Tim McGraw’s third single has quite a lot riding on it.
After the success of its predecessors ‘One of Those Nights’ and particularly ‘Highway
Don’t Care’, Tim’s renewed lease of career is now under pressure to continue to
perform. With the release of ‘Southern Girl’, however, I don’t think this’ll be
a problem. It’s a catchy summer party hit designed to appeal to young women,
who will drunkenly sing this song to their hearts’ content.
The key to ‘Southern Girl’ is that it’s a grower, but it’s
also sonically appealing upon first listen. With an infectious beat, and Tim’s
tried-and-tested formula of countrified rock plus a slightly unexpected rockin’
solo, this is probably one of the best summer singles I’ve heard this year. The
song is built on a rhythm-led acoustic guitar part, claps (and some more solid
drums), electric guitar and piano to fill out the mix, and the focus on
acoustic guitar is a nice change from previous tracks, in addition to adding a sweet,
chilled out summery feel. Tim is on vocal form and the melody lines are strong,
simple and memorable, familiar without being too much like every other song out
there at the moment. It builds well and has been produced to a high standard, leaving
lots of space for plenty going on without it sounding too messy.
However, I do have a few issues to note (as always). After
each chorus and to fade out, there is a heavily edited refrain (“southern girl,
rock my world, hazel eyes and golden curls”) that comes straight from pop
music. Perhaps they were trying to make the song distinctive, but personally it
puts me off and is too disjointed from the rest of the song for my liking. It
doesn’t have a place in ‘Southern Girl’, and is completely unnecessary. This
also brings me to the lyrics. While obviously pitched as a song for drunk
southern girls to sing loudly and proudly at summer festivals and parties, ‘Southern
Girl’ fails to be as universal as songs like this should be. For a start the
refrain “hazel eyes and golden curls” kind of alienates all the girls this
doesn’t apply to, who will just idly hum that bit.
Then there’s the laundry list nature of this track. Listing
states and products like today’s to-do list, it sounds like a commercial, and
that coupled with the decidedly conventional feel of cut-off jeans, tires in
the mud, hay in her hair, fireflies, barns and mama teaching her how to act
like a lady. Written by Jaren Johnston (of The Cadillac Three), Rodney Clawson
and Lee Thomas Miller, I thought they could have done a little better with
this, but I suppose it’s a little more innocent fun that the more misogynistic
and sex-laden tracks also currently charting.
I have no doubt that ‘Southern Girl’ will storm the charts
this summer, and give Tim another #1 at radio, and another top 5 hit on Hot
Country Songs. This is a solid track that has its pitfalls, but overall it gets
a thumbs up from me.