2011 In Review: Singles I Would Rather Forget

19 Dec

It would be extrememly redundant if I were to mourn over what a weak year 2011 has been for country music, but really, let’s face it.  Country music just doesn’t get “good years” anymore these days, at least not from a mainstream perspective.  Periodically we are treated to a something genuinely great that offers a glimmer of hope for the genre’s future – Last year it was “The House That Built Me”; this year it was “Cost of Livin’.”  But even then, we still have an enormous amount of duds foisted upon us at the same time.

The following is a candid list of 2011 single releases that, as far as I’m concerned, unequivocally missed the mark.  I will indulge in one last breath of biting sarcasm, and afterwards I shall never speak of these songs again.  I don’t care at all if the songs were big hits or not – They’re being judged solely on the basis of how badly they make my skin crawl.

Trace Adkins, “Brown Chicken Brown Cow”

A heaping helping of distasteful over-the-top sexual imagery built around a corny pun that grows more intolerable with each chorus.  When I first heard this, I thought surely this would be the worst country single of 2011.  At any rate, not playing this song was one of the few things that country radio got right in 2011.

Aaron Lewis, “Country Boy”

A rocker-gone-country du jour sets out to prove his country cred by coughing up every rehashed country cliché in the book.

Eric Church, “Homeboy”

An annoying title pun and a few slight tinges of rascism fail to disguise this dud as anything other than just another throwaway tune about how country life trumps city life.

Sugarland, “Tonight”

There were two good songs on Sugarland’s largely atrocious album The Incredible MachineOnly two good songs.  After they were both sent to radio, it figures that the inevitable third single would sum up everything that’s gone wrong with Sugarland’s music lately.  The lyrics make no sense.  The production is bloated and tasteless.   Worst of all, the typically stellar Jennifer Nettles turns in one of her weakest performances to date.

Jake Owen, “Barefoot Blue Jean Night”

With inspid lyrics set against an arrangement that sounds like bad eighties pop music, “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” plays like a big heap of almost everything I hate about stale mainstream country music all wrapped up in one package.

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

Lyrics?  Dumber than dumber than dumb.  Bryan’s playful vocal almost saves this from being a complete dud.  Almost.  But not quite.

Brantley Gilbert, “Country Must Be Country Wide”

“In every state, there’s a station…” playing crappy country pride anthems that shamelessly namedrop legends in a vain attempt to compensate for their own utter lack of artistic merits.

Jason Aldean, “Dirt Road Anthem”

This gets a nomination for Song of the Year?  I don’t get it.  What unique and amazing qualities does this song possess that deem it worthy to compete against the work of Matraca Berg and Deana Carter?  Because it’s the first song in forever to crow about dirt roads and cold beer?  Because it’s so revolutionary to namedrop George Jones?  Way to knock your credibility, CMA.

Gloriana, “Wanna Take You Home”

This song is like air to me.  I get nothing out of it whatsoever.  It starts by rhyming “girl” with “rock my world”… and then it’s all downhill from there.  What more is there to say?

Kristin Chenoweth, “I Want Somebody (Bitch About)”

Hey!  Yeah you!  Y’all better listen up!  Uh-huh!  O-kay!  She’s a Broadway star – It’s not like she’s never sung before.  So how on earth does she turn in a performance so awful?  Never mind that the song itself was pretty much a turd to begin with.  Every now and then, I might get the lurge to listen to this song just to chuckle at how amazingly bad it is, but even then, I rarely stay with it past the first chorus.  When I first heard this, I though surely this must be the worst country single of 2011.

The JaneDear Girls, “Merry Go Round”

Oh, my ears.  Oh, my ears!  I’m so sorry, but these girls are total vocal hacks, and smothering them in auto-tune only makes it worse.  It just blows my mind that a major Nashville label is throwing their support behind such godawful music.  Sorry, Adkins and Chenoweth, we have a winner.  This is undoubtedly the worst country single of 2011.

