Gone Country: Bro-country might finally be dying, and Florida Georgia Line are leading the charge

I wrote earlier this week about how Florida Georgia Line’s new single is this week’s worst country song. Allow me to explain.

A List photos of Florida Georgia Line

Florida Georgia Line. 2015 photo by Suzanne Cordeiro for American-Statesman

God, Your Mama and Me” is the second single from the bro-country harbingers of doom’s new album, “Dig Your Roots.” More on that cloying title in a minute, but the reason I don’t like “God, Your Mama and Me” is because it’s not music. It’s a business decision wrapped in tropes that are used to sell records to country radio. And  yeah, I get it. Food has to be put on the table somehow. The music business has always been a business, and that will never change.

But, y’all. This song is bad. It’s not as bad as other songs the group has released (looking at you, “(That’s How We Do It) Round Here“). But make no mistake, the fact that the team of Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard, just as much a producer’s creation than any other boy band, actually sing this new song with the Backstreet Boys on the chorus is no accident.

The duo have talked about how they were influenced by the boy band before, which is appropriate, since FGL is country music’s closest equivalent to a boy band this side of Dan + Shay.

The song traffics in cornball country tropes that we’ve all heard before, complete with the synth and faked drums they featured on their last schmaltzy, Backstreet Boys-esque single, “H.O.L.Y.” Plus, it’s on an album titled “Dig Your Roots,” which is clearly a pandering to people who say they’re not country enough.

“God, Your Mama and Me” sounds like a run-through-the-numbers checklist.

Drum claps? Check.

References to God? Check.

References to Mama? Check.

Religious imagery? Check.

Soaring chorus to let you know they really mean it? Check.

Featuring a crossover pop artist appearance, as is quickly becoming new tradition? Check. It even sounds like a Backstreet Boys song.

But as much as I hate this type of music-by-committee, it is signaling a new era for FGL, one where they’re trying to be taken more seriously as artists.

Laugh all you want at these bros, but they are responsible for America’s best-selling digital country song of all time. They weren’t the first to get famous off of the “girl slide over here in them painted on jeans” shtick, but they perfected it, and it’s been imitated ad nauseum lately. If they try to become more serious, perhaps their peers will as well.

Bro-country might finally be on its way out, however slowly it may be crawling to the exits. I think it’s a telling contrast that “Dig Your Roots” came out today, the same day as Jack Ingram’s “Midnight Motel,” about as mature an album I’ve heard all year.

I haven’t heard all of “Dig Your Roots”; and frankly, I don’t care to. I’m sure there’s some more partying songs on there, too, but hopefully it’s a more introspective affair. Maybe now that FGL has had some success on the party circuit, they can start to make music that actually matters.

The fact that the first two singles are courting more “mature” listeners is telling. But then again, maybe that’s just another gimmick too.

Gone Country aims to thoughtfully explore the country music genre and where it’s headed, with a focus on national trends and buzzworthy news of the week. For info about album releases and concerts, check out this week’s Country Music Roundup.

Questions, comments, suggestions? Let me know on Twitter @jakeharris4 or through email at jharris@statesman.com.


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