Category Archives: Bro Country

From Check List Songs to Bro-Country

There has been a lot of criticism in the past few years regarding “bro-country.” There are many offenders out there, from Luke Bryan to Florida Georgia Line, but it has a history that goes beyond these modern day artists. It has evolved into something that country music fans and non-fans love to hate on.

This type of song used to be called a checklist or laundry list song. Basically the premise was that writers had a list of “country-isms” (think girls, trucks, beer, the south, dirt roads, etc.) that were supposed to be included in each song in order for it to be successful. It wasn’t until 2013 when Jody Rosen published an article in New York magazine that the official name changed to bro-country. This music has been around for awhile, but seems to have escalated in the past few years with tattoos and hip shaking.

Even though David Allan Coe is far from bro, his song in 1977 called “If That Ain’t Country” can be argued to have been “the first true laundry list country song that started the whole trend.” But unlike modern day check list songs,  his is actually autobiographical. Fast forward 36 years to 2013 and it seems that the trend exploded so that every country song sounded the same. People were questioning what country music had turned into so they made it worse by listing things they considered to be country.

This brings us to present day 2015 where people have now started to make fun of all these bro country songs. Maddie and Tae addressed the role of woman with their song “Girl in a Country Song” and now Bob Odenkirk and David Cross have gone all out in their parody called “All I Need.” This is the ultimate check list song that is quite entertaining and on point. They are just simple guys who are fine with “a case of miller or bud…rack of ribs, and a pack of chew.” The music video features some stereotypical scenes and the lady writing it all down on her grocery list tops it off. Take a look.

With the Billy Ray Cyrus hair, dog tags, and creepy mustache, this duo hits on all of the criticisms of bro-country. They even threw in a little rapping to spice it up. You can check out their comedy show on Netflix for some more entertainment from these two.

Personally, I enjoy a little party song every once in a while, but when it starts to change the sound and views of country music I draw the line. Maybe some of these artists need to rethink their choice of genre and make the transition to pop. Some would go as far to say that this is the end of an era. Alan Jackson said that “real roots-y traditional stuff, may be gone…There’s some good music, good songwriting and good artists out there, but there’s really no country stuff left.” It is sad to think that is true, but I am still keeping hope considering Chris Stapleton has entered into the mix.


Filed under Bro Country

Why Country Music Fans Can’t Stop Listening to the “Same Old Song”

Brantley Gilbert has never been known for the depth of his lyrics in his songs. As a disciple of the “bro country” fad which has seemingly dominated Nashville for the past couple years, most of Gilbert’s songs convey a pretty similar message about tailgates, tan lines and moonshine. I use the word “most,” however, as one of his more recent songs containing some of the same stereotypical ideas of “bro country,” takes on a completely different message. Everyone knows Brantley Gilbert for his hits such as “Bottoms Up” and his more recent “Hell of an Amen,” but not many have heard the less popular song off of his new album, “Same Old Song.” While “Same Old Song” has all the bro country components of bonfires, whiskey and tailgates, the meaning behind the song is stronger than one might think. In the song, Gilbert argues that although these subjects may be cliché by now, it’s what he knows and it’s what he grew up on: “I hear there’s folks/Tired of us talking about dirt roads/Tailgates, tan lines and corn rows/ It sounds made up but that’s the life I know.”

Most country songs being released from Nashville these days all contain the same content, and Gilbert acknowledges this, but he retorts by saying that although it may seem made up, it’s what he was surrounded by growing up in Georgia and its part of the culture many country artists hail from. Undoubtedly, Brantley Gilbert blows the situation way out of proportion, essentially stating that bonfires, whiskey and tailgates completely dominate every southerner’s experience, but at the heart of the song, his message rings true.

Growing up in a rural area, as many Americans across the nation do, “Moonlight, bonfires/Seein’ all the stars on a summer night” are very real and common experiences. It’s something many listeners can relate to, and that’s why it has become such a staple. While nobody wants the country music industry to transform in to a genre of homogeneous music all based on the same five or six concepts, subjects such as bonfires and a night sky full of stars have become country music staples for a reason. At the end of the day, country music is about relatability and American culture. Just like Brantley argues, country music can be criticized for being repetitive, but it’s repetitive because the ideas expressed in many country songs are based on experiences that thousands of Americans are familiar with, and which have become a source of pride for many. Nashville is undoubtedly becoming too unoriginal in the ideas that it portrays in its songs, no matter the artist, but who can blame the industry for releasing music based on what most listeners know and treasure? The reign of bro country might finally be coming to an end in the country music genre, and for all of its faults and lack of depth, the relatable lyrics and catchy tunes will keep many of us “sangin’ that same old song” for a little while longer.


