Blake Shelton – “Honey Bee”

C.M. Wilcox | April 11th, 2011

Blake Shelton

Songwriters: Rhett Akins and Ben Hayslip

With Dallas Davidson out for the day, the other two-thirds of The Peach Pickers were apparently forced to resort to a Mad Libs chorus generator. To wit:

You be my ________, I’ll be your _______
You be my ________, I’ll be your _______
You be my ________, I’ll be your _______
You be my ________, I’ll be your _______

Go ahead and fill those blanks in however you’d like. Whatever you come up with cannot possibly be any cornier than the titular solution by Akins and Hayslip, “You be my honeysuckle, I’ll be your honey bee.” Which means what, exactly? He wants to extract her life force? Pollinate her? Experience only the sweetness, none of the stem? Either way, she’s stuck in place while he flies free. And have you ever known a honey bee to visit just one honeysuckle?

The power dynamics would seem to be more equal in one of the Mad Lib’s other pairings: “You be my little Loretta, I’ll be your Conway Twitty.” Here, at least, both parties are cast as human. But since the practice of referring to all women–even those with personalities as outsized as Lynn’s–as ‘little’ begin falling out of favor around the time that women got the vote, this isn’t much of an improvement. Twitty, meanwhile, gets the respect conferred by a full (stage) name. Hardly equal footing from which to launch a lasting relationship.

Of course, Conway and Loretta were personal friends and professional duet partners, not a couple. So it’s possible Shelton just wants to sing with this little darlin’ while wearing a pastel leisure suit, not pollinate her.

The other pairings are innocuous enough–soft and sweet/strong and steady, glass of wine/shot of whiskey, sunny day/shade tree–but never sufficiently interesting to overcome the repetitive fill-in-the-blank structure of the chorus. When you’re working from what basically amounts to a template, it behooves you to fill in some details that actually mean something rather than just, you know, sounding kinda cool.

In terms of unleashing the potential pent up in that voice of his, discovering The Peach Pickers was the worst thing that ever happened to Blake Shelton. As long as he settles for ear-catching but substantively bankrupt country boy hokum like this, there’s little hope of him fulfilling the promise evident in ambitious early career highlights such as “Ol’ Red” and “Goodbye Time.” And as long as radio keeps rewarding him for efforts like “Honey Bee,” there isn’t much incentive for him to change anything.

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Listen: Blake Shelton – “Honey Bee”

  1. JR
    April 11, 2011 at 7:43 am

    I agree with most of your comments but I enjoyed the song. Is there no room in country music for fun and silly?

  2. Barry Mazor
    April 11, 2011 at 7:53 am

    I’ve often liked Blake’s goofy change-ups, and I like this one–and I can’t see what’s wrong with doing them, as long as this doesn’t become all he does, since he also sings a prtety good story. And I’d say he’s been pretty careful about that and succesfsul in mixing up the tones.

  3. Jon
    April 11, 2011 at 8:04 am

    You cannot analyze a song, especially a country song, as though only its lyrics mattered, and as though it has got to be all serious and stuff in order to be any good. There’s not a body of work in the genre, from Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family to George Jones and Merle Haggard, that can survive that approach.

    Oh, and I think Loretta Lynn can fairly be called little; I see where she’s semi-officially listed at 5’2″, and from my recollection, I think that’s about right.

  4. Jeff
    April 11, 2011 at 9:13 am

    I think the merits of this song can be argued on the split it makes from country music as a whole right now. This sounds like a vintage Brooks and Dunn track, which I would gladly take right now as opposed to a pop-crossover song, a Jason Aldean rap tune, or something from a novelty duo like Joey + Rory or the JaneDear Girls.

    The pure feel of the song makes it a great summer singalong — and if you saw the ACMs the other night, you might have thought it was footage from a few years back the way it stood out as one of the few remarkably COUNTRY tunes performed there.

  5. Jon
    April 11, 2011 at 9:22 am

    Joey+Rory a “novelty duo?”

  6. grumpiestoldman
    April 11, 2011 at 9:29 am

    “Cheater, Cheater”? Novelty? Yup.

  7. Mick
    April 11, 2011 at 9:36 am

    @JR – Ol’ Red was fun. This is just cheesy. But country radio is trying to force feed the general public that Blake & Miranda are the next Tim & Faith, even though they can’t so as much hold a candle to those two let alone be the next Tim & Faith. The 9513 is right on this one.

