Brad Paisley, "This Is Country Music"

The 44th Annual CMA Awards turned out to be the night of Brad Paisley’s career. Not only did the superstar claim his first Entertainer of the Year trophy, but he also introduced his latest single, “This Is Country Music,” during the awards telecast. Does Brad have an artistic hit on his hands or is it yet another addition to his long list of novelty singles?

I want to like this song, I really do, because it has all the ingredients for a song that I should like. First off it’s performed by one of my all-time favorite artists who has rarely missed the mark in his career (though “Ticks” and “Online” were major misses) when it comes to song choices. On “This Is Country Music,” Brad delivers one of the most solid vocal performances of his career which includes an attempt at showing off his upper vocal range during the chorus (though he falls a bit flat).

Another thing the song has going for it is its brilliant production. The song begins with a fantastic banjo, fiddle, acoustic and steel guitar introduction that alone encompasses all the elements that make the song country. Once the song reaches the second verse, the song turns into a typical Paisley song as his electric guitar skills take over, but never does the production stray away from the original introduction. The production alone easily fulfills the song’s title which is why it should’ve just been an instrumental piece. Unfortunately, Brad added lyrics to the song which turns it into a bit of a mess.

Turns out country music is nothing but artists singing about cliches and stereotypes that surround the genre which range from singing about tractors and little towns to “telling folks Jesus is the answer.” To ensure that nearly every cliche is thrown in, Brad also delivers lines about supporting the “ol’ red, white, and blue” as well as singing about having a “cold one on the weekend.” I understand what Brad is trying to do with the song (tell the world how awesome country music is), but including titles of country classics like “Hello Darlin’,” “Mama Tried,” “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” and “Stand By Your Man” isn’t the way to do that. After listening to the song, I’m always left thinking about what the song could’ve been had the lyrics been totally different.

This will undoubtedly be another smash for Brad. However, it’s unfortunate that an artist of his caliber isn’t living up to the artist potential that he’s shown on songs like “Whiskey Lullaby” and “Welcome to the Future.” Let’s hope this is just a small bump in the road for the reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year.

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