Video Reviews

Joey + Rory + Taylor = Video Gold

May 5, 2009 // 7 Comments

No formal post cooked up here; I just wanted to thank these artists for bringing mainstream country some much-needed personality. Joey + Rory, “Play The Song” I've started having my doubts about the strength of this song as a radio single, but it sure makes for an awesome video. The well-placed jabs at the industry are appreciated, but it would still be notable just for the couple's infectious onscreen presence. Taylor Swift, “You Belong With Me” I'm sorry, but I think Taylor Swift is kind of a pop music genius. If you're bewildered as to why her current album has scored with fans and critics alike, consider this video your what is a good credit score short-form lesson. Fearless deliberately presents Swift as something of an Everygirl, and this clip plays up that concept with remarkable shrewdness. She's unusually pretty, but seems to realize that her strongest appeal lies in Read More

Alan Jackson, “Sissy’s Song”

March 25, 2009 // 23 Comments

Alan Jackson is blessed with a voice that exudes sincerity. It’s a rare gift in country music, but one that many of country’s greats have shared. Jackson utilizes this gift most effectively on songs like “Remember When,” and his latest single, “Sissy’s Song.” In the hands of a lesser artist, “Sissy’s Song,” which deals with the grieving process after losing a loved one, would be a piece of relatively insubstantial fluff. In Jackson’s hands, however, it’s a reflective and moving experience. Although “Sissy’s Song” came out on Good Time, it would undoubtedly be more at home on Precious Memories, Jackson’s successful gospel album.  On Precious Memories, Jackson quietly but confidently navigated his way through classic hymns, bringing a sense of gravitas to the songs, yet at the same time engendering a feeling of calm reverence and hope. All of those emotions shine through on “Sissy’s Song,” which is not traditional radio fare. Jackson Read More

Taylor Swift, “White Horse”

February 9, 2009 // 11 Comments

In the new video for her single, “White Horse,” our little Taylor Swift is growing up. A convincing reconstruction of a real-life breakup (Swift only sings her brutal truths), this project is the most subtle song yet in her burgeoning catalog. “White Horse” is a perfect companion piece to her recent No. 1 single, the aptly-named “Love Story.” This time, her special someone is unable to keep up his end of the bargain, and Swift learns a painful lesson one “I love you” too late. Trey Fanjoy returns as the videographer for this damsel in distress, handling the heartache behind “White Horse” with a keen eye for detail. The most striking quality of “White Horse” is the maturity in Swift’s response, and the visual interpretation of how the characters change from frame to frame makes for compelling product. The object of Swift’s misplaced affections is Laguna Beach “star” Stephen Colletti, Read More

Jimmy Wayne, “I Will”

October 25, 2008 // 21 Comments

With all due respect, this is the most unintentionally hilarious video of the year. The song is so fiercely un-country that it makes “Bob That Head” sound like Bob Wills, and the screen adaptation exacerbates that problem by setting the story at an upscale fashion shoot, of all places. What does it say that the same genre that once gave us “Coal Miner’s Daughter” now implores us to sympathize with a pretty upper-middle class girl who lacks the self-confidence to sex it up for the camera? I guess I’ll let you decide. In any case, the awkward little details of this video are really too enjoyable to spoil, but suffice it to say that the concept seems utterly disconnected from the song, the direction does nothing new (note the Flattsian “dozens of golden spotlights behind the singer during the chorus” effect), and the dialogue…well, just watch it. Altogether, the piece Read More

Single/Video Review: Toby Keith, “God Love Her”

October 20, 2008 // 24 Comments

What’s going on, Toby? Seriously, now: when one of the genre’s finest mainstream voices is stooping to tired numbers like this one, something is seriously up. “God Love Her” is an uptempo, Mellencampish toss-off about a “rebel child” preacher’s daughter who falls for a “bad boy” and – you’ll never guess it – runs off with him to her parent’s chagrin. So basically, every good-girl-gone-bad song ever plus “Whiskey Girl” plus a whole bunch of religious puns. Sweet action. Really, though, is this the kind of song we’ve come to? Has Nashville decided country radio won’t give a fair shot to anything that doesn’t sound like it was written for turbo-hormonal minors, or has Keith just lost his sense of quality? Aside from it being absolutely ridiculous (and reasonably creepy) to have artists at his age recording odes to rebellious seventeen year-old girls, releases like this belie the quality of Read More

