Single Review: Florida Georgia Line, “Stay”

Florida Georgia Line StayWhile I waiting for the YouTube video to load, they played a 30-second commercial for the Duck Dynasty Christmas album, which apparently has the reality show stars singing Christmas standards while ducks quack along with them.  It sounded better than “Stay.”

Cheap shot? Perhaps. The truth is, I’ve avoided writing about Florida Georgia Line as much as possible, as I can’t remember an act I felt so tremendously indifferent to.  Ten years ago, I’d be angry about their prominence, but mainstream country music has lowered its standards so much at this point that it seems totally normal that a song written and sung this poorly could be a big hit by an award show dominating act.

The reigning CMA Vocal Duo of the Year have covered a mediocre track from a little known rock band called Black Stone Cherry*, and now it’s their latest single. I believe it’s already a hit.  This is the new normal.  Have fun.

Written by Black Stone Cherry and Joey Moi

Grade: D

*Artists with better songs called “Stay” that could’ve been covered instead include: David BowieAlison KraussLisa Loeb, Pink Floyd, Rihanna featuring Mikky Ekko, Shakespear’s Sister, Sugarland, U2, and Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs. Just to name a few.




  1. For what it’s worth, Black Stone Cherry’s first two albums were actually pretty good. “Stay” is from their third album which was more like a Nickelback/Shinedown schlock rock album with southern rock touches. I’d rather hear a country artist cover “Hell and Highwater,” “Big City Lights” or Please Come In” if they must cover Black Stone Cherry.

  2. Love Alison Krauss’ “Stay” and you can never go wrong with Sugarland’s, either.

    I wish I could say I was merely ‘indifferent’ towards FGL. The only other mainstream country artist I’ve always felt this much distain for is Rascal Flatts, and even they have had some hits I really enjoy.

    I had no idea this recording was a cover. That’s just depressing. Whatever happened to mainstream artists who dipped into the back catalogs of Rodney Crowell and Bruce Robison when they were looking for a song to cover?

    And to think ‘Stay’ is the FGL single that was released to prove they are real artists, worthy of acclaim. If this is the mainstream idea of balance in 2013 then heads are up rear ends even further then any of us can imagine. *shudder*

  3. This awful song just climbed from #11 to #8 on the media base top 40 country for the week of 12/9. Maybe it will be #1 by the end of the year. The rock music I listened to (no heavy metal, punk rock, etc.) in the late 50’s thru the late 70’s was far better than most of today’s top 40 country.

  4. I was wondering when the latest single from 3 Doors D…….errrrrr, I mean, Florida Georgia Line, would be evaluated! =P

    Seriously, if not for Hubbard’s exaggerated nasal twang vocal, the opening sounds almost exactly like 3 Doors Down’s “Here Without You” or Nickelback’s “Savin’ Me”.


    The funny thing is, my biggest beef with “Stay” has nothing to do with Florida Georgia Line themselves. The lyrics are what make this hilariously insufferable.

    Let’s run a fine-tooth comb through this wasp nest of song lyrics, shall we? ;)



    1) “I’d sell my soul just to see your face…”

    RESPONSE: Well the narrator’s undoubtedly selling himself pitifully short now, isn’t he? ;)

    So let me get this straight: he’d be willing to forsake his own soul JUST to SEE her face? As opposed to “happily ever after” or the hope of some sort of amend or effort to work it all out and talk it over? Who talks like that?

    If low standards were a Limbo game, don’t count on any one of us to effectively go as low as he can go! ;)


    2) “I’d break my bones just to heal your pain…”

    RESPONSE: Charming.

    Look, I get the self-sacrificing sentiment, but this still comes across as quite creepy and insalubrious. Is it too much to ask that we can return to songs centered around subjects who go out of their way to do sincere, healthy things for those they care about and where the male subjects behave like gentlemen, as opposed to saying (but never actually doing) they’ll do laundry lists of things to their own detriment? Whatever happened with openness and just aspiring to learn and own up to your mistakes with a healthy outlook?

    If that’s what the Fireball whiskey is tempting him to do, I would advise draining it imminently! ;)


    3) “In this times I need a saving grace…”

    RESPONSE: Jesus loves you, my friend. You DID name-drop Him and the “preacher” in several of your other songs, remember? “It’z Just What We Do” ring a bell? ;)


    4) “But if I told you I loved you, would it make you want to stay…”

    RESPONSE: So let me get this straight. All this time, the narrator has never even acknowledged to the person he’s addressing that he loved her?

    Is it any wonder why she left in the first place, my friend? You can’t spell relationship without RELATION! And the fact you’re bringing this up in the form of a hypothetical makes clear that you haven’t matured at all.

    The narrator entirely blows his cover here and exposes himself for what he really is: an oblivious, conceited douche who never took the subject’s feelings into consideration and still doesn’t.


