Single Review: Kenny Chesney, “American Kids”

Kenny Chesney American KidsIf you’re going to keep revisiting the same themes, you might as well take some risks with your delivery.

Kenny Chesney’s new single sounds fresher and more engaging than anything he’s done in a very long time.  It’s easy to miss that he’s singing about what he always sings about: nostalgia for growing up in the country with American rock as the soundtrack.


What makes “American Kids” work more than a lot his attempts with this theme is that sounds like he learned something listening to those Mellencamp and Springsteen records.  This record oozes charm and mature authority, like he’s finally lived long enough to look back and say, “Hey. We were kinda crazy back then.  But we all turned out alright in the end.”

Written by Rodney Clawson, Luke Laird, and Shane McAnally

Grade: B+




  1. Well, here we go again…..nobody is going to put down anything little Kenny does. Oh, I forgot he’s 46 yrs old and still acting like a teenager, but that’s ok he’s more charming and mature now…..not! Good Lord, what is happening to the music industry now??? Just don’t understand why people think this song is so great!

  2. Seriously, Gloria? We’re not exactly Kenny Chesney enthusiasts around here. Sure, we don’t hate a song of his just because his name is attached to it, but we’re pretty critical of him in general.

  3. …it ain’t exactly pleasant on the ears. the good news, however, is – you probably won’t remember having heard it.

  4. For a teaser song, it’s effective. Kenny has a habit of releasing these teaser songs which usually represent his direction on the upcoming album (ie: Live A Little kicked off his stadium power concert sound, Pirate Flag aimed him toward the islands). If you’re to believe that, looks as though he will be concentrating on a more mainland theme. If you are making a billion dollars, there is no need to suddenly hire a bluegrass band. But if you endured the last CMT Awards and actually thought it represented the state of country, then you shouldn’t be too upset when Kenny steers his ship in your direction.

  5. ………………well, I’ll give him this: this definitely SOUNDS fresh, and like a genuine departure from Chesney’s arena rock meets easy listening meets Parrothead pastiche sound.

    Also, I’m willing to admit that he doesn’t rely on the most obvious slabs of imagery adherent to “bro-country”.


    However, I can’t say even the last point is necessarily a compliment, because here’s my main issue with this song: it STILL relies heavily on a rhythmic vocal delivery and phrasing that owes more to Urban/Rhythmic music (much like “Pirate Flag”), and STILL is written in the form of strands of non-sequiturs and buzzwords like a typical laundry-list “country” song as of late.

    On the surface, in terms of production, this sounds “game-changing”, sure. But once you even slightly peel the skin off the pudding, it blows its cover and reveals itself to be yet another product of the Clawson/Laird/McAnnally songwriting oligarchy that trades narrative for non-sequiturs and melody for a beat and rap-like cadences.


    I don’t know. To my ears, it still sounds like a regression from the songwriting and vocals even as recently as five years ago.

    I’m giving this a C.

  6. I don’t entirely disagree with you, Noah. However, I would give the songwriters more credit than you do. Clawson has written some decent songs and Laird and McAnally have written some good songs together withle they’ve both written good songs apart from each other. Laird contributed to 6 songs from the Musgraves album and McNally contributed to 8, including “Follow Your Arrow. Just from my iTunes library, McAnally has contributed to some very good songs, including from Reba, Brandy Clark, Miranda Lambert, Sheryl Crow, LeAnn Rimes, Dierks Bently, David Nail, Chris Young, The Band Perry, Ashton Shepherd and Ashley Monroe.

  7. Lyrically it’s pretty much fluff. The best I can say about that is that it’s a little different than your average clichéd, laundry-list song, but that’s still all it is – a cliche, laundry-list song.

    But that said, I love the production. I love the sound of the “growin up in little pink houses/makin out on living room couches” hook. If this is what his new album sounds like, I’ll be thrilled. If the genre is going to incorporate such a rhythmic emphasis, I wish they would at least do it acoustically like Kenny does here.

    So definitely not a great song, probably not even a good one. But man does it sound good.

  8. Okay, to clarify my earlier response, I recognize that each of them have produced their share of decent offerings as well. You indeed cited some of them directly.

    However, all three of them have also contributed heavily to the bro-country industrial complex and have penned some utterly disposable at best, insufferable at worst material as well. They are frustratingly bi-polar creatively. One moment you’ll get something like “Last Call”, “Neon” or “Stripes”, and the next you’ll get “Party People”, “Take It Out On Me” and “Call Me Up”.

    I don’t know why they feel inclined to pander to that listening demographic when they already enormously successful in their own right on the songwriting circuit. So my point is, I can fully acknowledge the fact all three have legitimate talent as both lyricists and technical songwriters. My earlier contention is the fact they are greatly responsible for encouraging and feeding the bro-country cliche machine.

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