Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

The JaneDear Girls – Merry Go Round

What can I say, I love names with embedded capitals.


Sally O’Rourke: Country is such a musically conservative genre that I’m willing to forgive all kinds of sins so long as someone dares something slightly different. Even if “different” sounds sort of like a fiddled-up cross between “We Will Rock You” and “Dream On.” And its use of flamboyant AutoTune is a little tired. And it contains the line “bringin’ the hoods straight to the woods.” But The JaneDear Girls tackle “Merry Go Round” with infectious enthusiasm, and lead singer Susie Brown evokes Natalie Maines’s devil-may-care sass. “Merry Go Round” is as embarrassing as your tipsy aunt busting a move to “Hot in Herre” at a family barbeque, but that unselfconscious lack of cool also makes it sort of endearing.

Brad Shoup: John Rich has this weird kind of Midas touch, whereby ostensibly exciting productions turn into these weird formalist documents. He’s at it again here, manning the desk for a pinging, swinging country/alt.rock/club pop/hip-hop tune that’s all pieces and no puzzle. I’m not thrilled about “merry” as a synonym for bums, but I love the Auto-Tune, the leering talkbox, and that melody around 2:40. But just because the song is an unholy splicing of musical referents, it doesn’t follow that the text must be the same.

Alex Ostroff: Blatant Auto-Tune in country? (Some of it comes off a little bit K-pop in tone, but The JeanDear Girls don’t have half the attitude of 2NE1.) Heavy swinging beats and vague appropriations of hip hop turns of phrase? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed ‘Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)’ as much as the next critic easily swayed by genre fusion, but this is just a bit too on the nose. Hasn’t John Rich come up with some new tricks by now? Also, “merry” is perhaps the worst slang term for “ass” I have ever heard. Even “Honky-Tonk Badonkadonk” was somehow less awkward.

Iain Mew: As it turns out, taking generic current club pop and dressing it up in country clothes doesn’t make it any less annoying. Although this is a fascinating case study into the fact that (Auto-Tune aside) all of the shared issues clearly aren’t with the sounds but with the songwriting.

Edward Okulicz: John Rich is a man whose big-tent approach to country leads to scattershot but often interesting results. Here, cognizant of Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder and Lead” (check the intro) and tipping his production cap to former glories with Gretchen Wilson, he and the Girls drag the escapism of club music into the country milieu, and it’s a slightly uneasy fit. The brief Auto-Tune makes me queasy and the chorus trades the grace of the fiddle for the ungainly lurch of stumbling to the bar for a drink in the face of blinding disco lights. Fun, but possibly a bad idea, in other words. If it doesn’t coalesce quite as it should, there’s something to like in the ambition, and enough bits sound great that I’ll give the whole thing the benefit of the doubt.

Jonathan Bradley: These girls seem to have a pretty good idea of how corny their appropriation is, and that helps. Their “bring the hood straight into the wood” conceit feels somehow organic from performers who know they can’t convincingly pull it off but are willing to have a good time trying anyway. Coining “merry” as a euphemism for ass can only be acceptable from a duo that know just how dorky it is, and embraces it wholeheartedly. It’s far more reasonable than the forced “Honkytonk Badonkadonk.” Speaking of willful incongruity, mashing-up banjo and Auto-Tune is so perverse an exercise I’ve got nothing but admiration for it.

Katherine St Asaph: I’ve been time-travel dumped into my high school homecoming dance/barbecue in North Carolina, circa 2020 and more rural than where I grew up. Everyone’s in plaid and body glitter, like country My Little Ponies. There’s a hayride with neon lights. I don’t understand any of this at all.

7 Responses to “The JaneDear Girls – Merry Go Round”

  1. If I hadn’t changed the wording here, Katherine and I would have been responsible for saying “louche” three times in one day.

  2. I tried to fit a reference to Jesse James’s Blue Jeans into my blurb, but I couldn’t make it happen, so I’m just going to leave it here and say I think it’s also relevant.

  3. Also, thanks to Ed for clarifying that it’s “Gunpowder and Lead” that the intro was stolen from.

  4. I’m just so confused by this.

  5. If I’d listened to it in time, I’d have given it a 10. Best New Track, etc.

  6. Resemblances to “Gunpowder and Lead” are usually worth at least a couple of points to me. I think I may go and listen to “Gunpowder and Lead” about 100 times now.

  7. It’s growing on me? I think.