines and that he wasn’t coming on too strong. And did it not occur to you, Sam, that the reason she didn’t say “Go to hell!” and/or walk away in the second verse………………is because, like many women who are caught up in threatening or uncomfortable situations with men who are crossing the line……………..that they are frightened and scared of setting off his bad side? Seriously: F*** everything about this horrible song! It’s rare that songs work me up quite like this one with a seething inferno of hatred, but this is definitely one of them!)

    May 9-16: Dierks Bentley – “Say You Do” +1
    (It’s alright. I do understand the main sentiment of this song. Falling out of a relationship with someone certainly spikes anxiety, and it does lead us to feelings of desperation like that described in the lyrics. But much like with “Lonely Tonight”, the main issue I have with this song is that while the narrator is self-aware that what he’s asking for are lies as he explains using the smoke analogy in the second verse………………..there’s no indication that he’s going to mature and learn anything. Like he’s trapped in this vicious cycle and has no intention to proceed in the grieving process. And that just comes across as inconsiderate to the subject or anyone caught up in this situation. It’s unhealthy. I still credit this song for tapping into a sort of slice of life, or vignette surrounding the darker sides of relationships. But when the damage is clearly done, you need to take responsibility and move on as you continue to grieve. The song failing to convey the consequence of living lies holds this back.)

    May 23: Keith Urban & Eric Church – “Raise ‘Em Up” 0
    (This does little for me, in all honesty. I can appreciate that the production is dialed-down and it does try to provide intimate breathing space. But it just languishes throughout and, for a song of this title, it certainly inspires little that’s rousing. Both vocalists do fine, but nonetheless fail to elevate the cliche-crippled lyrics. I mentioned before how I can easily see this song screaming in an audition to be the theme song in a television ad campaign to revitalize the classic board game “LIFE” to the Millennial generation. I mean, the lyrics……………..especially in the bridge………………SCREAM the game of “LIFE”. Get a degree! Start your career! Get married! Have two babies! Claim insurance! Okay okay…………….the lyrics say nothing about insurance, but you get the idea! The song sounds more like a commercial than a genuine personal reflection on life.)

    May 30: Tyler Farr – “A Guy Walks Into A Bar” +2
    (This easily remains Farr’s best and only listenable single to date. I like the breezy, modern production this has but still feeling like a natural, organic band effort. Farr (at least pre-surgery) is a below-average vocalist, but he gives a respectable performance here in articulating heartache and admitting how he and many others fall for the ultimate revolving-door cliche surrounding entering and exiting relationships in bars. I still find the lyrical conceit in the chorus quite clever and the vocal melody is so well crafted in the chorus as well. Here’s hoping Farr explores this vein more on subsequent releases.)

    June 6: Billy Currington – “Don’t It” 0
    (Though this isn’t country in the slightest, this has a certain charm to it even I can’t quite explain. Sure, the lyrics are kind of dopey, most notably the “karaoke “microphone-it” line, but damn if Currington doesn’t have the ability to exude charisma effortlessly. There’s a certain warmth in his delivery that provides a saving grace to this and, coupled with a John Mayer-esque radio-friendly groove line and sticky, rousing chorus, this is something of a guilty pleasure for me……………even when I can acknowledge this doesn’t belong on country and is meant for Adult Top 40.)

    June 13: A Thousand Horses – “Smoke” -3
    (Huh? What’s all this about Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers being their chief inspirations? As it turned out, “Southernality” was comparatively more true to who they cited as influences as an album, but who would ever have guessed that based on listening to this debut single? It is some of the most sterile, gutless production I’ve EVER heard that bores me to tears. There’s also something rather disingenuous about the lyrics in this context. When you remove the production altogether and only hear the vocal track, it’s quite clear the narrator is singing about lust even without the eventual release of the music video depicting a stripper they’re oogling over. I deduced this was about lust months before the video was ever released based off of the references to him and his friends eventually coming home with the smell of perfume all over their clothes and references to swaying and “floating around like a downtown ballroom gypsy” while he’s copiously drinking. Yet, the production completely contrasts and sells this off as some sort of romantic love song. It’s really off-putting hearing lyrics like “She’ll be the first damn thing I want when I start drinking” backed to the most inoffensive production imaginable. Oh, and the riff clearly rips off that of Third Eye Blind’s “How’s It Going To Be”. Hardly among the worst things I’ve ever heard, but one of the more disingenuous songs I’ve heard for sure.)

