Single Review: Jason Aldean, “Dirt Road Anthem”

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April 11, 2011

Few songs have come along that serve such a valid sociological purpose as “Dirt Road Anthem.”

With this single, Jason Aldean pulls back the curtain on the mysterious ways of rural southern society.  How fearless of Aldean to allow outsiders this rare glimpse into the social mores and recreational activities of southern youth.

For the first time, we learn that country music legends are so revered that their name need only be mentioned to evoke a deep-rooted value system.  I was shocked to discover that this subculture of American society thrives beyond the paved roads provided by federal and state governments, a stunning statement of independence from the restrictions that we have attempted to construct around such resilient communities.

With voyeuristic intimacy, Aldean allows us to walk in the shoes of small town men and women.  Hopefully, “Dirt Road Anthem” will be only the beginning of songs that tell us about the country lifestyle and what it means to those who live it. I can only imagine how vindicating and empowering it will be for these folks to finally hear a song about them on the radio. 

I don’t usually root for a song to be successful, but it is imperative that this one makes an impact, so other artists are encouraged to tell us, in detail, what it means to be a country person in modern society. I know that country music’s aversion to formulaic songwriting makes such a scenario unlikely, but in this case, it is absolutely necessary. 

What a tragedy it would be for the story of an entire people to be lost in time, leaving future generations in the dark about what it was really like to be a son of the south in the early 21st century.

Written by Colt Ford and Brantley Gilbert

Grade: D

Listen: Dirt Road Anthem

 

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  1. Hoggy from OzNo Gravatar says:

    Clearly, the “Bazinga!” was implied ;)

    I’ve been waiting for you guys to review this song and the review does not disappoint.

    Ironically, that’s the total opposite of my opinion of this song being played on an already pityful country radio.

  2. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    I would normally expect a review of a song like this to be three sentences long, but this was pretty fun to read :)

    Aldean is kind of hit-or-miss for me, and he tends to miss more often than hit. I was fairly generous in allowing “Don’t You Wanna Stay” entry into my guilty pleasure file, but with “Dirt Road Anthem,” he’s lost me again.

  3. BobNo Gravatar says:

    I read your review a few hours ago before my first cup of coffee. 3 mugs later I can see that it’s brilliant. “D” is generous for this cringeworthy attempt at country music.

  4. DevinNo Gravatar says:

    Totally Colt Ford’s fault…

  5. JonathanNo Gravatar says:

    Kevin, you nailed it with your review. Songs like this are so rare, I’d forgotten what it means to live the country lifestyle. It’s such a novel concept to sing about dirt roads, I cannot believe it hasn’t been done before.

    Oh wait a second, it has has been done. And with much better execution than anyone associated with this song could ever pull off.

    I’ll take B+D’s “Red Dirt Road” or Sawyer Brown’s “The Dirt Road” over this song any day.

    I wonder if George Jones has made any comments about the use of his name in this song yet. If I were him I wouldn’t want to be associated with this song, in that manner, much less at all. It degrades a country legend instead of honoring them. It isn’t only shameful, it’s almost blasphemy.

    I really want to like Jason Aldean but it’s these types of songs that keep me from being a fan. He’s more of a trend follower than most of Nashville, and that’s why his music isn’t going to hold up in the decades to come. He might have a couple good songs among his singles, but an artist needs more than one or two good songs to build artistic credibility.

    And as far as trends go, let’s hope this “country-rap” craze is short lived. We’re far enough away from traditional as it is, and this isn’t helping us get back there. What fans see in this song, I will never know.

  6. TomNo Gravatar says:

    …isn’t it about time that nashville studios placed that “don’t even think of gettin’ in here with dirt roads, bonfires and muddy tires on your mind” sticker on every door of the building?

  7. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar says:

    This review is beautiful.

    The song’s title and Colt-Fordian origin tipped me off, but I still held out hope that the heralded Jason Aldean country-rap would be kind of cool. I think he could have made it work with a much better song. I like those first two Cowboy Troy singles and “Save A Horse, Ride a Cowboy” so much.

  8. lisaNo Gravatar says:

    I LOVE THE SONG. I GIVE IT A.

  9. JonathanNo Gravatar says:

    I agree with Tom. Those stickers should be up all over town!

  10. JoJoNo Gravatar says:

    I actually really like this song! My favorite off his new album.

  11. CynthiaNo Gravatar says:

    Loved the review!

  12. Tara SeetharamNo Gravatar says:

    L o v e this.

