Lawd have mercy… Hardy really went all the way there with “RADIO SONG.”
His new half rock, half country record called the mockingbird & THE CROWis out everywhere as of this past Friday, and I have to say, it’s quite the conundrum.
In both genres, he sings about hunting and drinking beer, all very checklist-y buzz words you’d hear on mainstream country radio, but at the same time, he manages to turn it all on its head throughout the album, too.
And a prime, perfect example of that is “RADIO SONG,” from the rock half of the tracklist, which features guest vocals from founding member and lead vocalist of A Day to Remember, Jeremy McKinnon.
Written by Hardy and Jeremy along with Zach Abend, Nick Donley and Cody Quistad, he opens it by listing out the requirements for any song that “should” have a chance at cracking the Top 40 on country radio, like a hot girl and a truck, which should also be a true story and simultaneously some kind of a daydream, with a catchy melody that will have people singing along in the car.
He then goes into a pre-chorus, which sounds something like a cheesy verse you’d hear in a mainstream song… but it doesn’t stop there.
Just when you think it’s going to be a 3-minute parody of sorts, where he skirts the issue a bit, Hardy completely flips the script, and let’s the listener know in no uncertain terms that this “ain’t no radio song.”
He continues to let all the secrets of writing hits in Nashville out, saying that they won’t “play your shit” if it’s not “under four minutes” and lacking steel:
“Well if it ain’t under four minutes it ain’t gon’ be a hit If there ain’t no steel in it they ain’t gon’ play yo’ shit And I wish I tell it like it is but the cold hard fact is I can’t So bring that money maker back”
Hell, I’d venture to say they’re less likely to play a country song if it does contain steel, which is probably a conversation for a separate post, and his point is very well-taken nonetheless.
It pretty much goes back and forth like this the whole time, and considering Hardy’s written #1 hits for people like Blake Shelton and Morgan Wallen, an almost shocking admission about how he really feels about it in a lot of ways.
I mean, getting just one #1 hit on the radio will certainly pay a lot of bills, so good for him for saying all of this anyways.
I honestly don’t know how he so effortlessly combined hard metal and bubblegum pop country in one song, but he somehow managed to pull it off, and I could not love it more.
And not to sound like a broken record on this, but I think it’s so cool that he’s putting it out on a major label like Big Loud…
Typically, most big labels want you to do the polar opposite of calling out country radio like this… I mean, Hardy does nothing short of skewer them, all the while, his song “wait int he truck” with Lainey Wilson is sitting just outside the Top 10 at country radio.
Like I said, it’s a conundrum, and it’s a large part of what makes Hardy such a fascinating fixture in country (and rock) music at the moment.
Find an artist who is more self-aware and vocal about every aspect of the industry, his own career, and his personal feelings on a subject that’s not so cut and dry as being a mockingbird or a crow… I don’t think you can.
Definitely check this one out of you haven’t yet:
“the mockingbird & THE CROW” is the albums title track, and also does a great job of explaining Hardy’s feeling on being both the country-lovin’ boy from Mississippi who came to Nashville with a dream to change the game, and also, a rock-lovin’ guy who doesn’t give a shit what anyone thinks about his style of music or how he’s gonna do things.
“the mockingbird & THE CROW”
the mockingbird & THE CROW Tracklist
1. beer (Michael Hardy, Ashley Gorley, Ben Johnson, Hunter Phelps)
2. red feat. Morgan Wallen (Michael Hardy, Rhett Akins, Ben Hayslip, Jacob Rice)
3. wait in the truck feat. Lainey Wilson (Michael Hardy, Renee Blair, Hunter Phelps, Jordan Schmidt)
4. drink one for me (Michael Hardy, David Garcia, Hunter Phelps)
5. i in country (Michael Hardy, Smith Ahnquist, Nick Donley, Jake Mitchell, Hunter Phelps)
6. screen (Michael Hardy, Jessie Jo Dillon, Matt Dragstrem, Hunter Phelps)
7. happy (Michael Hardy)
8. here lies country music (Michael Hardy, Cole Taylor, Brett Tyler, Will Weatherly)
9. the mockingbird & THE CROW (Michael Hardy, Jordan Schmidt, Brett Tyler)
10. SOLD OUT (Michael Hardy, David Garcia, Hunter Phelps)
11. JACK (Michael Hardy, David Garcia, Hillary Lindsey)
12. TRUCK BED (Michael Hardy, Ashley Gorley, Ben Johnson, Hunter Phelps)
13. .30-06 (Michael Hardy, Cameron Montgomery, Hunter Phelps)
14. I AIN’T IN THE COUNTRY NO MORE (Michael Hardy, David Garcia, Hillary Lindsey)
15. RADIO SONG feat. Jeremy McKinnon (Michael Hardy, Zach Abend, Nick Donley, Jeremy McKinnon, Cody Quistad)
16. KILL SH!T TILL I DIE (Michael Hardy, David Garcia, Hunter Phelps)
17. THE REDNECK SONG (Michael Hardy, Andy Albert, Nick Donley)