    June 20: Florida Georgia Line – “Sippin’ On Fire” -3
    (Not a lot to say about this one. It’s basically a reprise of the “Stay” formula right down to the vocal melody, as well as a rehashing of the overstuffed arena rock histrionics that defined “Here’s to the Good Times” as a whole. The production is overly cluttered and marred by Audio Wars, Tyler Hubbard sounds annoying, and it just feels blatantly recycled as a whole. It’s really the fact it’s forgettable and the lyrics really don’t raise any red flags that makes this merely bad as opposed to awful.)

    June 27: Kenny Chesney & Grace Potter – “Wild Child” 0
    (This is a prime example of how disingenuous marketing can somewhat taint your perception of a song. Chesney hyped this up as an anthem that respects women and pretty much the flip-side of a bro-country anthem and, yet, does it really? I mean, at the very least, the narrator doesn’t strike me as merely complimenting her to get into her pants. But a cursory read of the lyrics outs “Wild Child” as succumbing to the laundry list formula that is also inherent in bro-country. It’s as though the bro-country songwriting formula is a mannequin and fashioned with daisy dukes and a bikini top, with a jacked-up truck parked alongside it. “Wild Child” merely replaces that fashion with a thrift store dress and sandals, with a Chevy van parked alongside it. Oh, and instead of name-dropping Hank Williams and George Strait, the writers name-drop Bonnaroo and Burning Man because they are choice festivals for modern hippies. It all feels like a marketing gimmick more than anything. And, when he says things like “She’s Penny Lane in a Chevy van” and “A touch of crazy hides behind her wild smile”, how is that any different from what we’re accustomed to hearing in bro-country songs? What is the Penny Lane metaphor supposed to mean anyway? There is admittedly some nice imagery in the song like that of kaleidoscopes and a calico pony on an open plain. But, as a whole, this just falters and comes across as needlessly more disingenuous with all the hype about this being a song that respects women when it mostly just concerns itself with appearances and what she likes to do.

    *

    Liked by 1 person

    • Unfortunately Church was unable to hold off Lane on the Billboard chart too 😦 I’ve reacted appropriately to the news in the Pulse tomorrow.

      Also I completely forgot about Cole Swindell shoehorning that patriotic reference in “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey.” This just makes me want to mark the song down more. Chip McCapp would be proud though!

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      • I think EMI Nashville made the mistake of annoincing “Kill A Word” as the new single last week. I think they should’ve waited until the following week.

        The good news I expect Chris Lane to soon follow in the foot steps of Canaan Smith and Michael Ray and basically go irrelevant again as I doubt “For Her” will do that great.

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        • It’s not going for adds though until the end of August. The new norm is to announce a single weeks before it officially goes for adds. Church is also at the point of his career, much like Tim McGraw, where he can release anything he wants and it will get played. “Kill A Word” will be just fine. Probably won’t have the success of “Record Year,” but it’ll still do well nonetheless.

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        • Eh, radio and Eric Church have a pretty hot and cold relationship. For “Record Year” there is “Mr Misunderstood” then there’s “Like A Wrecking Ball” following “Talladega” so it seems that everytime Eric Church gets a hit he follows it up with a dong that dies in the teens. So I’m a little pessimistic about how “Kill A Word” would do.

          Josh, what would you rank “Kill A Word”?

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          • It’s a risk only from the standpoint that we rarely hear songs on country radio these days that directly address bullying and prejudice in various forms.

            That said, “Kill A Word” has always struck me as one of the obvious singles from the first time I heard it alongside what has already been released, “Round Here Buzz” and “Knives of New Orleans”. Half of “Mr. Misunderstood” was recorded clearly not concerned with getting radio play (“Mistress Named Music”, “Chattanooga Lucy”, “Mixed Drinks About Feelings”, “Holdin’ My Own”, “Three Year Old”) while the remaining half was.

            “Kill A Word” already had an infectious sing-along quality going for it, and I’m going to predict the state of current events in our nation and world will only further elevate this song’s potential. I won’t be the least surprised if it blows up digitally much like “Like A Wrecking Ball” and become one of those songs with a better sales-over-airplay ratio, even if radio programmers consider the song too edgy lyrically.

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          • Also, I’ll let Josh speak for himself of course, but for me “Kill A Word” is another solid +4.