  13. ROTFLMAO. I’d want to marry this review, but my wife would vociferously object.

  14. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Like Jonathan, I’m baffled by the disrespectful George Jones reference. “Swerving like George Jones”? Is the song referring to Jones’ drinking and driving incidences? Is that how he’s being defined here? I’m not suggesting that Jones’ drinking history should be a sacred cow or anything, but the reference is just way too random and unnecessary to sit well with me.

  15. Soul Miners DaughterNo Gravatar says:

    Songs like this are the poster-child for what’s wrong with country music today. Enough already with the name-dropping… it’s tired and obnoxious. I realize the writers are hoping it will be the hook line and (fill in the blank)’s fans will automatically run with it.
    Great review!

  16. Dusty DuhonNo Gravatar says:

    I disagree with this review completely. I love Jason Aldean and country music, but this a horrbile representation of both. I was alright with it until the rap part. Why are we blending all genres of music into one. There is a place for country music and place for rap music, but they should not be mixed!

  17. Erik NorthNo Gravatar says:

    I think what galls me most about all the name-dropping in country music songs of today, this one included, is whether the people doing it understand the substance behind the names being dropped, and I don’t mean the booze, the pills, or the drugs either.

    The country lifestyle that gave rise to country music, be it the dirt roads, the ranches, farms, the wide open spaces, and such, is not even really a part of the music anymore, except as something to be placed on a bumper sticker or to be paid lip service to, which is why I despair for the music as an art form, insofar as the Nashville mainstream goes.

  18. Brent HarveyNo Gravatar says:

    Great song with pretty edgy lyrics. Good twist for Jason’s music.
    In the same style check out Jody Booth for some old school real Texas country.
    http://jodybooth.viinyl.com/

  19. Danny ClippNo Gravatar says:

    I’m still waiting to see a good review about somebody, anybody. I haven’t found one on this site yet. The sad part is, all the songs you rip, end up as hits! Sounds like you know what your talking about! Haha! This isn’t a hit…..yet, but I did hear a country DJ say last week that their phone was ringing off the hook with request for it! Keep up the great work!!! lol

  20. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Dusty,
    I think you’re missing the sarcasm of the review?

  21. Danny ClippNo Gravatar says:

    Not sure how someone could miss the sarcasm on this site, that’s all there is!

  22. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Yup, that’s all there is.

  23. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    PS. You must not be looking all too hard, because our front page currently has three positive reviews: Emmylou Harris, Chris Young and Taylor Swift. Beyond that Kip Moore, Eden’s Edge and Bradley Gaskin have received positive reviews as well. Admittedly though, the music on country radio has been pretty disappointing, which certainly is reflected in the tone of our reviews lately. You may not believe it and it’s your right not to, but we’d much rather love a song and write a good review as a result than hate a song and write a sarcastic or negative review. All of us who write for CU genuinely love country music including having strong emotional connections to it; I can guarantee that much. So, we honestly take it pretty hard when it’s difficult to find a new single to write positively about.

  24. Hoggy from OzNo Gravatar says:

    @ Danny Clipp

    I read quite a few Country Music blogs to stay up to date with everything and I’ll confidently say this site has (in my opinion) the most fair reviews around. That doesn’t mean I always agree with everything here, but I can always see where the writers are coming from.

    Plus, like this review, many pieces on this site are entertaining (in many cases more entertaining than the actual songs they review!).

  25. Music ManNo Gravatar says:

    Like Hoggy for Oz, I read a few Country Music blogs also, there is one I won’t name that I’ve never seen a negative thought presented about any song reviewed ever. I mean a glowing review for ‘Shotgun Girl” and the song in this review.

    I’m an old timer country fan the earliest songs I remember while growing up are from the 30′s and 40′s, I’ve watched the genre grow and change. It may be in sad shape now, but I’ll tell you, most of this new country is far better than most of the dreck of the late 70′s and early 80′s. I believe there is a trend beginning that will hopefully will lead us to another neotrad boom like the late 80′s and early 90′s.

    This name dropping trend was interesting at first, but the trend has grown stale, overused and now is redundant.

    Though I must admit that Blake Shelton’s new single ‘Honey Bee’ name drops Loretta and Conway, however in the context of the songs chorus, “you be my sweet Loretta, I’ll be your Conway Twitty” the mention isn’t as offensive as Jason’s concerning George Jones.

  26. Danny ClippNo Gravatar says:

    I just don’t think all the sarcasm is called for. I too have been in the music biz for a day or two. I’m just a DJ, but after 17 years, I have learned what people like. Country music has changed, just like everything does! It seems like the days of Alan Jackson, and Randy Travis are in the past. The younger generation loves, Jason Aldean, Brantley Gilbert, and Eric Church. This “new style” is what I get all the requests for. I can’t even tell you when I last got a requests for A.J., Garth, or even Brooks & Dunn. Another great artist that is making a splash in the underground is Brian Davis.

