Brad Paisley, “Online”

Brad Paisley, “Online”

Why did so many of us in school look the other way when the cool kids were picking on the outcasts? Why did so many of us laugh along with them? For most of those who went along with it, and feel bad thinking about it today, the answer is simple: You laughed so you would fit in, and more importantly, so that they wouldn’t start laughing at you.

But what to make of the leader who does the bullying, the teasing, the mocking? What happens to him when he leaves the schoolyard days behind? Maybe he goes to college, where he’s praised for his musical talents and easily signs a record deal after graduation. His first album goes platinum, and the awards start rolling in. He’s called the great new traditionalist, he’s a hit songwriter, starts selling out shows. He marries a beautiful woman – a Hollywood actress, no less! Every blessing, every beautiful gift God has given to him. And now, he wants to use those gifts to make us laugh.

So what’s funny to him, the big star who has it all? Apparently, a guy his age who doesn’t. Someone who didn’t have his talents encouraged and praised. Maybe he isn’t talented at all. He works in a pizza parlor. He lives at home with his parents. He’s short. Fat. So hopelessly unattractive that he hasn’t gotten to second base. He likes science fiction instead of bass fishing. He has asthma. His only friends are online, and even they wouldn’t like him if they knew what he was really like.

Are you laughing yet? Does the cool kid have you pointing your finger at the loser who’s way too different to be anything but a source of derision?

A singer can be just as cruel with his lyrics as a football jock can be with his fists. For the young Brad Paisley fan that fits the description in this song, his hero’s laughter is going to hurt a hell of a lot. But we don’t have to laugh along with him, because what Brad is doing here isn’t comedy.

It’s sport.

Grade: F

Listen: Online

Buy: Online


  1. well…i really don’t know what to say

    personally i like the song, and the video is hilarious, its been stuck in my head all day

    i guess i just don’t see brad paisly as a mean spirited person, so im not sure that i agree that he is just being hurtful

  2. Seriously Kevin, come off it. All that rambling speculation about Brad Paisley being a schoolyard bully, plus your previous Paisley posts, makes me question whether you’re even willing to give this artist a fair shake.

    The fact is that this whole issue of people misrepresenting themselves or living their lives online isn’t personal anymore. It’s a social phenomenon that has tragic (sexual predators) and comic (the girls’ disappoinment after they meet the guy whose myspace picture is of a GQ model) consequences. As such, it’s very open to parody. Equating this harmless song to mean-spirited playground taunts is a misjudgment.

  3. Matt,

    I simply don’t find stuff like this funny, and I have no problem saying it loudly. I do think that working in education results in me seeing things like this from a different perspective. This song made me sick to my stomach when I heard it yesterday morning. I wasn’t going to write about it all because I knew the type of comments that it would result in, some of which have surfaced already. (I’m still waiting for the inevitable “You just don’t like this song because you’re probably short and fat and haven’t been to second base!” retort.)

    As far as a Paisley bias, a simple search of the site would find that I have praised “Alcohol” and “Whiskey Lullaby”, and that I was pulling for him to win at the ACM’s this year, even though I don’t care for his music much. I do think that he’s put out the two worst singles of his career sequentially, and “Online” is certainly its nadir.

  4. Gaby,

    I saw a clip of the video and I can see how it makes the song seem more lighthearted and funny. Hearing the audio first is how I formed my judgment of the song. I don’t think he’s trying to be hurtful, I think he’s trying to be funny. It reminds me of how the producers of “American Idol” use those early episodes to show us horrible auditions. “Look! This guy thinks he has talent but he’s really horrible!” I don’t tune in until Hollywood week because I just can’t watch that.

    I’m fully aware that I’m in a small minority in approaching things like this from that angle, and most will reject the ideas I’m presenting in this review without hesitation. But there will be a few people who read it and think about the song differently when they hear it the next time. Just like there are a few people who now own and love “Rhinestoned” because they heard about it here first. This is a very small blog that makes a very small difference. My only obligation is to be honest with my opinions.

