Have you ever felt like in the last couple of years every country artist is either rapping themselves or getting someone else to do it for them? I’m talking about the dreaded remix. Tim McGraw could be said to have started the modern wave of country/rap collaborations with his appearance on Nelly’s 2004 single ‘Over And Over’, but it wasn’t until a bit later when this started happening in country itself (after all, Tim was just guesting on Nelly’s song in that instance). 2012-3 saw rapping explode in country in a big way, but something that is a little newer even than that is the combination of the notion of a pop remix and rapping on country – the rap remix. Yes, in the past year, acts with pre-existing songs, often a hit in their own right, have been collaborating with rappers and producers to release rap/EDM remixes of their singles (SCM recently wrote about it too). Let’s have a look at the offenders.
Jason Aldean ft Ludacris ‘Dirt Road Anthem’
Some could say this is where it all started. The song, co-written by Colt Ford and Brantley Gilbert, was originally recorded for Colt’s 2008 album ‘Ride Through The Country’, featuring rapping by Colt and singing on the chorus from Brantley. Brantley later recorded a revisited, rather R&B-like version for his 2010 album ‘Halfway To Heaven’, also featuring Colt. So when Jason Aldean came to release it as a single in April 2011, it wasn’t the first time listeners had heard the song like this, but it was the first time it had been brought to mainstream attention. Two months later, Jason went one further by collaborating with Ludacris for a remix at the 2011 CMT Music Awards. The song remains a pinpoint for bro-country, country rap and more, and greatly aided the careers of all three artists.
Florida Georgia Line ft Nelly ‘Cruise’
Arguably the most famous example of a country/rap remix, the Nelly version of ‘Cruise’ caused it to return to #1 long after its peak last year, and very much helped it on its way to a record-breaking 26 weeks across Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. Gee, thanks Nelly. The remix also got a new music video specially made, and as if bro-country wasn’t sexualized enough, they added fast cars and scantily clad models to the scene, draping themselves over the three men like they were Christmas trees. If you haven’t heard this song, I suggest you go back under your rock and stay there until all this blows over.
Florida Georgia Line ft Jason Derulo & Luke Bryan ‘This Is How We Roll’
Oh wait, they’re back again. As if the aforementioned atrocity wasn’t bad enough, when Florida Georgia Line released their fifth single ‘This Is How We Roll’ (originally just with Luke Bryan coming in on the bridge), apparently it wasn’t ridiculously successful enough, so last June they released a new remix featuring Jason Derulo. Oddly enough, as someone who grew up on the pop charts, somehow the pop remix is more suited to the song (which wasn’t country in the first place FYI), but when it comes down to it it’s still awful.
Jerrod Niemann ft Pitbull ‘Drink To That All Night’
This one is really a double whammy, as ‘Drink To That All Night’ by itself was a heavily EDM-inspired track that reached #1 and re-launched Jerrod Niemann on radio, where he had previously been considered a underrated gem by fans. But it wasn’t repulsive enough, as this year, just as Jerrod was gearing up to release his next single ‘Donkey’ (which luckily died the death), he released a remix of the first track with Pitbull. Pitbull is known for guesting on about every pop hit there is, and is also known for his excruciatingly sexist lyrics and music videos, so I wasn’t surprised when that made up some of the content of the resulting video, but I was surprised at just how funny it became without meaning to. Jerrod is really not suited to this context, and I recommend just watching this video with the audio on mute.
Brad Paisley ft Colt Ford ‘River Bank’
Oh Brad, why? While all the bros were embracing rap, Brad had used it on his highly creative 2013 ‘Wheelhouse’ on a few tracks; ‘Pressing On A Bruise’ (ft Mat Kearney), ‘Karate’ (ft Charlie Daniels) and ‘Accidental Racist’ (ft LL Cool J), but for the most part these were done well and in good taste (the latter perhaps excluded). However, when ‘Wheelhouse’ failed to make any ground in the industry, he changed tack completely and recorded a supposedly commercial, his-take-on-bro album, with the lead single ‘River Bank’. It’s not his best single ever, but it’s alright, it has its merits. Unfortunately then Brad collaborated with Colt Ford for an unofficial remix, and the results are not pretty.
Jake Owen ft T-Pain & Mike Posner ‘Beachin”
Oh man this is awful. I mean, on the one hand the R&B/pop sound of ‘Beachin” somewhat lends itself to having a horrendously auto-tuned second verse from a no-talent hitmaker, and a rap from a now-irrelevant white boy who spouts the line “I don’t tan well but I f*** real good”, but that doesn’t mean I want it anywhere near country radio. Anywhere near. Uh, enjoy?
Reba McEntire ft Iggy Azalea ‘Fancy’
This one is a little different in that I think this was an unsolicited remix, or at least not one promoted by Reba’s team. Either way, it’s just plain awful. The decision for somebody to do it was probably inspired by Iggy’s #1 hit of the same name, but that still isn’t an excuse.
And the ones that could still be yet to come…
There have been rumors. Lots of rumors. Florida Georgia Line have said they would like to collaborate with Drake, The Band Perry have said the same about EDM super producer Avicii, Luke Bryan admitted that T-Pain wrote a verse for his 2013 monster hit ‘That’s My Kind of Night’, although apparently it was eventually cut from the album. There has been lots said about a possible remix for Brantley Gilbert’s smash ‘Bottoms Up’, initially mentioning Lil Wayne, and just last month more concretely speaking about one with T.I. I’m sure the remixes will keep on coming, and maybe I’ll have to do another one of these sometime in the future. Whether you love them or hate them (if the answer was love we can’t be friends), rap/EDM remixes are a part of country music’s future. Let’s all just pray we’ll still have our favorite artists left at the end of it.