  27. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t have anything against name dropping in principle. In fact, there are times that I like it. But like Music Man, I want to hear it done in the service of the song, not as something random. As far as what people are requesting these days, I believe it. That’s why songs like these do well. We never argue that, but we do bemoan it. Also, that’s why I never listen to mainstream country radio anymore. In fact, I only own a radio in my car (which usually doesn’t get used thanks to our iPods) and one on my alarm clock that I typically don’t use unless I’m curious for a minute. There are blogs that are far more friendly to radio hits than we are for sure. I don’t think that’s going to change.

  28. SaraNo Gravatar says:

    To all those who need to open up thier minds: this is a fun song, a good little ditty, and interesting. Jason Aldean did a great job and I admire his sense of adventure. He takes a risk so we don’t have to listen to that same ‘ole generic stuff on the radio.

  29. Erik NorthNo Gravatar says:

    @ Sara:

    I can see your point about this to a certain extent. It seems, however, that for a fair amount of listeners, a good little ditty these days, especially when there are so many of them on country radio, is not enough. Some just want more substance in the songs, and with all due respect, I think they’re right to want it.

  30. PSU MikeNo Gravatar says:

    “Jason Aldean did a great job and I admire his sense of adventure. He takes a risk so we don’t have to listen to that same ‘ole generic stuff on the radio.”

    Sarah, you’re welcome to your opinion…but to me, this song basically serves the same purpose as the “same ole generic stuff on the radio.” When I first heard about the country-rap verses, I was kind of interested in how they would make the song stand out (either good or bad). But, I don’t think the rap verses make the song stand out at all…they express the same sentiment of a lot of other recent songs (Small Town USA, In America, Where I Come From, etc) that are forgotten soon after they are relased. I think it’s telling that Kevin didn’t even mention the rap stuff in his review. Despite the fact that it may sound a little bit different to the average country music listener, the theme really isn’t all that original, and it doesn’t say anything new or interesting.

    The more jarring thing to me was the stupid and offensive George Jones reference in the chorus. To piggyback on LeAnn and Jonathan, I’m absolutely astonished that two supposed country music songwriters actually wrote that, and that Jason Aldean actually decided to record the song. Whether he didn’t understand the reference, or thought it was “cool”, I don’t know. But when I think about how Alan Jackson cut into “Choices” in that CMA Awards controversy in the late 1990s, and then listen to stuff like this…it’s honestly kind of depressing to see how things have changed in a little more than a decade.

  31. Danny ClippNo Gravatar says:

    The George Jones reference makes me think of the Vince Gill video with George swerving back and forth on the John Deere mower. If he did that, maybe it won’t be much of an insult to him.

  32. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    “One More Last Chance” was focused and based on an actual story that became legendary; it wasn’t some random tossed in line in a song.

  33. Erik NorthNo Gravatar says:

    Insofar as “country-rap” goes, well there are actually quite a few good examples from the past that maybe should be considered. If the Man In Black’s “A Boy Named Sue” and Charlie Daniels’ “Uneasy Rider” don’t fit this bill, what else does?

  34. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    “Boy Named Sue” seems more like a talking song than rap, just like I wouldn’t call “Convoy” a rap.

  35. BobNo Gravatar says:

    Doesn’t TK do some rapping in “I Wanna Talk About Me”?

  36. Julia HughanNo Gravatar says:

    Gold! (the review)

  37. JonathanNo Gravatar says:

    Bob – he does. And he does a much better job than Jason does here. Toby’s rap is funny and interesting. Jason’s is lifeless and boring. If you’re going to rap in a country song, Toby’s is the way to go.

    Also, and ponder this for a second, “I Wanna Talk About Me” was written for Blake Shelton but his label said no at the time to him recording it. Given the path he’s gone down lately, I would’ve liked to here his version of the song.

  38. DevinNo Gravatar says:

    Unfortunately, Bobby Braddock and Blake came up with that one before Blake was anybody, even before Austin came out. I think Blake could have definitely pulled that song off, but it would have been pretty risky as a lead single for a brand new country artist in the late 90′s.

  39. JamesNo Gravatar says:

    This song actually was originally done by Brantley Gilbert and Colt Ford and sounds a lot better…You guys should check it out

  40. DevinNo Gravatar says:

    Sounding a lot better than this doesn’t take away from the fact that the song is a total dud, regardless of who’s performing it.

  41. Danny ClippNo Gravatar says:

    Total dud? Last I heard, they were getting a ton of requests for it. You may not like it, and that is your choice, but I don’t think you can call it a dud. Seriously, these are supposed to be reviews, not just bashing whatever YOU don’t like.