Martina McBride, “I’m Gonna Love You Through It”

Just in case you didn’t hear her, she said “I’M GONNA LOVE YOU THROUGH IIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTT!!!!!”

Justin Moore, “Bait a Hook”

This whole “country-good-city-bad” shtick wore out its calling card a long, long, LONG time ago.  Why, oh why, do country music’s frat boys insist on selling us the same unintelligent one-dimensional character over and over again?  Or perhaps the better questions is why are people still buying it?  I hate to wax philosophical here, but isn’t it just so sad that this is what country music has come to?  Drivel like this undermines the overall credibility of the country genre, disrespects its rich history and heritage, and gives genre outsiders one more reason to be instantly dismissive of country music in general.  If I didn’t already love country music, songs like this would probably make me hate it.

Brad Paisley, “Camouflage”

Yet another sign that Paisley’s creative batteries are begging for a recharge.

Lady Antebellum, “We Owned the Night”

Glorified elevator music.  But, to keep it in perspective, the rest of the album was even worse.

Well, there you have it.  I’ve had my say, so now it’s your turn.  What were your least favorite singles of 2011?


Posted by on December 19, 2011 in Year In Review


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14 responses to “2011 In Review: Singles I Would Rather Forget

  1. Aaron

    December 19, 2011 at 3:07 AM

    Nice list. Although our opinions differ about the Luke Bryan song…I ranked it inside my top 10 of songs this year haha but that song is one that many people either love or hate…theres no medium there.

    • Ben Foster

      December 19, 2011 at 3:10 AM

      I’ve actually softened toward it a bit since I first heard it – just not quite enough for it to escape The List😉

  2. Jake

    December 19, 2011 at 3:22 AM

    I am so happy to see you wrote this because I was feeling the exact same way about these songs and thought I was alone till now! Seriously “Bait A Hook” has annoyed me ever since I heard it on radio and I couldn’t figure out why until I realized that I have heard the song often for the past six years just in different forms with different artists but the same old type of lyrics. The ironic thing about a lot of the country songs talking about how they are SOOO country is that the production of the music would make you think that it’s rock music!

  3. Hoggy from Oz

    December 19, 2011 at 6:35 AM

    I like “Camouflage”. I think it’s pretty tongue in cheek. I just think the chorus gets annoying. However, I do think Paisley’s novelty songs, which he does lean on a lot, aren’t quite as funny or interesting as they used to be.

    I’d swap out Camouflage for Luke Bryan’s “I Don’t Want This Night to End”. There are probably more to add, but thankfully, I can’t remember them:)

    Great list of crappy songs.

  4. bulbul

    December 19, 2011 at 10:52 AM

    I think you got them all. To me, “Country Must Be Country Wide” is the worst offender, largely due to the title, which literally boggles the mind. Every time the song comes on the radio, half of my brain just can’t deal with the title and wants to figure out what it means and it’s all the other half – presumably the smarter one – can do to stop it. Luckily, my fingers always come to the rescue and switch the channel just before they are compelled to scratch my eyes out.
    “We Owned the Night” actually isn’t that bad. Not going on my ‘Best of 2011’ list and I will survive should I never hear it again, but even if it was trite, it wasn’t that bad and that mandoline riff at the start had something to it. Now “The Trouble With Girls”, that’s a fine example of ‘glorified elevator music’…

  5. The Confessor

    December 19, 2011 at 5:03 PM

    Despite my distaste for the “Shake ‘dat Country Ass” sub-genre in general, Luke Bryan’s vocal on Country Girl redeems the song for me, such that I usually keep it playing when it comes on the radio. I especially adore his chromatic scale-sounding vocal run on the bridge: “I’ll I wanna do is get to knowing you, and get to holding you…”

    I’ve had the good fortune not to have ever heard in full most of the songs on your list, the inescapable Dirt Road Anthem being the exception. There’s a particular rhyming couplet in one of the “raps” that drove me absolutely batty whenever I heard it: “I know something y’all don’t know | Man that talk is gettin’ old.” The rapping, and that verse in particular, certainly did not become more bearable with repeated listens.

