If Florida Georgia Line really loved their country, they wouldn’t have foisted this abomination on a locked-down public.
Florida Georgia Line may have been one of the founding members of the Bro country movement, but as the loud-and-proud trend gave way to the slick, softer sounds of the Metropolitan and Boyfriend movements (to say nothing of the push back towards traditional instrumentation), Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard have struggled to find their footing in this shifting landscape. After reaching #3 or higher with fourteen of their first fifteen singles, “Talk You Out of It” only made it to #11, and “Blessings” ran out of steam at #23 before the plug was pulled. Something had to be done, and the decision was made: If the duo was going to get beat, they were going to beat throwing their best pitch, i.e. their classic Bro sound. Thus, we are left with “I Love My Country,” the presumed leadoff single for FGL’s upcoming fifth album, and it’s exactly as shallow and formulaic as you’d expect it to be. Sure, they’ve made some tweaks around the edges to their formula, but this is yet another Bro-Country revival track, and I’m no more interested in this trend than I was when it died the first time.
The production may take a different route than FGL’s previous Bro-Country singles, but they all end up at the same place in the end. The electric guitars are a bit more rollicking than rough and the primary drums are real this time, but the drum machines and token slow-rolling banjo are still here, and the general cadence of the mix is pretty much the same as “Cruise” and “This is How We Roll.” In the end, this is a wall of noise with the a party-hardy vibe just like the rest of the duo’s major hits, and despite the shallow, celebratory nature of the lyrics, it still manages to clash with them. (How can you claim to love “six strings and fiddles” and talk about “that pedal steel…straight sliding” when exactly none of those instruments are present or audible? The only reason I know there’s an acoustic guitar in here somewhere is because YouTube credits some guy with playing one in the video description.) In the end, this is the same garbage that FGL gave us back in the early 2010s, and to say I’m not feeling nostalgic for it would be an understatement.
For better or worse, Hubbard is firmly in his wheelhouse on this track, and he’s no more interesting or likeable than he was back in the day. He handles the rapid-fire lyrics well and his range and power aren’t really tested, but it’s the misplaced charisma that gets him into serious trouble here: He comes across as the same simple, fun-loving dudebro that he did on “Cruise,” and that’s not a good look for anyone right now (seriously, he comes across as the type of person who’d defy a shelter-in-place order to party on the beach in the middle of a pandemic). In addition, he’s not terribly believable as a narrator: He comes “rolling into town
Hanging out the window, like a blue tick hound” with guitars blazing behind him, and then tries to drop George Strait’s name and gush about fiddles? Toss in a little bit of low-key objectification with that “Alabama shake” line, and it’s clear that this douche has learned nothing from the past decade. This is so awful that Brian Kelley looks smart for pulling his usual disappearing act, and frankly, Hubbard would have been better off doing the same thing.
And then…honestly, do we really have to talk about the writing?
I love my country, I love my country
Six strings and fiddles, whiskey from Kentucky
We keep it funky, we like how it sounds
Monday to Sunday, yeah, I love my country
I’m loud and proud, rolling into town
Hanging out the window, like a blue tick hound
Ain’t sorry, ain’t nothing to be sorry about
I love my country and I love my country up loud
Actually guys, there’s a lot to be sorry about here: The laundry-list construction of the verses, the novel-but-bizarre details that are included (what on earth made you think we were interested in hearing about your “styrofoam plate date night”?), the lazy “I’m so country!” hook, and above everything the incessant checking of every last box on the Bro-Country list: Drinking, driving, hunting, fishing, and loving every day, leering at the opposite sex, dropping superficial references to older singers and traditional instruments, and even a blue-tick hour reference for good measure. (If it took more than fifteen minutes to write this drivel, I’d be surprised.) The narrator feels like they’re trying to pick a fight by shouting into the void defiantly proclaiming their love of country music and their rural lifestyle, but it’s a fight that no one’s interested in having right now. We’ve all heard this song and dance a million times before, and we’ve got better things to do than listen to this pointless rambling.
“I Love My Country” is a bad song even during normal times, and an absolutely terrible song to drop in the middle of a global health crisis. No one’s interested in revisiting that “classic” Bro-Country sound, no one’s interested in writing this pointless and lackadaisical, and no one’s interested in listening to an act like Florida Georgia Line with this little credibility and believability on the subject. I get that FGL is trying to rekindle that old magic with their old formula for success, but the genre and the world have changed since 2012, and people have moved on from Bro-Country as both a sound and an idea. People want more from their music in 2020, and a loud guitar and a “country” checklist just isn’t going to cut it anymore.
If we weren’t all stuck in place right now, I’d tell Florida Georgia Line that if this is the best they can do, they need to get the heck out of Nashville and stay out.
Rating: 2/10. Absolute trash.