  42. DevinNo Gravatar says:

    Look, I’m a Brantley fan, but the song is awful.

    I have no problems with a good “country pride” song every now and then. I like them more than I probably should. But this is just not even interesting or creative. Go listen to every other Colt Ford song out there and you’ll find they all say the SAME EXACT thing. It’s all about how far in the sticks he lives, some trucks and mud, and what southern people like to eat. My life is just like most of these songs, but when you hear it said over and over again, the same crap in a different package, it all starts to sound a little less authentic.

    And like I said, I’m a BG fan and enjoy his singing, but the chorus is non-sensical at best. What the hell does he mean “swervin’ like I’m George Jones”? Because if he means drinking and driving, then that should pretty much ruin the song for everyone. And while I think the whole “hittin’ easy street on mud tires line” is the best line in the song, it doesn’t really change much.

    If you can point out some redeemable qualities about this song or show me how it differentiates itself from the rest of Colt Ford’s songs in this exact vain, then I’ll withdraw my comment of it as a dud. Don’t get me wrong here, when this song comes up on the Halfway to Heaven CD, I listen and sing a long, but I’m still aware that it’s just not that great of a song.

  43. Danny ClippNo Gravatar says:

    When I hear Colt Ford songs, they just seem kinda fake. I think it’s how he goes over-kill with the grits, mud, coon dogs, trucks. I agree that they do sound a lot alike. But, this one seems different to me. It dosen’t go so overboard on those things. I don’t even think of this as a Colt Ford song, even though he was a co-writer. By the way, I do like Colt, and his music.

  44. JamesNo Gravatar says:

    The version by BG and Colt Ford doesn’t have “swervin’ like I’m George Jones”, it’s “rollin to some George Jones”, and I just think that Colt keeps the rhythm so much better than Jason Aldean.

  45. DevinNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve listened to multiple versions of the song, and they all definitely say “swervin’ like I’m George Jones”.

    And I agree Jason’s more nasally, flat style of delivery doesn’t compliment the rap sections as well, IF you actually like the whole rapping thing. I think Jason’s version is much less offensive to the average country listener not onboard with the whole “country rap” thing. Colt raps “better”, but he ought to, since that’s what he is. However, I still don’t care for him or his music at all, but that’s another story.

  46. JamesNo Gravatar says:

    Well the version with Colt Ford talking before the song starts definitely is “rollin to some George Jones”. I do know some people who don’t like the rap section, and understand why, I’m not a big fan of rap either. I just think if Jason wanted to do the rap section, he could’ve done it much better, I actually had trouble understanding anything he said during those parts. It almost seemed like mumbling.

  47. RyanNo Gravatar says:

    Okay I cant stand colt ford it has no rhythm but this song done by jason aldean is awesome ive listened to it like four times today im also a huge george jones fan and I have no problem with the reference this is seriously the only country rap song I like I think most of the people with the negative revies just need to be more open minded or just not listen to new country it is changing just as everything does so get used to it or just pkay the oldies

  48. Noah EatonNo Gravatar says:

    I’m mixed on this one.

    The high point of this track come from that, when you look beyond the spoken word segments alone, this is his most warm, soaring single release to date from a production standpoint. It has a bright, blue-sky sheen to it, laden with light banjo flourishes, that makes it rather listenable regardless of how the “rapping” portions sway you……and honestly it goes quite a distance to winning me over in some respects.

    Which brings me to the low point of the track………….the lyrics. I have to concur on the George Jones reference, but beyond that there are some terribly lame, ham-fisted offerings in the second verse especially, such as the “I can take y’all where you need to go, down to my hood, out in them woods…” pick-up, which the verse remains marred in mediocrity from there.

    I’m fairly indifferent on the vocals. It has been plainly established by now that Aldean is a monotone singer, and you’re either going to think “That’s really not a bad thing if he’s effective at making the most of his limited vocal capacity!” or “Good Jove, he sounds bland beyond belief!” I lean more toward the former camp, personally. I recognize Aldean lacks range and technique to his vocals, but I also nonetheless believe he has a unique sort of emotional resonance behind his plain, monotone delivery that I think has made him effectively stand out amongst his peers more than anything. As for the “rap”, I’m sort of ambivalent towards it. It doesn’t impress me, but I don’t feel it bogs the track down either.

    Really, whether I like this or dislike this more on any given day would depend on if my ears are predominantly soaking up the melody or if I’m wrapping my head around the lyrics. When the former rings true, this could prove to be quite a summer guilty pleasure. When the latter rings true, I’d rather tune out.

  49. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Noah,
    I actually don’t hate his voice either. I absolutely agree with your assessment of it.

