Saturday, January 15, 2011

Uncle Kracker and Kid Rock, "Good to Be Me"

A duet between Kid Rock and Uncle Kracker?  Be still, my beating heart.

These two Michigan boys are incredibly easy for a critic to dismiss on the basis that they are "not country."  Are they country?  Not by a long stretch.  You could try pinning a "country-pop" or "country-rock" label onto them, but even that doesn't quite stick.  But the "not country" argument is a bit of an easy-out, since there are much more important factors to judge than whether or not a song sounds "country."

...Which means, in turn, that this single's non-countryness is the least of its problems.  I can be led to believe that Kid and Kracker at least "like" country music, and may have a measure of respect for the genre.  But their country radio offerings, both separately and as duet cohorts, have mostly consisted of bland and forgettable fare (with the notable exception of Kid Rock's "Picture").  "All Summer Long" was a cheap Lynyrd Skynyrd rip-off.  "Smile" sounded like it was written by a first grader.  "Good to Be Me" fails to build on their not-terribly-respectable country music legacy.

Uncle Kracker is celebrated almost as much for his vocal imperfections as for his talents, but his singing on this track is just flat-out no good, and Kid Rock certainly doesn't save it.  Even the world's greatest vocal acrobats would have a hard time selling this silly set of lyrics.  But if one insists on singing about catching some "crazy happy disease," the performance needs a lot more spirit and zest than what these two vocalists put into it.  This entire tracks sounds languid, listless, and lackadaisical.  Listen to it while driving, and it just might put you in danger of falling asleep at the wheel.

If and when Kid Rock and Uncle Kracker start giving us material that is distinctive, engaging, and well-sung, then I will welcome them to the country genre with open arms.  But at the moment, all they're doing is further entrenching country music in the deep artistic rut that it's currently in.  We could quibble over the genre label all day, but there would be no real point in it.  Is bland pop, bland rock, bland hip-hop, or bland country?  Who cares?  Garbage is still garbage no matter which can you toss it into.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)