  5. Man you guys take everything way to frigain seriously. The song was never meant to insult all people who fit the description…IT NEVER WAS!!!! It is a hilarious song because its meant to show how people strech the truth and lie on the internet instead of getting of their lazy asses and doign soemthing productive.

    It actually supports those in the song by making fun of the fact that these people feel so bad they need to pretend to be someone else in order to be happy. If you actually put aside your frigain enclosed mindset you’d realize that its not the actual person who is the victim, its the fact that the person feels so bad they need to be someone else and thats whats hilarious is that people feed into these lies. Brad isn’t making fun of the nerd, he’s making fun of the fact that that the nerd thinks he should be hot and sexy and all that like everyone else.

    Get your head out of your ass!!! it’s a great song and it is hilarious. Deal With It!!!

    You seem to support Brad so much yet….you seem to always make his songs seem so cruel when they really aren’t.

  6. Nothing about this song…video etc is funny to me at all. When I heard Brad’s latest I thought “what a dick”. My perspective Brad is taking the perspective of the person who goes along with the bully to fit in, hoping by going along with the crowd they never focus in on his insecurities. For some reason Brad Paisley has always exuded this vibe with me. I think he’s a very mediocre singer, writer and performer…nothing special about this guy. Perhaps this is why he seems to take pleasure in knocking others down to build himself up, because his “talents” are sub-par and he knows it, despite his fame, he knows he doesn’t deserve the applause.

  7. As someone who often takes unpopular stances on this blog, I have to jump in on this one as, oddly, the devil’s advocate for both sides.

    I love the traditionalist side of Brad, and I respect him a great deal as a musician. He does have a great deal of talent, both vocally and musically, despite the cheap shots taken above by uninformed, and I would wager, uneducated. Like him or hate him, the man is one of the few true musicians left in country music. He writes, composes, plays and sings. Listen to the gospel tracks he cut on his albums, and you will see his talent on great display.

    As far as being rooted in tradition, he does demonstrate a fair share of respect to the genre in his catalog so far. However, as evidenced by several songs, such as Ticks, Celebrity, and this new cut, he has a sense of humor, and does not take himself too seriously. Listen to the Kung Pow series over the last few albums, and you’ll see the extremes he can take fun to in his music.

    Now, to this song. Online was a bad choice for a second release from this album. There are much better cuts on this album. But here it is, so we must debate it. Was it a joke or a jab? Ah, the quandry of music. It is what you make it. While this song will get a laugh and a tear, depending on the audience, it leaves itself open to interpertation. Where were all of you that bash this song when Celebrity came out? Rushing the defense of the “victims” of that one? I doubt it. But I propose that some Hollywood types didn’t find it so funny. Such is life, and such is art.

    How many country songs poke fun at certain sterotypes and groups? Many. And its accepted. No need to defend the drunks in the drinking songs, the cheaters in the cheating songs, and the lonely and the left behind in a good tear jerker. Why? Because it is a part of this life, it exists everyday, and is great material for inspiration. So why the need to defend now?

    In short, only Brad knows the songs intent, though I doubt it was meant as an insult. But its music folks. It stirs up emotions. Different strokes for different folks. You can’t realistically expect to love every single on radio. Not everyone loves everything. So let it go. Don’t listen to it. But don’t assume too much. You just put yourself out there for the bullies…

    Have a good one guys, and relax a little. Its summertime. Grill a steak, put on some Jimmy B and head to the lake. Have a beer, and move on.

  8. I like this song a lot. I know several people that this song fits to a “T” and its very accuracy is what helps make it so funny. The funniest songs usually are reflections of reality

    I guess everyone has a different sense of humor. I, for one, did not find the Chix “Goodbye Earl” even remotely funny – to me that song was an “F”. Although many did find it funny, I thought it was extremely mean-spirited (however the video for the song was funny)

    So open your mind up a little Kevin and not try to superimpose preconceptions on everything. In Brad Paisley you likely have the artist who will have the most enduring career of any of the recent batch of country artists

    BTW – I was one of the tall skinny geeks that the bullies picked on but I didn’t want or expect anyone to fight my battles for me. I worked out with weights and learned boxing technique and got them off my back by doing it the right way – by myself

  9. I like the song. I don’t get why people think he is mean just cause he has a song out. There have been many artists that have come out with songs similar to this. It isn’t meant to offend anyone i don’t think and it’s just a song. By the way i didn’t even read Paul W’s post and i was thinking the same thing about the Goodbye Earl song. I never found that funny i found it really mean and cruel.