  50. Maria RaglandNo Gravatar says:

    I cannot stand this version. Colt Ford and BG did this so much better. It really annoys me for some new artist to come in and take over a song that has been out for years, and people suddenly worship it. (Reminded of Rehab’s “Sitting in a Bar.” Totally ruined it for me with the changes and the popularity.

  51. DevinNo Gravatar says:

    Jason’s been around longer than both BG and Colt Ford. And Dirt Road Anthem was first released on Colt’s first CD which came out in Decemeber 2008. So it’s not exactly been around “forever”.

    I’m not saying I totally disagree with you, but you were just a little off base with the accusations there.

  52. rebelNo Gravatar says:

    the fact of the matter is this horrid hip hop influenced song is garbage! aaron lewis’ new song country boy is a song to be proud and southern about. DON’T TREAD ON ME

  53. JacobNo Gravatar says:

    Likely to be one of the first reviewer’s to openly admit to being a hip-hop fan, I must say the “rap” verses are holding back the hook on this song. I don’t believe the “rap” verses can even be claimed as rap really, more so just that most whom listen to this song are unsure of how to otherwise categorize it.

    That being said, I am in general a fan of Jason. The song is catchy and tempo is on spot during chorus. I must agree mostly with Noah on this one however, melody and rhythm are great and relaxing, just a little disconcerned overall because of the bland lyrics.

    In regards to the “swervin” line, no one is bringing George Jones down. I’m highly skeptical that it is indeed a drinking and driving reference.

  54. tamaraNo Gravatar says:

    as far as country rap there is Uneasy Rider and Carolina by Charlie Daniels..

    name dropping…come on people!? “Now I think know how George feels” by Hank Jr? is no one here old enough to even remember that song? How about “Are you sure Hank done this away?” That was Waylon Jennings…the composite work “Young Country”?

    the fact is that name dropping is not for the effect of the name,but of a shared memory of the time and place. I think the rap bit is “ok”

    but then I also had Ice T’s first album when white southern girls had no idea about the ghetto music (they all were walking around with big hair listening to Poison albums ;>) and it’s messages of lifting oneself up and out (which is wayyyy different than the modern “getting paid and getting booty” but I digress) :>

  55. Jordan!No Gravatar says:

    I hugely disagree with the commenter who said “Why are we blending all genres of music into one.” How boring it would be if our music genres never mixed! If you think it’s some new trend, keep in mind that Elvis has plenty of songs that would be on the country chart, the rock chart, and the R&B chart at the same time. That said, the rap verses make me cringe.

    So what if it’s the billionth song about country life? You could say the same thing about love songs, right? I saw Dirt Road Anthem reach as high as #16 on iTunes (overall, not just country) earlier this week, so clearly it does something right. My guess is that people love the way this story’s told. We may have heard it over and over again for years, but Jason/Colt/Brantley made it fresh once again.

  56. ShaneNo Gravatar says:

    The reviewer is an ass.
    This song is #1 on the charts. You can’t buy a ticket to this artists shows unless you are a fast draw on ticketmasters website. This reviewer, like the self appointed illuminati that are running this country into the ground, doesn’t give a rats ass about what actually “works” for the hardworking people of this country, backwoods or big city.
    The same held true for Nickelbacks “how you remind me”.
    The same elitist reviewers hated it because it had a tried and true western hemisphere musical rock formula. Then we saw 3 year olds walking around singing it.

    The people have spoken with their purchases of this track. And if George Jones doesn’t have a chuckle over being mentioned in this song about his exploits 40 years ago, then he is not the good ole country boy I have always hoped he is.

  57. Danny ClippNo Gravatar says:

    Looks like this “dud” song did quite well! hahahahaha

  58. Danny ClippNo Gravatar says:

    I love to see reviews get a “d”, then be nominated for song of the year! Sure do know your stuff!

  59. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    Honestly, I can hardly think of a less deserving Song of the Year nominee.

  60. Danny ClippNo Gravatar says:

    Looks like you’re a minority on this one!

  61. DevinNo Gravatar says:

    Give it up, Danny. Popular =/= good. While I personally find the song entertaining at times, it holds no artistic merits.

  62. DannyNo Gravatar says:

    If you say so! I think most of the reviews on this site have no artistic merits! So, I’m thinking both are just a matter of opinion! You telling me to “give it up”, just makes me want to post here 10 times a day. lol. I have been a DJ for 17 years, and have done live sound for 10 years, so don’t treat me like I don’t know anything.

  63. DevinNo Gravatar says:

    I’m just saying you need to stop trying to put Dirt Road Anthem in the same category as things like ‘The House That Built Me’, ‘Colder Weather’, etc. Meaningful songs.

