Song Review: Kane Brown (ft. Brooks & Dunn?), “Like I Love Country Music”

This is the dumbest little silly song I’ve heard in quite some time…but I’ve said that before. It didn’t turn out bad then, and it’s not so bad now either.

One of the more-fascinating stories I’ve charted over our time here at Kyle’s Korner is the evolution of Kane Brown as a country artist. He began his career as part of the genre-fusing Metro-Bro crew in the mid 2010s, then quickly morphed with the meta to become one of the more-conventional (and boring) acts in the genre, and now he seems to be trying to call back to the 90s and pivot to a more-traditional sound. I wouldn’t call his path a steady march towards improvement thus far, but I will call his latest single “Like I Love Country Music,” the third standalone single he’s released since Mixtape, Vol. 1 (it’s four if you count his duet with Chris Young “Famous Friends,” but I’d prefer to forget that tire fire), the closest thing this genre has gotten to a neotraditional tribute since the Hot Country Knights were in town. Much like Russell Dickerson’s “Every Little Thing,” this is a silly-sweet love song that doesn’t have a whole lot to say about love, so it leans into the country music portion of the title to make the song a rollicking good time for all.

I’ve been railing against the bland standard that is Nashville’s current guitar-and-drum template for a while now, so the production here manages to feel old-school and fresh at the same time. Much like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, everyone is here: The fiddle (which has been getting a lot more screen time in Brown’s releases lately), the steel guitar, the twinkling piano, the electric guitars with that distinct mid-90s tone, the drum set, the extended instrumental outro, Kix Brooks & Ronnie Dunn, etc. The more-modern elements are here as well, and are blended with the neotraditional elements with mixed results: The drum machine that helps open the track and covers the first few verses is unobtrusive and fits in well, but the hard-edge rock guitars are wayyyyyyy too loud in the mix and drown everything else out when they’re cranked up on the chorus. Still, I’d say this arrangement hits more often than it misses, bringing an intensity and an energy that amplifies the narrator’s feelings towards their two true loves, while also creating a fun vibe that makes the whole thing down go easy. Outside of the Knights, the only example of a sound like this in recent memory is Thanos’s “When It Rains It Pours,” which helps this track stand out from its peers and draw in listeners. It’s a mix that’s both retro and radio-friendly, and with summer on the way, I expect it to be a potent combination of the airwaves.

As far as Brown’s vocal talent, if this song can’t convince you that’s he’s a above-average artist, then I don’t know what will. This is not an easy song to pull off, as it requires a) the flow to quickly blast through the verses while still putting some feeling behind the words, and b) the range to go deep on the verses and then climb the ladder on the choruses without losing your vocal tone. Brown passes both tests with flying colors, showing off both the deeper voice that drew listeners to him in the first place and a smooth flow that lets him breeze through the verses without braking a sweat. He’s been a bit inconsistent on love songs up to this point (“Good As You” was kinda-sorta okay, “Worship You” not so much), so I think leaning into the fun here rather than the romance was the right call, and there’s a real enthusiasm to Brown’s delivery here that leads you to believe he’s as big a fan as he claims. (Brooks and Dunn are limited to one line apiece, but they still sound good, and it’s nice to see the song go beyond the usual name-drops to actually include some of the people they talk about.) Overall, this is a solid performance that helps extend the song’s good vibes, and hopefully it will push people past Brown’s previously polarizing performances and convince them to give him the respect he deserves.

The writing is…well, let’s say it’s not a terribly deep song. The narrator uses their love of country music to demonstrate how deep their love is for their partner, and leans on a few old-school references to drive home their point. In truth, the writing feels like a placeholder, giving the singer and sound an excuse to go wild with their retro tribute. The whole song has two quick verses and a bridge (it’s leans on its outro to really feel complete) and is built around only five real music references, which are more silly and nonsensical than anything else (“high like Willie,” “gone like Jones,” the fact that the narrator needs their partner and a record player on a desert island, etc.). It’s not as packed as Walker Hayes’s “90s Country,” but thankfully it’s nowhere near as sleazy either, as it emphasizes the song’s less-serious nature and indicates that the bond here is just as much emotional as it is physical—above all, the two are together because it’s fun! Unlike “Every Little Thing,” this track wants you to at least care about the lyrics a tiny bit, but just to set the mood so it can then sweep you away in a nostalgic wave. No one’s going to win a Nobel Prize for literature with this song, but if you end the song feeling better than when it started, that’s close enough to perfect for now.

“Like I Love Country Music” is just a sugar high, but at least it’s a quality sugar high, featuring a throwback sound, a fun vibe, and a charismatic performance from Kane Brown to help remind folks like me why we love country music in the first place. Despite its ephemeral nature, it does a lot of things right: It brings back the instrumental variety and tone of the 90s to distinguish itself on the radio, it tells a love story without feeling too sappy or creepy, and it lets people enjoy themselves without falling prey to nihilism or alcoholism. It also gives Brown an intriguing path moving forward that might help him reclaim the buzz of his early releases, and really shines in a year that’s felt pretty weak overall thus far. It’s not my favorite song of the year, but at this point I’ll happily take it.

Rating: 7/10. Check this one out—I think you’ll be glad you did.

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