Brad Paisley, "Old Alabama" Brad Paisley, we love your guitar playing, your success with the memoir, your song about the whiskey and the lullaby and whatnot. This track from your This Is Country Music full-length, which pays tribute to the music of the band Alabama? Not so much. It starts out sounding like Pablo Cruise, then it goes into a quote from Alabama's "Mountain Music" before telling the tale of a down-home lass who instantly gets in the mood when she hears you-know-what. Caution: This does not happen in real life if you are not Brad Paisley.
Merle Haggard, "Too Much Boogie Woogie" Nobody's got more right to complain about modern country than Merle Haggard, or a loftier perch of cred to do it from. But there are better ways to do it than this bit of doggerel from Haggard's Working in Tennessee collection. Really? There's too much piano-pounding 1930s boogie-woogie in modern country? That's like arguing there's too much Faulkner influence in The Dukes of Hazzard. Boogie-woogie of any kind would be preferable to the recycled Fleetwood Mac and '80s pop moves wafting these days off the Row.
Justin Moore, "If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away" Not since David Allan Coe's mother got drunk in a truck and hit by a train in the rain in prison or whatever has a song piled up so many tearjerking elements. This isn't a country song; it's murder by Kleenex. The song finds Moore getting emotional about his grandfather, his hunting dog Bo, a buddy of his who died saving his country in Vietnam, and — the capper — Hank Williams Sr. and Janis Joplin. They're all in heaven, which is too far away to visit comfortably without getting a hotel room and maybe a rental car. Even with its subjunctive-less title hook, the result is a song you shouldn't approach without onion goggles.
Toby Keith, "Red Solo Cup" What do you call the old dude with the bad necklaces stumbling around a party full of college kids and singing an ode to plastic cups? Call him security, then have the orderlies from Sunnydale get him a walker and some Jell-O, stat! A whopper like this just can't resist rhyming "receptacles" with "testicles." (You don't have a pair if you prefer drinking from glass, we're told.) But when your video's idea of cool is a cameo by Carrot Top — tucking a plastic cup into a miniature bed and kissing it, no less — you've poured yourself a tall, frosty Boner.
Montgomery Gentry, "I Like Those People" Here's a wanly delivered tribute to people who tell off-color jokes, enjoy smokeless tobacco and will hide you from the cops or your ex-wife if need be. No problem there. But then the singers take direct aim — and by "direct aim" we mean "miss a barn door with a bazooka" — at all those snobs who get their snooty, er, snoots up when working folks go to church and talk to Jesus. "There's some that say that that ain't right," the duo sings, defying the forces of evil that tried to stop them from recording this song. We just hope they were paid by the "that" — and at the same rate Paul McCartney got per "in" for "Live and Let Die."