  64. DannyNo Gravatar says:

    Yes, but what I’m saying is, DRA IS meaningful to some people. It just all depends on how and where you were raised. House that built me, and DRA both mean something to me, but Colder Weather, I could do without. So to say a song has no artistic merit, can only be a matter of opinion. I love all types of music, but when someone writes about things that the majority of the listeners relate to, it’s a hit.

  65. DannyNo Gravatar says:

    ….and all that really matters, is if it’s a hit on the charts or not. Right? Isn’t that what it’s all about?

  66. MotownMikeNo Gravatar says:

    If all that matters is chart preference than that tells you the difference between making music and selling singles. That to me tells you the difference between a marketing entertainer and an artist crafting music. Some people actually want to make music and some sell singles that rocket their themselves and their created brand up the charts; be it sales or music charts. I just don’t see how you can say that their isn’t a clear-cut difference between each action; being a marketed entity and an artist.

    Jason see’s himself one way just as someone else, will say Trisha Yearwood for example, would see it on the other side of the fence. And hey, congratulations to Jason Aldean and his record label on their many successes! They’ve done a great job, marketing him as a brand name and reaching successful financial sales figures extremely well. They’ve created a product that people apparently really want to see and hear.

    However, when you peal back the layers, you see that their bus gets a full tank of gas while others are thrown a couple bucks and wished the best of luck. Songs like “Dirt Road Anthem” and others of its ilk are not forced to fairly compete. There is not an even playing field, heard or seen on a regular basis against songs such as “House That Built Me”, “Cost of Livin’”, “Whiskey Lullaby”, etc. One’s ofter perceived as “quality, well written and sung music”. Songs that make musicians not just entertainers.

    Those songs, and often times those artists (again we can go back to Trisha Yearwood as an example) are often put on an uneven playing field. Uneven or in some cases, shut out of the game completely. Things such as purposeful lack of marketing and airplay by labels and FM radio, timing of releases, etc. doom certain materiel and performers from the get-go. I suspect you’d see a lot more interest start to sway towards the perceived “higher quality” material if those songs and artists respectively were put on the same pedestal as the “Dirt Road Anthem’s” and Jason Aldean’s of the world.

    Furthemore, if we’re going on the basis of “someone prefers this to that so just let it be”, why have objective measurements on or for anything? Why even have a grading process for anything if subjection can rule as King and supreme authority.

    Under its reign, I suppose I could write a poem and go around boasting I wrote something on the literary quality of Walt Whitman. I could do that because eventually, if I read it to enough people, I’m sure someone or a plurality of people would say they prefer my work to Whitman’s. Someone’s subjection will have trumpeted well thought, concrete objections that might come up against my work. I shouldn’t look to do anything different than what I’m doing though because the objection to my work can be relegated and cast aside as meaningless, biased subsections.

  67. DannyNo Gravatar says:

    This is a different type of song than the ones you are comparing it to. Those songs are really great, serious songs. DRA is meant to be a fun little song, and was written really great for that meaning. My whole point is, it was called a “dud”, which it didn’t turn out to be. I think all the 80s rock listeners who have gone country are gonna make songs like this huge hits, and lets face it, there are a lot of those out there. I think Brantley Gilbert really has some great talent at writing songs, and he does have those serious songs too.

  68. SweetcheeksNo Gravatar says:

    I think Danny does have a point: songs like Dirt Road Anthem aren’t meant to be art, they are meant to sell records and become hits. With that in mind, the the song did exactly what it was intended to do, and it deserves an “A” not a “D.”

    That’s not to say its somehow illegitimate for music critics or reviewers to critique these songs based on some sort of criteria other than commercial success. But I generally don’t find these sorts of reviews too helpful — these sorts of songs almost always get bashed in the reviews and the reasons for the bashing are pretty much as predictable as the banal lyrical content of the songs.

    I would love to read a review of one of these songs one day that actually asks “why do these songs appeal to people? Why do they sell records? What is it about the audience and the songs that we can learn from their success?” And to answer it in a way more thoughtful than “people who listen to country are AirHeads.” Yeah, I am a hypocrite cuz I bash country too, and I am becoming increasingly intolerant of country music and its fans, and I dislike these “Dirt Road Anthem” type songs, but I’d would love to read a thoughtful analysis on what makes them so popular despite their sucky-qualities.

  69. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t really care much whether the song becomes a hit. In fact, these days I hardly even listen to radio because I like so few of the songs that do become hits. All that matters to me is if I think it’s a good song on its own merits.

  70. BrianNo Gravatar says:

    I love that a guy who writes reviews for two different websites declares, “I hardly ever listen to the radio.”

