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Thu July 24, 2014
First Watch: Maddie & Tae, 'Girl In A Country Song'
Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 10:14 am
It's starting to seem like even the bros are tired of bro country. The truck-loving Florida Georgia Line has switched up its game with the chart- dominant "Dirt," a sensitive ballad about marriage and farming. The fastest-rising summer songs are "Bartender," Lady Antebellum's ode to girls' nights out, and two distinctly un-macho tales of men giving in to romance, "Yeah" by Joe Nichols and "I Don't Dance" by Lee Brice. The turn away from overt female objectification is gradual, however — Nichols still refers to the woman who tames him as "that sundress" — and could still use a kick in the Wranglers. Maddie and Tae have arrived to provide it.
The youthful Texas-Oklahoma duo made an instant sensation when "Girl in a Country Song" first emerged on the Internet. The foot stomper, written by Maddie Marlow and Tae Dye with Aaron Scherz, speaks in the voice of the woman supposedly enticed by the wolf whistles of artists like Thomas Rhett in "Get Me Some of That" or Tyler Farr in "Redneck Crazy." Aw, naw, Marlow and Dye say to such Cro-Magnon advances. Bikini tops chafe. Cutoff shorts ride up. It's boring to slide on over to the passenger side and just sit there looking pretty. "How in the world did it go so wrong?" Maddie and Tae harmonize. "Like all we're good for is lookin' good for you and your friends on the weekend — nothin' more."
Maddie and Tae are more. They're songwriters, powerful harmonizers, and in the video for "Girl in the Country Song," natural comediennes. Directed by TK McKamy (who's worked with at least one those bros in the past), it casts its two stars as observers of three bros at an outdoor party, rolling their eyes as the guys pant and whistle at some scantily-clad female guests. Then a sign flashes ROLE REVERSAL, and in scenes similar to Seth Rogen and James Franco's KimYe parody or the gender-flips of Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," the dudes are shown in belly shirts and hot pants, fawning and strutting like the cartoon ladies recent country hits relentlessly present.
The video (which we're premiering here today) amuses not only because the male actors nail the ridiculousness of what country videos currently ask of women, but because Maddie and Tae react with such verve and charm. Shots recreating the song's composition show the checklist the pair says they actually made; with phrases like "sugar shaker" and "money maker," it's relevant to the whole history of popular music, and of women reclaiming the perspective from men.
Now that the media's paying attention, Maddie and Tae are being careful to note that they're not haters of the male acts their song skewers. Like most young artists seeking mainstream success today, they keep their protest fairly benign. But the message of "Girl in a Country Song" and its video can't be misconstrued. Stereotypes are ridiculous. It's time to slide away from them.