Friday, November 4th, 2011

Toby Keith – Red Solo Cup

Fifty for $6.91, says Costco…


Pete Baran: The concept of a paean to a plastic drinking cup is bizarre, so it is surprising that the songs immediacy completely obliterates any sense of strangeness. The track plays on a number of Toby Keith tropes, particularly his comfort with comedy, and there are a number of great lines here. But the success of the track is in creating the atmosphere where a song about a cup actually becomes a song about the parties you go to, and the good times you are having. Keith probably does not want to highlight the melancholia at the heart of the song; your red solo cup drinker is not singing a song about his true love, or even the beer he is drinking. The only constant in his life is that damn cup. Musically it leans on the theme to Steptoe and Son too much, which is fine in the US, where you didn’t see it. And even then its appropriate.

Sally O’Rourke: The ever-worrisome phrase “novelty single” looks a lot more attractive when the artist’s standard output is as routinely unappealing as Toby Keith’s. Luckily, Toby takes full advantage of “Red Solo Cup” to stretch his muscles a bit, busting out a banjofied acoustic arrangement and just-dumb-enough-to-be-blissfully-absurd lyrics that hark back to Shel Silverstein’s songwriting heyday. It’s still not a huge departure from Toby’s overgrown frat boy persona, but at least this time he’s an amiable drunk instead of a smug blowhard.

Brad Shoup: Our world bends around bros, and if it weren’t for that fact, this trifle would be a wonderful little campfire joke to pass around, rather than a lead single engineered for virulence. It just may not register over the sound of a thousand proper consumers of culture hearing this at someone else’s party and hitting their fainting couches. The song’s adorable, a goofy and human trifle in the spirit of “I Love This Bar” or “As Good As I Once Was” — and thinking Toby’s not hep to his persona is nuts. The Solo cup is a strange muse for Keith, but around it he’s spun an A+ rhyme scheme, references to drinking-as-escape, and send-ups of his sex appeal. But the best feature of this “Cup” is that it acknowledges the silliness inherent to the drunken experience (“proceed to party” could be the country-music “new watch alert”). I’m a fool for party songs, and no matter the truth, it sounds like Toby and crew knocked this off in one tour-bus take; they really put the “social” in “homosocial.”

Anthony Easton: You know I hate to be a killjoy, because the talking blues of this, and the fantastic video, and the drunken slur, are all really fun. It’s really well written — self conscious, even with that throwaway line about Freddie Mac, and the chorus might be one of the catchiest things this year — but there is something sad about this; him being 50 and doing the undergrad drunk thing, and Craig Ferguson, who has written extensively about his addiction, playing along. Maybe Keith recognizes this; the maudlin line about the cup not being just a cup, but being his friend, suggests this. Like most Keith tracks, it’s smart as hell about how good it is at seeking the lowest common denominator. (Also, is that Eric Church smoking weed out of one? How do you do that without melting the cup in question?)

Alfred Soto: In which Toby Keith writes “Heroin” for Nashville, complete with vocals slurred by excitement and Pabst and his own version of it’s-my-wife-and-it’s-my-life. Sharp and well sung, this will provoke the usual complaints that Keith is too old for this sort of thing; but I don’t understand what’s unseemly about writing for and about these guys, especially when Keith is so self-effacing about it. Moreover, why assume these songs reflect autobiographical truths? The drunken (mis)adventure is to Keith what suburban doom is to Win Butler, which is to say: he owns this stuff.

Jonathan Bradley: It’s a proficient piece of comedy, with Keith infecting his talkative redneck with a sly linguistic versatility. Sounding like he’s barely capable of putting a sentence together yet stringing along multi-syllabic rhymes without breaking character makes for a fine performance. Nice topical reference to home foreclosures as well. Just… I really don’t want to listen to it. Ever again.  

Katherine St Asaph: Like the usual contents of red Solo cups, only enjoyable by those too wasted for discernment.

5 Responses to “Toby Keith – Red Solo Cup”

  1. Doug’s blurb comes true!

  2. I’d also like to submit, as a data point, that I’ve gotten in two separate arguments with two separate people about whether this is any good.

  3. It’s a shame Keith’s making it harder for us to appreciate his best qualities.

  4. Toby Keith’s 50 years old. Maybe he’s at the frat party as some sort of den father?

  5. This is completely terrible.