  8. Neal
    April 11, 2011 at 9:52 am

    I really like the 9513 and appreciate so much of what this site does for Country music, but I think this review is off base. There’s something powerful about making people feel happy and that’s exactly what this song does. It’s not a Bob McDill tune, but like someone else already said, Country has room for all kinds of songs(Jambalaya!?) I say get off your high horse and stop taking yourself so seriously.

  9. Jon
    April 11, 2011 at 10:25 am

    “Cheater, Cheater”? Novelty? Yup.

    I’m not sure that’s so – exactly why is it a novelty? – but even if it were, that’s 1 song out of a couple of dozen that they’ve recorded, so unless doing one (1) novelty song is sufficient to label an artist a novelty act, period, I believe my question remains unanswered.

    It’s not a Bob McDill tune…

    As if McDill never wrote any trifles.

  10. grumpiestoldman
    April 11, 2011 at 10:28 am

    A novelty song is one that the teens call in for snickering about. “Cheater, Cheater”, and “Pray For You”.
    And then there was the Christmas version of “Cheater, Cheater” that cemented it’s novelty status.

  11. Jon
    April 11, 2011 at 10:40 am

    I’m just going to call that an idiosyncratic definition of a novelty song and leave it at that. And like I said, that’s 1 song out of a couple of dozen that they’ve recorded, so unless doing one (1) novelty song is sufficient to label an artist a novelty act, period, I believe my question remains unanswered. In fact, I think calling them a “novelty duo” is almost unspeakably bizarre.

  12. Jonathan
    April 11, 2011 at 10:45 am

    As far as Blake Shelton singles go, “Honey Bee” isn’t as bad as “Hillbilly Bone” or as good as “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking” but unfortunately, that’s not saying much.

    But as a song, it’s awful. The lyrics are so uninspired and Blake sounds like he isn’t even trying anymore. I disagree with those who call the melody generic, it keeps the song somewhat interesting.

    And I do see where people are coming from when they say Joey + Rory are a novelty band. But that doesn’t mean they are, at their core. They’ve just chosen a string of novelty songs as singles, and that’s what their image has become. “That’s Important To Me” and “To Say Goodbye” are the only two singles of their career, that actually show some substance.

    But if you listen to their records, they’re far from a novelty. It’s just a shame their public image has been branded in that way. It’s also why they haven’t had any major radio success, even though “That’s Important To Me,” is their best single to date.

    But it terms of “Honey Bee,” it’s one of Blake’s worst singles ever. That even attempts at being clever is just sad.

  13. MR. ROBERTS
    April 11, 2011 at 11:07 am

    A higher percentage of Paisley’s songs have been more novelty than Joey & Rory’s. Maybe it’s Rory’s continuous bib outfit that might make him seem more novelty. But the dude can write and they can both sing. Wish radio was more open to them.

  14. Thomas
    April 11, 2011 at 11:08 am

    …a light-hearted way of telling a girl with a keen interest in gardening/outdoor-related activities that he d’love to screw her finally.

    well, in my eyes, beating around the bush would pass as a quite appropriate strategy in such a case.

    nonetheless, after getting across the same desire by using big green farm equipment metaphors, country music songwriters seem to feel somewhat more romantic again. bless ‘em.

  15. Barry Mazor
    April 11, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Perhaps if there IS an increase in novelty songs lately (they could get to be too regular to be novelties!) have more to do with radio demands and even radio audience taste than artist preference? There’s a difference between the range of songs on an album or EP (or live show, for that matter) and what the single turns out to be..

  16. Karlie
    April 11, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    I’m actually liking this song as well – I think I can get over the lyrics because the feel of the song is bigger than the message. Compared to the rest of the metaphors, the Loretta/Conway does seem pretty pandering – but I’m a sucker for it nonetheless. (And I also seem to remember Blake doing a couple of Conway covers at the last show I saw him at…)

  17. Fizz
    April 11, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    This may come as a shock, coming from me, but there are a lot of worse songs out there. It’s ear candy, plain and simple. Obviously, it’s not advanced calculus, so overanalyzing the lyrics is pointless. Why complain that the lyrics don’t really say anything, when it doesn’t appear the songwriters were actually trying to say anything. At all. The song is essentially about nothing. But while what Jon says is true about lyrics not being the only yardstick, it would be easier to concentrate on something else if the vocals weren’t so upfront in the mix. It’s hard NOT to analyze the lyrics, even if you know it’s a waste of time.

