Hello, and welcome to Radio Rants.
Let’s talk about bad music. Bad music, particularly bad pop music, tends to inspire wrath in people. Most people will shrug off a bad movie, book, or video game, but there’s something about bad music that usually gets someone worked up. The same guy who sneers at Twilight once and is done with it turns into Yosemite Sam at “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”, that sort of thing. And yes, I know that I rage at bad music like the best of them.
Then you get a song like “Cruise”.
“Cruise” is the lead single off up and coming country duo Florida Georgia Line’s new album. Who are Florida Georgia Line? Who knows and who cares: “Cruise” paints them as a new group for pandering, artistically dead, in one ear and out the other radio country. It’s the sort of thing that should make me spend the next 500 words ranting about how horrible it is.
But I…can’t. Honestly, I’m too amused by this song to actually hate it.
Don’t get me wrong, “Cruise” isn’t So Bad It’s Good–it’s just Bad. And where “Call Me Maybe” was dumb but too sweet and fun too hate, “Cruise” is too stupid to understand while you’re angry at it. It’s the kind of idiotic song you have to laugh it because you’re too sad to cry.
The song cruises by on one of the more transparent interpretations of the Four Chords of Pop with little to support it. Excluding a few fills, the beat’s basic enough that anyone who’s heard half the song could pick it up, and the obligatory fiddle, banjo, and mandolin add that authentic mass produced Country Sound. “Cruise” even embraces a gloriously forgettable guitar solo halfway through.
The only distinct thing about “Cruise”‘s music is how unsubtle its transitions are. The jump from the verses to the chorus don’t exactly planned as much as they are the duo panicking when they run out of verse. The song runs off a light loud-soft dynamic, where the louds are supposed to be more jarring because of the softs that came before them. But with “Cruise”, the transition to the chorus is only jarring because it sounds like the audio engineer fell asleep for the two seconds it would take to make this graceless transition make sense.
Neither Florida nor Georgia (Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard) bring a lot of charisma or raw vocal talent to the song. Whoever shouts the gratuitous “Hey baby!”, “Aw yeah!”, or other bar band level adlibs is trying to impress, but the production on “Cruise” solders any personality off either one of them. Honestly, the vocals are less Luke Brian and a little more Chad Kroger.
So, wanna hear the lyrics?
“Baby you a song/You make me wanna roll my windows down and cruise” Either he means that literally, or “roll my windows down” is the strangest euphemism I’ve heard recently.
“Down a back road blowin’ stop signs in the middle/ [of, I assume] every little farm town with you/In this brand new Chevy with a lift kit/Would look a hell of a lot better with you up in it” I get trying to daisychain two couplets by using “In”, but it makes the next line make no sense. It’s either a run-on sentence or a tense mishap, but no matter what, it’s an awkward line. And a bad pick-up line.
“When I first saw that bikini top on her/She’s poppin’ right out of the south Georgia water/Thought ‘Oh good Lord, she had them long, tan legs'” Why do I keep reviewing country songs that boil down to “I’m telling you, this chick was hot!”?
“She was sippin’ on Southern/And singing Marshall Tucker/We were falling in love in the sweet heart of summer/She hopped right up into the cab of my truck, and said/’Fire it up, let’s go get this thing stuck'” Y’know, I think this woman might actually be a made up song. There’s too much wish fulfillment for me to think otherwise.
There’s also a bridge where Florida (or maybe it’s Georgia?) sings about taking this woman in his truck, driving out all night, then “strumming a few chords”, and “singing from the heart”. I’d love nothing more than for “Cruise”–which talks about his truck almost as much as it does her–to be that song.
“Cruise” is a gloriously bad song. What sets it apart from bad songs by numbers is that it can’t even comprehend that it could possibly be a bad song. It’s hokey, clumsily written, and essentially about nothing. I suppose it could be seen as charming, but make no mistake–I’m laughing at this one, and not with it; don’t be surprised if “Cruise” makes the Top 10 worst of the year for me. It’s silly as a one off, but I’m banking on Florida Georgia Line cruising into obscurity sooner rather than later.
Thanks for your patience during a slow month at RAM. New content resumes this week!