Friday, February 14th, 2020

Hot Country Knights ft. Travis Tritt – Pick Her Up



Thomas Inskeep: Considering how dreary mainstream/radio country is right now — a slew of identical guys singing “boyfriend country” — a return to the sound of the genre in the ’90s, courtesy of Dierks Bentley’s new side project, is just what the doctor ordered. And including Travis Tritt, one of the kings of the country during the Bill Clinton years, is a very, very smart move. “Pick Her Up” has plenty of Joe Diffie’s 1994 #1 “Pickup Man” in its DNA, a song I didn’t realize I missed but now understand that I do, and like its spiritual predecessor, “Pick Her Up” is just plain damned fun. Thanks, Dierks, for remembering that we need that. What a blast.

Alfred Soto: I’ve heard Sunkist commercials with more vim. 

Kylo Nocom: Though certainly a piece of aggressively masculine era-fetishism (referring to modern country as “drowning in male sensitivity, cashmere cardigan sweaters and programmed drum loops” has a questionable amount of irony), they play up the conservatism with enough camp to appeal past their underlying message of Bringing Back the Testosterone. In true “Bust a Move” fashion, Bentley and Tritt hand out tips to listeners on hooking up, combining their machismo and audibly reveling in how well they complement each other as performers. The minute-long outro of solos and grooving really seals how liberating this is, concluding with a record-skip that just for a second breaks the illusion of nostalgia bait. Its performers may be leaning into notions I have qualms with, but “Pick Her Up” is the song that Chevy Truck Month truly deserves.

Brad Shoup: The TNN tang on this is so thick Alan Jackson can waterski on it. The snare treatment alone is linedancing me back to my youth. Bentley’s a good guy, and he gives Tritt the good verse. And that’s the problem: on a style parody, you lean into the skid. Your truck imagery has gotta be rococo.

Michael Hong: The entire thing is made to resemble country tropes, from the off-putting styling down to the admittedly fun production, replete with fiddles, and the raucous melody. But Dierks Bentley’s voice is too clean to lift this out of stereotypes, instead falling back into them like a poor cosplay. The best thing Bentley does is hand it off to Travis Tritt, who gives “Pick Her Up” some credibility, even if it sounds like he’s losing a race to the melody.

Edward Okulicz: Without knowing the idea behind Hot Country Knights, I wouldn’t have been entirely sure whether it was meant to be a parody, a throwback or 100% serious. As a parody, there’s not enough meat, as a throwback it’s not distinctively retro enough, and if it’s serious, only Tritt nails the delivery. It’s fun, but it should have been more fun.

Katherine St Asaph: This can’t decide whether it wants to be a normal bro-country song or the same Clickhole gonzo that spawned the name “Hot Country Knights.” This affects things both for the worse (both singers’ voices are entirely too genial for a track that calls for a Trace Adkins-type; the melody is basically “Old Time Rock and Roll”; the lyric is rarely funny) and for better (a Trace Adkins type would probably take those first few lines to far creepier PUA territory; as it stands, it’s barely even Hitch). Maybe it’s intentional that there’s a false ending before that jackhammering last minute — i.e. how I know it can’t decide: I don’t know whether the obvious joke there is intentional.

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