  18. Ben Foster
    April 11, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    I kind of like the melodic groove of this song, but the lyrics are pretty stupid. “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking” seemed like a sign of progress, but this is a big step backwards.

    I think the Conway and Loretta reference might have worked better if they had just left it at Lousiana/Mississippi instead of mentioning the artists by name. It would have been a more subtle form of homage, and it would connect more with the couple in the “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man” song than with the artists themselves (who shared no real-life romantic attatchment). But that’s just me.

  19. Fizz
    April 11, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    That part just sounded like a(nother) gratuitous name-drop to me.

  20. AtlantaFan
    April 11, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    I kind of like the tune; it’s a fun summer song. Honey Bee is much better than the insipid “Hillbilly Bone” that won an ACM award and went to #1 on country radio. I am not going to run out and buy the Honey Bee, but I won’t turn down the volume when I hear it on radio.

    As far as the lyrics go, I am a fan, not a critic, so I’m not going to over-analyze every word used. I doubt this song will wind up on a greatest hits list, so what’s wrong with a little cheesy “ear candy” as Fizz puts it for summer fun?

  21. MR. ROBERTS
    April 11, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    @Fizz – You seem to be making competing statements. You state, “Obviously, it’s not advanced calculus, so overanalyzing the lyrics is pointless.” Then you say, “It’s hard NOT to analyze the lyrics, even if you know it’s a waste of time.”

    Please clarify. I think I agree with you but wanted to get the jist of what you mean.

    As far as over-analyzing the lyrics, per the Atlantafan’s comment, I would assume that most people do not participate in that activity when listening to a song.

  22. Fizz
    April 11, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    I don’t think they’re competing statements, Waynoe. The song isn’t meant to be overanalyzed, but just be a fun little frivolous summer jam, but, coming at it from the reviewer’s perspective, the inane lyrics kinda slap you on the ear. That, and seeing the songwriting credits, it’s fish-in-a-barrel easy to take the dumb lyrics” angle.

  23. Fizz
    April 11, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    This review kinda reminds me of the one of Rodney Atkins’s “It’s America.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sticking up for Atkins, but the reviewer spent a ton of time trying to figure out what “it” referred to.

  24. Jonathan
    April 11, 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Ben makes a good point about the Conway/Loretta reference, but why include a homage to them at all? It feels random and adds to the overall stupidity of the lyrics.

    It’s also worth noting this is the second time in four singles that Blake has cited Conway in a song. In both occasions it’s less a homage and more a cheesy excuse to namecheck a country legend in a song that doesn’t live up the particular artist’s legendary status.

    I love what someone on CU said about this song (and I’m paraphrasing), mentioning a country legend doesn’t do this song any service because it only reminds us of better music we should be listening to instead of this. It’s a valid point.

    But none the less, if the success of this song on iTunes is any indication, it’ll be one of this summer’s biggest country singles. Like Brad and Keith before him, once you reach superstar status, you can get away with recording pretty much anything.

  25. Noeller
    April 11, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    I don’t despise this song (I can’t wait for a review of “Dirt Road Anthem”…) but lyrically it feels really lazy. I appreciate the sentiment, but there’s better ways to go about achieving it that are worthy of professional songwriters.

  26. Josh
    April 11, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    “I kind of like the melodic groove of this song, but the lyrics are pretty stupid.”

    Agreed, Ben. I seem to be thinking that about a lot of the “Peach Pickers” songs.

    The Loretta/Conway line actually made me smile – say what you will, but the Louisiana/little Loretta and Mississippi/Conway Twitty rhymes are pretty clever.

    But the rest of the song… I’m sorry, but “You be my honeysuckle, I’ll be your honey bee” is just not something a most men would be caught dead saying. And why is it the hook? It doesn’t tie anything together or mean anything, it just happens to be last line on the list.

    Overall, it sounds more like a bad, 80′s girl-group song by ABBA to me than it does a Blake Shelton song. I like most of his lighthearted songs like “The More I Drink” and “Good At Startin Fires”, but this is so light it’s like a nursery rhyme.

    I will say that vocally, Blake sounds great. But him trying to soulfully moan “I’ll be your ho-o-oney bee-e-ee” over the outro is borderline embarrassing to listen to.

