Eric Church – “Homeboy”
And I thought Aaron Lewis had released the worst country song of the year. Eric church’s latest single, however, somehow manages the superhuman feat of lowering the bar even further. Whereas the Staind frontman’s “Country Boy” passively regurgitated every countrier-than-thou cliché without bothering with such niceties as melody, Church’s “Homeboy” is actively, even aggressively bad to the point of insulting, both culturally and musically.
Co-written with Casey Beathard, the song takes the form of a pep talk by a contented rural farmer to a prodigal son wandering astray through urban culture. Church thinks that he’d be better off drinking a beer, baling hay, and hanging out with his high school sweetheart. Some fans and writers have suggested that the song is about the meth blight in rural communities, but there’s nothing in these lyrics to suggest as much (the Drive-By Truckers’ “You and Your Crystal Meth” is a better and braver examination of the issue).
Instead, that first verse makes clear—whether intentionally or not—that hip-hop stands in for all the ills of the world, with Church indulging every outdated generalization about the music, from low-hanging pants to the “tattoo on your neck” to the “fake gold on your teeth.” Such a casual vilification of African American musical culture becomes especially problematic when Church tries to play on the meaning of the title: “You better come home, boy,” he sings, apparently without realizing that “boy” is a racially condescending term.
It might be easier to give him the benefit of the doubt here if the music wasn’t such a leaden, lumpen mess. The song’s a hodgepodge of production gimmicks, none of which make much sense for the sentiments: That harp on the first chorus sounds like it was borrowed from another song altogether (and not a very good one at that), and the bombastic finale stops just shy of a heavenly choir. “Homeboy” crescendos so self-seriously that it topples over into self-parody, as if Church were performing a bad “SNL” sketch.
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