Tag Archives: not country music

Album Review: Thomas Rhett–Tangled Up [a rant]

Rating: 0/10


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!

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P.S. I love my readers and country music too much to post a video in any sort of support of this album.


Album Review: Brett Eldredge–Illinois

Rating: 3.5/10

“Country” has become nothing more than a label put on albums for marketing purposes. “Country” no longer has a definition other than “whatever won’t make it in another genre.” Therefore, as a reviewer, I find myself in a curious position of reviewing albums like Kip Moore’s Wild Ones, a decent rock album incorrectly labeled as country. Sam Hunt and Kelsea Ballerini slapped country labels on their pop albums, making Sam Hunt’s album crap in two genres and Kelsea’s an incorrectly labeled album that would have been decent in the correct genre. In the case of Brett Eldredge, I find myself reviewing a decent, if generic, r&b album slapped with a country label, thereby turning it into a pretty bad country album.

The album begins with “Fire,” an upbeat, infectious song in which Eldredge is caught up in a woman’s “fire.” I commend him for the energy and life brought to this song, but there’s one glaring problem: it’s blatantly far from country, and this is the opener. And the search for country begins. I don’t find it on the next track, an r&b song called “You Can’t Stop Me.” Here is a party song made intolerable to listen to by the inclusion of Thomas Rhett, the poster child for this trend in country music. Next is the single, “Lose my Mind,” which is about a woman who makes him “crazy, and I kinda like it.” This suffers from the obvious problem of the stupid line about being in a straightjacket, as well as the same problems as “Fire”–Brett brings energy to this song certainly, but it’s still not country. Still, “decent but not country” is better than whatever I just heard with “You Can’t Stop Me.”

“Wanna be That Song” is a decent love song with lyrics that paint some nice pictures–“every life has a sound track,” and he wants to share those moments and be a part of hers. This song is pretty well-written; I only wish it had more country instrumentation because it is just a well-written r&b song. But there is heart in this song, and it is appreciated. Next is “Time Well Spent,” a beach song with the premise “wasted time is time well spent.” I find nothing especially noteworthy or offensive about it; it’s just there. “If You Were my Girl” is a love song listing all the things he would do if this were the case; it has the same problem as “Time Well Spent”–nothing stands out here at all. This is a problem throughout the album; the lyrics are bland in many of the songs. The title track, “Illinois,” shows some more heart–Brett Eldredge is from Illinois, and this is a nice ode to his home state, the “wild blue yonder.” This is a rare personal moment from Brett and the most country song on the album. I might call this “r&b country.”

“Just a Taste” sees Brett once again singing a forgettable song about a girl, whom he refers to as his “favorite flavor”–enter the token bro country offensiveness. “Drunk on Your Love” is a terrible R&b song about waking up with someone and still being “drunk on your love.” This is the worst song on the album, and if they labeled it r&b, it would still suck. Next is “Lose it All,” a song in which Brett seems to be warning a friend that he will “lose it all” if he doesn’t change his ways. Brett says, “Take it from a man who knows just how to break a heart, listen hard and listen close, I got it down to an art.” This is a surprisingly well-written song, and a bright spot on Illinois.

“Shadow” is next–here is another good song about a “shadow,” his alter ego, following him around; there’s one glaring problem, however–this is blatantly a rock song. If anyone here is familiar with the Christian rock band Skillet, you will understand when I say it’s so much a rock song that they could pull it off if they wanted to. It’s a good rock song and actually one of the better songs on the album, but to call it country is laughable. This is probably the most hated and polarizing song on Illinois, but I disagree here. Now, here’s my unpopular opinion: on an album of actual country songs, this song would have stood out as a fun experiment that worked, and people would have loved it. Think of Zac Brown Band’s “Overnight,” the r&b standout on the otherwise country Uncaged. As it is, “Shadow” is just another non-country song badly labeled as such on Illinois, an album already full of such material. The album closes with “Going Away for a While,” a catchy song about leaving to get away from the pressures of life.

Overall, Illinois is generic and forgettable. It’s mostly an r&B album, and as such, it would be a decent but bland album. However, someone thought to give this album the designation “country.” “Country” it is most certainly not, and although there are a few good songs and personal moments, this fact can’t be overlooked. It says a lot to me that what I consider the best song on this album, “shadow,” is the most blatantly non-country song of them all. So, would I recommend this album? Well, if you like r&b, maybe. If you like rock, listen to “Shadow” certainly–in fact, that’s what I’ll post here. If you were hoping for country, then keep looking.

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