There’s such an obvious trend of genre-hopping between pop, rock, and country right now that I can totally understand the enthusiasm surrounding Kelly Clarkson dabbling with a switch to country music.
After all, if we’re going to have pop and rock stars crossing over anyway, we might as well get one of the best ones, right? She’s got a strong knowledge of and affinity for, at the very least, the past two generations of country music. Her pipes are pretty darn good, too. I prefer the purity of Carrie Underwood’s voice, but there are many who feel the first Idol is still the best.
There’s only one problem, and it’s a big one. “Tie it Up” is not a country song. Not by any stretch of the imagination, and my imagination is pretty stretched out at this point. It sounds like some Globe Sessions-era Sheryl Crow album filler, honestly. There’s some banjo, but come on. You can find that on a Kid Rock record.
I know, I know. Kid Rock had a country hit, too. It wasn’t country either. We’ve reached a point where there’s so much distance between the country music radio format and country music itself that the former has very little to do with the latter. It doesn’t even matter if the country format is the home base. Lady Antebellum is an Adult Contemporary band that happened to get its start on country radio. Jason Aldean is a southern rocker who was born thirty years too late for rock radio, so we’ll just call him country.
I have no doubt that Kelly Clarkson could do an actual country record, but this isn’t one. It’s a pretty bland song anyway, notable only for the fact that it’s her first solo single being sent primarily to country radio. It’d be pretty unremarkable if not for that fact, which is destined to be little more than a piece of trivia anyway.
So, welcome to country radio, Kelly. You’ll find it’s not that different from the Adult Top 40 stations you’re used to dominating and you won’t have to change a thing to fit in.
Written by Ashley Arrison, Shane McAnally, and Josh Osborne
Grade: (not) C (ountry)