Sunday, January 29, 2006

Toby Keith - Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (2002)

zero stars (of four)

A lot of liberal people hate Toby Keith. Me, I'm pretty liberal, and I think Toby's kinda entertaining sometimes. Steal "If I Was Jesus" or "The Critic" off the Internet if you don't believe me. But Toby's one lowest-common-denominator, pandering-ass S.O.B. too, and he uses incredibly cheap tricks to stir up blind patriotism. There's no more prime example than this knee-jerk, post-9/11 We're Gonna Kick Yer Bearded Brown Ass cut from the album Unleashed, which actually has a drawing of a doghouse on the front.*

Normally, superduper trite and clunky lyrics like this make me laugh, but the sheer ethnocentric arrogance of "Courtesy" half-pisses me off. (Then I take a deep breath and picture, as Toby suggests, the Statue of Liberty shaking her fist at the towelheads, and I'm back in a decent mood.) But Toby doesn't need a conscience - he has the support of every trailer-dwelling, beer-swilling waterhead in America, and apparently they all have enough disposable cash to snatch up millions of this fucker's albums from the Super Wal-Mart's electronics store.

That means no artistic effort was necessary for the "Courtesy" video - the lyrics and sentiment alone seal the deal. So Toby spends the duration standing front and center on a concert stage, flabby arms protruding from his black sleeveless shirt and red, white and blue acoustic guitar proudly on display. Stock footage of soldiers past and present is mixed in, of course, along with artillery and Cute Little Kids. It's also comforting to know, via the plaque held up by one such troop, that Toby Keith is a TF-1-77 AR Honorary "Steel Tiger" Tank Commander. I was having trouble sleeping before; now I'm out like a light, every night.

Man, it's gonna be hell when you hear Mother Freedom start ringin' her bell.

* = The only thing missing is a cartoon water dish with the word "Osama" scrawled around the rim.

Trace Adkins - Honky Tonk Badonkadonk (2005)

*1/2 (of four)

Some day, there will be a hit rap song delivered entirely in clever tongue-in-cheek cliches popularized by Redneck America. For now, all we have is the opposite, a guy named Trace Adkins adopting ghetto slang and other worn-out phrases to describe the big ol' butt on some random country cutie in the bar.

This junk-in-trunk babe puts down her drink when song she likes comes on, and she proceeds to head to the dance floor and work "what her mama gave her... that money maker." Lest you doubt, this bitch "got it goin' on like Donkey Kong." Not enough unoriginality for you? How about the age-old line, "We hate to see her go but love to watch her leave"?

The entire video takes place in a huge club, where Adkins shows off his giant black cowboy hat, "Honky" and "Tonk" brass knuckles and vaguely phallic cigar. That's all I really noticed about Trace - I was more distracted by the wall-to-wall rented models dancing in scant clothing, and the camera couldn't help but zoom in tight on their shimmying posteriors.

Yep, this is "Baby Got Back" for the trailer park set. I've never seen so much ass-shaking in a country video - I thought this entire genre was the wholesome alternative to hip-hop, devil rock and Top 40. Nope, there's butt cheek and everything here, and protest groups shut also note that Adkins advocates that listeners "smack your grandma."

Still, somehow, the whole affair comes out seeming sanitized and almost wholesome - how "on the edge" can your video be, morally, when your girls chew bubblegum and wear roller skates?