Brad Paisley — “Beat This Summer”

Karlie Justus Marlowe | April 18th, 2013

bradpaisleyphotobyjimsheaSongwriters: Brad Paisley, Luke Laird and Chris DuBois

And now, ladies and gentlemen, commentary on a new Brad Paisley song other than “Accidental Racist.”

With all of the attention around that LL Cool J collaboration, it could be easy to lose Paisley’s second single in the chaos. Luckily, the only commotion around “Beat This Summer” exists within its own tangle of sonic ambition — and produces a prime example of modern country music pushing boundaries within traditional framing.

Count on Paisley to amp up the instrumentation on a standard summer love tune, layering banjo strings with bends of his famous electric guitar licks to create a funky foundation for his straightforward storyline. It pairs nicely with the song’s sandy beach set-up, where Paisley rightly bets on his boyish charm to sell both the ups and downs of young regional romance: “Like the Ferris wheel goes around and around/Well the trouble with up is there’s always a down.”

The contrast in swirling instrumentation and simple lyric delivery is stark and successful, adding interest and spark. But here, the storyline isn’t so much the focus as is it is the feeling of frenetic love with an expiration date -and Paisley’s brilliant underpinnings support its surprises, dips and surges.

It’s a bummer, then, when Fun-style background vocals are tacked onto the summer fun, on top of DJ scratching, echoes, electric guitar solos and distorted vocals. “Beat This Summer” would be a lot to take in just as an instrumental track; add on these gimmicky extras, and it very nearly goes into overload. First impressions matter on country radio, and this song requires a few of them to fully digest.

That’s the balancing act Paisley has taken on in his role as country music’s most daring regular dude. For better or worse, he never seems afraid to approach taboo subjects head-on or try out all 20 ideas on one song when perhaps 15 would suffice – hence the recent stars and bars hullabaloo. But on “Beat This Summer,” at least, that bravery serves him well.

Thumbs Up

  1. Ben Foster
    April 18, 2013 at 10:31 am

    I’m enjoying this song. I find the melody and the banjo hook infectious, such that the “gimmicky extras” don’t bother me as much as that kind of thing usually does. Very fine review, Karlie.

  2. bob
    April 18, 2013 at 11:12 am

    I generally like Paisley but after hearing this song for the first time the first word to pop into my mind was “boring”. If I listened to radio, I wouldn’t change the station but I’d pass if offered a free download.

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