  10. “Earl walked right through that restraining order and put her in intensive care.”
    That’s the key line. She went to the law for protection and it failed her, so she took matters into her own hands.
    In most songs of domestic abuse, there is a similar element, where those who could have helped – police, neighbors or the like – end up either turning a blind eye or making matters worse by intervening.
    I have vague recollections of learning in college that restraining orders actually have a backlash effect, making the abuser more aggressive. I know I’d learned about it before hearing “Goodbye Earl” so that’s the line that jumped out at me.
    Same thing happened when I heard “Gunpowder & Lead”, from the new Miranda Lambert CD: “I’ve got two miles ’til he makes bail, and if I’m right we’re headed straight for hell.” The conceit is that she knows he’s coming right back for the fight and she’s going to be ready for it.
    Getting back to the original thread, Timmy’s right to be incredulous. People laughing at the comeuppance of a restraining order-violating wife-beater who beats her so badly she ends up in intensive care is hardly the moral equivalent of laughing at a guy with no friends because he’s too ugly and short to get a date, so he fudges his stats online.
    If anything, the guy in the basement has a lot more in common with Wanda than he does with Earl.
    As for this, duck fan:
    “He beat his wife that’s stupid and dumb but you don’t go and murder him for it.”
    A sociologist could have a field day with that kind of parsing, but I’ll just say that what makes “Goodbye Earl” seem more just to me than “Independence Day” is that the woman doesn’t have to die along with the man to gain her freedom. But yes, I guess “Earl” is more “mean” to the guy who beats the gal within an inch of her life.

  11. I actually messed up i didn’t even know she made a restraining order against him. I have no respect for wife-beaters or anybody that beats somebody up that bad but i also have no respect for murderers. That’s just what i think.

  12. I get what you’re saying DuckFan. Of course murder is wrong. But your comment made it sound like you were saying, “Hey, stop picking on wifebeaters! Won’t somebody please think of the wifebeaters?”

  13. You boys really seem like you wanna fight. Somehow, the Chicks and “Earl” seem to have taken over what started as a Brad Paisley review. At first, I was pissed. Personally, I am a Paisley fan, and at the point with the Dixie Chicks that I don’t even acknoweledge they still exist. (And if they do, please son’t tell me. I don’t wanna know.) So, to try and sort this out, I put my prejudice aside, and got all objective. And here’s where I ended up.

    As I said before, a song is only what you make it, and only means what it means to you. But “Earl” left much less doubt as to its intent than Online. Whether Brad’s song is a joke or a cruel jab, you get to decide and to either enjoy it or find it offensive and mean-spirited. But in Online, no one got hurt, and its not a topic that, even lyrically hurt anyone. The only ideas it could have spawned would either motivate its subject to see themselves as really lame, which being an online poser is, or it could give someone the idea of creating an online self, which is even lamer. And I held my tounge in my earlier post, but I’m gonna say it: I could care less if Brad IS making fun of prople that do this. They are nothing more than sad little liars, furthering their miserable existance by wasting their time being their little online alter egos. They set themselves up to be made fun of. Be real. Its so sad and pathetic, I say if you fit the description of the guy in the song, and you’re offended, look in the mirror and slap your stupid little face. OH GOD – MIKE IS SO MEAN!!!! There I said it for you. But go deeper. If you fit that description, I am not making fun of you. I am making fun of your choices and your lies. Just as much as I’d call you a pervert if you pleased yourself in the bathrooms of gentlemens’ clubs. You don’t deserve pity. You deserve a chance to change. So here it is. Get off the damn computer and make a life for yourself. Join a gym. Find a hobby. Be yourself, and find ways to improve yourself. In other words, get a life!!!