    Little Big Town’s take on the R&B song Price Tag, including a surprisingly competent rap by Phillip Sweet, is a useful antidote. It’s a cover of a decidedly non-Country song, with neither a “y’all” nor a “George Jones” call-out to be found, but it still manages to be far more authentic an experience than Aldean’s Anthem… particularly because LBT’s generosity in working up and recording this and other single-take performances for their fans with no direct compensation well embodies the spirit of its lyrics.

    I’ve mentioned my disgust with Eli Young Band’s condescending Crazy Girl, either here or on Country Universe. That song might have found a place on my year’s worst list, but it would be more a function of how much I dislike that song multiplied by how often I heard it this past year than of the (de)merits of the song itself… so I’ll mention instead their completely unnecessary cover of the Paul McCartney/Wings classic Wonderful Christmastime.

    • Ben Foster

      December 20, 2011 at 7:40 PM

      “Crazy Girl” struck me as being not so much flat-out awful as simply misguided. Fortunately, their new single “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” is good enough to redeem them.

  6. Occasional Hope

    December 19, 2011 at 6:32 PM

    Yes, these are all awful songs.

    I find it hard to believe, but some people actually bought the Jane Dear Girls’ album.

  7. bob

    December 20, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    If I disagreed with you on any of these songs, I wouldn’t be able to pass the red face test. Tough but fair list. Right now, I can’t think of any real bad song that you missed.

  8. Dan

    December 22, 2011 at 2:49 AM

    Very glad to see “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” on here! Boy, does that song grate on my ears. Brantley Gilbert and Justin Moore aren’t much better though. Nice list!

  9. DC

    December 22, 2011 at 6:51 PM

    Every single one of these singles has earned its place on this list. On my list, I would also add Toby Keith’s “Red Solo Cup.” One of the worst songs I have ever heard, country or otherwise.

  10. Will

    December 31, 2011 at 3:06 AM

    I still like “Homeboy” I don’t sense any racism in the lyrics, and people don’t really understand the message, that “Country Girl,” “I’m Gonna Love You Though It,” “We Owned The Night,” and “Dirt Road Anthem,” and add “Without You,” “Old Alabama,” “Take A Back Road,” and “I Love You This Big.”

  11. rowdyred

    January 24, 2012 at 5:18 PM

    Will: my biggest problem with “Homeboy” is what’s also wrong with “Bait A Hook,” “Dirt Road Anthem,” 2010’s “Way Out Here” and pretty much most of these guys’ output and 75% of Montgomery Gentry’s single catalog: the very ugly attitude of the singer toward “cityfolks” and city life. As Ben stated, this is a major turnoff to people who get country music’s universal appeal no matter where they’re from. I was born in Chicago with a father from Nashville and come by country music honestly, but damn, I hate being told the world I occupied for 80% of my life is enemy territory. What’s up with that??? Do I have to turn in my country-music-lover’s license?

    From my personal viewpoint, the three worst songs of the year are Homeboy, Bait A Hook and Dirt Road Anthem, in any order. The rest are pretty harmless in their cliches or mediocrity, but the attitude demonstrated by those songs is self-fulfilling. To me the Golden Rule works in pretty much every situation. Conversely, if you want to be perceived as an ignorant, unpromising yokel, this is a sure way to do it. I truly long for the day this trend gets old.

  12. Darren MacDougall

    January 30, 2012 at 1:58 AM

    Dirt Road Anthem is definitely my worst song , regardless of genre, for 2011. Country Must Be Country Wide would probably be second. In fact, I first discovered this site after hearing Brantley’s debut hit for the first time. I heard it on the way to work. I sat down in the office with a heavy sigh and thought, “Surely someone else thinks the same as I do about this trash!” I read several of your reviews that mroning and have been in almost complete agreement with the majority of them.


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