Chances are if you need Zac, just dangle a dollar in front of his face and see him come running. While the guys used to talk about making music that was organic and meaningful, now they talk of “brands” and “empires”. Their latest album offered jaunts into all different types of musical genres, from country to hard rock to EDM. There is absolutely nothing wrong with stepping out of your comfort zone and making some music outside of your perceived wheelhouse. If the Zac Brown Band wants to record an album of reggae classics mixed with jazz flute, that’s totally fine with me. However, when you release a song that is pure, unadulterated EDM to country radio, you aren’t “stepping out of your comfort zone”; you are purging a genre for a buck. “Beautiful Drug” is full of electronic bells and whistles that would fit right in at a rave in LA, but is ghastly out of place at the Grand Ole Opry. Zac's wonderful singing voice is so distorted by autotune that you can barely recognize him. By releasing this song to country radio, Zac is proving that he doesn’t care about the history of the genre or the traditions. That crap can be set aside so he can make more money to buy an endless supply of beanies and top hats. Speaking of fashion, what is with the clothing choices lately? Zac Brown went from a pudgy everyman with a Carhart and beanie to some type of traveling circus-leader gypsy. He looks like a cross between Slash and… Slash. You can see the signs all around that there is a significant change in the band. It’s very sad to see, to be honest.
So, if we take “Beautiful Drug” out of the country landscape and judge it as a pop song (which it truly is)… it still sucks. Sure, it’s catchy as all-get-out, but the lyrics are bland and predictable. Comparing love to addictive substances could be interesting, if not very original, but they chose to fill the song with more pointless ooo’s and ahhh’s rather than any weight. This is hardly surprising, as a meaty lyric is not the reason you dust off your best glow sticks and head to a rave downtown. This is bad pop, disgusting country, and just boring. You didn’t hear me rant about “Heavy Is The Head” with Chris Cornell, did you? That’s because that was a rock song that was advertised as a rock song. It wasn’t shipped to country radio, so it wasn’t a big deal to me. It also was a much better song for its genre than “Beautiful Drug”, but that’s not the point. Shipping “Beautiful Drug” to pop radio would have been acceptable and I wouldn’t have had a single issue. Sending it to country radio is a pathetic disgrace and shameless attempt to cash in.
It’s expected to hear stuff like this from Florida-Georgia Line, Sam Hunt, and Luke Bryan. Those guys have been trying to out-suck their last single with each release since day one. This is pretty upsetting to see from someone with the quality level of the Zac Brown Band. These guys truly know better. They have made some great music in the past. Shoot, they still make great music. Listen to “Dress Blues” on their latest album and tell me you don’t get chills. Unfortunately, they decided to use their powers for evil rather than good. “Beautiful Drug” may end up making them lots of money, but it was always be the tipping point where they gave in to the machine for me. Hopefully it tanks and Zac Brown can get back to making actual music with actual instruments. Until then, avoid this crap at all costs.