Just how bro is “bro country” right now? It’s pretty bro, bro.
In case you haven’t heard, the whole country music genre has been fighting a civil war lately over the rise of “bro country” in popular Nashville-produced music. Coined by New York Magazine’s Jody Rosen, the term “bro country” refers to “music by and of the tatted, gym-toned, party-hearty young American white dude… If [Florida Georgia Line’s smash] ‘Cruise’ were a guy at a bar, he would sidle up to the hottest blonde in the room, laugh loudly at his own jokes, and, after crashing and burning with a couple of lame pickup lines, ask, ‘Have you heard this awesome song?’ Whereupon he would whip out his iPhone and dial up the video for Florida Georgia Line’s ‘Cruise.’”
“Cruise” may have crystallized the “bro country” phenomenon – but Luke Bryan’s “That’s My Kind of Night” has become its unofficial representative thanks to Zac Brown, who last month called the No. 1 single the “worst song I’ve ever heard,” and added, “If I hear one more tailgate-in-the-moonlight, daisy dukes song, I’m gonna throw up.” Brown’s not the only star unhappy with the state of modern country music, either – this year, Alan Jackson, Gary Allan, Kacey Musgraves, and Naomi Judd have all spoken out about it as well. (Read more on that here.)
But surely, “bro country” can’t be that widespread. Not every artist is singing about trucks and beers…right?
Actually, it might be worse than you thought.
According to iTunes’ top 40 country songs (as of 10:00 p.m. on Oct. 17), country music is woefully one-note at the moment. It’s basically a bunch of guys singing about trucks, headlights, rolled-down windows, jeans, alcohol, moonlit makeouts, and sex on river beds beside old dirt roads. There’s also a weirdly pervasive trend of calling female subjects “girl” over and over – and not in the same way The Temptations sang “My Girl” or Gavin Degraw crooned “I’m In Love With A Girl.” Current country has big dudes yelling out “girl!” as a term of address (to women who presumably have names) the way Tarzan might if he knuckled his way into a honky tonk.
Distressingly, these songs are coming from an increasingly tiny group of male songwriters, too. (And this only underscores the struggles women are currently facing in Nashville.) Of the Top 40 country songs on iTunes, Ashley Gorley co-wrote EIGHT, Rhett Akins co-wrote five, and Dallas Davidson (who has spoken out about Zac Brown’s comments already), Chris Destafano, and Rodney Clawson each co-wrote four.
As such, you may not be surprised to see similar phrases in the different song lyrics quoted below. But let’s stop beating around the truck – here are all of the most egregious bro-country references on the current country chart, in the order in which they appeared on iTunes:
1. “That’s My Kind of Night” – Luke Bryan
I got that real good feel good stuff,
Up under the seat of my big black jacked up truck,
Rollin’ on 35s,
Pretty girl by my side.
You got that sun tan skirt and boots,
Waiting on you to look my way and scoot,
Your little hot self over here,
Girl hand me another beer, yeah!
Overall Bro Rating: 10/10
4. “Ready Set Roll” – Chase Rice
Damn pretty girl,
You went and done it again.
Ya gone and turned your sexy all the way up to 10.
I never seen a ride seat,
Looking so hot.
Baby you rock,
Hit the spot,
Like a Fireball shot.
Ready, set, let’s roll,
Ready, set, let’s ride,
Get your little fine ass on the step,
Shimmy up inside.
Just slide girl,
By my side girl,
We can run this town
I can rock your world.
We can roll ‘em down,
Fog ‘em ep,
Pedal to the metal
‘Til the sun comes up.
I made a deal with the man on the moon
He’s gonna put in some overtime,
We got all night.
Overall Bro Rating: 21/10, and not just because Rice was on the 21st season of Survivor.
5. “It Goes Like This” – Thomas Rhett
Hey girl, you make me wanna drive you home,
Get you outta here and get you all alone.
I don’t know what it is about you, baby,
But I’m all messed up and it might sound crazy,
But you make me wanna write a song.
Overall Bro Rating: 4/10, although co-writing Jason Aldean’s “1994” gives him major bro cred.
6. “Whatever She’s Got” – David Nail
She’s got the blue jeans painted on tight
That everybody wants on a Saturday night.
Overall Bro Rating: 3/10
7. “See You Tonight” – Scotty McCreery
So I’m coming over, I hope it’s all right
Listen for me pulling into your drive
Look out your window—you’ll see my lights
Baby girl, I gotta see you tonight
No, I don’t care what time it is,
I just gotta get a little moonlight kiss
Girl, I can’t help it when I feel like this
There’s only one thing to do
Baby, I’m missing you.
Overall Bro Rating: Lyrically a 7/10, but Scotty’s bashful delivery brings it to a mere 4/10.
