Brad Paisley – “Water”

Jim Malec | February 22nd, 2010

brad-paisley-waterSongwriters: Brad Paisley, Chris DuBois and Kelly Lovelace.

Reviewing most of today’s mainstream country music is a lot like reviewing fast-food hamburgers. From the Rodeo Burger to the McRoyal to the Kickin’ Mexican Burger, it’s always the same taste, made from the same ingredients, marketed in a way that tries to imply the product is something new and exciting.

Underneath that veil of onion ring, Swiss cheese or “Zesty Jalapeño Sauce,” however, there is junk. Just plain junk. Sure, Sonic is better than BK on the quality scale, and BK trumps McDonald’s, but in the end who really cares? It’s all junk food, it never changes, and there’s not much sense in evaluating degrees of junkiness.

So don’t get caught up in the hype surrounding Brad Paisley’s so-called masterpiece American Saturday Night. The critics loved the disc, but the fourth single from it, “Water,” could have very well appeared on Brad Paisley’s first album, or his second or his third. He’s one of country’s finest when he tackles tough topics, but from his debut in 1999 to now, he has seldom tinkered with his formula. And while it sure is nice to have some quick eats from a sack every once in a while, a healthy person can only down so many Big Macs over the course of a lifetime.

Paisley’s mix of writers hasn’t changed much over the years, so it’s not surprising that neither has the narrative tone of his songs. Here he employs the same attempts at subtle humor that define much of his catalog. After so many identical entries the jokes cease to be funny.

“Water” is a love song of sorts, where Paisley starts off by declaring his “love affair with water.” But the song is actually about his love of naked and half-naked girls, and while he and his cohorts obviously thought it would be hilarious and/or playful to approach the topic from such an indirect angle, the result is soaked with self-indulgence.

Who, after all, needs to once again be told there are, in fact, girls in bikinis on spring break? Who needs to be told, yet one more time, that it is possible for two people to swim naked in a lake? Paisley has been hailed for his clever sense of humor, but there’s nothing even remotely witty about rote descriptions of scenes involving water.

Add in some glitzy, “look at me!” guitar licks, and Paisley has a new variation on the same old product. The masses will flock, though they would be better served by seeking out a musical meal not made from the parts swept off the slaughterhouse floor.

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Listen on MySpace: Brady Paisley – “Water”

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  1. [...] out the9513’s review of “Water”. It’s a bit of cold water for [...]
  1. Leeann Ward
    February 22, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    I don’t know that BK trumps McDonalds, but I concede that this song doesn’t trump either of them.

  2. Thomas
    February 22, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    …stop dieting and eat something jim, your mind seems to be mostly circling around food these days.

  3. Thomas
    February 22, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    …whopper definitely beats big mac, leeann.

  4. Noeller
    February 22, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    I haven’t understood the hype around this disc from Day 1. Everyone screamed and lauded it, as you said, “A Masterpiece!”, and it somehow got an album of the year nom at the CMAs, over a much stronger contender in Eric Church’s Carolina. There are individual tracks that stand out on the overall package, but this is not one of them. “Water” is too much like a re-written version of earlier Paisley album cuts, and surely isn’t strong enough to be a single, though, sadly, what qualifies as “strong enough to be a single” has been degraded so thoroughly that this track more than makes the grade.

    Sad state of affairs indeed, that this will undoubtedly be another Paisley hit song, while JJ’s “My Way To You” doesn’t gain even a bit of traction.

  5. Nicolas
    February 22, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    @Noeller: “over a much stronger contender in Eric Church’s Carolina.”

    Because an album with a song about liking mustard on his fries almost as much as his woman’s love is worth high accolades

  6. CMW
    February 22, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Another jokey Brad Paisley song that isn’t as clever as it thinks < McDonald's < Burger King < Sonic < In-N-Out Burger. True story.

  7. Tim
    February 22, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Have to agree completely. This song is one of my least favorites on the album. I would have loved to see a masterpiece like Anything Like Me or I hope that’s me released. Something different. Plus a 3rd fast single in a row…and I thought 2 was enough. If he released another fast single I wouldeve prefered Catch all the Fish. Oh well, sure Water will become yet another number one for Brad. Unfortunately the best song of his career didn’t top the charts…but this probably will.