            It’s still my favorite song off of “Mr. Misunderstood”, and I’m willing to bet will be remembered as one of the most important and essential songs of his career (if not among the most successful).

            Like

  5. July 4: Kelsea Ballerini – “Love Me Like You Mean It” -5
    (Why -5? Because THIS is the song that set off the dangerous “new normal” for females lucky enough to break out on country airwaves. THIS is the song that was chosen to break through the glass ceiling that was obstructing all other female artists not named Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert. The song’s lyrics are especially awful in how reductive they are: lowering the standards for women in a “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!” way. The mixed messages are especially jarring. The narrator harangues about all the things the subject needs to do to treat her right and some of which is sound, and laments all the games past lovers played on her………….yet at the very beginning of the song what strikes the narrator’s fancy? The frickin’ way the subject is wearing a ball cap! That’s our role model! Mmmmmmm, the way your hat is hot! What do you say you walk my way so I can drink you up? (groans) Is it any wonder she keeps finding herself alone? Because she rolls the dice on looks! You should live your own advice in the chorus, Kelsea! And F*** you for encouraging other women to dumb themselves down to play the radio game too!)

    July 11-18: Blake Shelton – “Sangria” 0
    (This is bland, but it isn’t bad. Some of the lyrics have a descriptive quality to them that, to their credit, paints clear visuals and drives the seductive theme forward. And as boring as the production as a whole is, there’s a certain air of caution in the melody line that kind of works to this song’s advantage in that, as a song about seduction, it might lead to regret the next day even if the lyrics speak nothing of that sort. But for a song about a sexual fling with a title like “Sangria”……………….yeah, quite the contrary from what I have in mind.)

    July 25: Canaan Smith – “Love You Like That” -4
    (There’s no couplet that’s going to haunt my memory more than “I could never do it like a pretty city boy, I’m more a fishin’ in the dark nitty gritty boy…” Seriously: he faux-raps that line like it’s a big deal in that he repeats it in the bridge AND the outro. Like he’s actually PROUD of it as a stroke of genius. Uggggghhh! Seriously: this would have settled for being entirely forgettable if not for that terrible lyric! Because that lyric is the ONLY thing that makes this remotely stand out in any way. Otherwise, the production is lugubriously sterile, Smith’s vocals lazily sludge along, and the rest of the lyrics are brittle “Aw shucks!” country boy come-ons. And again: F*** that couplet!)

    August 1: Jason Aldean – “Tonight Looks Good on You” -2
    (God, this is as uninspiring as seduction songs get. And who does Aldean think he is: Bryan McKnight? This is his obvious stab at an R&B slow jam, and it’s as bland as you expect. And does Davidson and Co. seriously expect us to believe that after a million times, the narrator has never seen his woman’s eyes sparkle in the moonlight and skin? Really? That said, I have to admit the production in the latter half of the song sounds alright and at least the lyrics get away without any offending lines. Not a good song, but he certainly has had worse.)

    August 8: Brantley Gilbert – “One Hell of an Amen” +1
    (This is that sort of song you can’t help but admire in that you know, in heart, Gilbert is genuinely trying. He is genuinely trying to project sentiment regarding fighters in everyday life who grapple with life-threatening injuries while serving overseas and battling cancer. And I do respect that a lot as the lyrics do have heart to them and Gilbert’s heart is in the right place too. That said………………Brantley Gilbert still sounds like Brantley Gilbert. I know that sounds harsh, but I just don’t like his vocals and in the hands of many other vocalists and maybe a more organic production arrangement, this could have been a solid +3.)

    August 15: Luke Bryan – “Kick The Dust Up” -5
    (At the time this surfaced, trap was quite popular as a sub-genre in popular music: particularly in the rap and Rhythmic genres. It’s an ominous, bleak-sounding strain of music indebted from hip-hop and utilizes synthesizers, strings and 808s primarily. The breakdown in the chorus of this song is an egregious attempt to countrify trap music and resembles only the tip of the iceberg of embarrassments regarding this song. Firstly, you have the simple fact this is a damn stupid party song and Bryan sounds absolutely serious and austere. Lighten the flying f*** up! You shout parking in and piling out and watching your step like you’re in Darfur as opposed to, y’know……………….A PARTY! Secondly, what’s with all these WTF lyrical moments? “Z71 like a Cadillac”? Huh? “Burnin’ up a back road song”? What? “It’s like knock knock knock goes the diesel, if you really wanna see the beautiful people…” The hell? “Just follow me down ‘neath the 32 bridge, y’all be glad you did”? I’d rather not know what you do under that bridge but, besides that, aren’t you supposed to be in a frickin’ cornfield? What: did you teleport yourself between the Flint River bridge and the cornfield? Anyway, I’m wasting too many brain cells dissecting the nonsensical lyrics as is. The instrumentation is muddy, the mixing is choppy……………….everything about this is a migraine. What did we do to deserve this?)