  71. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Fortunately, there are plenty of other ways to hear music other than having to listen to radio these days.

  72. BrianNo Gravatar says:

    Yeah no shit. The point is though that for someone who clearly isn’t into what is released to country radio these days it is completely idiotic to have two sites where you write reviews on such songs.

    I mean I hate onions so I don’t actively look for ways to eat them.

  73. Dan MillikenNo Gravatar says:

    “In fact, these days I hardly even listen to radio because I like so few of the songs that do become hits.”

    “The point is though that for someone who clearly isn’t into what is released to country radio these days it is completely idiotic to have two sites where you write reviews on such songs.”

    The writers here care about country music in general, so we care about reporting whatever our opinions are of its current state – rain or shine. And one of the implications of the first quote is that there is a lot of country music Ben enjoys that is released to radio but doesn’t fare well. He could spend his time only writing about that stuff, but then he’d only be representing a fragment of his viewpoint.

    A literature critic loves literature. So a literature critic reads a lot of it – good and bad – and has opinions. But ask a literature critic if he/she wants to read and reread and reread Nicholas Sparks books.

  74. BrianNo Gravatar says:

    I can’t believe the point is being missed so badly here. Of course the first quote implies that there is music that he likes. The issue is that there is a bunch he doesn’t like so it’s foolish to subject yourself to it. If you don’t like (_____) why subject yourself to their music? It’s not like his opinion is that warranted that he has to write two reviews, or provide a bunch of comments, for different sites saying that he dislikes a song. You can listen to a bunch of stuff you like and still find ways to be critical of the material. It’s not like you’ll enjoy every song by your favorite artists because sometimes there are clunkers.

    And none of this should be mistaken as me saying this song is a good one. Ben’s reply at the end of the thread was a dumb one.

  75. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    Brian, that was a side comment meant to get the point across that I value artistic integrity more than commercial viability. I think it’s worth noting that neither Country Universe, nor The 1-to-10 is devoted solely to discussing music that is popular on country radio. Both sites cover different facets of the genre, with mainstream radio fare being one, but my comment was only in the context of radio.

    I don’t view blogging as ‘subjecting’ myself to music I dislike, and I never have. Among those of us who have lost interest in country radio, many are in want of an alternative outlet (besides radio) through which they can discover music that will appeal to them, and that’s a large part of the role that country blogs help fill. With those points in mind, I would hardly think that listening to radio and, liking the music played, would be strictly necessary for one wishing to blog about country music.

    I might also briefly mention that I do like some portion of the songs played on country radio; it’s just that the good song/ bad song ratio is such that it tends to sap my listening enjoyment. Anyway, I hope this makes more sense. If you’d like any further clarification, you can let me know, but I’d prefer to keep the tone friendly if at all possible.

  76. AmandaNo Gravatar says:

    I am SOOO glad he covered this song and made it something that is actually worth listening to. The whole rap in country was part of the original. And I hope if people are condemning the issue they are also not fans of Big and Rich.
    The change in country music is like the change in every genre you look at. Just because people change with the times doesn’t always mean they are a sell out or trying to disrupt anything.
    Also as far as disrespecting George Jones yall can either throw a fit or realize that most people learn at a young age if you can’t grow, learn and laugh at the mistakes you are not gonna get very far.

  77. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    In general, I don’t really have a problem with rapping in contemporary country songs (though I understand why many traditional-minded fans do). As a matter of fact, the reggea rap portion of “Stuck Like Glue” is one of the biggest reasons why I love that song so much. I just don’t think Aldean’s performance has enough spunk to really sell the rapping in this case.

  78. DannyNo Gravatar says:

    I think I could deal with the bad reviews, if they weren’t full of sarcasm, everytime. I love pretty much all types of music, but the songs that I don’t care for, I don’t say anything at all. I love old country, Don Williams, John Conlee, Earl Thomas Conley, and others, but I’m open minded enough to like the new stuff too. The reason people like songs like DRA, is they relate to them. I’m guessing you have never cruised on dirt roads, or hung out at bonfire parties. That is fine, but I have, and the song makes me remember those times.

  79. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    “I’m guessing you have never cruised on dirt roads, or hung out at bonfire parties. That is fine, but I have, and the song makes me remember those times.”
    __________________________

    I’ve done both of those things – even lived on a dirt road for several years – but the song still does nothing for me. For me, the mere mention of dirt roads and bonfires is not enough to evoke feelings of nostalgia. The song has to bring something of its own to the table in order for me to have a significant connection to it.

    I really don’t have a problem with sarcasm in negative reviews. At times it adds a touch of humor that makes the reviews more entertaining, though I don’t think it’s necessarily true that every negative review is sarcastic. But that’s largely a matter of personal opinion.

