The Agent’s Lyrical Breakdown of Luke Bryan’s “Most People Are Good”

So, no sooner did I put out my declaration of disgust for Country music, I found one that seemed to fly in the face of most of my statements.

Luke Bryan’s ” Most People Are Good” isn’t a sad, pity song like most old-school Country nor is it an obnoxiously chipper party anthem that co-ops Rap because it’s too ashamed to be called country. Instead, what we have here is an inspirational ballad meant to lift spirits and keep us soldiering on through hard times because life is worth living – a sentiment that I’ve championed more than a few times here.

So by that logic, you’d think I’d like this song. But, no. There are a lot of lyrics that I have hang-ups with that make my skin crawl. And since I had so much fun destroying Meghan Trainor’s work by applying logic to her lyrics, I thought I could do the same with Luke here to edify while getting some cheap yuks through riffing. So, let’s begin.

“I believe kids oughta stay kids as long as they can…”

You hear that, mom and dad? Luke wants me to move back in with you and sit around the house watching old Looney Tunes shorts and eating Kix cereal.

Look, living life like you’re young is okay to a point, but you’ve got to grow up and forge your own way at some point.

“… Turn off the screen, go climb a tree, get dirt on their hands”

Ah, so that first line just meant that you’re a crotchety old bastard who doesn’t like them new-fangled smarty phones.

You do realize that ‘the screen’ you want me to turn off is the only way most of us even know who the hell you are, right? Traditional radio is being fazed out and almost no one consumes physical media anymore. So maybe you shouldn’t, to reference a better musical talent, “bite the hand that feeds”.

“I believe we gotta forgive and make amends/’Cause nobody gets a second chance to make new old friends”

A noble sentiment and all, but a bit too broad for my comfort levels. I can think of quite a few people I wouldn’t want to rekindle a friendship with; school bullies, egomaniac ex-girlfriends, junkies, ETC. You’ve got to start vetting people a little bit for your own sake.

“I believe in working hard for what you’ve got/Even if it don’t add up to a hell of a lot”

So do I. I’m an old farmer’s kid myself. However, the way you word it here makes it sound like you think we shouldn’t demand better for that hard work. You should always demand better and fair pay for your effort. That’s LITERALLY what this whole “Fight for $15” campaign to raise the minimum wage is all about.

“I believe most people are good/And most mama’s oughta qualify for sainthood”

Firstly, I think Sturgeon’s Law would argue with you on that first point.

Secondly, I love my parents. They’ve always been supportive of me even when I was a genuine scumbag. But speaking of parents in general, they’re just like any other group of people; a few keepers and a WHOLE LOT OF BASTARDS. Just ask the gay kid with the homophobic mom if he thinks she’s saint material. Ask the beaten and bruised girl what she thinks of her alcoholic dad when he abuses her. The idea that parents deserve your respect by default just because they farted you out of/into their orifices is an outdated and toxic one and needs to be buried. Let them earn respect like everyone else.

“I believe most Friday nights look better under neon or stadium lights”

Okay, neon lights CAN be pretty. But so can the stars that the light pollution from your lights blots out. This is just subjective B.S. meant to pander to emotion and doesn’t add anything to your critical commentary on the state of the world. Next line, please.

“I believe you love who you love/Ain’t nothing you should ever be ashamed of”

You know what? I can’t complain about this line. I totally agree with you on this.

Though if I had to nit-pick (which I do for the sake of comedy), your lack of mastery of proper English is starting to wear thin on me.

“I believe this world ain’t half as bad as it looks”

That may be true, but that doesn’t mean you start slacking off. When you see a problem, you attack it head on – you protest, raise awareness, raise money, organize people, ETC. Letting things fall by the wayside just because, “it’s not a big deal,” is how things BECOME a big deal.

“I believe them streets of gold are worth the work/But I still wanna go even if they were paved in dirt”

Well, scientifically speaking, gold is so heavy for its size and so much softer than standard paving asphalt that the cost of transporting and upkeep would NOT be worth the work. But I get what you’re saying. It’s the same chestnut as before with your “working hard for what you’ve got” line and I stand by my rebuttal.