    August 22: Michael Ray – “Kiss You in the Morning” -4
    (The production spares this from the cellar. It’s just your typical generic rock-country bombast and, considering what was largely fashionable at the time of its release, it’s actually kind of welcomed. But then you have Michael Ray trying his level best to be the Tyler Connolly (Theory of a Deadman) of country vocalists, and some of the most leering lyrics I’ve ever heard. In fact, there’s not a single moment in the lyrics where the writers take a break from objectifying the female subject. He starts the song oogling over her jeans being faded “in all the right places”, then sings: “You got me hanging on tight to your curves like little E races.” Ewwwwwwwwwwwww! Then he goes from disgusting to reckless when he sings he wants to kiss her running red lights in the chorus. What the hell? That’s a fatal car crash waiting to happen. Then we get the cringe-inducing “Kiss you like a let’s go, come on, baby let me hear you say oh, oh…” couplet. Besides the pathetic fact that they had nothing to rhyme “go” with so had to rely on “oh oh” filler, it’s painful in that the way Ray sings it reminds me of that infamous line from Hinder’s “Room 21” when their singer brags: “When we were done, she said she loved the taste of my oh oh oh…” (vomit sound effects) That still haunts me to this day, and thanks the f***, Michael Ray, for hammering it deeper into my skull like a rail spike. Top it up with him gleefully oogling over her as she bends down to reveal her butterfly tattoo on her lower back and he says “What else do you have to hide?”. By all measures, this SHOULD be a -5 song, and it’s a small wonder how the production wasn’t equally as horrendous. Bravo…………………….I guess…)

    August 29: Zac Brown Band – “Loving You Easy” 0
    (Why do I get the feeling that this seems hurried and underwritten? I don’t know: “Loving You Easy” has always sounded incomplete to my ears. Granted this is a simple love song, but still: it’s really abrupt and jarring how at roughly the one minute and forty-five second mark how Brown finishes the second chorus then shifts to a higher key saying “Ohhhhhhhh, I wanna say it again!” and wraps a final chorus up. They had a likeable idea going at any rate with the breezy AM radio soul approach, and I do love that Jimmy De Martini works in some fiddle after the first chorus. But this has such a fleeting feel to it and I can’t help but feel it could have been a hell of a lot better.)

    September 5: Frankie Ballard – “Young & Crazy” +2
    (The self-awareness of the songwriting is quite refreshing, I have to say. I’m not going to dare pretend this isn’t a country song, because it’s not. But when considering how rock sensibilities have long migrated to country radio, this sounds as solid as ever on playlists and does have some solid musicianship all around. Perhaps Ballard does go off on a limb when he suggests a line must be crossed a million times before knowing where it must be drawn, but it still doesn’t offend me personally because I get the point in where he was going with that. And the rest of the lyrics speak of something that we’re not used to hearing: the idea that youthful mischief and mayhem is actually healthy and a necessary part of personal growth and evolution. I actually like that a lot. So yeah, I really enjoy hearing this.)

    September 12: Sam Hunt – “House Party” -5
    (Oh, look at that: Sam Hunt is using a token banjo in this one! Whooop-Dee-Doo! Somehow, Sam Hunt managed to follow-up one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard with………………..another one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard! But to be honest, I think what’s most offensive about this song is the fact that there’s absolutely no point for it existing. It’s as though MCA Nashville were listening to “Montevallo” before clearing it for release, nodded in overall affirmation and then said: “Hmmmmmmm, we really like what we’re hearing, but…………….it’s missing a little something! You have too many self-serious sounding relationship songs in a row! Do you think you can, maybe, return to the studio and cut a fun up-tempo?” And we got “House Party” in direct result. It sounds way too clunky with the percussion shoved so high in the mix and, backed by dumb-as-sand lyrics that make Far East Movement sound dignified in comparison. All this song wants me to do is, y’know, leave my house! Thanks a lot!)