Filed under Blog Post 2, Bro Country

Brad Paisley’s Free Concert was Priceless

IMG_4766 (2)“FREE” is quite possibly the most important word in a college student’s vocabulary, so when Brad Paisley announced he was packing up his plethora of guitars and heading cross country on a FREE college tour, I’m pretty sure the cheers of coed country fans could be heard for miles. Naturally, I was logged on to my computer at 12:01 AM on August 26 to claim my spot among the 8,400 local Austin fans who would be crammed into the parking lot of UT’s baseball field on September 10 to watch one of country music’s biggest stars. When they opened the gates, my three friends and I booked it across the lot and somehow, unbelievably, managed to secure a spot at the front of the stage not three feet away from the mic. I knew then that it would be an amazing night!

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Pat Green rocking Texas Country before Brad takes the stage

Since we are in Texas it would have been sacrilegious if Brad hadn’t paid homage to our very own genre of Texas country, so it was appropriate that his opening act was none other than his old friend and Texas Country all-star Pat Green. Pat has been active on the Texas Country scene since 1995, and he hasn’t slowed down since. His song “Home” reached 5th on the country music charts when it was released this year. Pat is loved across the country, but he is especially revered at home in Texas. I mean, how could he not be with songs like “I Like Texas” and “Girls from Texas”? He certainly knows how to work the home-court advantage!

As Pat Green closed his set with “Wave on Wave”, Paisley warmed up backstage along with the Texas cheerleaders, UT’s mascot Hook’em, and his (by my count) eight guitars! At 8:40 he took the stage and his fans went wild as he opened with his hits “Crushin’ it” and “Mud on the Tires”. Donning a Texas Football t-shirt, he worked the crowd and made everyone cheer as he threw up his horns.

brad concert hookem

Brad throwing up his horns about 3 feet away from me!

Nothing could put a damper on his performance, not even the 100% chance of rain that fell as he fittingly performed “Perfect Storm” and “Water”. It seemed as though the night could not get any better…but then Brad played a familiar tune on his guitar as he was joined on stage by Hook’em, and together they led the crowd of students in the most epic performance of “The Eyes of Texas” that I have ever witnessed.

From the quirky videos playing behind him on the big screen to his PAISLEY guitars (gotta love a man who embraces real-life puns), Brad put on an unforgettable show! I’m pretty sure the crowd could be heard all the way across campus as every soul at that concert screamed the lyrics to his closing number “River Bank”. I know I certainly had too much fun shouting the line “take a…LIME AND SUCK IT”.

While having a free tour geared toward college students might seem like an odd choice for a veteran artist like Brad Paisley, it was actually a pretty smart career move. With songs like “Alcohol”, “Crushin’ It”, and “Online”, Brad’s quirky sense of humor and social commentary are the perfect tools to reel in a population of young, college-aged fans. The cherry on top is his love for college football which inspired him to launch his tour at the start of the fall semester. His new single “Country Nation” is his theme song for the tour; it names dozens of college mascots, but focuses on how even though we might wear different colors on game day we are still united through country music. With its quasi-patriotic sound, it really is the perfect anthem to bring students together, and it certainly didn’t hurt that it expanded Brad’s fan base in the process.

“We’re Mountaineers, we’re Volunteers/We’re the Tide that rolls, we’re Seminoles/We’re a heard of Longhorn steer…On two thousand country stations/Yeah we’re one big country nation that’s right”

In spite of the criticism Brad faces as he veers more toward the bro-country style, I’m not ashamed to say that I fan-girled the entire night, and my heart skipped a beat when he performed a guitar solo an arm’s length away from me. This was definitely one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended and it was a perfect start to the new school year. So thank you, Brad, for the FREE concert and for just being you. You were certainly Crushin’ It on that stage all night long!

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Yes, Brad Paisley was inches away from my camera lens


Filed under Austin, Blog Post 2, Bro Country, Concert, Country Rock, Texas

Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time”: A Music Video Review

sam-hunt-instagramDebuting his first full-length studio album Montevallo in late 2014, Sam Hunt is fairly new to the country music scene. Upon first listening, I found him to be fairly similar to the rest of the up and coming bro-country singers; he didn’t appear to have an incredibly distinct sound or look (though I can’t deny that he’s completely gorgeous), and his lyrics seemed to discuss nothing more than beautiful women. This was also my first impression of his song “Take Your Time” (2015)—I thought it was simply about trying to pick up a girl in a bar. However, after watching the music video for this song, I now have a deeper understanding of the song itself and a heightened respect for Sam Hunt as an artist.

The “Take Your Time” video is a completely unexpected presentation of the song as it tackles the difficult and raw topic of domestic violence. The video starts off happily by showing a woman, her husband/boyfriend, and their baby shopping together and enjoying kisses on the forehead. However, the story quickly turns dark as the man’s alcoholic tendencies and anger issues are exposed. Sam, watching these events unfold as a bystander, tries to find the best way to intervene. At the end of the video, he finally fights the man off while the woman and her baby escape in a beaten up pickup truck.

