New country duo Maddie & Tae have made a big splash with their debut single "Girl In A Country Song". The girls have made a bold statement, echoing the complaints of many country fans by calling out the sexist, immature nature of many of the male singers who take part in the cultural phenomenon that is "bro-country". So, this means its time to rally behind these girls and let them lead the charge to fight the trash that comes out of Nashville, right? Not so fast. I like the sentiment of this song, but I'm not sure their motives are totally in line with their message.
First of all, the lyrics to this song are hilarious. The girls did a really good job of parodying many of today's country songs, specifically "Boys Round Here", "Redneck Crazy", "My Kinda Party", "Get Me Some Of That", "Hey Girl", "Aw Naw", and "Ready, Set, Roll". My favorite line is "shaking my money maker never made me a dime". I really agree with the ideals they base the song around. They repeat all of the same things that many critics say over and over. They call out the men of country for making the female leads in their songs little more than accessories for their night on the town (or pasture, or dirt road, or river bank, or whatever generic location the "throwdown" happens to be taking place that night). The song is pretty generic sonically. It isn't very country, but it isn't overly pop. It won't make any traditionalists very happy, but its inoffensive enough that there won't be a lot of backlash against it. All in all, its one of the better songs on pop-country radio right now.
So, why am I not parading these girls around like they are the second coming of Waylon Jennings or something? Well, for starters, I don't think these girls are as sincere as they are cashing in. Sure, they probably do feel a little put-off by the songs on the radio, but they don't have that fighting spirit. This song is just meant to be fun. That's not a bad thing, they don't have to lead some angry mob for me to enjoy this song, but we should remember that before we all freak out about these lyrics. They have gone on record to say they enjoy and like "bro-country" and this song is just a playful jab. So there's that. Basically, this song is just playing off all of our outrage to make a big hit. Right now, bro-country is actually on the way down. Hating it is actually becoming popular right now. Scott Borchetta, the head of Big Machine Records and the marketing genius behind Taylor Swift, saw all of the independent country artists protesting the bro phenomenon, and decided to sign his own mainstream group to capitalize on that trend. The guy has Florida-Georgia Line, Brantley Gilbert and Justin Moore on his record label, so he doesn't have a problem poking fun at himself to make himself more money. The guy is a shrewd, shrewd business man. Much like the case of Florida-Georgia Line and "Dirt", this shows that Scott Borchetta has his ear to the independent world and traditionalist world to see what we are asking for. He knows his bro bubble is about to pop, and he is looking for the next big thing. Unfortunately, instead of combating the bro-country charade with heartfelt emotion and better lyrical content, with this song the girls actually technically use the same cliches and song structure that we always complain about. A better way to make an impact would have been a killer story song with a great message.
"It Wasn't God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels" by Kitty Wells remains the best response song in country music history, "Girl In A Country Song" has a long way to go. That doesn't mean it isn't a good song. Let's just be real and appreciate this song for what it is: a good laugh at the bros, but nothing more. I don't see these ladies leading some revolution or righting Music Row's wrongs, but they give us a chance to point and laugh at Chase Rice, and that's enough for me (check out his clueless response to this song on Twitter. This guy HAS to be a parody). I don't love this song, I don't hate it. Maddie and Tae have certainly made themselves known in a very short time, which is tough to do for female artists on their debut single. I'll watch these two young ladies closely and see where their career takes them. Just remember to keep it country, kids.