    September 19: Dustin Lynch – “Hell of a Night” -4
    (Yeah, we get it Dustin: you’re obsessed with tailgate sex! And…………..?)

    September 26: Thomas Rhett – “Crash and Burn” -5
    (Shameless plagiarism of Sam Cooke’s “Chain Gang” alone makes this deserving of the ultimate Dunce Cap Demerit. I’ll be willing to admit the lyrics aren’t that bad and I’ve heard worse production. But I don’t f*** around with outright plagiarism, and THAT is why I resent this song with a passion.)

    October 3-17: Kenny Chesney – “Save It For A Rainy Day” +1
    (This song is quietly enjoyable. I completely get why this soared up the chart and had such intensely positive callout. It’s nothing remotely groundbreaking, but it’s that sort of sing-along that does everything reasonably right. The melody line is sunny and infectious, the bittersweet lyrics match the tone of the song, and Chesney sounds comfortable here. It’s not a great song, but it’s a good one.)

    October 24: Brett Eldredge – “Lose My Mind” -3
    (We have a glut of songs comparing a love interest to a drug, and then we have a glut of songs comparing an obsession over someone to going “crazy”. To the song’s credit, the production at least sounds a bit interesting even if it’s not in the least bit country. Considering all the boring songs that topped the chart in 2015, that’s actually a compliment in a sense. Still, the lyrics are dumb and it’s painful hearing Eldredge again waste his vocal strengths on fodder like this. If I want to lose my mind, I’d much rather listen to DMX’s “Party Up (Up In Here)”, just sayin’…)

    October 31-November 7: Luke Bryan – “Strip It Down” -4
    (Regardless of how you interpret “strip it down” in this song’s context, it fails on all three fronts. If the songwriters meant “strip it down” in a sexual context, Bryan sounds WAY too serious and the song way too limp and pensive to turn the listener on. If by “strip it down” they meant stripping down Bryan’s sound to something more organic, the producer and engineer failed miserably on that front too in how stiff the drum machines are, how drowned out the guitar tones are and all the electronic glitch sounds invade the intimate vibe this song was trying to go for. And if by “strip it down” they meant, from a songwriting standpoint, equating fixing a relationship to that of carpentry…………………..the songwriters fall flat on their faces in how it merely scratches at the surface and concerns itself solely with getting the subject to loosen Bryan’s belt from his old blue jeans and…………….errrrrrrrrrrr…………….destroying her cell phone. This song doesn’t sound sexy. This song is an overproduced mess. This song doesn’t even grasp the carpentry metaphor remotely well. It’s just structurally deficient.)

    November 14-21: Old Dominion – “Break Up With Him” -5
    (Much like Donald Trump is responsible for encouraging the comeback of white supremacist views into the mainstream, you can f***ing thank Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time” for paving the way for the normalization of emotionally manipulative douchedom on corporate country/”country” radio. You have the horrendous talk-singing in the verses. You have utterly transparent and shameless attempts at stealing her when there’s no indication on the subject’s part that she truly feels what he’s assuming and, even if she did, she would be remotely interested in this douche. The simple fact that he’s romanticizing the idea of propagating lies is itself morally bankrupt. And just like with “Take Your Time”, the fact he says “No pressure!” in the bridge exposes how emotionally manipulative he is along with grimacing “You would’ve hung up by now if you weren’t thinking it too.” But you know what makes this especially horrendous? The fact that it’s backed by production that’s meant to sound romantic and charming with the melodic drive. It’d be like Monsanto boasting about how they’re going to exploit and destroy small farming communities far and wide and using the production of Elton John’s “Candle In The Wind” as wallpaper. It is snake oil sales-pitching at its absolute worst in that it’s romanticizing this abusive practice, and the fact this hit #1 should be seen as nothing less than an assault on all human decency. F*** this song to hell!)

    November 28-December 12: Chris Young – “I’m Comin’ Over” 0
    (We’ve heard this before. It was titled “Tomorrow”. It was a much better song then due to the dramatic tension and that the production gave Young’s vocals room to breathe. This blatantly retreads that same subject matter, but aims to ape Daughtry for mass commercial returns and just winds up a shadow of “Tomorrow”. What I find most frustrating about this song is how hurried it sounds and feels. It’s as though even Young is bored of it and, upon preparing his vocal track for it, said: “Alright, let’s just get this thing over with!”. Much like “Loving You Easy”, it sounds rushed in how Young just barrels his way through the verses and how succinct the bridge is. And wow, the production is painfully bland: Daughtry style. All in all, Young’s heart is still in a pure place: it’s just a shame he’s aiming way too low.)