Sam’s lyrics “I don’t wanna steal your freedom / I don’t wanna change your mind / I don’t have to make you love me / I just wanna take your time” discusses his hesitancy in intervening in what appears to be an unsafe and troubling relationship. Sam is put in a difficult position as he struggles to find the courage to trust his instincts and take action. He isn’t trying to get the girl to fall for him, but instead is truly concerned about her well-being and wants her to “take [the] time” to get help.

I am completely impressed with Sam’s use of this video to promote social change and make a statement about something so real and under-discussed. Bringing issues to light is one of the first steps in creating change, and this song is the perfect example of how musicians possess the power to fight for causes that they care about. I’m excited to see where the rest of Sam’s career takes him, and am hopeful that he will continue to use his talent and passion to make a difference—ultimately encouraging others to follow in his footsteps.


Filed under Blog Post 2, Bro Country, Music Videos, Reviews, Song Analysis

Eric Church’s The Outsiders Tour

About a month ago, a few of my closest friends and I braved the chilly rainy Austin weather and headed to the Frank Erwin Center to attend the Eric Church Outsiders Tour. After hearing from Dusty that I could get tickets for ten dollars as a UT student, there was no way I was going to pass up this concert. Having seen many country music concerts in the past, I knew I was in for a treat.

Eric-Church-Outsiders-World-TourBefore the concert, I had occasionally heard the name Eric Church but barely knew much about him or his music. I was familiar with a few of his hit songs like “Springsteen” and “Talladega” that are constantly played on country radio, but never really thought of him as a top performing country artist. That being said, going into this concert, I had no idea what to expect from him or his songs.

Dawning our best “country” clothes, cowboy boots and all, my friends and I waited anxiously for Eric Church to start playing. We got there early enough to (unfortunately) catch the opening band, Drive-By Truckers. These guys were definitely an interesting choice for a country concert opener. They were a heavy rock band that seemed to yell more than sing, making it extremely difficult to understand what they were even saying. It’s safe to say that most everyone in the arena was relieved when they finished their set.

However, the wait was worth it when Eric Church finally walked casually onto the stage wearing his signature aviator sunglasses, plain t-shirt, and baseball cap. He immediately got the crowd pumped up by shouting things like “Hook ‘em Horns” and anything else related to the great city of Austin. I was amazed at how relaxed and normal he looked and sounded. He had such energy and charisma it was hard not to completely immerse yourself in the experience. I was completely taken off guard when he announced that he was going to be playing whatever he wanted to, with no set list. He pumped up the crowd by telling us that there was no set time limit to how long he would play and that “he would stay there all night”. He wanted everyone to simply enjoy themselves and the music he was about to play. This was so cool to me because it seemed like nothing was going to stop him from having fun and performing the way he wanted to. Nowadays, most huge concerts like his are carefully scripted and arranged a certain way, but Eric Church made it clear that this was not going to be a cookie cutter performance.

Florida Country Superfest  Inaugural Season Day 1The crowd’s excitement rose as he jammed to popular songs such as “Drink In My Hand”, “Smoke a Little Smoke”, “Give Me Back My Hometown”, and “Homeboy”, making each performance special and important. His audience interaction was more than I could’ve hoped for. From signing a woman’s rhinestoned boots that were thrown to him onstage to talking to the audience like we were his best friends, he took the time to make every single person there feel included in the experience. Stories about his little boy and home life moved the show along in between more top hits like “Springsteen”, “Creepin’” and “Cold One”. My friends and I stood up out of our seats the entire show, dancing and singing along even to the songs we didn’t know. During one song there was a huge inflatable monster looking thing that randomly popped up in the middle of the crowd. The whole show up to this point had gone on with little effects, making it a very raw and natural performance. To me, it was an unnecessary effect that took away from the simplicity of the concert, but nevertheless entertaining.

Eric-Church-on-ACL-350x350Eric Church’s concert was unlike any other performance of a male country artist. It wasn’t staged or scripted. There was no glitz or tons of special effects. He wasn’t trying to sell himself or his music. It was simple yet extremely engaging and memorable. This was the most natural performance from a rising star I have ever seen and for that I really admire him. He definitely took me by surprise throughout the show and forced me to completely change my view of him. Now I definitely see Eric Church for the talented singer he is and have since become a bigger fan of his than I think I ever thought I would be. By his last encore, I was so thrilled that my otherwise ordinary and boring Wednesday night had turned into a memorable concert experience shared with my good friends. To anyone who loves Eric Church or doesn’t know a thing about him, I would highly recommend seeing him in concert for an exhilarating and memorable experience.

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Filed under Austin, Bro Country, Live Music, Reflection, Reviews