Summer Single Reviews Round-Up: Luke Bryan, Jake Owen, Jerrod Niemann, Zac Brown Band, Dierks Bentley

We’re halfway through the summer months, which means we’ve heard the handful of summer-oriented singles played on the radio approximately 17,283 times by now. In keeping with CU’s retro theme, let’s hit the singles we missed upon their initial release (sorry y’all!).

Luke Bryan, “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)”

Written by Luke Bryan & Dallas Davidson

Whereas Jason Aldean would likely have soaked this dance number in aggression, Bryan melts away its sexist edge by layering it with goofiness and playful energy. The result is a shamelessly catchy ditty that makes me want to shake it for the squirrels. File that under: Things I never thought I’d say. Grade: B

Jake Owen, “Barefoot Blue Jean Night”

Written by Dylan Altman, Eric Paslay & Terry Sawchuk

Look, I’m all about overdramatizing memories, so the atmospheric, arena rock set-up of the song doesn’t feel inherently ridiculous to me. But in order for a larger-than-life arrangement to have any traction, you’ve got to paint your memories with at least a nugget of lyrical depth. Grade: C+

Jerrod Niemann, “One More Drinkin’ Song”

Written by Richie Brown & Jerrod Niemann

Sounds like part George Strait, part Garth Brooks, part Niemann (+). Feels like a lack of creativity (-). Grade: B-

Zac Brown Band (Feat. Jimmy Buffett), “Knee Deep”

Written by Coy Bowles, Zac Brown, Wyatt Durrette & Jeffrey Steele

Like the innocent little brother of “Toes,” “Knee Deep” lacks spunk but radiates the same sea-breezy blissfulness. Bonus points for the crisp craftsmanship. Grade: B

Dierks Bentley, “Am I The Only One”

Written by Jim Beavers, Dierks Bentley & Jon Randall

If you can refrain from doing the obvious –holding this song up against the splendor of Up On The Ridge–, it falls a little less flat. Then again, I kind of dig the boozy lethargy, especially in Bentley’s performance– it’s like he really doesn’t give a damn about anything so long as he gets his party on. (Seriously, though, if I don’t even watch “Idol” on a Friday night, who does?) Grade: B-


  1. I do like how Luke Bryan went for a playful and energetic feel with “Country Girl” instead of an aggressive Aldean-esque take on it, but I found that the overall lack of lyrical brain function ultimately lost me. While I’m not inherently prejudiced against all country music that borrows from 80s pop, with “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” I found it to be an instant turnoff.

    I’m with you on the lack of creativity in “One More Drinkin’ Song,” but I do like the overall sound of the record, save for that blessed barroom singalong at the end :P

    “Knee Deep” is my favorite on this list. I find the summer songs I tend to enjoy most are the ones that capture a breezy laid-back feel, and “Knee Deep” does just that.

    As for “Am I the Only One”… I tried to like it. I tried.

  2. Luke Bryan – ‘Country Girl’ – D (Drivel; just awful singing of awful lyrics)

    Zac Brown Band – ‘Knee Deep’ – C+ (It’s at least listenable, although it’s the same song as ‘Toes’)

    Jerrod Niemann – ‘One More Drinkin’ Song’ – B- (Best of the bunch because it’s short and sweet and his vocal performance blows away the others in this write-up)

    Jake Owen – ‘Barefoot Blue Jean Night’ – C- (Yet another label trying to make a star out of somebody who can’t hold a candle to the talent that still exists, and doing so the wrong way. this is stuff Kenny Chesney rejected. Where are Travis Tritt and Vince Gill?)

    Dierks Bentley – ‘Am I the Only One’ – C+ (I would certainly give this a higher grade if the ending of the song wasn’t just so f***ing…. lame. he can do better.)

    The worst song out there right now is the new Lady A song, which is sad considering how good they were rolling with ‘I Run to You.’

    As for songs before this summer horror, ‘Teenage Daughters’ and ‘You Lie’ were both great.

    Best song out right now is ‘Cost of Living’ by Ronnie Dunn.

    George has the best “summer” song out there right now, with ‘Here For a Good Time’, and my second favorite is the new Currington single, ‘Love Done Gone.’ At least he sings it with conviction and has lyrics to roll with it. ‘You and Tequila’ is also refreshing, and ‘Just Fishin’ is at least bearable.

    New Keith Urban and Rascal Flatts are horribly disappointing, as well. Scotty McCreery’s song is abysmal, and Rodney Atkins needs to stop whimpering while he’s trying to sing about… whatever it is he sings about.

    Even more depressed that Phil Vassar can’t even write a good single for himself anymore.

    (Officially stepping off my soap box for a while)

  3. I wonder if Jimmy B joined ZBB on “Knee Deep” with the understanding that it would be a single. After “Colder Weather” I guess they wanted something lighter and more uptempo. “Let It Go” I think would have been a much better choice. That said, I think “Knee Deep” is the best here of a really bad bunch of songs.

  4. I’m with ya ;)

    I don’t think this is a terribly bad set of songs compared to the past few summers. Just predictable.

  5. I think they are all just “fun” songs. That’s why giving reviews are tough. If I’m grading these solely on lyrical content, meaning, etc. then they all fail pretty miserably. If I’m grading them based on how loud they make me turn up the radio and sing along, the pure enjoyment factor, then they’d all get solid passing grades from me.

    When you try to combine the both you get mixed reviews like this, I feel. You want to give it a decent grade because it’s at least enjoyable, but at the same time you just feel wrong putting it in the same category as other more profound and nuanced songs.

  6. Of those, the only ones I really enjoy hearing on radio are Barefoot Blue Jean Night and Knee Deep. I think a B for the Luke Bryan song is very generous.

  7. Re “Knee Deep”: Any song that features Jimmy Buffett, the talented singer/songwriter, and not Jimmy Buffett, Chief Parrothead of the Margaritaville Empire, is a winner. This is my favorite song of the summer.

  8. I hate, I mean HATE the Country Girl (Shake It For Me Song).
    I don’t like Barefoot Blue Jean Night or Am I The Only One?, either.
    Haven’t really heard, the Jerrod Niemman song.
    Knee Deep isn’t that great, but it’s at least bearable, even if it is just a more family friendly version of toes.

  9. Gotta say I hate the Jake Owen tune, but I think it’s more the production of it than the actual song. The whole 80’s rock rip off thing in country music has gotten kinda tired to me.

    I do like the Jerrod Neimann song though. It’s not deep, but for what it is, it’s a good song. Haven’t really heard many of the other ones, as I’ve been kinda taking a break from country radio lately. :-/

  10. I feel insane. Nashville radio’s been playing the hell out of “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” and I’m starting to dig it.

  11. Keep these reviews coming man! I love it! I think a record label should hire you to be their talent scout because you can pin it down in such a short amount of time whether a band is good.

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