Thompson Square—”I Got You”
Another sign that the most powerful outside influence on country is no longer the Eagles, or even Fleetwood Mac, but Tom Petty. The Hammond organ is the giveaway, along with the occasional elegiac sustained chord sequence. The lyrics, however, are pure cliché (unlike Petty, who’s only banal), and, as usual for modern country, the guitars are way too loud.
Pistol Annies—”Heel On Heels”
The red dirt slide guitar intro is great, and on first hearing I couldn’t imagine any country artist who could rise to its promise. Even though this is far better than average, I still can’t. The lyrics are wonderful—the devil made them smart and they have your credit card to boot—and I like that Miranda Lambert makes no attempt to upstage her colleagues. But this is still a little stiff, and the clapping on the last chorus is a mistake: I think it’s intended to demonstrate feminine solidarity, even in the pursuit of evil, but all it does is soften the sound and atmosphere. They should have tried it with just that ghostly, menacing guitar.
The Wailers-style harmonies leading into the chorus is one of the funniest moments to grace a pop record this year, and overall this pulls off a canny mixture of hip-hop and dub that I find fascinating. The lyrics are pleasantly silly throughout, but the association of true love with near-violent sex is bothersome, even if it’s just part of the joke.
Daddy Yankee featuring Prince Royce—”Ven Commigo”
A Latin rap/dance record that really makes me wish I spoke, or at least understood, Spanish. There’s a stretch in the middle where the staccato rhymes, if the words are on a level to match, are something special, and the occasional moments of English are odd enough (“I’m so hood…like Tiger Woods”) that I wish I understood more. It gets repetitive near the end, but before that it changes up nicely, and has an excellent, scene-setting intro. Makes me wish someone would set up a Latin rap translation site (if there already is one, let me know).
Jerrod Nieman—”One More Drinkin’ Song”
Not to be picky, but shouldn’t the singer of a happy-go-lucky drinking song sound like he actually drinks every once in a while? It’s clever in spots, sometimes too clever, but there isn’t a single moment of spontaneity or recklessness in the entire song. It comes off as nothing more than a stiff genre experiment. Nieman’s a talent, but he may be too much of a perfectionist for his own good.