  8. Nicolas
    February 22, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Not sure why, but from the title I thought it was a song with a gospel bent… like “Muddy Water” or something, but apparently the opposite is true

  9. Jon
    February 22, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    “Reviewing most of today’s mainstream country music is a lot like reviewing fast-food hamburgers. From the Rodeo Burger to the McRoyal to the Kickin’ Mexican Burger, it’s always the same taste, made from the same ingredients…in the end who really cares? It’s all junk food, it never changes, and there’s not much sense in evaluating degrees of junkiness.”

    But you’re going to do it anyway? Sorry, couldn’t resist, and this kind of opening does raise the question of why you haven’t found, or at least aren’t desperately seeking out, a more interesting and rewarding job.

  10. Mike Parker
    February 22, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Strange choice for a single… lots of songs better than this one on the disc. Catch all the fish would have been just as good as a spring/summer anthem, but probably too much of an instrumental.

  11. Jim Malec
    February 22, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    @Jon: Thanks for the career advice.

  12. Steve Harvey
    February 22, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    this kind of opening does raise the question of why you haven’t found, or at least aren’t desperately seeking out, a more interesting and rewarding job.
    I can’t be sure, but I’d say it’s probably because he likes country music. A film critic doesn’t quit his job just because a lot of crappy movies are coming out. He/she loves movies.

  13. Thomas
    February 22, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    …having finally managed to listen to it a few times, i can see where you’re coming from and where i’m going to: bk – can’t get the this whopper out of my mind anymore.

  14. Noeller
    February 22, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    @Nicolas – what an incredibly ignorant comment. Check both the 9513 and Rolling Stone (two of the most highly critical press members) reviews of Carolina.

  15. sam (sam)
    February 22, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Well if its pointless to review fast food hamburgers and if reviewing mainstream country is similar to reviewing fast food burgers, then it seems likely that reviews of mainstream country are pointless. Jon is right.

  16. Rick
    February 22, 2010 at 6:06 pm

    I like the burger comparison, but where does Carl’s Jr. fit in the hierarchy? They better be above BK in the pecking order! CM, In & Out Burger started here in the SoCal area and has been slowly expanding the chain for years, so most folks outside of California haven’t heard of them. I think I remember reading that whenever Taylor Swift is in the Los Angeles area she always makes it a priority to grab a meal at In & Out.

    PS – When you’re really hungry In & Out offers an “off the listed menu” “4X4 burger” with four fresh beef patties! I wonder if that includes a disposable cell phone to dial 911 when the patron’s arteries begin to clog? Hmmm…

    I don’t care about Brad Paisley or his music, but really enjoyed reading this review. Keep up the good work, Jimbo!

  17. Lee S.
    February 22, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    I’m torn on this single. On one hand, Spring Break is coming up for the college crowd (and the people in the workforce with vacation days saved up) so the timing on this tune is impeccable. Also, as far as “Summer Songs” go, it’s certainly better than some we’ve been subjected to in recent years (I’m looking at YOU Kid Rock and Kenny Chesney).

    On the other hand, it’s a disappointing choice off “American Saturday Night.” I’d rather see “Everybody’s Here,” “Anything Like Me,” or “Oh Yeah, You’re Gone” on the radio any day of the week. The tune is far from Brad’s best (off ANY of his albums.

    Given how fast this’ll shoot up the charts if his last few hits are any indication, we’ll be discussing his next single soon enough, and hopefully it’ll be one of the cuts I mentioned before.

  18. stormy
    February 22, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Also, these kids of songs suffer a bit when you realize the guy singing them is the creepy 40 year old sitting in the edges of spring break that, if you are watching a CBS procedural, you can automatically see is the killer.

  19. SW
    February 22, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    I’m not sure this song will blow up the charts. I agree with what’s been said about the other candidates for singles on the album. Even though I’m not a huge fan of this song, I think Paisley does fill a niche-regarding humor, not bikinis- that few others would attempt. I don’t predict that Lady Antaboredom will try to get a chuckle out of you on their next album. Pleas don’t freak out on me for not liking “Lady A,” you’re not gonna change my mind.

  20. Dan Milliken
    February 22, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    “Another jokey Brad Paisley song that isn’t as clever as it thinks < McDonald's < Burger King < Sonic < In-N-Out Burger. True story."

    Agreed 100%, although Checkers is sorely missing in between Sonic and In-N-Out (I realize a lot of people haven’t been to one, though).

