Tomorrow marks the release of Randy Houser’s debut disc, Anything Goes, a contemporary country album in a traditional vein. Houser has gained fame through his performance on The Late Show with David Letterman and his songwriting skills on Trace Adkin’s “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,” and the title track to his first album is firmly entrenched in the top 20 of the country singles chart. The newcomer called Country Universe recently to discuss his first foray into the spotlight and his thoughts on the music that inspired his chosen path.
“Anything Goes” is a rarity on country radio, a story of solitary drinking followed by a one-night stand. What first attracted you to the song?
Definitely, for country fans and country listeners, I think the song breaks down what our format is about. It’s a theme that country music was built on, going through tough emotions. A lot of people have lived through this or something like this. It may not be to that extreme, but it still hurts. And we all find our redemption in different places. It talks about doing something you normally wouldn’t do and how you mask your true feelings instead of facing your real problems. It’s something that hadn’t been addressed in a song in a while. It’s just a guy telling the truth, and the listeners wanna know what you went through.
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 shows.
Of course, there’s always a risk of overdoing things when going the dramatic route, and there are indeed some points where Houser and his video succumb to minor histrionics. But on the whole, I haven’t felt so deeply immersed in the emotional groove of a music video in quite some time – and when it comes to this sort of raw passion, you take what you can get.
Directed by Vincenzo Giammanco
Watch: Anything Goes
Well, this is just awesome. He sounds like a young Ronnie Dunn, it’s a classic drinkin’ ’cause my woman left me song, and the hook is so obvious that it’s amazing it hasn’t already been a country hit. “Anything goes,” he justifies, “when everything’s gone.” He wouldn’t be drinking the night away and waking up in a stranger’s bed if his only reason for living hadn’t already walked out on him.
There’s nothing like the thrill of discovery of a new artist that already sounds like a seasoned pro. This is worthy of immediate attention from all fans of traditional country music.
Written by Brice Long & John Wayne Wiggins
Listen: Anything Goes