I love Luke Bryan. I really do. Just last month I was in the front row of his Dirt Road Diaries tour, rocking out like crazy with no attempt to act like a sane human being and having way too good of a time. A few days ago, I heard that he was releasing a new single and eagerly waited with my ear glued to the radio all day until they played it...and then something awful happened. They played it. (you can listen to hist much anticipated song, "That's My Kinda Night" here: http://www.directlyrics.com/new-song-luke-bryan-thatrsquos-my-kind-of-night-news.html) Here's pretty much how it went down:
|It begins. Strong pop beat is not promising.|
|"I got that real good, feel good stuff"|
|Around the time the T-Pain reference came|
Now it's catchy, ok? There's no denying it and that one phrase "catch us up a little catfish dinner" has been popping into my brain at totally random times so I can see why Luke or his manager or record label or whoever decides which songs are to be released to radio chose to put this one out. I mean, let's be honest, these energetic songs with a popish beat about how great the country life is while a hot girl passes them another beer have been doing tremendously well these past few years, as has country rap. Considering the success of Luke's previous singles, "Crash My Party", "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye", "Drunk on You", and "I Don't Want This Night To End", I guess it made sense to release another song where Luke kind of comes off as a weird mix between country boy and frat boy. (Ok, this is getting harsh. I do love Luke Bryan- I promise I do. Just bear with me, here).
I think what upsets me the most about "That's My Kinda Night" is that I can't find any resemblance between the character in this song and the Luke Bryan we all fell in love with through songs like "Do I", "What Country Is", "Tackle Box", and "We Rode In Trucks". Believe it or not, those last two songs are from an album called "I'll Stay Me"... Oh the irony!
But do you want to know something that may shock you based on what I've said so far? The rest of his new album, "Crash My Party" sounds pretty darn good. "Dirt Road Diary" has been a crowd favorite for some time and the studio version sounds very promising. So please don't walk away from this thinking that I believe Luke Bryan has completely morphed into an unrecognizable artist who is incapable of making genuinely good music anymore. Because that couldn't be farther from the truth- he's still got a beautiful voice and a knack for songwriting that landed him a record deal within two months of moving to Nashville years ago.
If you'll allow me to now digress into a short rant about a lot of new country I would be much obliged.
It bothers me that all of these country singers with great CDs mostly full of heartfelt songs that tell great stories end up releasing cliché songs that we've all heard a million times. In one of my favorite movies, Walk the Line, record producer, Sam Phillips, gives Johnny Cash one of the most beautiful and inspiring speeches ever:
"If you was hit by a truck and you was lying out there in that gutter dying, and you had time to sing one song. One song that people would remember before you're dirt. One song that would let God know how you felt about your time here on Earth. One song that would sum you up. You tellin' me that's the song you'd sing? That same Jimmy Davis tune we hear on the radio all day.... Or would you sing somethin' different. Somethin' real. Somethin' you felt. Cause I'm telling you right now, that's the kind of song people want to hear. That's the kind of song that truly saves people."
Look, I'm not saying every song on country radio needs to be as intense and deeply emotional as the kind of song Sam Phillips is asking for here and I know that sometimes you just need a fun party
song to dance to but when did it become expected of country singers to release a love/heartache song 50% of the time and a drinking/country-is-better-than-you song the other 50% percent?
For example, some of you may remember how much I love Tim McGraw's CD "Two Lanes of Freedom". It's fantastic. In fact, there are only two songs on that album that I am not crazy about because I think they're pretty reminiscent to every other song on the radio. Take a wild guess which ones those are. If you said "Truck Yeah" and "Southern Girl" you'd be right on the money. Guess which songs off of his album have been released as singles. Yeah... see what I'm saying?
Eric Church expresses my feelings way better than I ever could in his song "Lotta Boot Left to Fill". Just listen to the opening lyrics:
Get ups, Gimics,
One hit wonders that don't stick.
Pretty boys actin' tough,
boy bands, give it up.
And if it looks good on TV,
it'll look good on a CD.
Shape it up, trim it down.
Who gives a damn about how it sounds?
Ok thank you for letting me get that off my chest. I obviously had a lot of feelings. But listen, please don't think that I despise songs like "Cruise" or "Boys 'Round Here' just because they don't have much substance. In fact, most days I really love them and I'll be the first to yell "Chew tobacco, chew tobacco, chew tobacco-spit!" whenever the opportunity arises. I just wish those in the music industry would find the courage to release a song that is new, original, and unique because I truly believe there's a hunger for that among country fans. Anyone smart enough to capitalize on that hunger may just find a nice spot carved out for them in the long history of country music.