    As for “Earl”, that was one nice mess from the get go. And it’s all wrong. Beating your wife, kids, or a complete stranger is wrong. It is inexcusable. And sadly, it happenes everyday. Wifebeaters deserve punishment, and belong behind bars. I won’t go on a tangent about the enabling that so often goes along with these abusive relationships. But I will say that if you’re the victim of abuse, seek help, and listen to the professionals that are there. They know what they’re doing, so trust them.

    However, under no circumstance does abuse justify a premeditated and cold blooded murder. And a cover up. And, on the part of the Chicks, be real. Do you realize that there is a very small chance that you’d ever get away with something so ridiculous. Liberate abused women. But don’t let them be the subject of a charade like this. Its downright stupid. And if it motivated someone to follow suit, then it overstepped its intention, don’t you think? In a much worse way than Online, don’t you think?

    So blast away, my friends. I hope I’ve given you the ammo.

  14. Like Brad I believe the Chicks have the right to do and say whatever the hell they want. You can disagree and agree who gives a damn. brad and the Dixie Chicks are two of countries most talented powerhouses and they will go down in history as those powerhouses. Deal with it. hate em, love em but realize that the are talented, they are American’s and 50,000 Americans at least all have the same outlooks as either of them.

    You guys can argue all you want but all this fuss won’t change the fact that Brad and his songs as well as the Chicks are at the peak of popularity as shown by single success for Brad including awards at major country awards shows and the Chicks dominating the Grammy’s and the country albums chart with their last album. All this arguing is for nothing the single rocks and so do the artists.

  15. i can relate 100% with this song and its not making fun of the guy, this stuff really happens, even if you dont lie, for some reason people are just a lot cooler on-line he is not picking on anyone

  16. Dude, you’re a freaking retard. The song is funny as hell. I think you’re pissed off because the song fits you. You’re just to ashamed to admit it. Grow up, get a life, and STFU.

  17. omgh!!!! this song doe not deserve an F. you have to see the video then you will get the picture. it was just supposed to be a funny song. And you know what the guy Jason Alexander who was in it directed the whole thing and helped Brad with it. whatever it does not deserve an F ok I support brad and he is doing good right now. So get over it

    GO BRAD PAISLEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Brad Paisley reminds me of the guys I went to school with that always charmed the teacher into thinking they were angels and behind their backs drew pictures of them with horns and a tail. I’ve always had that impression of him and I can’t get away from it! He just seems like a suck up to people to me. Anthing to get him what he wants! I do like some of his songs like Whiskey Lullaby, but cannot stand Ticks or Online. I can’t help it that he just doesn’t do it for me. Not a fan of his or his music.

  19. anyone ever consider for a minute that maybe, just maybe the “uncool” guy was brad before he made it big??? you ever think that he was maybe “not so cool ” at some point in his life???? maybe he was a tuba playing band geek or maybe he played trombone in the marching band he is as human as the rest of us i am quite sure that he has had some embarassing moments in his life. growing up in the ohio valley i can relate to many of his songs … mud on your tires is a fact of life there… and ticks … well let me tell you if you have been out working in the fields bailing hay all day you want to get checked Brad just made it a little more interesting.

  20. wow. this review was harsh. it’s meant to be funny! and i doubt even if someone was living the exact life brad talks about in the song, they would be so offended. you know how people sometimes laugh at themselves, if something in their life is pathetic, or whatever? ya. it’s a little commentary on how patheticly crazy this online friends thing is. that’s all! and if you weren’t so offended by it and just accepted it as it is, you’d see that it’s actually funny. goshhhh. lol

  21. I’m a huge sci-fi nerd who spends all his time in forums and online lol ….n when i heard this song my friends like “hey thats you!” and welll i laughed my ass off cuz it is like me ….. we sci-fi nerds are damn proad of bein nerds and its funny cuzz were jus weird like that n its easy to laugh at us …I mean how many ppl out there make fun of evrybody…..its normal if its done in good spirit than go right ahead n laugh …Brad Paisley did it in good spirit n made it nice and funny, not mean or cruel and made an awsome song (which is my theme song lol) in the process.

