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Hootie blows

09/04/2010

Stop me if you heard this one before…

Rhonda and I were watching the CMA Music Festival: “Country’s Night to Rock” last night.  It was like an awards show without the hardware, and it featured performances by Country Music’s top artists and, also, Darius Rucker.  To call Rucker an artist is like calling the kid flipping burgers at MickeyD’s a chef.

You might recognize Rucker from his “Cracked Rear View” days, his monster pop-rock blues-laden debut with “Hootie and the Blowfish.”  You’ll find that beer coaster in the used bin at the record store somewhere between Hoodoo Gurus and Bruce Hornsby. The three huge track on Cracked was Hold My HandLet Her Cry and Only Wanna’ Be With You. You may read that sentence and think to yourself that “Steve, you’ve got a subject-verb agreement issue there.”  That’s actually not the case; they are in agreement, they are just not plural. They’re singular.  Why would I say “three track” with the noun in the singular form? — because those three songs are the same flippin‘ song — Same chords, just slightly different arrangement and words.

The catchy rifts that got Hootie the radio play were also the source of their (his) demise the first time ’round.  That sticky pop sound can only go so far before people have a guttural aversion to it.  By the mid ’90s, it was pretty much a consensus that Hootie Blows.  Due to radio overplay, lack of musical creativity and their bubble-gum edged sound, the South Carolina bar-band-done-good were musical pariahs.  Their music is the epicurean equivalent of eating a bowl of frosting… sure it’s good, but somewhere near the end you’re going to feel sick and never want the stuff again.

There’s no doubt that Rucker is talented.  He’s got solid pipes and a pleasant raspy sound to his baritone voice.  I don’t know if he writes his stuff (because I will never have one of his CD jackets to reference), but my guess is he does.  All his songs have the same elementary composition that just seems like a woman who drinks white zinfandel… cheap and easy.  So while he doesn’t write anything deep or layered, he does get airplay.

But what Hootie should truly be heralded for is his brilliant career move.  Pop radio will have none of him, so what has he done?  He’s pulled an Alan Jackson and “Gone Country.”  Where else could “three chords and a hook” go over so well than with some simple country folk?

Problem is his new crap is just like his old.  Each song sounds faintly like the next.  I dare you to tell these three diddys apart: It Won’t Be Like This For Long, Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It, and History In The Making.  You could swap choruses and the songs wouldn’t mean any less.  He’s got another country hit, but I can’t think of it. It’s like telling loose socks apart. You can’t?

Meanwhile, Darius won the CMA’s Best New Artist last year… What’s more surprising than the “New” in the title (dude’s been making records since ’89) is that the “C” does not stand for “chocolate”.  It’s country.  But check out the clip below, you’ll notice he’s about as country as a skyscraper.

Country music is a more sophisticated genre than most believe.  Sure, there’s Taylor swift who’s so pretty and sweet and probably smells like flowers, but the girl writes here own stuff.  While her songs all have her young-girl charm, they are unique and good.  Say what you will about her voice, she is an artist.

Country Music is loaded with talent.   Miranda Lambert’s The House That Built Me might be one of the best songs ever written.  Bands like Lady Antebellum prove that Country Music is more than a banjo and a twang.  New artists like The Zac Brown Band (who should have won 2009 Artist of the Year) are undeniably Country.  Hootie just seems like he doesn’t belong.  Not because he’s black, but because he’s kinda’ a hack.  Perhaps if he tried something that didn’t read like a Hallmark card that had more than three chords and wasn’t some half-rock, half-ballad hybrid, he might stay around a little longer in this genre.

He may be Darius Rucker to the Country Music world, but he’ll always be Hootie to me… and Hootie still Blows.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. 09/04/2010 5:10 pm

    I adore Darius’s new stuff and the old Hootie stuff. Love it all. Similar sound? maybe. But I would argue you could say the same ABOUT EVERY MAJOR RECORDING ARTIST. They each have a sound and comfort tune, whether it be a ballad, pop mix or whatever.

    Don’t mess with Darius. He is a cool guy too. Hung out with him at a vineyard show in the bay area. And I got his back.

    • 09/04/2010 9:40 pm

      I will mess with Darius because he’s messing with country music. You can have is back and your opinion on him. Granted, had I shared a bottle of wine with the guy, I might find him less annoying artistically.

      I listen to sports radio mostly. I don’t know about every major recording artist. Country, I will say, produces a higher class of song than pop. There are some true artists in the genre. I’m saying that as a fringe fan. If it weren’t for Rhonda, I wouldn’t even listen to it.

  2. RMP permalink
    09/04/2010 9:14 pm

    After second, and third thought; I disagree with the report given on Darius… I like his Gig!

    • 09/04/2010 9:35 pm

      To illustrate my own point, I just clicked each of the Rucker country links at simultaneously having all three play at the same time… couldn’t barely tell it wasn’t one song. Seriously. Each of the first lyrics starts :15 in…

      The guy is talented. I just wished he didn’t put such cookie-cutter crap out there. Listen to Miranda Lambert’s song. If you don’t think that’s 10-times the song pf any of the Rucker selections, I will retract this post.

      Darius may be a good singer, and his music seems innocuous enough, but it’s annoying to me that he chose to muck up country with his pop singles. He will never be known as a songwriter.

      this is history in the making. My guess country will grow tired of him just like pop radio did years before. The better ending to the story is that he doesn’t put such hackneyed crap out there, but Darius is an old dog…

  3. Jenelyn Russo permalink
    09/04/2010 9:56 pm

    Wow, Steve Bush with a country music post? Who knew? May not entirely agree with you on Darius, but totally agree with you on Miranda. Amazing doesn’t even begin to describe her talent. Love all her stuff.

    • 09/04/2010 10:07 pm

      That song ( You Can’t Go Home Again) is one of the best ever to me. heartfelt, evocative, and the words sound sound so authentic.

      I remember my best friend Darin had the “Cracked” CD. We’d cruise playing those songs ad nauseam… after a while, the songs got so annoying that we tossed the CD out on the freeway. It got to the point that I’d un-program stations on my Aiwa flip-down radio that played Blowfish songs.

      Whatever. He’s cashing checks with his hireling tunes.

  4. 09/04/2010 11:57 pm

    I actually like this one by him more than any that made the radio waves: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYY0bh566vQ&feature=related

  5. 09/05/2010 12:40 am

    BTW, here’s your chance:
    DARIUS RUCKER
    Sunday, Sept. 12
    $19.50-$100
    Darius debuts at the L.A. County Fair with hit singles “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It” followed by “It Won’t Be Like This For Long” and more.

    • 07/26/2012 8:46 am

      playing county fairs is tragic.next thing he will be doing a jimmy fallon show.it is always about the music and his music was elevator at its best.hootie please go away now!

  6. 09/07/2010 4:39 pm

    I have a Darius story that will knock your socks off!

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