Entering a week of vacation recovery upon the precipice of the pre-season football blitz, one might find it very difficult to think of something to write. Matters only become worse when my listless mind returns me to my lake house, accompanied by a cold cooler, country music, and enough bottle rockets to scare my dog halfway across the lake. When this image comes to mind I am now forced to fight my impulse of getting in my un-air conditioned car, blasting country music, and making the smooth one hour drive to paradise. Sooner or later my mind is singing Florida Georgia Line’s Cruise. The catchy chorus rings on repeat in my head. Now an almost entire wasted morning later, I am stuck wondering how a simple country tune can get stuck in my head and just sit.
With any interactive medium whether it be a movie, song, or blog, we expect to receive some tangible amount of joy from the experience. Even if you don’t enjoy this post, you’ll enjoy harassing me in the comments section. The better the medium is, the more emotion it conveys with the audience. Music is so emotional it gets people to dance like bumbling baffons because it makes us feel good. The musician’s goal is to convey a specific feeling that can be understood and mutually accepted by a wide audience. Like most modern country music (as Chuck Klosterman likes to refer to as ‘Wal-Mart’ country) Cruise tells us exactly how to feel, giving every guy that hears it the feeling up picking up a pretty girl in a giant automobile and speeding off into the countryside. If you aren’t a testosterone filled young male, the simple lyrics of the repetitive chorus are entrancing enough for you to scream them alone in your car. They can suck you in so much that it can actually take some time to remember the words of the verses (1) until you reach that part of the song on the radio.
While it is like almost any other catchy-sounding country, there has to be more to the song if it’s good enough for Ally Tucker to karaoke at Chinoe Pub(2). It probably has to do with the fact that not only does Cruise play to the basic common denominator in modern country music lyricism, but it also epitomizes two other basic must-haves for country music success: Good looking singers with a ‘new’ sound, and a highly overplayed pop version. FGL’s hunky duo of Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley always maintain phenomenal hair while sporting tight-jeans, cowboy boots, and something with a rebel flag on it. Girls swoon when imagining getting picked-up in these guys’ trucks while being serenaded by voices that don’t quite sound like normal country music voices. Their voices (3) come from a sound that I hear often at Tin Roof, but barely on the radio. It sounds a little more natural, a little more ‘rough around the edges’, making it easier for most to embrace. It’s so inviting that even one comes to welcome them with Nelly, probably one of the most unlikely of candidates for a pop crossover. As a wise woman once said, “Nelly and FGL go together like a jelly and mayonnaise sandwich.” I appalled the cheap attempt to make extra cash by both at first, but once again Cruise sucked me back in and I actually caught myself listening to it more times than I should have. After all, Nelly is a country boy at heart (4) and his additional rap verse doesn’t deviate from the song that much at all, telling a young lass once again to kick up her feet “because that’s the way I like.” What this version of song does most importantly is fill up every other radio with FGL’s voices that didn’t have the pleasure beforehand.
When you combine the variety of elements that have gone into the cultural development of this song, it doesn’t surprise me at all that a song I heard playing at a frat party more than a year ago (5) is still the #2 download on iTunes. Cruise takes all of the basic elements in popular country and simply does it the best, in every category. While many die-hard country music fans in the area might be disappointed that a song so commercialized really is this big of a deal, the truth is that Cruise will be the most transcendent country song of this era. The cheesy Disney-esque version of lovey dovey country is what feeds the booming franchise, yet Cruise is Disney enough, with some moonshine(6) references to keep the badass boys from dismissing it. This balance of all sides creates a special place for us all to agree on (7), even if it is just during the summer with our windows rolled down.
Tell me what you think about the footnotes, they’re a little more fun than parenthesis. @RoushKSR
1. There’s something about Marshall Tucker in there.
2. If you know Ally Tucker in any way shape or form, you’ll know that only a bad soccer referee can be worse than people singing classic westerns at Chinoe. Not a bad Billy G experience, Dmitri is just too good to be sidelined by 20 something year old girls singing the Pistol Annies.
3. It may just be one of them singing, but I couldn’t tell ya the difference.
4. Even though I doubt there are many street sweeps in rural Missouri.
5. It should be noted that country music at a frat party is rarely well-placed, but yet it didn’t disappoint the crowd. That was when I first had a hunch that it was going to be a ‘big deal’.
6. There are actually ZERO references to moonshine in the song, just “sippin’ on some Southern.” While SoCo is definitely not as cool of a choice as shine, I guess “Whatever’s Comfortable.” For FGL moonshine references you can find a lot in “Get Your Shine On,” a song I originally perceived to be about sunshine.
7. Unless you hate the song and still haven’t managed to get it out of your head.