Country music has been accused of being formulaic and uninspired for decades. The music of America’s heartland has lost its soul, some say, by chasing the mainstream dollar powered by record executives in Nashville. That sentiment isn’t new.
But even for fans of country, there are some songs that are just plain unbearable to listen to. After hours of painstaking listening, these are the top 10 worst country songs of all time, in my opinion.
“Rocky Top” by Osborne Brothers is a lot of bad all at the same time.
A shrill voice. An obnoxiously fast rhythm. A song that talks about mating with a half-cat woman on top of a Smoky Mountain peak. This song is baffling.
The State of Tennessee general assembly voted this song as an official state song in 1982, which boggles the mind, considering the disproportionate amount of musical talent hailing from the Volunteer State. Cash, Elvis Presley, Isaac Hayes, B.B. King, Justin Timberlake, Dolly Parton-even Three 6 Mafia – have all put out more iconic songs than this.
This song gets a lot of respect for being a classic, but being recorded in analogue doesn’t mean it’s actually any good.
“Rap is Crap” by Curt Henning and the West Texas Rednecks has bad lyrics.
In the late 1990’s professional wrestling was reigning atop the American zeitgeist and one of the more peculiar moments from this moment in time was this music video from Curt Henning and the West Texas Rednecks.
Filmed in Nashville, the video somehow received actual play time in front of millions of households and made it onto an album.
The lyrics are filled with references to NASCAR, Willie Nelson, and Richard Petty, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a country song. Jeff Foxworthy even makes a cameo as a cardboard cutout. Execution is poor; however, and the lyrics are even poorer.
“I like country music. I like country girls. I like Willie Nelson, and don’t forget about Merle. There’s only one thing that I hate cause it’s a bunch of crap. I hate rap. Rap is crap.”
No sir, this song is crap.
Jake Owen’s “I Was Jack (You Were Diane)” disappoints.
John Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane” is an American classic. The iconic backbeat, the tale of summertime love, the memories of your first kiss that are much sweeter than it actually was. That’s what “Jack and Diane” is all about.
It’s easy to see why Mellencamp’s classic is an inspiration for songwriters, but Jake Owen’s 2018 take on the song? It’s doesn’t improve upon the original formula.Owen takes the “Cougar’s” beat and layers the Nashville-hit formula on thick by mimicking Mellencamp lyrics about blue jeans, radios, and being 16.
No one can accuse the original of being outside of the box, but this song didn’t even get creative.
“Buy Me A Boat” by Chris Janson is just a formulaic song to make money.
You have to imagine Chris Janson seeing dollar signs when he laid down this track. Look,everyone loves a boat.Everyone wants a boat. And everyone wants to spend a carefree day on the water on top of a wakeboard, behind a fishing reel, or lounging in the sun.
As formula songs go, this one is pretty smart. It even breaks the mould a little bit. Sadly, “Buy Me A Boat” loses its lustre after a single listen.
As Janson says, “Money can’t buy everything, but it can buy me a boat.”
“She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” by Kenny Chesney mocks farmers.
I grew up in a small, Tennessee farm town with a healthy respect for farmers. This song makes a mockery of them all. “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” is everything wrong with mid-2000’s country music, and the video is largely an exhibition of Chesney showing off his salon tan while singing about farmer’s tans.
The music itself isn’t even that catchy. This song scaled the charts based on Chesney’s loyal following and a simple, repetitive hook that the country icon echoes over and over … and over. It’s the kind of repetition that will make you car sick, which is why I suppose you can only truly appreciate it on a tractor.
“Corn Star” by Craig Morgan is like “She Thinks My Tractor” without the sexiness.
Craig Morgan’s 2012 “Corn Star” could be the sequel to Chesney’s farm-fed tractor track-without the sex appeal.
You’ll give up on this song just over a minute in. It’s just, so, cheesy. This Ned Flanders approach to sexual innuendo is weak even for the kid-friendly section of any streaming service. I can only assume that Morgan was trying his best to sneak under the radar of scrupulous parents at the local “fall festival” with “Corn Star.”
The track is off-base, overproduced, and overwhelmingly … corny.
“Dirt Road Anthem” by Jason Aldean is country meets hip-hop.
No bones about it, this song was a hit. Aldean’s 2010 “My Kinda Party” album sold 193,000 copies in its first week, and “Dirt Road Anthem,” the third single from this album, became one of the best selling digital downloads of all time.
I can see why. Music fans are big on nostalgia, and like Jake Owen’s track above, Aldean’s single plays hard on the memory chords. But objectively, “Dirt Road Anthem” is a mishmash of hip-hop and country that feels like a record label directive a half-decade too late. “Dirt Road Anthem” is a countrified product of marketing directives, reminiscent of the Shop Boyz hit “Party Like a Rockstar,” in 2007.
Then again, the song was a quadruple platinum number one hit, so those marketing gurus were right.
“Truck Yeah” by Tim McGraw has no real meaning.
Tim McGraw’s 2012 single, “Truck Yeah” takes the worst elements of “Corn Star” and multiples them tenfold. This song doesn’t even bother with a storyline. Shockingly, a song with a video in which McGraw pulls his truck to a dirt field in another truck only exists to talk about trucks and yell “Truck yeaaaah!” as much as possible.
You could have at least tried, Tim. You could have tried.
“Red Solo Cup” by Toby Keith has no storyline and speak inaccurately.
I apologise for reminding you that this song still exists. I know, you’re already singing the hook in your head. And you’re already dreading that moment in the pantry where you see a once-innocuous piece of affordable kitchenware, triggering Toby Keith’s vicious earworm.
“Red Solo Cup” comes at you fast – real fast. Keith attempts to draw the listener in with a fast-paced flow of lyrics bordering on rap. That’s not bad. But his storyline is.
You won’t be surprised to find that Toby Keith has nothing important to say in this song at all, though he does spit some disinformation about the decomposition rate of plastics.
Like a cheap Beastie Boys knockoff, the river of lyrics only exists to repeat the song’s signature line. The only way to actually enjoy this song? Fill your red solo cup up and dump it on the speaker.
“Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line is just extremely basic.
You know this song. You’ve heard it at the bowling alley. You’ve heard it on the generic sports broadcast. Every time you’ve heard it, you didn’t want to hear it. For the early part of this decade, “Cruise” was absolutely inescapable, and our eardrums are worse off for that.
Bikini tops. Jean shorts. Big trucks. Farm towns. Cheap whiskey. This is as formulaic as it gets. It also launched a phenomenon doomed to become country’s answer to Nickelback that shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.
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