Archives: Scotty McCreery ‘Southern Belle’ – Single Review
This article was first published on August 27th, 2015 on forthecountryrecord.com.
I’m going to start by saying that Scotty McCreery’s new single ‘Southern Belle’ does not compare to the moronic tropes of the frat boy class, thrown in a genre melting pot with the country removed, and served up as fresh and inspiring. In other words, there are much worse pop country and bro country songs out there that literally kill my brain cells if I happen to catch a note. That said, I know that Scotty is more than capable of producing better than ‘Southern Belle’, and for that reason I am somewhat disappointed in this song.
For a couple of months now, judging by the reports of those who had heard it live and comments from those at radio stations, it was clear Scotty’s new single was destined to be a radio-friendly track that furtively sold out a little to try and boost mainstream interest. So all things told, I was prepared. Still, considering that after ‘Feelin’ It’ peaked last year he was quoted as saying he was working on new music that skewed traditional, it does feel a bit of a shame that we don’t at least get something a little more substantive as the first sneak peek into the record. I guess that’s the name of the game now; release something fun and fluffy with elements of pop, R&B, rock etc and target the bro-country demographic with the underlying notion of evolution. I can understand perfectly why Scotty and his team would have chosen to record and release ‘Southern Belle’, and certainly I wouldn’t put it in the same vein as the likes of Florida Georgia Line, but it feels lacking nonetheless.
The track does admittedly start with twangy acoustic guitar picking out a rhythmic hook, but soon the hand claps and growling electric guitar are bringing up the rear and the gradually descending, minor key melody has inflections of pop as well as the preferred southern rock. The music is honestly miles better than the lyrics, channelling a moderately twangy country rock sound that boasts a pretty decent banjo line. There are moments of auto-tune, unfortunately, and a semi-rapped vocal refrain that seems to have been deliberately pitched down. I’m not sure the southern rock end of things suits Scotty, although I have to hand it to him for not resorting to that much-used R&B drum loop, I just think his rich baritone works for songs that are less rhythmically-driven.
The lyrics are where it falls down. There’s something uncomfortable about hearing the romantic crooner sing lines like “knocking one back baby, oh my Lord, have mercy,” and “ain’t nothin’ ring like a southern belle,” and traditional narrative is replaced with snappy word-painting and repetition. At the very least we aren’t subjected to the blatant sexual objectification that we hear in other current songs, although the woman in the song is hardly given a personality either. In fact, for all his description, it’s hard to actually get a picture of her at all.
I think that perhaps I was expecting worse from this song, so there is that, but I don’t know if I would go so far as to say it’s a great song. It’s just… there. And it would be a shame if further peeks into Scotty’s third studio album don’t allude to more substance and more country. Of him, at least, that is what we expect.