Zac Brown Band, “Chicken Fried”

October 16, 2008 // 10 Comments

In my earlier review of the single “Chicken Fried,” I criticized co-writers Zac Brown and Wyatt Durrette for penning what struck me as an uncreative, thoughtless appeal to Southern pride. It frankly wasn’t my favorite critique to write, and not just because the post has consistently drawn negative feedback from fans of the song; I felt disheartened to be speaking ill of a relatively little-known act, let alone a vocal group with an actual fiddle (as any reprieve from the bland-pop domination of Rascal Flatts is always fine by me). That said, I could not ignore what seemed to be lacking in the composition: a sense of real personality. The lyrics were just too cookie-cutter country, the sentiment too hackneyed. It was all pleasant enough, but very nondescript – like anyone could have done it. So it’s the most terrific sort of surprise, really, to discover that the video for Read More

Hayes Carll, “She Left Me For Jesus”

October 4, 2008 // 6 Comments

Here’s my disclaimer: if you found the song “She Left Me for Jesus” uncomfortably irreverent, the video is almost certainly not for you. Objectively speaking, this thing is downright blasphemous; where the humor of the song came from its absurd narrator, the humor of the video comes from its absurd everything, very much including its portrayal of Christ. And there you have it. Some will find the shock value titillating and benign; others will find it appalling. A lot of people will probably land somewhere in the middle. But whatever your reaction to the boundless mockery, you’ve got to applaud the creativity: Carll plays a cameraman for 2-Timerz, a not-so-veiled (and gloriously accurate) take on the television camp-fest Cheaters. A man comes onto the show to find out the truth about his high school sweetheart, and naturally it’s not too long before we’re spying on the tramp from a sketchy Read More

Randy Houser, “Anything Goes”

October 4, 2008 // 4 Comments

Clearly, it wasn’t enough for Randy Houser to produce one of the year’s finest debut singles; he also had to make one of its finest music videos. Excepting the bikini model who’s supposed to be his ex, most everything about this piece feels completely natural, like it was meticulously structured to complement the progression of the song (what a concept). It’s the sort of work that makes a strong case for the music video as an art form, rather than a shallow marketing device. There’s something creative afoot at most every turn in this clip: witness the rhythmic montage in the build to the first chorus, or the way Houser fantasizes about singing alone onstage to his girl, as if to acknowledge that his whole world – even down to the songs he sings – is built on co-dependence. Someone clearly sat down and thought about this one, and it Read More

Miranda Lambert, “More Like Her”

October 3, 2008 // 6 Comments

“More Like Her” is perhaps the most intimate, clearly personal single of Miranda Lambert’s career thus far, so it’s no surprise to see the music video for the song follow suit. Taking a cue from Sugarland’s in-your-face work in “Stay,” the best parts of this effort center the attention squarely on the singer, whose understated acting adeptly portrays the mixed bag of emotional negatives articulated by the song. The cross-fading transitions between shots work well to the same end, creating a sense of sensory disorder as Lambert’s sights, memories and varying emotions all run together. Things get a little too artsy for my taste when she starts inexplicably hanging around with a birdcage, and the extensive shots of her playing guitar feel forced and somewhat clash with the more interesting sights of her sulking around in the apartment and confessing to the camera. Furthermore, while Lambert’s introspection is undeniably the Read More

Video Review: Taylor Swift, “Love Story”

September 15, 2008 // 41 Comments

There’s nothing I could say about Taylor Swift that hasn’t already been said – and that’s the point. She knows how to score that attention; she knows how to make the dough. With a strong push from the team at Big Machine, this girl has built a multimedia empire on the back of one triple platinum-selling album, some very crafty Internet skills, and a sparkling, sweetly savvy persona. She is the sort of rare, distinctive star people can’t help but talk about, whether they like her or not. And although her singing and songwriting talents have not yet caught up to her market appeal or massive popularity, she has certainly demonstrated that she knows her way around a singable hook. Whether these qualities are conducive or relevant to her actual artistic merit is certainly debatable; the lead single for Fearless, for example, finds her trying to pepper up a nondescript Read More