    5) “And if I wrote you a love song and sang to you every day, would it ever be enough to make you wanna come back home and stay…”

    RESPONSE: Talk is cheap. A little less talk and a lot more action, now! Dust off that notepad and get crackin’ chop chop! ;)

    Besides that, again with the hypothetical balderdash. You won’t know until you ask the subject directly, right? Well, what are you waiting for? ;)

    And remember, the deal-breaker is that it will have to be EVERY day, to death do you part! Assuming, of course, it ever even goes over well! ;)


    6) “My heart’s on my sleeve, but it’s turning black…”

    RESPONSE: Liar! On BOTH counts! ;)


    7) “Without your touch I’m not gonna last.”

    RESPONSE: You’d be amazed as to how resilient the human body is! ;)


    8) “(I know you know that I need ya just to carry on)”

    RESPONSE: Did you listen to what I just said? -__-


    9) “(You’d always hold me before I left you hanging on)”

    RESPONSE: Well, there you have it! Finally we’re starting to get somewhere! The person you’re addressing gave it ones all to care for you, and you never reciprocated that love and comfort.

    So, how do you plan on expressing this regret to the person you love in the hopes of winning this special someone back?


    (listens on to find no game plan other than all the narrator wants is to tell him he loves this person and make this person wanna stay)

    Oh dear! -__- -__- -__-



    Although the lyrics are by far the worst component of “Stay” and, again, are not Hubbard or Kelley’s fault…………the other thing that makes this unlistenable is that it just doesn’t suit their style well.

    I may not be a fan of their debut full-length album at all, but it’s pretty clear their appeal is drawn from being the life of the party and delivering one mindless party song after another. So when they try to show they have a darker, sensitive side too, it just comes across as shallow, forced and completely unconvincing. Way to spoil a party just as it was heatin’ up, fellas! -__-


    I wasn’t kind toward this release’s three predecessors, but “Stay” is by far their worst single to date because at the very least the preceding singles suited their style well. This simply doesn’t.

  5. If it seems like I’m not willing to give Florida Georgia Line even an iota of credit after giving all four singles of theirs to date generally unfavorable reviews, I’ll say this.


    Firstly, Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley are actually very effective and skilled technical songwriters. I mean that. Much like Chad Kroeger of Nickelback (who Joey Moi has also produced most of their discography)…… may deservedly pile on them all you want about how asinine their lyrics and how shamelessly they pander to the lowest-common denominator…………but you can’t deny the both of them have a sharp sense of flow, rhythm and harmony.

    They just have asinine, poor lyrics to back it up, which ultimately make too many of their songs grating even if they’re unmistakably catchy. I admitted “Cruise” was an earworm but still wasn’t charmed enough because the terrible grammar in the chorus immediately ruined it for me. And when I listen to “Get Your Shine On” while tuning the inane lyrics out, it is actually great musical wallpaper that puts me in a good mood.

    There are even a couple of moments where they come pretty close to receiving a “Thumbs Up” from me. “Hell Raisin’ Heat Of The Summer” is actually not half bad and sounds like it’s coming from someplace real. And “Tip It Back” may have insubstantial silly lyrics, but they don’t rub me off the wrong way and it’s actually a fairly enjoyable sing-along of sorts.


    The bottom line is, in heart, I really do want to like them more than I actually do. Like I said, they’re strong technical songwriters and as much as Hubbard’s vocals get on my nerves a lot with the exaggerated nasal twang, at the very least he sounds energetic most of the time and genuinely sounds like he’s having a good time. I just don’t think there’s any excuse as to why we can’t get better lyrical songwriting from them in particular.

    And frankly, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. I gave the newly-released deluxe edition of their debut full-length album a listen, and their next single “This Is How We Roll” is a hick-hop train wreck! =X =X =X

  6. Noah, I totally hear what you’re saying about FGL’s melody and flow being catchy. I think Moi deserves most of the credit for that. Nickelback became huge because their music had a simple, catchy quality to it that lent itself very well to arena shows. Enough melody to sing along with and enough bass and rhythm to sway along with.

    Just like FGL, Nickelback is often criticized for their lyrics. They largely follow common themes of Active Rock radio and Hot AC radio on their biggest hits.

    FGL is doing the same thing. They use the same singable, sway-able production that Nickelback does and follow the common themes of country radio. So while Nickelback sang of frustration over a love gone sour on “How You Remind Me,” FGL sings of driving trucks with country girls on, well, all of their songs.

    The formula doesn’t work well for FGL, though, because they sing in an exaggerated twang that sounds awkward over rock production and they add a banjo to all of their songs to create the illusion that they are country.

    I should add that I think Nickelback has had some decent songs over their career (amongst some bad ones) and that I don’t think they deserve all the criticism they take. If it wasn’t so cool to make fun of Nickelback, nobody would do it.

  7. There are many worse bands than Nickelback out there, trust me.

    I actually don’t think Nickelback have deserved some of the intensity of the detracting they’ve received. Nickelback are more of a hilariously mediocre band with insufferable moments here and there, but even then I’d rank them above of most Active Rock is currently playing at the moment including Five Finger Death Punch (uggghhh, and they get critical acclaim too! =X ), Papa Roach, Hollywood Undead and Avenged Sevenfold.