  80. DannyNo Gravatar says:

    You’re right, it is a matter of opinion, just like taste in songs. I agree to disagree. lol

  81. BevNo Gravatar says:

    Im guessing that since the song went to number one and stayed there for WEEKS that now you guys are eating your hats.
    Awesome song, awesome singer – Aldean Rocks his country!

  82. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    Im guessing that since the song went to number one and stayed there for WEEKS that now you guys are eating your hats.

    ‘Fraid not. I still feel the same way about the song as I did when I first heard it, and I kind of expected it go number one in the first place. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time a bad song has gone number one.

  83. DannyNo Gravatar says:

    ….But it isn’t a bad song! That is only your opinion! I really think these reviews suck, is that a fact, or an opinion? It really looks like every song that does well, you guys have given a bad review. I’m really not sure why anyone would even have you guys do reviews…..if you’re NEVER right! I’m gonna start buying every album you guys give bad reviews….as it is for sure gonna be #1!

  84. Ben FosterNo Gravatar says:

    It really looks like every song that does well, you guys have given a bad review.

    That’s not true. Just read the archives.

    I’m really not sure why anyone would even have you guys do reviews…..if you’re NEVER right!

    Nobody’s ‘having’ us do reviews – We do this independently. The fact that a song becomes a hit doesn’t mean the review was wrong, especially since the reviews rarely make chart predictions.

  85. GatorNo Gravatar says:

    Danny,

    You are being a very ignorant idiot. Yes some of the songs they give bad review do well, mainly because of the name that has been attached to it, but also song like “If I Die Young” “Stuck Like Glue” “Long Hot Summer” and even Jason’s current single “Tattoos on this Town” have all gotten at least a B for a grade and are among the biggest hits around currently. As for you album comment, if you look places besides here you’ll notice most albums they give bad reviews are receiving bad reviews left and right.

  86. DannyNo Gravatar says:

    Gator,
    Just so ya know, I really wish you were here when you called me an ignorant idiot…..but you’re a keyboard rambo. I’m just tired of reading these guys bash a lot of decent songs. If they did it with class, it would be different, but they don’t. The songs they bash….are the songs I get requests for, and are the ones I play.

  87. SweetcheeksNo Gravatar says:

    So the songs that country universe rates poorly are often songs that get requests? So what? It hardly says anything other than Country Universe and many radio station listeners have a different view on what music they would like to hear.

    I do sometimes wish music writers who criticize songs that are likely to be hits would take the time to ask why these songs resonate so well with so many despite their apparent failure to withstand critical scrutiny. I think that might provide some insight.

    In some sense though maybe Danny is right. “Dirt Road Anthem” isn’t intended to be art, or even to have lyrics that stand up to critical scrutiny. Its intended to be a hit. And it succeeded by that standard.

    Of course it is fair to judge the song by the standards of critics, too. A song surely is not protected from a bad review merely because it hits #1. I think its important to do so so that people can think about music more intelligently. But at the same time I wish we would talk about “why are songs that are critical failures so frequently chart successes?”

  88. DannyNo Gravatar says:

    Sweetcheeks,
    Here is my opinion, people that play music, write it, or sing it, look at it as art, the average joe just wants a cool song they can relate to. Our band argues over songlists for covers, I hear all the time, “any band can play that”. They want something that showcases what they can do. If there are 500 people at our show, and there are 10 musicians in that group, there are only 10 people that know that a song is hard to play. The other 490 just want a song they can dance to or relate to. Same thing with songs on the radio.

  89. AliNo Gravatar says:

    It started with the corus, which I liked a little, even if it was filled with dead horse country cliches, if only because Aldean’s singing is decent. I thought it would be good for a few listens, and then promptly forgotten, like many of his songs. Then he started rapping and my soul died a little. Then I heard that there was a remix with Ludacris, and my soul went down to the local soul bar, drank a lot of Jäger while ranting about the song, got into a fight with a bunch of guys who broke its nose, and passed out in an alley somewhere. I’ve yet to find it and hope it makes its way back soon.

    I am about as close to being a bleeding heart liberal as you can get without, you know, being a bleeding heart liberal, and am a fan of progress, but this is not the kind of progress we need.

  90. Patricia GehrigNo Gravatar says:

    I think anyone that can sing would be able to believe in this song because i think that this song is like what happens to high school students from freshmen year to their Sr year!!!!! :) :)

  91. SweetcheeksNo Gravatar says:

    I’m pretty sure that this song does not describe what happened to me or many of my friends from freshman to senior year in high school. And I am glad for that too – the kind of life described in this song seems pathetic and awful.

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