Now, I have reviewed bad albums. Luke Bryan’s Kill the Lights nearly made me wish that I had been born deaf rather than blind, saving me the horror of that experience altogether. But never before have I actually become angry when listening to an album for review–until now. Congratulations, Thomas Rhett. This, this is the most blatant, unashamed disregard for country music that I have ever witnessed, employing influences from nearly every genre except country and then labeling it “country” for some cash because in many cases, the “songs” concocted here would be laughed out of any other genre. I wrote that Don Henley made his album with obvious love and respect for the genre; one gets the feeling listening to this that Thomas Rhett went into this with outright hatred, disrespect, and defiance toward country music and its fans. Tangled Up is so named because of Thomas Rhett’s many influences, wich apparently include r&b, disco, funk, rap, rock, pop–anything but country–and his father was Rhett Akins, so he can’t even play the cluless Florida Georgia Line card here. He is so purposeful at avoiding anything having to do with country, and so arrogant and disrespectful about it, that all I can say is he should have went all the way and named this album Fuck Country Music, as this is the actual, unashamed theme…hey, at least he has a theme, I suppose. Maybe if he’d named it that, he could have thought of something for a cover, instead of leaving this to the fans in lieu of actually employing any creativity, self-expression, and/or brain power himself. If he’d gone with the above title, the cover could have shown him flipping off Hank or burning a Merle Haggard album…but I digress.
This thing begins with “Anthem,” a club song with electronic beats that is so blatantly non-country you get the feeling Thomas Rhett put this there on purpose out of pure, unbridled arrogance. The opening line is, “This is the beat that puts the fire on your feet, gives you the license to be a little crazy”–exactly, this is the beat that gives me the license to rip you and this album apart, Thomas Rhett. There is also a line that says, “This is the verse where you don’t know the words, and you don’t give a damn ’cause it feels good.” Goes nicely with my new theme, so points for that, I guess–too bad you didn’t name your album this, then I might have called it the perfect opener. “Crash and Burn” is next; now, I actually liked “Crash and Burn” when it first came out, but after it became apparent to me that Rhett ripped off Sam Cook’s “Chain Gang,” this song lost much of its appeal–and in the context of this album, it’s even worse, showing that one of the rare decent songs is still not country and was someone else’s idea in the first place. I wouldn’t blame you for liking “Crash and Burn” as a piece of music, but in the context of this album, it definitely sucks.
“South Side” is next, and if this gets released as a single, this will be one of the worst songs of the year. If there was a theme song for metro-bro, it would be this: the funk/r&b/rap song advising women to “shake your south side.” Um, no. “Die a Happy Man” is actually a good love song with some real emotion–just one huge, glaring problem: it’s an r&b song. There’s nothing remotely country about this. It’s also ironic that he name-drops Marvin Gay here–I was annoyed when they threw in names like Haggard and Strait, but this is almost worse. He will go on to name-drop Guns n’ Roses and Third Eye Blind in this album–bro country threw in all the country names to prove its country cred, metro-bro throws in as many non-country names as possible in its effort to mock country and traiditionalists. As if this album wasn’t non-country enough, next is “Vacation.” This horrifying display has fourteen songwriters, and I
already gave this brutal ruining of “low Rider” the ripping it deserves, and I don’t have much to add. Songs like “Vacation” are generally what Rhett would produce if he went to r&b, rather than decent ones like “Die a Happy Man,” so “country” is where he’ll stay, ruining my beloved genre with this musical disease that he has unleashed on mankind.
“Like It’s the Last Time” is typical bro country–“boots,” “jeans,” “truck,” “party lights,” you get the picture. Thomas Rhett, this is so 2013. But seriously, I can’t believe how welcome bro country is after what I’ve just been subjected to–it’s almost as if he put it there as some sort of sick, arrogant irony to show all us traditionalists bro country was not the worst thing that could befall us, and only the beginning of the war on our beloved country music. “T-Shirt” is possibly the most obnoxious song on this entire thing–it’s some sort of r&b/funk song about how the girl looks good in his T-shirt. Rhett does some really annoying Sam Hunt style spoken word here that only adds to the unoriginality, non-countriness, and general horror of this track. “Single Girl” sees Rhett asking a single girl if she wouldn’t rather be with him than be alone. This is not headache-inducing, but it’s boring, bland, and yes, non-country. Also, if he planned on singing any of this album to her regularly, I’m sure she’d rather die alone. “When You Stop Lookin’ Back” is about not looking back on the past, but rather moving on and looking forward. This does feature some acoustic guitar and perhaps could be called “r&b country,”–for about half the song–but half a song on an entire album is not enough to save this album or to call it country. “Tangled” is like a bad Maroon 5 song, complete with Thomas Rhett sounding like a terrible Adam Levine. I don’t even know what else to say.
I’m going to single out “Playing With Fire” here, as it’s the only song that I actually think is a good song in its rightful genre. It’s a pop song featuring Jordin Sparks about being in a relationship that isn’t right for them, but they can’t help “playing with fire.” For a pop song, it’s actually pretty good, and Jordin Sparks really helps this track. But just like “Die a Happy Man,” that doesn’t help a country album. There is not a shred of country in it, and at this point it would take Rhett singing Alan Jackson’s entire discography to make up for the monstrosity I have been forced through so far. “I Feel Good” brings us back to mindless party bullshit, and this song features LunchMoney Lewis, which actually makes this album worse–I didn’t think that was possible, so good job, Thomas Rhett. I should mention that this song name-drops “Georgia,” so I guess we’re supposed to automatically give this a “country” designation. The album concludes with “Learned it From the Radio,” an appropriate metro-bro anthem where Rhett explains that he learned all of his douche behavior, including how to drink and kiss girls, from the radio. I believe it, I really do.
Forget “Murder on Music Row,” where no one found the weapon. This album is Thomas Rhett holding up the weapon and dancing around in the street. If you like Thomas Rhett, so be it; your musical taste is your choice and none of my business. But when this r&b/funk/disco/pop music is so shamelessly allowed to be sent to “country” and to compete with George Strait, Don Henley, and Clint Black for album sales, it becomes my business, and I’m not going to sit by silently.
May King George personally come and kick Thomas Rhett’s ass if this collection of shit prevents George from having a #1 album this week!
P.S. I love my readers and country music too much to post a video in any sort of support of this album.