Single Review: Chase Rice, “Ready Set Roll”

He may have been the runner-up on one of the weakest seasons of Survivor (finishing second to
this strategic powerhouse), but Chase Rice has beaten tough competition from the likes of Jason Aldean’s “1994,” Parmalee’s “Carolina,” Ashton Shepherd’s “This is America,” Blake Shelton’s “Boys Round Here,” Krystal Keith’s “Daddy Dance with Me,” and Luke Bryan’s “That’s My Kind of Night” for the title of 2013′s worst country single.

For all of the countless complaints about the rise of “bro country” during the past year, what much of the criticism of this trend has ignored is its fundamental anonymity. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the notion of songs that champion tailgate parties or casual weekend hookups, as the kinds of experiences characterized in songs like Florida-Georgia Line’s “Cruise” or “Ready Set Roll” are familiar to an audience that is not insignificant in size or purchasing power.

The problem, then, with this glut of frat-boys in their Ed Hardy gear and pick-ups– and what Rice and “Ready Set Roll” epitomize– is their interchangeability. Rice and his co-writers (usual suspects Rhett Akins and Chris Destefano) write almost entirely in clichés (“Yeah, we can run this town / I can rock your world / We can roll ‘em down, fog ‘em up / Cruise around and get stuck”), such that none of the experiences they’ve written about here are the least bit distinctive. But for a deeply gross line that goes farther in the objectification of women than do most songs of this ilk (“Get ya fine little ass on the step / Shimmy up inside / And slide girl, by my side girl”), there isn’t a single line in “Ready Set Roll” that couldn’t be exchanged word-for-word with lines from “Cruise” or Jake Owen’s “Days of Gold” or Cole Swindell’s “Chillin’ It” or Eric Paslay’s “Friday Night” without changing those songs in any meaningful or even noticeable way.

Setting aside the shallowness of the subject matter and Rice’s struggles with even basic syntax, it’s that lack of any discernible point-of-view that makes “Ready Set Roll” such appalling poor songwriting, the nadir of a trend that has quite rightly drawn the ire of those who value country music for its history of distinctive narratives, personal insight, and pure escapism that is still respectful of both craft and its audience.

And, thanks to a dated, cheap-sounding production job and Rice’s limited vocal ability, “Ready Set Roll” doesn’t even work as a throwaway, escapist single. The use of a digitized text-reader voice to bookend the single is jarring and adds nothing of value to the track. The most pedestrian of hip-hop beats drowns out the requisite handful of rote country signifiers, and the mixing sounds like it was made on a circa-2004 version of Winamp.

As he sort-of-raps his way through the track, Rice affects a throaty growl that unfavorably recalls Brantley Gilbert, and he dutifully emphasizes every syllable on the 2 and 4 counts without regard for whether or not native speakers of American English would emphasize those syllables. As co-writer for “Cruise,” Rice proved that he might be capable of writing a memorable hook, but there’s not one thing he and his alliance of bros do well on “Ready Set Roll.”

Written by Chase Rice, Rhett Akins, and Chris Destephano

Grade: F

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8 Comments

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8 Responses to Single Review: Chase Rice, “Ready Set Roll”

  1. Amen and amen! This whole trend is just the country equivalent of hip-hop at its worst. You got the throw-away lines about flashy cars (trucks), hot women, showing off, etc., etc. I would blame the record companies, but they are just catering to the demand. Rhett Atkins is making a fortune off of this crap, and he knows it. So, who are these faux-country fans that now dominate the market? They are the same people that were listening to crap in the 80′s or 90′s before they became so-called “country” fans.

    Once upon a time, country music could share the same respect with the great rock/blues artists of the day. The same person listening to Led Zeppelin could dig some Merle Haggard as well. Now we have junk upon junk, thanks to our stupid generation.

  2. Other than the fact you included “Carolina” on your worst of 2013 candidates, I 100% agree.

  3. TomNo Gravatar

    …ain’t “throwaway” not just another expression for “escapist” one way or another. enjoyed the read a lot more than the song that comes with it.

  4. bobNo Gravatar

    Good point about the interchangeability of the lyrics in these bro country songs. Besides the lyrics, I simply want a song that sounds good to me, not one that’s an assault on my eardrums. The sound here makes me cringe.

  5. Six String RichieNo Gravatar

    In case you need another reason to believe Chase Rice is trying to become the next big bro country star, check this out. He’s running the Ready Set Roll contest where Greek organizations from colleges around the country make videos to “Ready Set Roll” and he picks his favorite. Rice will then visit that Greek chapter’s house and watch a sporting event with them and give them a speaker system. So now country music is being directly marketed to fraternities. How did it come to this?

  6. BuddynoelNo Gravatar

    I was expecting the review to finish off by saying, “Other than that, I kinda liked it.”
    Coming off a CD that includes the titles: Party Up, Country In Ya, Look at My Truck and Best Beers of Our Lives; we don’t expect him to be honored by Mensa this year.

  7. Erik NorthNo Gravatar

    What bothers me a lot more than the fact that this “bro country” exists, or that the songs in this genre exist in such massive quantities, is the fact that the mainstream country audience accepts and eats up this garbage without question.

    I really feel sorry for country music these days…up to a point. And that point is in the continuing dishing out of this overheated faux-Southern rock that’s called “country” these days.

  8. Noah EatonNo Gravatar

    This also has the dubious distinction as featuring one of the worst opening lines of any “country” single to date:

    *

    “Damn pretty girl, you’ve gone and done it again. You’ve gone and turned your sexy up to ten…”

    *

    Only the opening lines of “Truck Yeah” and “That’s My Kind Of Night” are more cringe-worthy to my ears. Aldean has never sold a worse opening lyric. Florida-Georgia Line have never sold a worse opening lyric (so far). Dallas Smith comes dangerously close on “Tippin’ Point”, but his cringe-inducing line “It’s hot as hell the way you shake that tailgate, you make me wanna holler at the moon…” is technically the secondary line of the song.

    The silver lining here is Chase Rice isn’t signed to the kind of label currently (Dack Janiels Records) that can buy him the levels of airplay to ensure a breakout radio hit. He doesn’t have the advantages Florida-Georgia Line and Brantley Gilbert have going for them. So despite all the strong early adds and radio’s willingness to challenge unprecedented train wrecks including “Truck Yeah”, “1994″ and “She Cranks My Tractor”, I think this is going to burn out rapidly.

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