Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Jerrod Niemann "Drink To That All Night" Single Review

      Jerrod Niemann has been one of the most creative artists to emerge in country music over the past few years.  His breakout hit "Lover Lover" was a fresh sound, and many of his followups like "What Do You Want From Me" and "Only God Could Love You More" were some of the best songs on radio.  Jerrod has always had a keen ear for songs that could be trendy and traditional at the same time.  But, something happened.  The smell of money was too strong for Jerrod to resist, and he turned in one of the worst  "country" songs in recent memory, "Drink To That All Night"

     Lyrically, this song is just typical contemporary country fluff.  Generic lines about drinking and partying , throwing your hands up, and of course, hotties on a bar stool.  The lack of any depth is frustrating, but hardly surprising at this point.  Dumb songs are the norm for mainstream country at this juncture in history.  Story songs about life are few and far between on the radio.  However, despite the weak lyrics, there are worse lyrical offenders out there.  No, this song's damning happens in the musical direction.

      To call this a country song is the farthest stretch of the term "country" I have ever heard.  This is rap mixed with electronic dance music meshed with 80's rock.  Nothing about this is country.  The verses are rapped with an autotuned vocal effect while electronic beats and synthesizers trade barbs in the background.  This sounds like a crappy DJ made a remix of a bad pop song
When I first heard this on the radio, my jaw dropped.  Songs like this used to be untouched even by country radio.  "1994" stalled out on the radio for being too adventurous and the "Cruise" remix was never really played on country radio.  "Drink To That All Night" makes those two messes sound like Waylon and Willie.  The song is still climbing the charts steadily.  The popularity of this song is a big reason behind my disdain for it.  If all of that doesn't bother you, once you see the video you will be pushed to the brink.  Jerrod leans into the camera in the cliche rap style, making awkward white person hand gestures while hotties dance on vehicles in the background.  It is a full on rap video.  If you like this song, great.  But there is no way, shape, or form that you can call this country.  Nothing about it says country.  This is not evolution of the genre.  This isn't taking influences from other genres.  This is country music taking a subservient back seat to other genres in order to water down the sound for maximum appeal and profit.  This isn't a one off song either.  This is the latest and worst example of country constantly moving away from its roots and following the crowd.  If you love country music and want it to be a viable genre in the future, you should be worried.

      Jerrod Niemann is not a bad guy.  One bad song doesn't ruin a career.  Jerrod, I don't know if you will ever see this or even care, but if you do, hear me out. There is NOTHING wrong with fun songs, party songs, and drinking songs.  Country music was built on songs about alcohol.  You can be fun and still be intelligent.  Shoot, your own "One More Drinkin' Song" was a perfect example: clever and funny, and I liked it.   Furthermore, country music taking a backseat to other genres and trends is NOT evolution, it is bad for the genre. "Lover Lover" and many other songs on your debut album were progressive and still kept country at the forefront.  I know you are all about country music.  A man with a Lefty Frizzell tattoo isn't somebody who would purposely try to hurt country music.  In the future, I hope you will realize that some trends aren't good for the genre and that catering to the pop crowd only disenfranchises the people who are foundation of our great genre while bringing in people that will forget you in a heartbeat.  If you are true to country, country will be true to you.  You will always have fans and a loyal following.  Ask Willie Nelson or Merle Haggard.  I will listen to your High Noon album with open ears and give it a fair and honest review, although I've heard "Donkey" and I have to say I'm not impressed thus far.  Maybe I will be proved wrong. No hard feelings Jerrod, you've done enough in the past to earn some leeway.  I just hope that in the future you will heed my humble advice and Keep It Country Kid!

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