Also, what’s with you cowboy types and your dirt obsession? I can only imagine that folks like this see pictures of dust bowls and get the most Brobdingnagian erections you’ve ever seen.

“I believe that youth is spent well on the young/’Cause wisdom in your teens would be a lot less fun”

Oh yeah. Not knowing how to balance my bank account, wondering how credit cards work, paying people to do my taxes because no one taught me, trying to learn to cook on my own. Every day was just like F***ING DISNEYLAND as a teen.

Seriously though, this line pisses me off more than any of the others. This whole “ignorance is bliss” bulls*** needs to stop.

“I believe if you just go by the nightly news/Your faith in all mankind would be the first thing you lose”

Well, sure, if your only news sources are angry d-bags on either side of the political spectrum like Fox or Young Turks. That’s why I have #GoodNewsFriday on my Twitter and Facebook pages. You’ve got to spice it up. Get your news from a variety of sources.

“I believe that days go slow and years go fast/And every breath’s a gift, the first one to the last”

And more emotional pandering. Not the best way to end your song, sir.


Okay, I rag on the lyrics here. But I don’t honestly think Luke is as shallow as I’ve made him out to be here. As it turns out, this kind of sappy, feel-good music is just really easy to make fun of.

Unfortunately for Mr. Bryan, happy music that acts like it has all the answers just doesn’t make for good art to me. Combine that with the slow, edgeless tone, and you have a song that fails on just about every level to engage me.

Ah, this was fun. Remind me to do this again sometime.

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Why The Agent Dislikes (Modern) Country Music

Ladies, gentlemen, and fellow enbies: everything wrong with modern Country music in a single image.
Source: Best Top 10

So, I may have gone on record more than a few times voicing my displeasure with the state of the genre of music we know as Country. Most of that is due to my boss’ insistence on playing a Country music station at work EVERY. SINGLE. GODDAMN. DAY.

Now, I realize that a lot of people can be VERY sensitive when something they love gets criticized. And you know what? I totally get it. When you love a particular art form enough, any attack on it can feel like an attack on you personally. It’s the main reason why we nerds get into such heated debates about our passions (that and debate is fun and healthy).

But I don’t like feeling like I’m just singling people out with malicious intent. If I ridicule something you love, it’s because I’ve found something questionable or objectionable about it that ruins my ability to enjoy it; not because I think you are an inferior person for enjoying it. So, let’s discuss my rationale for why Country music repulses me so.

Firstly, I want to make it clear that it’s mostly the turn that modern Country has taken – not Country as a whole – that perturbs me. Granted, I have issues with Classic Country as well, but that’s mostly an unfortunate byproduct of my upbringing. My parents raised me on Classic Rock and Hair Metal. When your life’s soundtrack consists of Aerosmith, AC/DC, and Kiss, everything else seems soft and unengaging.

But, even then, I’m still neutral to Classic Country at most times. Compared to the stuff we get today though, the likes of John Denver and Johnny Cash may as well be Freddie Mercury to my ears. Being assaulted with today’s Country has had the effect of allowing me to reassess those old-timey tracks with a more favorable ear.

Really, my disdain for modern Country comes from what seems to be its two largest modern sub-genres; Bro-Country and Country Rap (AKA; Hick Hop).

The problem that I have with these classes of music is two-fold. Firstly, the subject matter never seems to change. This was a (slightly less prevalent) problem in Classic Country as well with its performers working on the unchanging theme of, “my life sucks, but I’ll get by with enough booze.”

In today’s country scene, they dial that up to eleven. Nearly every song I hear coming over that radio is about A) glorifying alcoholism, B) Objectifying women, or C) turning to alcoholism to cope with the loss of an objectified woman. So not only is it infuriatingly repetitive, it repeats an equally infuriating theme. When the modern country station I have to listen to needs to sneak in pop tracks that are over 10 years old to spice it up, you know the genre is getting stale.

Secondly, the thing that Bro-Country and Country Rap have in common is the reliance on Rap-style production and themes. And as much as I loathe the word “cultural appropriation,” I can’t shake the feeling that it may be at play here.

