“People Loving People”
Written by Michael Busbee, Lee Thomas Miller & Chris Wallin
There is no nuanced way to say it. Garth Brooks’ long anticipated comeback single is really bad with a little bit of good to keep it from being really, really bad.
We’ll start with the good. The message and concept of the song is admirable and hits my personal sweet spot of songs that promote love, peace and goodness in the world. He posits that it’s simply people loving people that will make the world better. It’s a simplistic view of things, but a sweet one that I can get behind on a basic level. In fact, the lyrics are well constructed and not even too cloying to sell the sentiment, which is a difficult line to balance.
“Burnin’ it Down”
Written by Rodney Clawson, Tyler Hubbard, Brian Kelley, and Chris Tompkins
Country music isn’t historically prudish. It covers the topical gambit of love, drinking, cheating, murder and, yes, even passion. Conway Twitty, Alabama, Charlie Rich, even Alan Jackson ,as well as many others, haven’t shied away from memorably singing about sexual intimacy. But their songs maintained a respect for the intimacy, which Jason Aldean’s “Burnin” it Down” grossly fails to do. Instead, the song is high octane graphic with no sense of real intimacy and nothing left up to the imagination.
“What We Ain’t Got”
The power of simplicity is on full display here.
Jake Owen’s new single is a powerful ballad because it’s not a power ballad. He pairs an intimate and quite painful lyrics with a piano and subtle backing vocals.
The thing about Chris Young is that he’s a great traditional country singer. I think that’s his preference, too.
Written by Brad Paisley and Kelley Lovelace
Brad Paisley has become a fairly reliable competitor in country radio’s annual summer song rodeo. He offers a 2014 entry that is listenable and likable, if not as memorable as last year’s “Beat This Summer.”
Written by Brandon Bush, Kristian Bush, and Tim Owen
It’s not entirely without precedent. When Diana Ross left the Supremes, their first single without her did better than her first solo release. Ringo Starr managed to score two #1 pop hits before John Lennon reached the top as a solo act. Peter Gabriel was supposed to be the indispensable talent of Genesis, but they did better when they gave Phil Collins the mic. Even country acts like Highway 101 and Restless Heart have seen the same phenomenon occur.
“Girl in a Country Song”
Maddie & Tae
Written by Tae Lynn Elizabeth Dye, Maddie Marlow, and Aaron Scherz
“I ain’t your tan-legged Juliet. Can I put on some real clothes now?”
Maddie & Tae give voice to the girls who have become the ornaments in what seems like every uptempo country song of the last ten years. I really could quote the whole thing, line by line, and would have to if I wanted to share everything in the song worth quoting. It’s that good.
“Leave the Night On”
Written by Sam Hunt, Shane McAnally, and Josh Osborne
I feel like I’ve heard this song so many times before that the artist has to work extra hard just to even keep my attention.
Sam Hunt works pretty hard to do that. Not as a vocalist, mind you. But as a songwriter, which is what’s put him on the map in the first place.
Blake Shelton featuring Gwen Sebastian
Written by Andrew Dorff, Tommy Lee James, and Josh Osborne
Is a play on words really that romantic? I can imagine being asked, “If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?” getting an icebreaking laugh, for sure.
I want to preface this by saying, as I’ve said before, that Hunter Hayes is tremendously talented.
“Tattoo” is further evidence that he can assemble all of the necessary components for an entertaining record, and I guess it is a pretty entertaining record.