  22. Brad was a trek fan growing up …the songs kinda autobiographical in that sense…he was a bit nerdy like the character in the video…..he’s not being mean he’s making a song/joke about a commmon stereotype about sci-fi fans…… bein a sci-fi fan i like the song …its the song that got me hooked on brad paisley ..he is one hot nerd!

  23. I read Kevin’s review of the song a few days before hearing the song for the first time, and although I thought he was overreacting a bit, it stuck somehow. So although I doubt this song was meant to hurt anyone, I can easily see how it would.

    I don’t think the tune is fun enough for me to thoroughly enjoy the song. But I like the concept of it, and think the lyrics are original.

    I’m not one of the big fans of the song, but I don’t have any problem with it. And I enjoy the video.

  24. This song does NOT deserve an F. Brad Paisley sings about a range of topics and this is simply poking innocent fun at people that cannot accept reality and make up new lives for themselves on websites such as myspace. I think the whole song is funny and i have not even seen the video. Give him a break

  25. I am not a fan of country music but I came across a link to the video for this song on another blog I frequently read. I watched the video and I have to say I was very disappointed. I found my way to this site after a search on Brad Paisley.

    Aside from the cultural sterotypes of the nerdy trekkie/band geek/fat kid/etc….

    The bit that bothered me most about this is the ongoing use of asthma as a joke. The movie and television industries have, for years, represented asthmatics as the fat kid trailing along behind, puffing on an inhaler. I wonder why Brad& co. didn’t choose to a wheelchair bound person to be the nerd. Or perhaps someone with cancer? AIDS? Wouldn’t that be just as funny?

    As someone who has suffered with this chronic illness since childhood, I can tell you that it is no laughing matter when you are being rushed to the emergency room in the middle of the night because you cannot breath and your emergency inhaler no longer helps. I, and the millions of others who suffer with this disease, DID NOT CHOOSE TO HAVE IT. It is not like extra weight I can loose. It is not like playing a guitar as opposed to a baritone. It is not like altering my personality to be “cooler”. It is a chronic disease that I fight to control every single day of my life. Millions of people are diagnosed with this disease every year and the entertainment industry still chooses to treat it as a sterotypical item for the Fat Nerd character.

    Shame on Hollywood, the TV and movie industry, and shame on Brad Paisley for allowing this. You might think I am overly sensitive and you would be damn right. Think for a moment – would the character be just as funny if he was bald due to chemo treatments? I doubt it. I get the idea that the whole jist of the song is to be lighthearted and humorous. Asthma is anything but.

  26. Speaking as someone who, as a teenager, lived vicariously through a “cool” online alter-ego since I wasn’t cool in real life, I found a lot of humor in this song, and thought in many ways it described me from 16-18 (I’m 22 now). Maybe the me of 2002 is being made fun of in this song, but I really like the song anyway. And the marching band at the end is a nice touch.

  27. Wow! I wasn’t expecting this turn on this song. I see Kevin’s point; I don’t think it’s completely out there. However, it’s not how I took the song. I just thought he was making of fun of myspace, really. I have a myspace site to keep in touch with friends. I know all of the people who are my ‘friends’ on my site and I know when they have fudged a few stats on their pages. So, this song amused me. I, actually, am a freakin’ huge fan of Brad’s. I love his voice, his sense of humor and his instrumentation. This song, however, lost it’s flavor with me after awhile. I liked it the first times I heard it, but I guess it didn’t stick, not because of the subject matter, but it just got old.

  28. Wow! I can’t believe the reaction to this song. I loved it from the first time I heard it and watched the video.

    I don’t believe in bullying either but I think the only bullying here is bashing Brad and his song. He has a great sense of humour and he is and amazing guitar player. He actually puts himself in the place of the people he sings about and how does anyone know, he may have been a little geeky when he was younger. Whatever, it doesn’t matter. He hits the nail right on the head with both Celebrity and Online, he’s telling it like it is and he’s using humour to do so.