To be clear, not all of these artists are apeing Rap to keep their careers afloat because it’s just how pop music sounds today. Hell, you can even make a legitimate case that Rap and Country have a common cousin in Talking Blues. Plus, with Rap dominating the sound of Pop Music and with Country being the number one radio format, the two were bound to come together eventually.

However, Rap is a lot more than just a style of music. It’s one of the “4 pillars” of Hip Hop. Rap, along with DJing, Break Dancing, and Graffiti, form the basis of an entire culture of artistic expression that defined life for countless people that, while not possessing great monetary wealth, were rich in history and pride. To take that for yourself for no other reason other than, “because the kids like it,” is kind of disrespectful – especially when you boil it down to a couple of tired and problematic tropes.

So, in conclusion, modern country is a tired, old, cliche-ridden genre that shamelessly rips off other, more popular genres without understanding the societal weight of the art form it’s attempting to emulate and it really needs to take a few steps back to reassess its current position in life before I start considering it good art.

And while I’m ragging on music genres, all of the above applies to Contemporary Christian as well (saved me writing a future article there).

Three Actually Good Christmas Songs: 2017

Well, it’s about goddamn time  I showed up.

Again, I apologize for the lack updates through this past month due to a lack of proper computer. Turns out that my OS got corrupted (likely due to heat damage as a hypothesize), but now I have a much more stable rig that runs much smoother and doesn’t crash every 60 seconds for an hour straight until it completely screws up my screen resolution and kills my audio rendering everything mute and illegible.

But alas, I’m way behind on the Christmas cheer this year as a result of this mess and god knows we need it with the absolute crap-sack that 2018 is starting us off with. Between the rampant sexual abuse stories, tax plans that threaten to loot the country, and the impending death of a free internet, we really need something uplifting to keep morale strong. So let’s kick out the jams and rock around the Christmas tree again this year.

“Run Rudolph Run” – Lemmy Kilmister

I’m one of those weirdos that think that Metal makes an acceptable genre of music for holiday cheer. And why not? It’s a horribly underexplored genre for being a global tribe that unites countries and cultures around the world (note to self: consider writing about country-specific Metal subgenres in the future).

Enter Motörhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister with his cover of “Run Rudolph Run.” Honestly, I never liked the Chuck Berry original or the numerous covers aping him until I found this. If you go back and listen, a lot of Chuck Berry’s stuff sounds EXACTLY the same. Plus, most people that cover this just don’t have the force of character behind their voice to make it fun and interesting.

Lemmy, meanwhile, uses his gravelly tone with a thrashing bass to give the sort of sound you’d want play while racing the clock to the Christmas party. Remember; Motörhead is known for Speed Metal – a subgenre that’s all about going fast.

And since I’m going off on Metal…

“Jingle Bell Metal” – Psychostick

At this point, most of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook know I have a soft spot for Comedy Metal. And among the greats like Dethklok, Primus, and Tenacious D,  Psychostick holds a special place; a flickering lighter in the Metal concert of my soul.

While the vast majority of their Christmas album, The Flesh Eating Rollerskate Holiday Joyride, is pessimistic towards the holiday, it still manages to be the only Christmas album I can listen to from beginning to end. And their Metal medley of holiday hijinx, “Jingle Bell Metal,” is actually quite celebratory… if only in the over-the-top way people picture most metalheads act.

It’s not the kind of music you put on for the family, but it’s good ridiculous fun.

“Alone On Christmas Day” – Phoenix w/ Bill Murray

One of the complaints I have about Christmas music is that it never changes; it’s just the same arbitrarily accepted canon of songs repeated ad nauseam. Seriously, did you know that “Silent Night” is the third most covered song in the history of music?

I’m of the opinion that, if you’re going to blatantly copy someone, it should be done to preserve the memory of their art – not to ride on their coattails. Hence why I’m so glad this cover of a forgotten Beach Boys song exists.

What’s more, it’s a rarity among Christmas tracks – a sad song about being alone for the holidays that has an uplifting message in the end; pick yourself up and keep moving on because you don’t know how much better it can get.