8. “Mine Would Be You” – Blake Shelton
Girl, can you tell me
The one thing you’d rather die than lose?
Cause mine would be you.
Overall Bro Rating: 2/10 (Don’t worry. Shelton’s bro de grâce is coming later)
11. “Night Train” – Jason Aldean
Bout a mile off old mill road
in that spot nobody knows
park the truck and we take off running
hurry up, girl I hear it coming.
Got a moon and a billion stars
sound of steel and old box cars
The thought of you is driving me insane
Come on, baby, let’s go listen to the night train.
Overall Bro Rating: 8/10
15. “Chillin It” – Cole Swindell
I got my shades on, top back,
Rolling with the music jacked,
One on the wheel, one around you baby.
Little sun left to burn in the blue sky,
Shining off the cross hanging from the mirror of my ride,
Breeze blowing in, your hair blowing round
You’re scanning through the stations looking for that country sound
The good stuff iced up in the back seat,
Nowhere to go, nowhere to be.
Overall Bro Rating: 9.5/10 (It’s just missing moonlight!)
16. “Stay” – Florida Georgia Line
Would it make you, make you, wanna stay?
(Girl you gotta know I love you).
Overall Bro Rating: 1/10. Definitely the least bro-ey (but most Scott Stapp-y) FGL single.
17. “Aw Naw” – Chris Young
Yeah, I think I’m gonna leave
I just had that one drink
And we’ve all gotta be up early
Yeah, girl, I saw you come in
With all of your girl friends
Just cuttin’ up and shootin’ Bacardi
Yeah, I got my boys with me
Aw naw, do you hear that song
The one that just came on
Come on, D.J., what you tryna do
Aw naw, it would be so wrong
If we didn’t dance once
Show off those jeans you painted on
Overall Bro Rating: 9/10, which is sad because Young is capable of so much more!
18. “Hey Girl” – Billy Currington
Hey girl, whatcha think girl
You look a little thirsty lemme go getcha something to drink girl
Before you blink girl
I’ll be right back by your side
And if you want we can roll out
I know my way around this town
I got a shotgun seat for you
You can tell me where it is you wanna take off to.
Overall Bro Rating: Ignoring the fact that “Hey, girl” is just about the worst pick-up-line a dude (other than Feminist Ryan Gosling) could ever say in a bar, this gets an 8/10.
19. “Southern Girl” – Tim McGraw
Kisses sweeter than Tupelo honey
Little bit crazy like New Orleans
Memphis blue and Daytona sunny
Soft as cotton in some cut-off jeans
Don’t you know,
Ain’t nothing in the whole wide world
Like a southern girl.
Overall Bro Rating: 3/10. Would be higher if said jeans were “painted on” and not “cut off.”
20. “Forget to Forget You” – Scotty McCreery
If you see my number on your phone when you pick it up
Or get a good morning text when you’re wakin’ up
Or see my truck drivin’ by at the end of the day.
Overall Bro Rating: 2/10
21. “Redneck Crazy” – Tyler Farr
Gonna drive like hell through your neighborhood
Park this Silverado on your front lawn
Crank up a little Hank, sit on the hood and drink
I’m about to get my pissed off on
I’m gonna aim my headlights into your bedroom windows
Throw empty beer cans at both of your shadows
I didn’t come here to start a fight, but I’m up for anything tonight
You know you broke the wrong heart baby, and drove me redneck crazy
Wish I knew how long it’s been going on
How long you’ve been getting some on the side
Nah, he can’t amount to much by the look of that little truck
Well, he wont be getting any sleep tonight
Overall Bro Rating: It loses a bro point for not being about picking up a girl, but it gains two for name-dropping Hank. So, 9/10.
24. “Crash My Party” – Luke Bryan
It don’t matter what plans I got, I can break ‘em.
Yeah, I can turn this thing around at the next red light
And I don’t mind telling all the guys I can’t meet ‘em.
Hell, we can all go raise some hell on any other night
Girl, I don’t care. Oh I just gotta see what you’re wearing.
Your hair, is it pulled up or falling down?
Oh I just have to see it now.
If you wanna call me, call me, call me.
You don’t have to worry ‘bout it baby.
You can wake me up in the dead of the night;
Wreck my plans, baby that’s alright.
This is a drop everything kind of thing.
Swing on by I’ll pour you a drink.
The door’s unlocked. I’ll leave on the lights
Baby you can crash my party anytime.
Overall Bro Rating: 6/10
25. “Days of Gold” – Jake Owen
Long truck bed hop in it, fire engine red like her lipstick
Out here we can let it go
But just me and my good friends
Juggle wine little sip out here, baby you just never know
Yeah, these are the days of gold
Well, it’s a southern summer with whiskeys in the air dogs on the burner
Beers ice cold and got a pretty little lady to hold
Southern summer and that sun shining down like Daddy’s silver dollar
Gotta hop on the old dirt road these are the days of gold
Overall Bro Rating: 7.5/10. The song is pretty bro-tastic, which makes Owen’s recent comments about the state of country music songwriting somewhat confounding.
