The notion that mainstream country radio lacks in quality, especially compared to country or Americana music that doesn't receive mainstream play, is not a new one. Simply put, when an artist (put quotes around that term for some of these jokers) takes a chance and releases something that's actually really good, radio doesn't play it (more on that in the soon to come best country singles of 2013 post). Write a song with the phrase "hey girl" or "beer chillin' in the cooler" or "she did a sexy dance on the bed of my truck and it turned me on so hard" and the chances are likely that you've written yourself a number one hit. And 2013 has proven to be the testiest year yet when it comes to this topic: You can read all about it here: How country music went crazy: A comprehensive timeline of the genre's identity crisis (Entertainment Weekly).
So here's a list of the worst of the worst from what I've heard. It's worth noting that it's comprised of all dudes. Some I forced myself to listen to based on the title alone, knowing I was in for the equivalent of an ear stabbing. Just so you know I don't take myself or this list too seriously, I should tell you there are two songs you may think you'll find on this list that aren't there: Blake Shelton's "Boys 'Round Here" and Florida Georgia Line's "Get Your Shine On." Reason being is that they were the "theme songs" for my family reunion in May and every time I hear them I can only think of fun times drunkenly singing them at the top of my lungs. So when it comes down to it, it's all relative really. (Don't worry, I also introduced them to Randy Rogers Band's "Fuzzy.")
If you like any of these songs, I don't hold it against you. If you like it, you like it; if it makes you happy, it makes you happy. But seriously, though, the songs listed below are terrible, lazy, and borderline offensive. For some unexplainable reason many folks who don't really listen to country radio anymore still care about what gets played there. We hold out hope that one day the tide will turn. Call it torture. Call it nostalgia. Whatever it is, it's fun to call bullshit on songs that continually contribute to the dumbing-down of the mainstream, giving the good stuff a bad name in the process because of the mistaken notion that the two are closely connected.
But I do it for you, the people.
"Chillin' It" - Cole Swindell (Shane Minor / Cole Swindell) - Don't let this catchy little ditty fool you, for it totally sucks the big one. Let me tell you why: Pour it on easy now, don't spill a bit/ Nothin' tonight but time, let's get to killin' it/ Long as I'm rockin' with you girl/ You know I'm cool with just chillin' it. I am stupider just for typing that. Did you see that? He rhymed "chillin'" with "killin'" and "chillin'" is a play on "cool" cuz they both mean COLD! Does anybody even know what "chillin' it" means? Do people actually say that? I thought that when I was just hanging out, I was "chillin'." Give credit where credit is due though: The phrase "chillin' like a villain" does not get a shout out, which is a genuine shocker.
"Redneck Crazy" - Tyler Farr (Mark Irwin / Josh Kear / Chris Tompkins) - I mean, you really start to wonder if anyone even cares about lyrics anymore. Please, young people, do not handle a break up the way this douchey narrator does: by drunkenly stalking your ex in the middle of the night and throwing beer cans at her house. Thing is, this concept could perhaps be made into a decent song if there was even the slightest hint of irony or humor. But it's played dead straight, even lines as cringe-worthy as I'm about to get my pissed off on and Nah, he can't amount to much by the look of that little truck. So if driving a little truck means you're a pussy, what does it mean if you drive a Camry (me)? Check that. I don't give a shit. Brantley Gilbert, you have met your match.
"Makin' This Boy Go Crazy" - Dylan Scott (Dylan Scott / Glenn Whitehead) - This song almost isn't worth writing about. I've never heard of this dude, and I'm not sure where I even heard about the song. But it might be the most derivative and boring one on this list. Here are some words that people actually wrote down and thought sounded good together: Never seen a tan look so good ... The way your hair blows in the wind, takes me to heaven and back again ... Oh girl, you make me feel like whoa (I'm not even kidding) ... I can catch a buzz without a drink, that's what your body does to me/ Every kiss is like a sip, I wanna taste, over and over. It's official: rapey is the new trendy down at the Music Row machine.
"Aw Naw" - Chris Young (Chris DeStefano / Ashley Gorley / Chris Young) - Well, it was bound to happen I suppose. One of the last great hopes of country radio gave in to industry pressure. Though I've liked some more than others, I've at least partially enjoyed every single Young has released, but "Aw Naw" leaves such a bad taste in my mouth that I'm not sure I'll ever give him another shot. I barely was able to get through his new album even once (there are maybe one or two decent songs on there, I can't remember and haven't gone back to listen). The story goes, or so I remember reading (you'll forgive me if I do not care enough to do a quick Google search), that Young and his co-writers were sitting around, someone said "Aw Naw," and someone else said, "Hey, that'd make a cool song." Well, two things: one group already wrote that song, and the song Young and Co. ended up writing is one of the dumbest, most pandering, most clumsily produced pieces of music you will ever lay ears on. And it being Chris Young, it kind of pains me to say that. The chorus, for your amusement: Aw naw, somebody just bought a shot of that Patron/ Hang on, I just might have to stay (YOU KNOW, CUZ PATRON!)/ Aw naw, look at the time y'all/ What happened to coats on, long gone/ I should be halfway home, but aw naw. Farewell, Chris Young.
Other 2013 Lists:
Best Country Singles