    December 19: Dan + Shay – “Nothin’ Like You” -2
    (This is a song that’s impossible to hate, but nonetheless easily annoys you. What do I mean by that? Well, it sounds inoffensive for a start. It’s not remotely country in that the production can be most closely attributed to Train’s “Hey Soul Sister” and Matt Kearney-esque Adult Top 40 sensibilities. And, vocally, they sound likeable and sound truly invested in their performances by the palpable excitement and sense of wonder he feels in this subject. But then we get to the lyrics and………………….yeah, they’re annoying. For one, why would you laugh at someone’s stack of books? I mean, did it never occur to you that……………….y’know……………………reading is a passion of hers? There’s just something about that line that rubs me off the wrong way much like romantic comedy films with hokey writing do. The kind that obsess over eccentricities along the lines of: “Hahaha, she’s wearing shoes with purple untied shoestrings! Hahaha……………..that’s pretty OUT THERE! Hahaha! And awwwwwwwwwwww……….she’s wearing a rock and roll T-shirt at a formal event! Hahahaha, bless her little heart…………..her quirky little heart!” All this dwelling on her eccentricities and the way he phrases these lyrics just sounds patronizing to me, though I do realize this may be an unpopular opinion. All in all, this isn’t terrible………………it just doesn’t belong on country radio and the lyrics suffer from Pat Monahanivitis.)

    December 26: Blake Shelton – “Gonna” -1
    (Well, I’ll give the song this: Shelton sounds genuinely energetic here in a way he hasn’t in most of his recent singles. In fact, this was the first radio single where he sounded like he had a pulse since “Doin’ What She Likes”. And none of the lyrics are all that bad either. It’s just………………….why does this song exist again? Why in the Seven Wonders is it necessary we have a song that plays off the word “gonna” throughout like it’s a clever beachball of a pun worth tossing around? It’s not! It’s quite obvious it’s not in that, when I pointed out how often he cites the title in the lyrics to peers, that they mention they weren’t even consciously aware how often he was saying it and it flew completely over their heads. And even the writers subtly seem to admit that too in that they desperately try and work in a rap-talk cadence in the second verse and bridge in the hopes of making this generic song bulge out more in the radio landscape. Yeah………………..that didn’t work either as evidenced by its pathetic sales. It’s definitely not a bad song: just a rather lame one with a little fiddle.

    *

    FINAL TOTAL: -62

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    • Really? I’ve grown accustomed to the fact that the only people who like “Nothin’ Like You” (and Dan + Shay in general) are me, Mark Grondin, and a bunch of teenage girls, but comparing ANYthing to Pat Monahan is a pretty serious insult, and I don’t think it’s warranted here. There’s a difference between being different and being odd. “Different” is noting the object of your affection’s shoelaces. “Odd” is calling her a garbage bag. “Odd” is claiming that one of the greatest things in life is a really good “soy latte.” “Odd” is rhyming “drug” with “thug.” “Nothin’ Like You” does nothing odd.

      And “rockin’ that rock n’ roll t-shirt” isn’t different OR odd. It’s alliteration.

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      • Even Pat Monahan can be a decent songwriter when he wants to be. I thought, for instance, “For Me, It’s You” was a solid album that is criminally underrated. And he has had other solid songs here and there like “Bruises”, “Mississippi” and “The Finish Line”.

        So what do I mean by “Pat Monahanititis”, by the way? I mean a songwriter’s propensity, much like Monahan, to try WAY too hard coming across as clever and wry in one’s writing but, rather, winding up sounding hopelessly “WTF!” in how awkward and cheesy they come across. It’s also 1) characterized by an obsession with trying to make every word rhyme, 2) relentless pop culture references, 3) the sense that the writing wasn’t edited due to the glaring non-sequiturs and 4) having a pseudo-rap air to their delivery.

