New Country for Old Men: Florida Georgia Line, “Cruise”

Published on August 1st, 2014 in: Music, New Country For Old Men |

By Jeffery X Martin


Country music is all fucked up right now, a hat-wearing mass of contradictions, suffering from multiple personalities, trying to please all the people, all the time, and straying so far from its roots that hearing traditional country on the air anymore is a miracle. Country rap is on the rise, as are guitar riffs and bass lines that would have been giant hits as hair metal songs during the Eighties. It’s hard to even define country anymore, and if you think it is all sad trains and dogs and singlewide trailers and Mama in the rain, you haven’t listened to country in a long time. There are still novelty songs floating around, catchy like West Nile virus, the equivalent of waiting until the rest of the family is in bed before eating that box of donuts on the counter. Now the genre is showing a disturbing amount of culture appropriation, including all the misandry and misogyny found in some rap and R&B music. There’s a lot of shit out there, and finding a jewel among the turds is not an easy task.

And I’m saying this as a fan.

As much as there are terrible things in country music right now that need to be called out, the good songs also need to be recognized and praised. That’s about as close to a mission statement as you’ll get from me, and that’s what this new column is going to strive to do: separate the horrendous stinking crap from the finely crafted good songs and sparkling production Nashville has been known for since . . . well, since Buck Owens started recording in Bakersfield.

I told you country music was full of contradictions.

Let’s start with these guys.

The band is called Florida Georgia Line, and they represent a sub-genre known as “bro-country.” Bro-country is the frat party of country music, all about hot girls, cold beer, and trucks with lift kits. Now, this whole bro-country thing has been going on for decades. Conway Twitty sang about girls with tight fittin’ jeans decades ago, and did it better.

Florida Georgia Line uncomfortably mixes a weak brand of country with obvious Auto-Tune, ending up sounding like what they are: two skinny white guys who want to sound like T-Pain. This is especially obvious in the song, “Cruise,” which may be the textbook bro-country tune, except there’s at least an attempt to talk to the girl in this song instead of just staring at her ass.

“Baby, you a song/You make me wanna roll my windows down/and cruise.” Strange pick-up line, because what he’s really saying is, “I saw you, and you made me want to drive away.”

The singer also says, in his robot voice, that his brand new Chevy with a lift kit “would look a hell of a lot better with you up in it.” Who falls for this? I don’t really want you; I just want to see how you would look in my vehicle. This is the worst kind of come-on attempt, because it is seduction combined with product placement. I’m surprised they don’t name check Trojan condoms or Armor-All leather protectant.

“Cruise” is basically a commercial, specifically naming Chevrolet, Southern Comfort, KC fog lights, and the Marshall Tucker Band. It’s an image they’re building here: the hick playboy, a smoother Joe Buck, hustling his way from hick town to hick town, picking up shallow girls who are overly impressed by shiny things. I’m not sure how country it is, but it is pretty sleazy, regardless of what culture you’re immersed in.

I know there’s a remix of the song featuring Nelly. I admit to not have any interest in hearing it. I’ve never wanted to listen to Nelly, for that matter, which isn’t to say that I haven’t heard a lot of his music. That mash-up makes perfect sense, though, in this Bizarro World of country music, although if you listen closely, you can hear the corpse of George Jones spinning like a turbine in his grave.

“Cruise” is a strange mixture of styles, and it doesn’t completely work. A really thick Southern accent pumped through Auto-Tune comes real close to hilarity. Think of C-3PO played by Larry, the Cable Guy.

Is this the worst song out there right now? Oh, no. Hell, no.

There are a lot more mines in this field, and I’m about to spend a considerable amount of time sweeping.

One Response to “New Country for Old Men: Florida Georgia Line, “Cruise””

  1. Morgana:
    August 1st, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    I LOVED THIS!! You’ve already heard (at least in part) some of my thoughts on the state of “country” music. I put that in quotes because what I call country doesn’t exist. In my mind, it began it’s death throes with the passing of Waylon, Possum, and Johnny, and will probably give up the proverbial ghost for good once Willie, Loretta and Dolly are gone. They were integral to what I considered country, because that’s what I grew up with. Then came Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, and Tim McGraw, and a whole host of others who changed the face of country music, made it a little different, but at least underneath kept to what country was. This monster that has been unleashed as a result is something else altogether, I don’t know what. But I wish it would stop (and can someone please tell T-Pain to come take his auto-tune away from these people before they hurt themselves???)

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