Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mulch Brothers, "Everybody Loves Summertime"/ Todd O'Neill, "Somethin' with Some Attitude"

We now go back to the summer song file. Let's talk about two more songs that are vying for a spot on your beach party playlist. I'm going to save time by discussing two of them in one review. Both songs are from new artists, and both songs miss the mark completely.

"Everybody Loves Summertime" - Oh, that's genius. When I read the title of the Mulch Brothers debut single, my first thought was, "Oh great, Captain Obvious got a record deal." The song's chorus has an infectious melody, but the production is average. It has a few steel guitar fills and some bold and energetic piano playing, but the country elements are sadly overwhelmed by rock elements. Not surprisingly, the lyrics are pure schlock, gravitating toward pointless references to bikinis, shorts, flip flops, and all that hot summery stuff. Cold beer and margaritas also get a shout-out.

But if you thought "Everybody Loves Summertime" was bad, just wait, because the songs get much worse. Todd O'Neill's current single opens with a catchy acoustic guitar intro, but then the percussion and the rock and roll guitars kick in, and the country flavor quickly evaporates. This party song begins with images of Bud Lights and provocatively-dressed women. He then declares that "This band sucks" - Are you even allowed to say that something "sucks" on country radio? He screams "I don't wanna hear another stupid love song/ About how somebody got done wrong." Sorry, pal, but those kinds of songs are the cornerstones of country music. If you don't like love songs, or songs about people getting done wrong, then stop pretending to be country and shoot for the pop Top 40. Todd says that we "gotta play somethin' with some attitude," and he does indeed seem to have a bit of an attitude. He comes across as a disdainfully proud Southern rocker with no real respect for country music's past. That's not the kind of artist I want to hear on country radio. Todd says "I need to feel a beat that makes we wanna bang my head," and this song sure does make we want to bang my head - against a wall. I now need a Dolly Parton fix in the worst way.

Both of these songs exemplify much of what is wrong with today's country music. There was a time when country music was characterized by deep emotion, storytelling, and lyrical messages, which was what elevated it above other genres of music. But now, country relies on catchy hooks, thumping beats, and fancy production. It's like bubblegum pop with a steel guitar thrown in. If anybody needs me, I will be out in the barn bemoaning the pitiful state of current country music.


(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)