Saturday, August 22, 2009

Week 2: Donell Reviews Brad Paisley

While fulfilling my duties here at the 10 for 10 Music Expansion Project some things have been brought to the forefront of my mind. I have always considered myself a music buff and fan. I like a LOT of music. That isn’t the problem though. I don’t mind liking a large range of things; but when it becomes a problem is when I can’t figure out why I like something. Then it makes me wonder what don’t I like? When I try to think of what I don’t like, it’s actually kind of hard for me. If I dislike something I don’t necessarily hate it or need to rip it apart (James), I just don’t like it. So then I thought, well maybe I need to be more passionate about it. Maybe there is too much grey area and there needs to be more black and white. Love and hate. What music can’t I stand? What music makes my blood curdle when I listen to it and makes vomit rise in my throat. Well, that’s easy. Flo Rida.

But luckily, Flo Rida is not a part of the 10 for 10 Music Expansion Project. And I hope he never graces these pages anytime in the near future. But I had this thought while listening to Brad Paisley this week. Most of the music I did not like. And it’s not that I wanted to throw my computer out of the window when it was playing, it just didn’t speak to me. It didn't hit me. I didn’t like it but I didn’t hate it either. What I am trying to figure out is this – the music I like, how does it speak to me? Why does that music grab me while Brad Paisley does not?
I think what it comes down to is that Brad Paisley, generally, is too country for me. I like country-pop but this doesn’t have much pop in it. On the other hand, the thing I like about country music is that the songs tell stories. That is the advantage that country music has on pop music. I am much more of a pop head than a country head, but being an actor and being in the theater I love a song with a good story behind it. There isn’t much storytelling in pop music and country has mastered that skill (which makes me wonder why there aren’t more country musicals…). So yeah, just an observation. Now on to the list:

"Mud on the Tires" Mud on the Tires (2004)
Nope, this song was far too country for me. But I will say, the harmonies on the chorus are GOREGEOUS. I can also appreciate the tongue-in-cheek aspect of the title. But other than that, not for me.

"All I Wanted Was a Car" 5th Gear (2007)
There is no denying this man is a BEAST on the guitar. So, yeah, good for him. Great. Nothing really stood out to me in the song except – the last minute and ten seconds of this song are pretty cool. When he overlaps his 2 vocal phrases it’s beautifully matched.

"Celebrity" Mud on the Tires (2003)
This song is very smart and it made me smile. As someone who regularly reads online blogs and tabloids, I love the pop culture references and the digs at the “famous” lifestyle. The tune is very catchy and the music has a feel good vibe to it. I think I have heard this song before and would probably listen to it again. I would have liked this to be higher on the list. Shame on you, James.

"Whiskey Lullaby" Mud on the Tires (2004)
Loved it. This song is beautiful. If it were up to me, this would have been my #1 song on the list. The lyrics are beautiful and different than anything I was expecting to hear. I picture a rainy night and the screen door swinging back and forth and hitting the house. The comparison of alcohol to a gun blew my mind (no pun intended). I loved the simplicity of the lullaby. The chorus is stunning and haunting. Also, Alison Krauss’s voice is so pretty to listen to. I could listen to this song all day long. It’ll probably be the only song I revisit from this list. Well, this and…

"Letter to Me" 5th Gear (2007)
Loved it. I was a big fan of “WL” and this song. These were my 2 favorite songs on the list. It has such a great concept and story. This song brought a smile to my face because I can totally remember feeling this way about love a few years ago (minus the girls, of course), family, and the other themes in the song. Especially the lyric about not being able to see past Friday night. Very clever. The chorus is great (I enjoy singing the top harmony along with Brad) and I love Paisley’s delivery on the song. When the music cuts back before the last chorus it’s truly beautiful. I love when songs do that – cut out all the other stuff and let’s get simple for a second. That’s how you’ll win me over.

"Kentucky Jelly" Play (2008)
Nope, not my cup of tea. But let me say – I listened to the songs the first time through without reading what you said about them. I wanted to listen without being influenced by your opinion of the music. When I first listened to “KJ” I didn’t get it – that was before I read that this was from his instrumental album. I was waiting for lyrics the whole time that never came. It’s like looking for a gay at a cage fight. Bruno anyone? Anyway. That being said, the second two listens were whatever. I’d rather Brad sing to me. I will say, maybe if this was a visual clip I might feel different. I love a man that can play an instrument.

"Waitin' On a Woman" 5th Gear (2008)
I didn’t love it and I didn’t hate it. I enjoyed the story of the 2 men sitting together and talking but nothing grabbed me. Not much else to say about that.

"The Best Thing That I Had Goin'" Mud on the Tires (2003)
I liked it before the music kicked in. That first verse had me but then the song was lost upon my ears with all the instruments. There’s something about that COUNTRY sound that makes my face suddenly frown up and my nose shrivel up on my face. I don’t know what it is. Too much knee slapping and washboard strumming, maybe.

"Spaghetti Western Swing" Mud on the Tires (2003)
Annoying is right. Um, no thank you. Next.

"When We All Get to Heaven" 5th Gear (2007)
Okay, let me clear something up. I don’t want to give off the impression that I hate spiritual music or can’t stand the mention of Jesus in a song. That’s not what I meant at all. I happen to enjoy plenty of gospel music and spiritual tunes. I just feel that at times it’s forced and THAT is what bothers me about a lot of country music that I hear. I don’t like being hit over the head with the message. Or maybe the music just needs to be more interesting. Whatever it is, it can be annoying and THAT’S why I don’t really care for it. This one was far too “coombayah” for me. The image of people standing in a circle holding hands and swaying back and forth made me dizzy.

So basically what we learned this week is this: while I only LOVED 2 of the songs on the list and don’t plan on listening to any of the other songs, I didn’t completely despise the other 8. They will just simply fade into the back of my memory. I guess that is how James and I differ. Or who knows, maybe they’re the kind of songs that will creep up on me and with time I’ll learn to love them. Whatever the case may be, I must be harder on my ears. And on James.

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