  27. Matt B
    April 11, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    If you think all peach picker songs are ‘lyricially insipid’ take a listen to “Nothing Grows In Shadows” off of the Jake Owen record “Easy Does It.” It’s a pretty good gut-punch song that I’m quite shocked didn’t get released as a single from that album.

  28. Jon
    April 11, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    it only reminds us of better music we should be listening to

    That “should” strikes me as something of a Freudian slip.

  29. Mike W.
    April 11, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    I actually like this. I can see the issues with it and it is pretty much fluff, but it’s one of the better fun, summer songs I have heard thus far.

    It’s not perfect, but this is actually one of the better songs Shelton had put out in some time in my eyes.

  30. MR. ROBERTS
    April 11, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    @Fizz – Yes, I then agree with your aforemetnioned statement.

    @Jon – Thanks to youtube and other “outlaw” media, we ARE listening to better music. Right now, Mr. Ray Price is serenading me into the twilight with the Kristofferson song “For The Good Times.” It’s live, not lyp-syncing, and though it was very pop for it’s day, it is still a great listen. After that, some Sweeney and then some Marty Stuart’s Soul’s Chapel tunes.

  31. Jon
    April 11, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Would that be the royal “we,” Waynoe?

  32. MR. ROBERTS
    April 11, 2011 at 7:37 pm

    Includes other music aficionados that I proudly associate with.

  33. Rick
    April 11, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    If Blake is getting lazy enough to start using this sort of insubstantial fluff from the Peachfuzz Pickers, maybe Miranda needs to call off the wedding while she still can!

  34. luckyoldsun
    April 11, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    The Conway Twitty line is so goofy that it makes me laugh when I hear it. Nothing wrong with that. The fact that Conway and Loretta were never actually a couple really makes no difference.

    Half the new traditional country songs used to name check Hank and Lefty. Then they switched to Haggard and Jones. Then, after the “Walk the Line” movie it was Johnny Cash or Johnny and June. So I’m all for Blake name checking Conway Twitty.
    (Waynoe–The only guy I know of who name checks Ray Price is Dale Watson, a first-ballot Hall of Famer himself in my honky-tonk alternate universe.)

  35. MR. ROBERTS
    April 11, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    @Lucky – I will admit I have never delved much into Dale Watson and I regard this as my loss. What I have listened of his style impresses me to be a cross between Johnny Cash and Marty Robbins. That ain’t bad company!

  36. Rick
    April 11, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    That “Honey Bee” actually stood out at the awards show is the thing that should of most interest to us here .

  37. MR. ROBERTS
    April 11, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    @Rick – Are you saying that it was the cream of the crap?

  38. Carrie
    April 11, 2011 at 10:21 pm

    I don’t loathe the song, but the final paragraph of this review PERFECTLY sums up how I feel about Blake Shelton, and is precisely why I will never classify myself as a fan (and will rather take on an anti-Shelton stance) with almost every song he releases.

    Dammit, radio. Stop dumbing-down artists who could actually be good.

  39. MR. ROBERTS
    April 12, 2011 at 7:27 am

    @Carrie – Agree with your sentiment. It fits Blake for now however since he thinks he still needs to announce to everyone how much he drinks. Very juvenile indeed.

  40. Rickster
    April 12, 2011 at 10:42 am

    OK, since Waynoe is using a new name I will also adopt a new moniker as the last entry above from a different “Rick” who shows up accasionally confused even me! Gosh, unless I deride Obamavoters in each and every post how can we two Rick’s be differentiated?! Thusly I will be posting as Rickster (like Jeffster fron NBC’s “Chuck”) from now on just as Waynoe is now Mr. Roberts. OK there is a slight difference as Waynoe claims to be reformed now, but ain’t none of that goin’ on ’round here! (lol)

  41. MR. ROBERTS
    April 12, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    @Rick – Welcome back! Reformed yes, but with presentation only and not idealogically.

  42. Buddy Brown
    April 14, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Different, but in a great way!

  43. JeffT
    April 15, 2011 at 10:58 am

    The song debuted at #13 on The Billboard Hot 100 Chart, for what that’s worth in the conversation. Quite impressive for any song to debut that high.

  44. Jeff
    April 15, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    At the end of the day, when you are saying “I like this” or “I hate this”, you always have to ask: compared to what? This isn’t very lyrically deep, compared to Guy Clark — but Guy isn’t on country radio these days. Compared to the country radio landscape, this is a standout.