Plus, who knew that Bill Murray had such a good baritone voice?

Great Christmas Songs: Part 3 – The Cheer Strikes Back

So, it’s come to be that time of year again. As per holiday tradition, I’ve come to present you with my gift of various Christmas carols and songs that I’ve been taking note of.

Now, normally I present you with a list of absolutely terrible songs to start. But, in my attempts to follow my unstated goal of making this blog more upbeat and positive, I’ve decided to forgo that half of the tradition this year and just jump right into the good times.

So, no more lollygagging; Let’s get this sleigh ride in gear!

A Swingin’ Little Christmas Time – Jane Lynch

This has to be the newest song I’ve ever praised in this annual series of mine. Most new Christmas songs I hear are usually just rehashings of older songs that were done much better before and/or adhere to the tropes of modern pop so tightly that they feel out of place in the season.

Not the case with A Swingin’ Little Christmas Time. Not only does this happy and bouncy number stand out from the beige sea of flatly flavorless pop music, it does so by bringing back one of my favorite genres of music; Swing.

Swing is great for when you want to liven up a party; It has all the danceability of modern EDM with the classic feeling of refinement that comes with Jazz. And on a day that should be all about celebration while fondly remembering or golden years and spreading joy to others like a classy gent/lady, a song like this really helps to put me in the spirit.

Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy – Bing Crosby & David Bowie

I mentioned in the past that of all the Christmas songs that get remade every year, Little Drummer Boy was the one that hits with me more often than it misses. I also mentioned that of all the people to cover it Burl Ives was probably my favorite.

Well, I need to amend that statement. Burl is great, don’t get me wrong, but he comes an EXTREMELY close second to Bing and David.

You’d think that pairing one of the classic king crooners with a god of Experimental Rock would be discordant at best. But then you remember how Bowie’s softer, almost dove-like tones make a perfect complement to Bing’s dulcet bass.

I also found myself enjoying the way the two sets of lyrics play off each other. While Bing retells the tale of the boy with nothing to give but a simple song, David reminds us why we need to follow that boy’s example and make the world as comfortable a home as possible for all of us.

Sleigh Ride – Los Straitjackets

You know what I never realized about most covers until this year? Half the reason I don’t like them is because the vocals are sung by people whose voices don’t carry nearly enough emotion and/or experience to justify them performing it. A lot of these covers work better just by making them instrumentals and letting the music be the centerpiece.

Case in point; Los Straitjackets’ Surf Rock cover of Sleigh Ride is an entertaining piece Christmas spirit; juxtaposing the joys of a winter ride through the snow with the music most closely associated with warm, sunny beaches.

Much like the aforementioned A Swingin’ Little Christmas Time, it’s a lively song that stands out among the more repetitive sound of other Christmas songs played back to back and that makes it a valuable spirit-lifter.

One-Hit Wonderful: Part Three – The Bands Play On

So, with the modest resurgence of one of my childhood favorites in the music business with Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ “Dark Necessities”, I’ve – once again – found myself digging back through the old catalog of my favorite songs of yesteryear. In doing so, I’ve uncovered more one-hit wonders that deserved better.

So, let’s go for the hat trick and take a look at three more underrated classics from pop music’s past.

Semisonic – “Chemistry”

Awhile back, I briefly talked about how Semisonic frontman Dan Wilson wrote and produced Adele’s best work. That said, he and his band still did great stuff on their own beyond “Closing Time”. Oh, it was an important milestone for indie music for my generation, but there was so much more.

Their third studio album, “All About Chemistry”, was much more mature yet playful (read: had a lot more coded sex talk) than previous outings. Most of the time, it was trying to sneak helpful lessons about safe and healthy sex for the teens that were buying up their music at the time. For example, “Get A Grip” was a silly, light-hearted story about how healthy and normal regular masturbation is.

However, it was the title track “Chemistry” that sticks with me. It’s a tale about playing the field (experimenting, to use the chemistry analogy) to find the one that won’t burn you out or hurt you. That’s an important lesson considering how many unhappy relationships we see due to people staying together for the sake of some outdated idea of what faithfulness should be.

If people aren’t adding to your happiness, they shouldn’t occupy space (or at least AS MUCH space) in your life. It’s only going to make you both miserable. That’s the moral to take away from this little number.

Dexy’s Midnight Runners – “Jackie Wilson Said”

As great as the hit song “Come On Eileen” is, I feel the message of youthful abandon in the face of darker times was lost on most listeners… mostly because we had difficulty understanding the lyrics.

However, if you were already familiar with Van Morrison, you didn’t have to guess what their cover of “Jackie Wilson Said” was saying; you already knew.

See, Dexy’s – like other acts born from the U.K.’s Northern Soul movement – was heavily influenced by lesser known or sadly forgotten American Soul artists. Here, they fly their colors proudly by directly referencing a great name from Soul’s past.

Add to that how the vocals are – in my humble opinion – much better than those of Van Morrison’s original, and you have the makings of an undervalued gem.

Deee-Lite – “Picnic In The Summertime”

Did I mention how much I F***ING LOVE Deee-Lite?

But damn, if you thought “Power Of Love” was a departure from the norm for Deee-Lite, “Picnic In The Summertime” is a whole different beast altogether.

There’s no deep message or meaning here; it’s just a really happy song about enjoying the little joys of life set to a more urban sound than what they traditionally were used to.

Honestly, I respect the decision to experiment with a new sound every now and again. It keeps things fresh and interesting. It’s just a shame that the public at large wasn’t more receptive at the time.

The Agent Gets Nostalgic: Stuff From Yester-year That I Kinda Miss

So, I have literally been sitting at a blank word processor for two hours trying to think of the words to share this week and all I could do is let my mind wander aimlessly. I had nothing. For the first time in what feels like forever, nothing jumped out at me in my personal life this week to comment on.

… Until I started thinking back to the old days.

I started to think about the commonplace stuff from my day that they just don’t seem to have anymore. Things that I once took for granted that I sorely lack now.

So today, instead of sharing deep thoughts on pop culture trends or bringing obscure facts to light, I’m just going to wax poetic on the things from my youth that I miss having around.

CDs and CD Players

Carrying these bad boys around fully loaded is how we got ripped back in the day.
Source: Case Logic

I was actually born in the age of cassette tapes, VHS videos, and floppy disks. So when someone had the bright idea to slap music, movies, and games on CDs, it was a life changer for me. No more tangled or worn-out tapes that wouldn’t play anymore. Now we had durable, portable media storage with way more space to hold the stuff we love.

These days, while I’m not exactly heartbroken about DVDs and CD-ROMs being replaced by digital streaming and downloads, I do find that I miss CD quality music. I get that having your Spotify playlist on your phone is more convenient than schlepping around the mall with a backpack filled with CD binders. But I’m an audiophile (if you haven’t noticed from the many articles I’ve done on the subject of music and my weekly #TuneTuesday posts on Facebook and Twitter) and the compressed sound of today makes me feel like I’m missing something.

Music is a spiritual experience for me; my mind and body resonate with some indescribable emotion that I never feel anywhere else. I’m the kind of guy that cranks his car stereo to 60 just to feel the sound run through my veins like liquid lightning. As such, I want to make sure I experience all of it every time I hear it.

Cartoons made just to sell toys

Don’t even get me started on the ones we would “customize” from pieces of the broken ones and nail polish.
Source: Mental Floss

In one episode of my favorite cartoon of all time Freakazoid, I was introduced to the term ‘toyetic’ – an adjective used to describe an object that has the potential to be mass marketed as a toy, game, or similar product.

It was on that day that I realized that the vast number of shows I grew up with as a kid – TransformersZoids, etc. – existed for no other reason than to see how many times I would buy the same toy over and over again just because it was cool.

And you know what? I’m totally fine with that.

The reason I bought those toys (or rather, begged my parents to buy them) was because my friends and I were convinced that we had better stories to tell than the people who were paid to write them professionally. And for that short time as kids, we actually did.

Basically, I miss these toy-centric cartoons because they were my first introduction to writing. And while I’m not that into fiction anymore, I like to think that the passion still burns just a hot now as it did back then.

Speaking of cartoons…

Animated Variety Shows

I couldn’t think of an adequate picture to sum up this thought, so please enjoy this GIF of a toy that’s wildly inappropriate in retrospect.
Source: Giphy

What is an ‘animated variety show’ I hear you ask? In essence, much like how variety shows of yore were showcases for various acting, comedy, and musical talents, their animated brethren were collections of short subject cartoons from various artists and writers. And much like how actors could use those appearances as a jumping off point for bigger projects, these cartoons served as pilots for what could become a new series.

A lot of well-loved shows got their start this way; both Powerpuff Girls and Courage the Cowardly Dog got started as shorts on Cartoon Network’s What-A-Cartoon. Meanwhile, Beavis and Butthead and Aeon Flux came into their own via MTV’s much edgier Liquid Television.

I miss these cheap and cheerful parades of creative Ids gone wild because it gave us a look into talents that we very rarely would get to see otherwise. These days, such things have been replaced with soulless statistics and sample audience surveys.

There’s a reason why Youtube is my go-to place for entertainment these days; because the internet is where the people crazy enough to do something amazing can be truly free.

3 More Wonderfully Weird Music Genres

So, while glancing at the last months worth of articles, I noticed a trend of pessimism that needs to be curtailed.

To that end, I’ve decided to delve deep into The Archive and provide a continuation of my exploration of bizarre and brilliant things going on in music. Let’s not waste time and get right into the fun bits.

All-Female Metal Tributes

I was born and raised as a metalhead. My parents fed me a steady stream of the Hair Metal they grew up with like KISS and Poison as well as Hard Rock (all Metal’s common ancestor) like AC/DC and Aerosmith. However, as I grow older, I’ve noticed a problem with Metal; despite how many girls I know that love it, the only time you see women in the genre are on the questionable and often exploitative album art.

Apparently, some lovely ladies agreed that this was wrong and took it upon themselves to take a few extraneous Y-chromosomes out of the sound by forming all-female tribute bands dedicated to some of the greats of Metal. Some notable bands in the genre include Judas Priestess, Hells Belles, and my favorite on the basis of the name alone; Vag Halen.

It’s no mistake that this is the first genre I cover in this article after verbally tearing Meghan Trainor a superabundant sphincter last week. It seems that many female artists are forgetting that feminism is NOT narrow-minded self-interest and nursing a superiority complex. We need more people in the world that actually care about adding to the scope and range of voices heard in media. And that’s why I love this genre.

It’s also why I love…

Queercore

In much the same way that the above mentioned all-female metal tributes were born from women being excluded from the Metal scene, so to was queercore (aka; homocore) born from the inherently homophobic vibes of 80’s hardcore punk and created an alternative for those being excluded that enjoyed the sound.

Bands and artists in queercore use the same naming conventions as our AFMT friends above. Only instead of feminizing existing bands and songs, they ‘gay them up’ as it were. This results in bands like Youth of Togay, Cockwind, and Gayrilla Biscuits.

My favorite though has to be Black Fag – who not only donate the proceeds from tours to charities in the gay community but also do the best cover of T.V. Party I’ve ever heard.

Chap-Hop

And you thought this was just going to be politicized tribute bands…

You know what my beef is with modern mainstream rap? The class is gone. Back in the day, rap and hip-hop were fun and happy, even as they talked about serious issues. Old school rappers in the 80’s and early 90’s would still brag and boast, but did so with an air of dignity. Basically, rap forgot how to be a gentleman.

Leave it to the British to remind us how to be classy.

Chap-hop is the combination of modern rap and that distinctly British men’s fashion trend; chap. The result is a sound that blends rap-style production with a sound that wouldn’t be out of place on a 1900’s photograph and coats it in hilarious boasting lyrics about stereotypically gentlemanly things like tea, mustache grooming,  and playing cricket.

Chap-hop has bled into another odd subculture, steampunk, and you can find many chap-hop artists like Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer, Poplock Holmes, and Professor Elemental performing at conventions.