  21. Emgee
    February 22, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    Wow Jim, what a gem. How long you been waiting to crank THAT one out.

    You do realize that you could have applied that lame analogy to any song you don’t like, making this review a vehicle for your lame joke.

  22. Nicolas
    February 22, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    @Noeller: “what an incredibly ignorant comment. Check both the 9513 and Rolling Stone (two of the most highly critical press members) reviews of Carolina.”

    The 9513 gave that album 3 1/2 stars and they gave American Saturday Night 4 stars. Thanks for helping to prove my point.

  23. Mayor JoBob
    February 22, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    …and so began, my love affair, with Whoppers…

  24. Steve M.
    February 22, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    Stormy,
    I know have the image of Paisley as a stalker in a truck off the beach with binoculars and a box of tissues. Funny, i would have always thought that would have been more Kenny Chesney’s speed.

  25. Brian
    February 22, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    There are better songs on the album that would’ve warranted release before this one, but the timing makes sense. I’m assuming this will actually hit radio sometime in March and if you figure the normal time for a song to climb the charts you’re looking at this thing making strides sometime in June which would be around the time teens are out of school. It’s a summer song of the highest order so the release and the timing of it makes sense.

    I hope he breaks pattern though and releases a 5th song off this album because it is way to good to only have 4 songs released off it. The complaints now that it is overrated are silly, but I guess Paisley is in that spot now where it is kitsch to knock him.

  26. Noah Eaton
    February 22, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    Between this review and his review elsewhere of Tim McGraw’s “Still”, it sure sounds like, given Malec’s choice of fast-food analogies in reviews as of late, he’s been reading Michael Pollan’s back catalogue quite a bit! ;)

    That said, I absolutely agree with both reviews, though I believe “Water” is the unmistakable low point of “American Saturday Night” and it truly is an exquisite album.

  27. Steve Harvey
    February 22, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    God this song is boring. The whole record’s a bit lethargic, come to think of it. The title track was the highlight.

  28. stormy
    February 22, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    Steve: I have recently discvered and have been trying to catch up with Criminal Minds via re-runs. I had a good giggle at the image of David Rossi (Joe Mantegna) profiling country music based on these songs.

  29. Wes
    February 22, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    I somewhat disagree with the water consensus. It is not the best track on the album but I saw him perform it in concert, with a flood of streaming water effects on the video behind him, and enjoyed the results. Later I listened to the album track again, with headphones, and caught the supple studio extra’s that are seldom heard over mediocre speakers. It’s not a masterpiece but will do quite well as a single.

    The best song on the album is ‘She’s her own woman’. That song may never become a single but it’s by far the most endearing track musically with lyrics that many can relate to. I love it when Paisley steps outside the genre box as he’s done with several tracks on this album. Too many country fans build walls around their category and forget that eclecticism created country music. Diversity does not cloud the water but merely provides more to drink.

    The album is strong. The vocals are sound. Brad has delved into more serious subjects on this album and doesn’t knock us over the head with his humor or his guitar. Amazingly his guitar playing continues to get better with each album. Although it may be too early spray paint ‘Paisley is God’ on the side of the Ryman, a token apotheosis may not be far off.

  30. n10doefrk
    February 23, 2010 at 12:04 am

    “Anything LIke Me” would have been the best choice. It’s an actual meaningful, catchy and well-written song, which this sounds like it certainly is not. It’s too bad, because Brad does have the ability to write and produce great music.

    And Eric Church has made some great music (I thought his first album was incredible), though I haven’t listened to Carolina.

  31. waynoe
    February 23, 2010 at 8:55 am

    Wilcox – Coldwater Jane – DOWN
    Deusner – Todd Jones – DOWN
    Malec – Fast Ryde – DOWN
    Boldt – Katie Armiger – DOWN
    Gazdziak – Jo Dee Messina – DOWN
    Justus – Taylor Swift – DOWN
    Thanki – Jewel – DOWN
    Boldt – Lady Antebellum – DOWN
    Wilcox – Craig Morgan – UP
    Justus – Alan Jackson – UP
    Gazdziak – Emily West – UP
    Boldt – Reba McEntire – UP
    Deusner – Carter’s Chord – DOWN
    Justus – Danny Gokey – DOWN
    Thanki – David Nail – DOWN
    Boldt – Martina McBride – UP
    Justus – Trace Adkins – DOWN
    Boldt – David Ball – UP
    Thanki – Brandi Carlile – Up
    Justus – Sammy Kershaw – UP
    Malec – Jaron Lowenstein – UP
    Justus – Jimmy Wayne – DOWN
    Wilcox – Tyler Dickerson – UP
    Boldt – Jason Aldean – DOWN
    Thanki – Kenny Chesney – DOWN
    Deusner – Laura Bell Bundy – DOWN
    Malec-Brad Paisley – DOWN

    Current tally (Down – 17 / UP – 10)

    By the way, this is a running tally YEAR-TO-DATE for 2010. This does not reflect my personal critique of each critic’s assessment. FYI only.

