Tired of bro-country yet? You’ll love this song.
The staff writers on Music Row are in a bit of a pickle. Many of them love the narrative storytelling and traditional sounds that make country music a unique art form, but they know that stuff won’t sell.
No, what sells are songs about dirt roads, and trucks, drinking that “real good feel-good,” and watching your honey shake her “sugar shaker.”
So what’s a songwriter who’s paid to churn out the hits to do?
Write a scathing satire of it all, of course.
That’s what Nashville-based songwriter Brent Cobb did with his new song “Hey Bro,” which pokes fun at not only the constantly recycled themes of bro-country, but also the twang-rap heard all over country FM radio today.
Cobb covers all the tropes and clichés you’re familiar with, and he sums up a big root of the problem in the first few lines of the song.
“If I wrote a song about the dirt road I grew up on/ could I get it on the radio? /If it’s true, that’s all you gotta do, that’s crazy/Thought it was lazy/but count me in like a pig in the pen if it pays me”
Cobb — who’s penned hits for Luke Bryan, Kellie Pickler and other top artists — told Rolling Stone Country that he wrote the song out of frustration. “I had a few folks in the industry say, ‘Man, if you could just do something that was a little more mainstream, you’d really be doing well.’ But just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. And just because you should do something doesn’t mean you can. ‘Yo Bro’ sounds like bro country and it looks like bro country, but it’s not – I’d say it’s the anti-bro.”
Cobb isn’t the only one who is “anti-bro.” Many country fans, songwriters and artists are tired of the current phase of country music, which really does resemble the hair metal days of the 80s. You can only degrade a treasured artform for so long before people start to say “stop turning this beautiful thing into a heap of rubble.” But good things usually blossoms out of the rubble. That’s beginning to happen with country music.
However, with the current sea change in country music comes a big question: Will what comes next be better than what’s on the way out? Perhaps the better question is, will it sound anything like authentic country music? Time will tell. But I’d say there’s hope on the horizon.