The first single from Jason Aldean’s follow-up to the platinum-selling album Wide Open is bigger, louder and dumber than anything the Broken Bow recording artist has put forth to date. That’s something of an accomplishment, since Aldean is an artist who rose to country music prominence on the success of the quintessentially big, loud and dumb hit “She’s Country.”
“My Kinda Party,” written by Georgia singer/songwriter Brantley Gilbert, is (not surprisingly) a song about a redneck party in some backwoods little town. Aldean tackles Gilbert’s obtuse, throwaway lyrics with an abrasive, aggressive vocal that pushes every bit as hard as the full-fledged rock guitar licks that dominate the track.
Aldean sings about “Chilln’ with some Skynyrd and some old Hank,” but this record pays not a hint of tribute to either. “My Kinda Party” may be full-throttle redneck rock, but it’s a million miles away from the kind of blues-informed southern rock that made Lynyrd Skynyrd an iconic band. These riffs are slick and bland, these lyrics are pandering, and this concept is as tired as an old dog.
And, just like his 2006 hit “Johnny Cash,” Aldean’s “My Kinda Party” is a sloganeering effort that assumes its listeners demand only simple social affirmations and symbolic imagery. These name-checks are empty, but that’s not really an issue since words like “Hank” and “Skynyrd” are coded language utilized to identify one as genuinely southern.
It’s doubtful, after all, that the majority of Aldean’s fanbase is familiar with more than two or three songs by either Lynyrd Skynyrd or any of the three Hanks (maybe he was referring to Hank Snow?), but the mere mention of either places a work within a certain social framework. Here, that framework is young adults from small southern towns who drink cheap beer and hang out in the woods.
And, within that framework, it will no doubt be anthemic. Not because it’s good, or because it’s fun, but simply because it makes its statement so firmly that its target audience will rally behind it and sing along. In that sense, it serves as a strong tool for cultural self-elaboration.
That may well render it another big hit, but that doesn’t make it worthwhile for anyone who isn’t 24-years-old and obsessed with beer pong and muddin’.