        That’s what I mean by Pat Monahanititis. I get that, to some, it works because at least it isn’t dull. And, honestly, sometimes it is bizarrely entertaining listening to Train songs that suffer from it. But it needlessly gets in the way of songs way too often, and I definitely feel “Nothin’ Like You” is one such example in how patronizing it sounds.

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    • “Pat Monahanivitis” Hahaha! I’m probably going to borrow this in the future. Monahan seems like a good guy, but man Train songs are the definition of generic mediocrity. They also inspire an incredible amount of anger in people to this day. This was demonstrated earlier this year in a worst songs of 1990 to the present tournament I followed, where Train’s “Hey Soul Sister” went all the way to the semifinals (Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” remix went on to win it). I couldn’t believe how much people still hated Train, even moreso than acts like Creed and Black Eyed Peas.

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      • I dislike Train’s more recent albums for the most part but, to be fair, I did enjoy “For Me, It’s You” a lot (which, oddly enough, the band doesn’t like only because it’s depressing……………….go figure! =P ) and I also thought their debut album and “Drops of Jupiter” were decent albums too. Like I said above, Pat Monahan actually can be a solid songwriter when he wants to be, and he has proven that with much of “For Me, It’s You” and sporadically across other albums.

        But more often than not, Monahan epitomizes the lameness in modern songwriting that gets euphemized as quirky: where nothing has to make sense, it just has to rhyme. The most hilarious example of this is in “Drive By” where he literally (yes, I’m using that word) compares his lover to a 2-Ply Hefty garbage bag. Really? You’re comparing your lover to garbage? And then he proceeds to say his love for her went viral. WTF? There’s a classic case of Pat Monahanititis right there! =P

        And it surfaces in so much recent songwriting. Take Jason Derulo, for instance. He’s like the Pat Monahan of Rhythmic-leaning pop. “Trumpets” is only one perfect example where he sings “Is it weird that your ass
        remind me of a Kanye West song? Is it weird that your bra remind me of a Katy Perry song?” WTF?!!!

        I do personally like Train more than Creed and will.i.am (solo: I like the Black Eyed Peas well enough but his solo material is just AWFUL). But I do stand by my assertion that Pat Monahan’s songwriting style is emblematic of much of what gets in the way of decent songwriting today.

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  6. My (Un-)popular opinion: the only outstanding #1 in 2015 was “A Guy Walks Into A Bar” (Tyler Farr / +5).
    “A Guy…” was co-written by Brad Tursi (Old Dominion). Tyler Farr’s best performance (so far). An emotional song & TF delivers.
    The album (Suffer In Peace) is not bad. The cover is cringeworthy. The decision to release “Withdrawals” as the follow-up single killed the momentum. The new Columbia Nashville leaders killed the album era only a couple of weeks later. “Better In Boots” replaced “Withdrawals” & peaked outside the Top 20. My highlights: “A Guy Walks Into A Bar”, “Poor Boy” & “I Don’t Even Want This Beer”.

    +3 song: “Talladega”
    +2 song: “One Hell Of An Amen”
    +1 song: “Ain’t Worth The Whiskey (just another un-popular opinion…)

    Billboard Country Update (08/08):
    TBP is the Hot Shot Debut (#39). Mickey Guyton is new on #56.
    American Love (Jake Owen) is the new #1 album. Love Remains (Hillary Scott & The Scott Family) is new on #2.

    The new Chris Lane single will be “For Her” (co-written by Sarah Buxton / Source: Billboard).

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    • I found more to like than dislike regarding “Suffer In Peace”. It definitely was much better than I was ever expecting it to be, even after being impressed by the lead single.

      I agree with your picks for album highlights, along with the title track. The tracks that held it back were “C.O.U.N.T.R.Y.” and “Why We Live Here” (“Better In Boots” was lyrically bad, but I thought the production wasn’t half-bad despite the electronic flourishes so I regard the song only as mediocre and skipable). And I’m sure “Withdrawals” wouldn’t be regarded nearly as badly if it weren’t for the infamous, embarrassing video.

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      • Oh my…the “Withdrawals” video! My first thought: the record company must hate him.
        The song “Withdrawals” is so-so. Like “Better In Boots”. I can’t “feel” both tracks. “C.O.U.N.T.R.Y.” is a perfect 0/10.
        Like Randy Houser Tyler Farr is wasting his voice on overproduced Nash-machine material.

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  7. I thought a guy walks into a bar was the best song of the year, along w Burning House. Would’ve rated them +3 or +4

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