    And Chad Kroeger has repeatedly proven he can write a damn poignant song too when he puts his mind to it. “Never Again” and “Too Bad” were both well-written, if musically bland, singles. As cliched as it was, I actually liked the singles “If Today Was Your Last Day” and “Gotta Be Somebody” also. Those high points are counterbalanced by insufferable singles like “Something In Your Mouth”, “Rockstar” and “Shakin’ Hands”.

    You can do a whole lot better than Nickelback any day, but I’m willing to say with a straight face you can do significantly worse as well. No, if Nickelback are deserving of a lot of the hate they’re receiving, it’s only because they are one of the single most influential acts in BOTH Active Rock and Country radio at the moment.

  8. I think Joey Moi’s success in country music is indicative of the music scene as a whole. He is at least partly responsible for breaking FGL and Jake Owen through to the next level. His next breakthrough project is Dallas Smith. Moi worked with Smith’s former band, Default, who was discovered by Chad Kroeger.

    Moi, Smith, Parmalee and Aaron Lewis are likely only the first in a wave of ’00s rock artists and producers that will likely move to the country format in coming years. Brad Arnold of 3 Doors Down has been recording country songs and would like to release a country album. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Daughtry tried to go country in the next few years.

    Pop radio has no room for guitar-based rock music these days. Hot AC is more influenced by pop radio than ever before and thus also has little room for guitar rock. Alternative is more interested in quirky, indie pop rather than actual rock at the moment and doesn’t have much room for guitar rock. Active rock has a small audience and isn’t very melodic right now, so guitar rock bands that rely on melodies or hooks won’t find much success there either. Thus, guitar rock is relegated to country radio.

    Until rock music makes a comeback to the mainstream, country will serve as America’s rock station. Traditional country won’t be able to make a comeback until rock does.

  9. Joey Moi has easily been the most influential emerging producer in Nashville this year (Jay Joyce being the go-to producer in 2012 who, of course, is still hotly demanded)

    That’s partly what I mean when I say Nickelback is arguably the single most influential act on both corporate country and active rock radio at the moment. In essence, Joey Moi is actually the studio wizard and key to their established sound, but most recognize it as the Nickelback sound. And considering Nickelback and its numerous chart rivals/offspring started wading into that frat-boy bacchanalia before it started impacting country airwaves with full force, it’s easy to see where Nickelback and Kid Rock left off and Jason Aldean continues.

    After “Dark Horse” signalled the beginning of the end to Nickelback’s commercial dominance, many traditionally rock listeners who were dispirited by the lack of acts to fill their shoes came to the realization that rock and roll was alive and well……….only it was on “country” airwaves now. Thus, they swarmed to Jason Aldean: who they embraced as a new torch-bearer of heartland country-flavored rock.

    Shortly after, with Aldean gravitating further to mainstream sensibilities and some perhaps feeling he has grown too soft, Eric Church and Brantley Gilbert have emerged an enticing alternative to those who prefer their rock loud and intimidating. And should Eric Church overplay his hand with his forthcoming album and alienate too much of the core country listening demographic, it’ll be interesting to see how Florida Georgia Line, Brantley Gilbert and a slew of potential crossover efforts compete for that slice of pie.

    I will say I predict Florida Georgia Line, for better or worse, will prove to be a force in corporate “country” music to reckon with throughout much the rest of this decade. There are possible, unconfirmed signs the “frat-boy country” trend has peaked, or at least the songs-about-trucks trend…….and I think Florida-Georgia Line and their marketing team are well-aware this won’t last forever as supply outdoes demand.

    Why do I think this? Because their newly-released deluxe edition of “Here’s To The Good Times” features only one track (“This Is How We Roll”) that mentions a tailgate, or even celebratory drinking. The other four tracks consist of a somber mid-tempo about the narrator telling a distressed subject in a rocky relationship that she can turn to him for consolation and comfort (“Take It Out On Me”), a more dialed-down love song (“Hands On You”), a bittersweet nostalgic reflection on an old flame (“Headphones”) and an arena rock/hick-hop hybridization centered around the theme of thanking their family, friends and community for helping them realize and achieve their dreams (“People Back Home”).

    If not necessarily signs of maturity, it nonetheless is a decisive breakaway from the bacchanalia that dominates the vast majority of tracks on the standard edition of the album. It is as though label executives warned them not to overplay the party-hardy hand, and urged them to balance their discography by padding it with some more sentimental/nostalgic material and another darker song. And is evidenced via the success of “Stay”, this move is bound to be successful for them as well.

  10. …a dog and a duck in the clip might look a little ott but since i’m a “there’s never too many chicks in a decent country Clip”kinda guy – how could i be against more ducks in them.

    actually, on that duck dynasty christmas album there is a great “that’s why i love christmas” sung be josh turner and missy Robertson – whoever that might be. in fact, turner does it so well – he should stick to seasonal tunes only,imo. as corny as it may sound, but josh turner and christmas music are a match made in heaven or in the duck’s pond way down south for that matter.

  11. I forgot to mention, John Fred Young of Black Stone Cherry is the son of The Kentucky Headhunters’ Richard Young. Kind of an interesting connection.

  12. I’m just going to leave this video here, but I hope that one of the admins picks it up and includes it in an actual post. It’s a great comment on the country music of the past year.

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