Friday, June 5, 2015
Thomas Rhett "Crash & Burn" Single Review
Do you like Bruno Mars? I know I do. His smooth vocals and throwback arrangements are bringing new life to the classic Motown Sound of the late 60's and 70's. His brand of pop is exactly the kind of stuff I can get behind and promote as pop music that is artistic, fun, and worthwhile. I am a big Bruno Mars fan. He is a lot of things, but one thing he absolutely is not is country. Thomas Rhett did not get that memo. In his latest attempt to jump on any trend possible to make a buck, Thomas Rhett has decided that he is a soul singer who lost his way. "Crash And Burn" is the latest in a long line of country singles that prove that our genre has completely lost its identity.
Let's get the nice stuff out of the way first. This is a well written song. The lyrics are not mind-numbingly stupid like Florida-Georgia Line. They aren't in some state of endless teenage bliss like Luke Bryan. It is actually a sad song that shows a glimmer of emotion and realism. Of course, that emotion is drowned in a sea of noise, but more on that later. If you read the lyrics on paper, this is clearly a step in the right direction for country music. It ain't Hank or Cash, but it isn't awful either, and that's sadly progress. Also, to be honest, the song is very catchy. Don't hate yourself if you find yourself tapping along to the beat and even feeling tempted to sing along. This song is easy to get into, and will probably be a huge hit based on the aurally friendly groove.
"So let me get this straight... this song is well written, catchy, and fun to listen to. Whats the problem?" Ahh, I was hoping you'd ask that. As you might have noticed, the name of this site is "Keep It Country, Kids". It's a little bit of an inside joke turned into an outside joke. On Facebook, I would always vocally criticize modern country during award shows and things of that nature, and then remind everyone every time to "keep it country, kids". I was in college training to be a teacher (now I am a teacher), and it was just my funny (unfunny?) way of keeping my "class" in check. Eventually, my friends starting repeating it themselves and the next thing you know, we have a bonafide catch phrase. When I decided to make my ramblings official, picking a name wasn't hard to do. Now, I said all that to point out that this song, "Crash And Burn", and others like it, such as "Take Your Time", "Drink To That All Night", and "Burnin' It Down" are EXACTLY why I need that phrase. This song is NOT country. Period. It is a Bruno Mars inspired pop song, nothing more and nothing less. That is not an insult. I have probably jammed out to "Uptown Funk" more than any hillbilly white guy should admit to in the last year. But if it came on my local country station, I'd turn it off in disgust. I hear constant cries to the sounds of "who cares what it is labeled as, good music is good music" or "country is evolving, we can't sound like Hank and Waylon forever, this isn't 1955". I've pointed this out before, but those statements are uninformed, baseless, and downright idiotic to be blunt. First of all, categorizing music is extremely important. Have you ever been to the grocery store? The way that aisles are organized is extremely helpful. Imagine how difficult it would be to find your favorite food if everything was thrown in a pile. You need organization to weed out what you are looking for. People claim this new age idea of combining all music is "diversifying", but in reality it is the opposite. Diversity is having many different things and they are all great in their own way. Forcing everything to be a slightly different version of the same pop sound is the opposite of diversity. Secondly, nobody is asking for a new Hank or Waylon. Country music does need to evolve, and it is evolving. However, a butterfly doesn't "evolve" into a duck. To say that country sounding like pop is "evolving" is to imply that pop is more advanced than country. This couldn't be further from the truth. Pop is pop. Country is country. Rap is rap, and rock is rock. They can't "evolve" into each other. Sure, you can borrow from other genres influence to create a new sound, but the key word is "borrow". You still must keep the original sound intact. If Sturgill Simpson or The Turnpike Troubadours would have come out in 1955, they would have been as outcast as they come. Their music has evolved since then. But, it is easily identified as country. THAT is evolution. "Crash And Burn" is another case of country music apologizing for being country and attempting to be something it isn't to gain cultural acceptance and notoriety. That's it.
If you like "Crash And Burn", by all means, rock out. I will never put someone down for what they like, even if it is useless dribble to me. However, have the fortitude to call a spade a spade. This is NOT country music. That is not an opinion, it is a statement of fact, and I will fight to death saying it. If fans of true country music do not stand up to the theft of our identity, we will lose it. Thomas Rhett can take his Motown-wannabe sound to pop radio all he wants, and I wish him nothing but the best. But, if he wants to bring that into MY genre, he is going to have a fight on his hands. Arm yourselves with information, country fans! Keep checking out this blog and others like it (and better than mine, to be honest) to find real country music. Buy music and go to shows of the artists who do it right. Turn off your radio and think for yourself. Most importantly, Keep It Country, Kids!