  32. Vicky Dobbin
    February 23, 2010 at 9:37 am

    Finally! Someone else who doesn’t see “American Saturday Night” as a masterpiece! I have never understood the hype about this mediocre, redundant disc. With the exception of “Then” — which I think IS a masterpiece — everything on the CD sounds like it’s been done on another Brad Paisley CD.

    Brad needs to mix it up, find some new writers and musicians, and put out a new CD that sounds like a NEW CD, not like the last 3.

    As for “Water” … snooze.

  33. waynoe
    February 23, 2010 at 10:18 am

    Year to date, 63% of reviews are down and 37% are up. Don’t we all sleep better at nights knowing that music critics are busy telling us what we like or don’t?

    By the way, I as well am beginning to tire of Paisley’s redundant offerings so that proves I am not automatically against all that self-appointed critics have to say. But what do you expect from someone who is not part of the “alt, off-beat, never-heard-of” artists that seems to garner more favorable reviews on this site? At least he’s better than not-so-Swift.

    I think this website needs to have a spot for an open forum where “regular” folks can post their comments and critiques of artists and/or songs instead of only replying to a review. Oh, wait a minute, that would show that we can think for ourselves and not have our opinions shaped by self-appointed gurus. Nah, that would never fly here.

    Oh well, I shall turn up Cherryholmes, Don Williams, and Marty Stuart and the Fabulous Superlatives and be whisked away by authenticity and talent but I shall return.

  34. Sam G.
    February 23, 2010 at 10:50 am

    “I think this website needs to have a spot for an open forum where “regular” folks can post their comments and critiques of artists and/or songs instead of only replying to a review.”

    That link at the top of the page that says “FORUM” isn’t obvious enough for ya?

  35. Lee S.
    February 23, 2010 at 10:51 am

    @Waynoe: The 9513 does have a forum:
    http://www.the9513.com/forum/

  36. Brady Vercher
    February 23, 2010 at 11:00 am

    You sound especially conflicted today, Waynoe.

  37. Kelly
    February 23, 2010 at 11:04 am

    Conflicted isnt the word I would use, Brady. “Conflicted” suggests that Waynoe has at least an idea as to what point he is trying to make.

  38. Tara Seetharam
    February 23, 2010 at 11:35 am

    “It’s all junk food, it never changes, and there’s not much sense in evaluating degrees of junkiness.”

    Not defending the song at all – but mainstream country music is certainly not this black and white. I know you know that.

  39. Gloria
    February 23, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    For this album to be so great, it sure isn’t selling that well and for him to be Country’s Golden Boy! He’s never appealed to me. His albums are always scrambled up remakes of the previous ones. Water sounds kinda like Ticks. American Saturday Night sounds like The World. But radio thinks, oh, it’s Brad Paisley, it’s gotta be a #1! He’s overdone no matter what kind of burger he is!

  40. Bobby P.
    February 23, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    Jim, maybe I should take you to Culver’s. Their burgers trump everyone else’s fast food-wise.

  41. SGarr
    February 23, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    I believe the only reason this album was lauded by the mainstream music press is that it astonished everyone that a country artist found the election of Barack Obama to be worth documenting on record. Nothing more, nothing less. They all seemed shocked. I believe this is one of Brad’s smallest steps forward as an artist, but I (like a bunch of us here)have been enjoying his ride since 1999, as opposed to Time,Rolling Stone, who give back-handed lip service to country, and even then, only when Alison or Lyle put out an album. Brad is still one of my favorites, just not with this effort.

  42. waynoe
    February 23, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    Sam, Lee, Brady, Kelly,

    Name the time and place and I will engage in any intellectual debate.