    Somone said that people are taking this song too seriously and I agree but that is exactly what geeks do. They take everything too seriously. They are mostly very nice people who take themselves way too seriously and although it is a shame, that is what makes them prime targets for bullys. Iwish they could relax and enjoy a song like this.

    As for Brad Paisley hurting people with his songs, I have seen him in a few interviews and I think he is a very nice young man and he means no harm to anyone. In fact he is trying to entertain us and he does bring a smile to my face when I see him and listen to his music.

    Chill out people and stop looking to make someone like Brad Paisley into a monster. There are enough monsters out there in our world who are really hurting others don’t make our entertainers out to be the bad guys.

  29. You don’t all you people having a cow over a song get a life. Bullys in a video-don’t homeless people and US troops in combat deserve your concern?

  30. you guys are ridiculous!

    brad is the man..without question. there is nothing wrong with this song, and something tells me brad paisley was not a bully in school. Sure, we ALL sometimes think less of people because of the way they look. But this us good-natured humor, so you guys need to relax.

    Brad Paisley for President

  31. I see your point about the lyrics being able to be interpreted as being cruel, but one could also look at it as a spoof on society’s Hollywood-type materialism and how superficial it all is. In the video with Jason Alexander, the jock that answers the door is equally as much of a cartoon as the poor guy whose alter ego is Brad Paisley. The guy’s parents and his neighbor Marcia Brady are also over the top, exaggerated characters. Then at the end, he gets to play the guitar in front of adoring crowds, which is a good thing, even if there was an element of irony.

    I think you have a very valid point that bullying should not be encouraged. Bullying should never be encouraged, and victims of bullying need effective sources to turn to for help. I know this first hand because I was a victim of severe bullying in elementary school. This video, though, just seems ironic to me, and maybe the correct message to take from it would actually be, “Learn to be confident in yourself and celebrate who you are, and don’t allow negative messages from society’s superficial types take away your power to make your life what you want it to become.”

  32. This is horriable !
    Do you honestly think Brad would sit down and write a song that was going to affect people negatively ? and then make a video about it ?
    Come on, you are obviously not a Brad Paisley fan . Because if you were, you would know what a nice, down to earth guy he is . If you watch an Interview with Brad , or even read some things about him, you would know that Brad loves what he’s doing and doesn’t take it for granted . And would defintly not purposly record a song to hurt anyone in anyway .
    This song was not recorded to make fun of fat people, people with asthma , geeks or anybody for that matter ! And in case you didn’t know, Jason Alexander directed this video himself . And if I might add, Brad wasn’t the best looking guy in school, I have pictures, but look what he turned out to be !
    And I really don’t think you need to be looking down on him for this song . I’m sure there is millions of other songs, that if you look at it in your own, negative way, you will find something wrong with it that can have a negative impacton somebody . But that’s just it, you can’t please everybody .

    I honestly think it shows you that no matter what you are like now, or what you were like, you can be whatever the hell you want ! It doesn’t matter what other people think of you .
    This is a great song and if you don’t like it and think that it has some sense of bullying to it, then fine , that your opinion , because like I said , you can’t please everybody .
    Everyone is going to have their own way of looking at things, I just think that you are taking this the wrong way .

  33. Brad has become a very cocky SOB to me….He is an extreme waste of talent. His early material was so good but now this song and “ticks” and this other crap. He is a waste

  34. Did you see the end of the Video??? The down-trodden main character of the video gets the GIRL!!! Don’t take this so serious! and BTW, Brad was a co-writer on this song. Co-writers Chris DuBois & Kelley Lovelace are talented songwriters who enjoy working with Brad and have plenty of hits to their credit. The song is about ANYBODY who stretches the truth to seem better online than they are in real life. So, if ripping on Brad makes you feel better about yourself, I feel sorry for you. Time to sit down, write some goals and then start working on bettering yourself.

  35. A fun inoffensive song that should be taken in the spirit it is delivered. Loved the tuba bit with its seven short notes, perfect humour within the muusic.

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