  45. luckyoldsun
    April 16, 2011 at 12:55 am

    JeffT

    That’s truly amazing. I don’t even know how it’s possible for this song to have debuted at #13 on the Hot 100 when it’s not even in the top 30 yet on the country chart. Is pop radio spinning this ode to Little Loretta and Conway Twitty? Or is it all digital sales?

  46. Jon
    April 16, 2011 at 1:34 am

    Why don’t you zip on over to the Billboard site and see for yourself?

  47. luckyoldsun
    April 27, 2011 at 9:43 am

    J & J
    Well I just checked Billboard and in its second week, the song is at #47 on the Hot 100.
    Why the huge movement in all directions? Did pop radio jump on this country single out of the box and then jump off? Did the single have massive sales or downloads in its first week–that only counted toward the Hot 100 but not the Country Singles chart–and did it then stop selling? Was the first week’s number an error on Billboard’s part? Or is there some esoteric feature of chart compilation that would account for this?

  48. Sheepman
    May 18, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Well I personally love this song! Yes, the lyrics are cheesy, but it’s fun and lighthearted. I’m not a big one on over-analyzing the lyrics, so that’s probably why I love it so much.

  49. Matt
    May 23, 2011 at 9:49 am

    This song is beyond stupid.Meaningless lyrics,terrible composition and blake just flat-out can NOT sing.
    I mean,he can sing when his voice is all doctored up with AutoTune but the guy has one of the worst live voices I’ve ever heard.

    And yes,there is room for novelty and fun in country music like “One Piece At a Time” which was made famous by Cash but the lyrics were actually clever.the “honey bee” lyrics are just dumb.Any half-brained “song writer” could spit out this sewage if paid enough money.

  50. BlackCowboyStudBrett1953
    May 23, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Well,I’m a Blake Shelton fan,and I’ll bet I could write some good material for him.(Congrats on your marriage to Miranda Lambert,Blake,bud,and I hope you love-birds’ bliss lasts the 53 happy years my parents enjoyed!!!)

  51. BlackCowboyStudBrett1953
    May 23, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Okay,WHO IS GUY CLARK???

  52. Dr. No
    May 23, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Judging by your Guy Clark question, I bet you COULD write some good material for Blake.

  53. Emma Martinez
    June 21, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    i love this song and it is really sweet just like honey

  54. penaltykillah
    June 23, 2011 at 2:02 am

    I knew there’d be a review like this… before you even start, how about putting the song into context? As others have said, this is a nice, sweet song that shouldn’t be taken seriously. Maybe the folks at The 9513 won’t have it, but that’s the state of country (pop) today.

    I would go so far to say that Honey Bee is the Fireflies (Owl City) of country radio. The lyrics barely make any sense, but we can’t get enough of it!

  55. top country songs
    July 2, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    Since this is the third week that Honey Bee is #1 on the country charts, it seems that the fans have made their own choice on this song.

  56. vicki
    July 2, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    I think with Blake on “The Voice” that has helped his cred with people buying this song. People love it when he gives Christina a hard time on the show.

  57. EJ
    July 11, 2011 at 11:20 am

    damn. you just read too damn deep into the song. its not supposed to be one of those deep songs lyrically like the baby or home. its a summer tune with an awesome melody to get you thinking summertime. bs is getting rewarded because its a good song put out at the right time when people are thinking about the summer and swimming pools or hanging out at the lake.

  58. top country songs
    July 15, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    its a great country song, this song is number #1 on top country songs on billboard in 3-4 weeks,, great song.. i love “honey bee”

  59. Country Songs
    August 23, 2011 at 4:17 am

    While I am partial to Honey Bee, I have to agree the lyrics are a bit “fluffy” but that seems to be the way new country music stars are going. Almost diluting the real essence of country music.

  60. Sweet Home Alabama
    September 22, 2011 at 9:36 am

    I love this song! Fun and sweet like honey!

  61. Know What I'm Talking About
    May 5, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Seriously, this is a great song, and I think the reviewer should know the genre and idiom – understand the style of music – before criticizing something. This reviewer obviously belongs to the iconoclastic school of criticism; provocative in order to make a name for oneself.

  62. SandWorm
    January 9, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    I think this song is really sweet. It always makes me smile whenever it comes on the radio. :)

  63. CaptainLoopy
    March 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    I agree that some of the lyrics are very simplistic and cheesy, but all in all, I like the song. Music doesn’t have to be deep or profound to be good – sometimes, it’s just nice to have a little fun.

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