26. “Friday Night” – Eric Paslay
I wanna be your Friday night sweet ride
Summertime sunshine barefoot in the moonlight
I wanna be your jackpot hot spot
Wide open road in a candy apple rag top.
Overall Bro Rating: 4/10
27. “Boys Round Here” – Blake Shelton
Yeah the boys ‘round here
Drinking that ice cold beer
Talkin’ ‘bout girls, talkin’ ‘bout trucks
Runnin’ them red dirt roads out, kicking up dust
The boys ‘round here
Sending up a prayer to the man upstairs
Backwoods legit, don’t take no shit
Chew tobacco, chew tobacco, chew tobacco, spit.
Overall Bro Rating: 28/10. (One point for every auto-tuned repetition of “red” in the track.)
28. “Cruise” – Florida Georgia Line
She was sippin’ on Southern and singin’ Marshall Tucker
We were falling in love in the sweet heart of summer
She hopped right up into the cab of my truck and said,
“Fire it up, let’s go get this thing stuck.”
Baby you a song
You make me wanna roll my windows down and cruise
Down a back road blowin’ stop signs through the middle
Every little farm town with you
In this brand new Chevy with a lift kit
Would look a hell of a lot better with you up in it
So baby you a song
You make me wanna roll my windows down and cruise.
Overall Bro Rating: 10/10, if only because it was the ultimate inspiration for the term “bro country”
29. “Up All Night” – Jon Pardi
Now don’t forget your flip-flops
We can stop by the quick stop
Get some jerky and a twelve pack
No tellin’ when we’ll be back
I got a cooler in the truck bed
A couple towels when we get wet
Cause you know we’re gonna jump in
And take a little midnight swim
So baby let’s go, take a dirt road
Kick it back, find a good song on the radio,
‘Til we get lost in a sunset falling
Lay a blanket by the creek.
Overall Bro Rating: 8/10
30. “I Want Crazy” – Hunter Hayes
Yeah, our first date, girl, the seasons changed
It got washed away in a summer rain.
Overall Bro Rating: He said “girl,” but Hayes is definitely not a bro. 1/10
33. “Parking Lot Party” – Lee Brice
Johnny’s firin’ up his Coleman grill
We’ve got 24 tall boys on the chill
Yeah, 14 of ‘em’s mine
A little Marshall Tucker on the radio
At the parking lot party
Tailgate buzz just sipping’ on suds
Ain’t never too early..
To light one up, fill up your cup
Cause there ain’t no party like the pre-party
And after the party is the after-party
At the parking lot party.
Overall Bro Rating: 14/10. (Also: He’s claiming 14 of those tall boys? That’s 2.6 gallons of beer.)
36. “Round Here” – Florida Georgia Line
And Jessie’s gettin’ ready
I’m gassin’ up the Chevy
I’m gonna pick her up at 6
I hope she’s gonna wear the jeans with a tear
That her mama never fixed
The moon comes up and the sun goes down
We find a little spot on the edge of town
Twist off, sip a little, pass it around
Dance in the dust, turn the radio up.
Overall Bro Rating: 8/10
37. “Drinks After Work” – Toby Keith
Just having fun, two for one
Let’s watch a good time get a little better.
Ain’t no ball and chain for the suits and skirts
Just drinks after work,
Drinks after work.
Overall Bro Rating: 3/10
39. “I Hold On” – Dierks Bentley
It’s just an old beat up truck, some say that I should trade up
Now that I got some jangle in my pocket
But what they don’t understand is just the miles that make a man
I wouldn’t trade that thing in for a rocket.
Overall Bro Rating: 2/10. Singing about trucks isn’t inherently wrong. Songs like this and “I Drive Your Truck” show how the cars can double as emotional vehicles as well.
40. “Runnin’ Outta Moonlight” – Randy Houser
Look out your window at the cloud of dust
That’s my headlights, that’s my truck.
Come on baby let me take you on a night ride
Windows down, sittin’ on my side
Tick tock now we’re knocking on midnight
Me and you girl runnin’ outta moonlight.
Overall Bro Rating: 7/10
10. “We Were Us” – Keith Urban ft. Miranda Lambert
For the line: “I just close my eyes and you’re ridin shotgun.”
14. “Sunny and 75” – Joe Nichols
For this awkward driving metaphor: “You feel like windows rolled down.”
32. “Outta My Head” – Craig Campbell
For setting the song in a vehicle with this opening line: “I rode around long enough with my windows down”
What do you think, Julie Andrews?