Many moons ago, I put in lots of hours doing all kinds of bullshit at an auto parts store. The main thing I took away from that job, however, had nothing to do with auto parts and everything to do with the new country (or as I like to call it, nu country) station that I had the displeasure/pleasure of listening to all day long. Some of these songs I heard back then, some I’ve heard in the years since, but all of them have provided me with lifelong lessons I won’t soon forget. Without further ado, let's dive right into some of my favorites!
1. You’re not allowed to break up with rednecks.
The entire video for Tyler Farr’s “Redneck Crazy” really drives this point embarrassingly home, as if the lyrics themselves didn’t already. A snippet:
Absolutely nothing about what this idiot is doing should be viewed as romantic and/or funny and/or excusable in any way. This man is stalking his ex and she needs to call the police immediately. Sadly enough, of the three reviews that are quoted on the song’s Wikipedia page, the only one that calls the protagonist’s motives into question is, surprise surprise, written by a woman.
Bonus video appearances by Colt Ford, Lee Brice (who taught me the next lesson!) and Duckfucker Willie Robertson to make this whole thing even worse for no tangible reason.
2. Men don’t know how to use bank accounts.
Lee Brice’s “Woman Like You” is one of my favorite nu country songs for a number of reasons, but high on the list is the incredibly stupid gender stereotypes the incredibly stupid lyrics perpetuate. To sum it up, the song is an ode to his girlfriend or wife or whatever, without whom he would do a number of things that apparently he’s better off not doing. The best/worst one of these is referenced in the lesson I’ve pointed out, which is expressed in the following verse:
So, in addition to not knowing how to use bank accounts, men also can’t play pool, bass, poker, or ride dirt bikes unless they’re single. Let’s not even get into the throw pillows. And there’s even more nonsense in the rest of the song! But the “cash in a coffee can” part is, by far, the best.
3. Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can surely buy you a boat.
Some truths, such as the one taught by Chris Janson’s “Buy Me A Boat”, are self-evident.
4. A surprising amount of people don’t find the concept of taking Jesus out for a drink weird or even remotely blasphemous.
By surprising amount, I mean any at all. Don’t get me wrong, plenty of country fans find Thomas Rhett’s “Beer With Jesus” offensive and/or stupid and/or pandering. The best remark comes from my dude at Saving Country Music; he really doesn’t care for all the douchebags who have infiltrated modern country and turned it into nu country. About this tune, he has to say, “I don’t pretend to know what Jesus would do, but if I were him, I’d shove my sandal straight up Thomas Rhett’s ass and tell him he could keep his Michelob Ultra.” But a quick scan of the YouTube comments demonstrates how many people find this song moving, touching, etc. etc. But it’s not just the lowest common denominator of humanity that gives this song a pass; the Critical Reception section of this song’s Wikipedia page quotes 3 relatively positive reviews of the track.
I’m not even a Christian and I find this shit blasphemous.
5. People all across the country enjoy country music.
The lesson learned in Brantley Gilbert’s “Country Must Be Country Wide” might be my favorite of them all because it’s so simple, yet so true. In one plain statement (the one that lends itself to the name of the song, of course) – “Country must be country wide” – nu country’s resident rocker captures the ineffable essence of nu country music’s ability to spread with even greater fluidity than ever before, beyond the South as well as between different groups of people – heck, there’s even a black person in this video! Country must be country wide – is it also color blind? Enquiring minds need to know, Brantley!
6. The concept of eating crow is poorly understood.
In The Band Perry’s “You Lie”, she sings, “I never liked the taste of crow but baby I ate it”. I discovered that this line was blurted out by her father while they were trying to write the song together, a sort of divinely inspired moment, if you will. It was clearly so appealing to them because of how it sounded in the verse, and not what it actually means, because NOBODY LIKES THE TASTE OF CROW. You’re not supposed to; it’s fucking humiliating.
7. So is the concept of a homebody.
In another stunning example of linguistic misunderstanding, Sam Hunt’s mind-numbingly boring hand-clapper “House Party” coasts on the chorus, “If you wanna be a homebody, we’re gonna have a house party”. Although the lyrics do appear to be about the two of them hanging out at her home together instead of going out, in the video he actually brings a party to her house. I suppose these guests are supposed to be visually symbolic of how much fun they’ll have at home, but to me it presents more of a confusing understanding of a homebody, as I associate that expression with quietness and gentleness rather than boisterous, neighbor-startling parties. It boils down to a word being utilized for how it sonically fits into the rhyme of the song without proper consideration for its connotation and other variable elements. And that fucking sucks.
And that’s a wrap! These songs were all released between 2010-2015, and they represent an astonishingly small cross-section of the many, many lessons nu country has to offer us. A well-known fact about sixth-generation country is that most songs are written by multiple people. Somehow, this is making them even worse than ever before – but also kind of better, if you like reading what jerks like me have to say about them! Stay tuned – it’s likely there will be more lessons to come. I may no longer work full-time at the auto parts store, but my masochistic love of nu country will never die.