Welcome to The Singles Bar, a review series focused on new single and song releases.
You ever have those days when you’ve just gotta express your disdain for popular music or you might explode? Well, why not take a “cheap” shot at the most commercially-successful pop-country duo working today. Florida Georgia Line have built their entire careers on frivolous, beer-swigging escapism ⎯⎯ it’s like if Alan Jackson went way down yonder on the Chattahoochee and just never f***ing left. After 2014’s “Dirt,” which showed great promise in reintroducing a bit of levity to the mainstream, they doubled-down on the icky bro nonsense. In “Sun Daze “(literally the follow-up single), they promised to “stick the pink umbrella in your drink.” If you need clarification that they just don’t get it, come @ me, and I’ll break it down for ya.
More singles followed, and their third era took off nearly two summers ago. From ’90s-pop ballad “H.O.L.Y.” to Backstreet Boy-featuring “God, Your Mama, & Me” to “May We All” (with Tim McGraw, of all people) to “Smooth,” they’ve done their damage. And now, they set their sights on passing the flame. Newcomer Morgan Wallen, whose 2016 debut EP, The Way I Talk, is a smooth AC-leaning listen, ramps up the chest-bumping with “Up Down,” which is about as silly as you can surmise on title alone. And it’s now a bonafide Top 30 radio hit.
Let’s dissect some of the lyrics, yeah?
“Was Friday after five, I got here just in time / Went ahead and wet a line ‘fore I went and lost my mind,” Wallen sets the stage, painting your stereotypically-picturesque stretch of red-dirt middle America. “And I ain’t been here long, but the bobbers in the pond going up down, up, down, up, down.” There’s your chorus, folks: hook, line and sink. Ba dum tss.
Then comes the obligatory cultural reference. “We just holding it down here in BFE / Still rolling around with a burnt CD / Free Bird, five minutes deep,” he sings. The sleek sing-along gives Wallen very little to hold onto, presenting his voice as jarringly paper thin. And just because you drop “Free Bird” doesn’t make you some hipster ⎯⎯ it makes you basic.
“Tonight, we’re gonna raise a whole lot more than Cain / ‘Cause there’s money in the bank and tomorrow’s Saturday,” the hook spins, motionless and trivial. Also, what is this, Sesame Street? Saturday does usually follow Friday, if I’m not mistaken. The babble continues. “So, if they pass that fifth of Jack this way, I turn it up, down, up, down, up, down…”
Things only get worse once Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley vomit on the record. “The girls, they hit the spot, get hotter when it’s hot / If you can’t buy her a yacht, but still proud of what you got,” they pontificate, boiling down women’s desires to monetary gains, as if they couldn’t possibly be smarter than that or wanting something real, “’cause when the day’s done, rednecks from the sun / Going up, down, up, down, up, down.”
Milquetoast at best. Laughable at worst.
Grade: 0.5 out of 5
Listen below, if you dare: