Country Boy – Alan Jackson
The bouncy repetitions of the chorus overshadow the barely-there plot, which might be for the best. The discomforting storyline involves a truck-driving man who picks up a female pedestrian (car problems? hitchhiking? just walking?), promises he’s not a stalker, then quickly – and rather inappropriately – shifts into a series of come-ons (“you sure look good sitting in my right seat”) and seedy sexual innuendos (“climb in my bed / I’ll take you for a ride”). That should teach the anonymous woman not to accept a ride from a stranger ever again.
Turn It Off – Eric Durrance
Yet another country song critical of the increasingly plugged-in lives we lead, this is actually a fairly enjoyable retread of the anti-technology theme… until it reaches the hook: “turn it off and leave it alone / so we can get it on.” And so a potentially meaningful exploration of the costs of technological living gives way to a juvenile, ill-fitting Marvin Gaye reference. Turn it off, huh? Consider it done.
Forever – John Michael Montgomery
The male speaker in this song is whipped and needy, with just one (impossible) request of his mate: “all I ask is that you be mine forever.” He wonders if she’s sincere and if she’ll stay with him, but instead of engaging her in an honest conversation about their relationship, he’s apparently content to shout his paranoia to himself in a power-pop chorus that seems to echo off the interior walls of his mind.
Somebody Needs a Hug – Keith Anderson
This is an idea song, and its only idea is in the title. Since it offers virtually no plot details, your enjoyment of it hinges on how you feel about getting a bear hug from Keith Anderson. Some ardent female fans will swoon, but I can’t imagine anyone else caring.
Here – Rascal Flatts
Choosing between different Rascal Flatts songs is sort of like deciding which of several knives you’d rather use to chop off your leg, but I will point out that the major innovation of this “Bless the Broken Road” knock-off is the elimination of all the pesky eloquence of that 2005 megahit. And also that this song’s lack of distinction is writ large in its one-word title, which has none of the personality of “Bless the Broken Road.” But it will be a huge hit anyway. There, I’m done.
Already Gone – Sugarland
The lyrics are passable, but it’s the melody that makes this work. This is probably one of the strongest songs, melodically, that country radio will lay its hands on this year. Expect them to play the hell out of it. For the record, I think I might even like the prominence of Kristian Bush’s vocal at the end. It adds an extra bit of immediacy.