  43. waynoe
    February 23, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    I slightly misspoke. It would be nice to have possibly a guest writer submit a review of a song/artist. The forum, though I do not up to this point participate in, is cluttered. What I am more referring to is what one would see on the home page.

    I would gladly submit Sam, Lee, Brady, or Kelly as the first ones chosen to submit a well-written review, maybe even conforming to the APA style of formatting. You professional writers do know what that is don’t you?

  44. Brady Vercher
    February 23, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    You’re right, Kelly. Does confused work better?

  45. waynoe
    February 23, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    Brady,

    A debate need not go through intermediaries. Simply post a message to me and we’ll initiate a discussion. Pick the topic. And please let’s not get personal. I am sensitive. Well?

  46. Brady Vercher
    February 23, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    I’m not sure I’m up to the task of taking on someone who challenges me to write a guest review for The 9513.

  47. waynoe
    February 23, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    We’ll start anew on the next thread. This one has fizzled and even I have become bored with it. I will anxiously await the next review so I can yet again insert my thoughtful if not acerbic comments.

    By the way, today is a great day. Don Williams in the Hall of Fame. That is something we can all smile about.

  48. Michelle
    February 23, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    I saw Don Williams in concert about two years ago. He sounded great!!

  49. Michelle
    February 23, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    No, it was probably more like five years ago. I don’t think he was suppose to be touring anymore after that.

  50. waynoe
    February 23, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    Michelle,

    A final shout out to ya’ for posting on Don Williams. He truly is one of the best. Glad you got to hear him.

  51. sam (sam)
    February 23, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    Don Williams is also a favorite of mine. This is wonderul news and I am glad he was stills sounding great when Michelle saw him in concert. I play his music often and I really enjoy it.

  52. Michelle
    February 23, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    It was pretty cool, I got to hear songs I haven’t heard in years. His voice sounded excellent!

  53. wayne
    February 24, 2010 at 8:30 am

    Did you know that he was the first in country music to do a video? Here is the statement off the CMT website that says it better than I could, or Brady for that matter.

    “While some may argue the definition, Williams appears to hold the distinction of having starred in country music’s first music video — years before there were music videos. In 1973, Jack Clement, who then headed Williams’ label, shot a concept film of his single, “Come Early Morning.” In the film, the lanky singer performs without the battered hat that would soon become his trademark.”

  54. Lee S.
    February 24, 2010 at 8:35 am

    @Waynoe: I was just trying to be helpful, wasn’t intending to be rude.

    And I’m a journalist; I use AP Style. :P

  55. wayne
    February 24, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Lee S.,

    Thanks for the clarification. My apologies for jumping to conclusions. I am rusty on the APA style but am having to freshen up as the students I teach are required to use this. It’s been a while since I used this for research/white papers but it’s time to bone up!

  56. Wade
    February 24, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    I havent been crazy about much Brad has done lately, however this one i like, its not the greatest thing ever, but its a fun summer song that he does a good job with.

  57. Dan
    February 28, 2010 at 2:02 am

    Water is a great song and will certainly get to #1! The ASN album is his best yet for many reasons, one of which is the studio production. Listen to ASN with quality headphones on, and then listen to an earlier album and you will notice a marked improvement in the sound. Maybe they recorded in a different studio with better equipment, or maybe they’re just improving their production skills, but the end result sounds fantastic!

  58. Jared Munson
    March 18, 2010 at 2:47 am

    Once again Jim Malec portrays how big of a douche bag he is. He wouldn’t know talent if it bit him in his ass and said, “I’m talent”.

  59. Jim Malec
    March 18, 2010 at 3:23 am

    Oh wow–that was an original smack-down, Jared.

  60. n10doefrk
    May 29, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    AP Style makes my heart warm.

  61. Michael
    July 2, 2010 at 7:08 am

    Well my wife and I personally like Brad and his music. All I have to say is “13″ Number One singles in a row! If he doesn’t win the ETOY at the CMA’s it will be a CRIME!

  62. Keith
    July 7, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Hmmm…why hasn’t Brad messed with his formula? Maybe because he’s had such a wildly successful career with it. Brad is a class act and puts out some of the most quality music out there right now. It’s all well and good if you don’t like it, but I dare say you’re in the minority on that one. The fact that he’s had more #1s in a row than anyone in recent years is a testament to that fact.

  63. Erica
    July 14, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    #1 SMASH HIT!!! THE 9513 IS WRONG AGAIN!!!! HAHAHAHA!

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