Gretchen Wilson – “Work Hard, Play Harder”
Though she’s had pretty good album sales the past few years, it seems as though Gretchen Wilson’s may have worn out her welcome with country radio; her last two singles, “If I Could Do It All Again” and “The Earrings Song” failed to chart at all. But Wilson’s nothing if not a scrapper, so she’s back, and this time it’s personal–on her personal label, Redneck Records, that is.
“Work Hard, Play Harder” first gained attention last summer when used in commercials for cop drama Saving Grace. The Black Crowes promptly sued, stating that Wilson stole from “Jealous Again.” Whether this is true or not, it’s apparently all been worked out. Too bad the song didn’t get any better in the interim.
Everything you need to know about “Work Hard” is in its title; the rest can be inferred by anyone with the barest knowledge of Wilson’s body of music. But just in case you should somehow forget who the artist is, she helpfully provides some hints, singing “I’m a good-timin’ American daughter/Redneck, blue collar/And I’ll party down to my last dollar,” praising her “rough and rowdy friends,” and eschewing manicured nails.
Yes, it is catchy, and it’s far from horrible, but we’ve heard this song from Gretchen Wilson before. It feels like an attempt to recapture the wild success of similarly themed anthems “Here for the Party,” “All Jacked Up,” and “Redneck Woman,” only it doesn’t quite measure up to its predecessors.
It’s nice to hear a mainstream female country singer who isn’t part of the Carrie vs. Taylor war, but at the same time, the failure of her past two singles also raises an important question: has country radio moved on to, as Vince Gill sang it, “the next big thing?” Has the listening public grown tired of Gretchen Wilson’s brand of rowdy party music?
Maybe it’s worn out its welcome a bit, but “Redneck Woman” is a good song. Wilson can also sing a fine ballad, as she proved with “When I Think About Cheating” and “I Don’t Feel Like Loving You Today.” Continuing to peddle “good enough” but otherwise unmemorable filler like this is doing her talent a disservice, especially when Wilson’s made it clear that she can do better.
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