I’ll admit that sometimes I can be pretty territorial of country music.
Like, don’t get me wrong, I can take a good joke about country music because, like any genre, it’s very meme-able.
That doesn’t mean that every parody song is good. I would actually argue most of them are pretty bad…
To successfully parody something, you have to first know what you’re parodying.
Like my mom has always said, “you gotta know the rules to break the rules.”
So, when I hear people who seem to have never listened to country music try to make a joke, it’s not funny. Because a lot of the tropes they try to claim happen all of the time just don’t.
But there are two parody songs that I absolutely adore, and I think are very smart in their humor of the genre.
If y’all have never seen the show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, I highly encourage you to watch it.
It’s a comedy musical created by Rachel Bloom (who also plays the main character) about a woman who has a mental breakdown and moves to her ex-boyfriend’s hometown.
All of the songs in this show are some type of parody. Like “A Boy Band Made Up of Four Joshes” makes fun of boybands, and “I Hate Everything But You” is a riff of Bruce Springsteen.
The show is freaking brilliant.
And country music was not safe from the teasing.
In the first season, Pete Gardner’s character Darryl Whitefeather sings the song “I Love My Daughter (But Not In a Creepy Way)” to the main character Rebecca as he fights for custody of his daughter.
The father-daughter country song is a classic trope with songs like “I Loved Her First” by Heartland, “Stealing Cinderella” by Chuck Wicks, and “My Little Girl” by Tim McGraw.
But sometimes (and I mean, sometimes), the songs can come off a little creepy and a little patriarchal if you think about them too hard.
“I Love My Daughter” perfectly points out all of those standard lyrics with enough of an eyebrow raise that it’s hilarious:
“One day, she’ll fall in love, and I’ll give her away Not like I ever had her, what a weird thing to say…”
The joke is that these songs can come off kind of weird, and the more Darryl tries to fix what he’s saying, the worst it sounds.
Now, maybe, it’s the existentialism and anxiety in me… but I love Bo Burnham. I think he’s hilarious.
Unlike the Crazy Ex-Girlfriend song which focuses on a specific trope, Bo Burnham’s country song from his Make Happy comedy special is about how stadium country isn’t honest and is simply pandering to its target demographic.
He even points out at the beginning of the song that country music has some of the best songwriters like Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson. Burnham’s real gripe is with the modern stuff, the stadium stuff.
The song somehow managers to hit every single aspect of mainstream country music from the treatment of women to the ingenuine lyrics:
“I walk and talk like a field hand But the boots I’m wearing cost three grand I write songs about riding tractors From the comfort of a private jet…”
The chorus’s running joke is that all of these lyrics and tropes are created by these people who don’t actually mean them. Mainstream country is going to just keep on cranking out what has worked to guarantee money is made.
It’s a valid critique of Bo’s part . . .
My favorite lyrics though have nothing to do with country music, and instead are about Mike Tyson biting off Evander Holyfield’s ear:
“Like Mike’s Evander-ing Fuck your ears, I’m pandering…
I have no words, just a slow clap.
One of my creative writing professors once gave me the best advice about how to create successful satire.
You have to know what you’re poking fun at, and you have to have a specific goal.
Both of these songs demonstrate a genuine knowledge of the country genre.
“I Love My Daughter” is specifically pointing out the odd lyrics of father-daughter songs, and Bo Burnham’s song is satirizing the disingenuous nature of mainstream stadium country.
I honestly think that because of those reasons these are the two best country parody songs out there right now.