Welcome back to another episode of Is This Thing On? Today we have scheduled a seemingly impossible musical combination: EDM and… country? Wait, is this allowed? I never thought I would use those genres in the same sentence, but Zedd is trying to prove me otherwise.
As you might have guessed, I’m not exactly the biggest country fan. Something about trucks and why God Made Girls just doesn’t really do it for me. But I will admit that sometimes on a hot summer night I can get behind a little Thomas Rhett. However, for some reason, Massachusetts is really trying to push country music culture on Boston with not one, but two hit country radio stations, so maybe we reach a compromise.
Speaking of which, house DJ Zedd and country singer-songwriter Marren Morris recently teamed up with producer duo Grey in “The Middle” (2018), fusing their two fanbases together. After being performed live at the Grammys, the January release has peaked at No. 13 on Billboard.
I love Maren Morris for her raw and edgy rocker vibe, which makes her voice so versatile for any genre. In an interview, Zedd and Grey explained how they engineered the song before seeking out the female vocal lead. They wanted someone who could match their energy while maintaining the fragility of the bridge. In that way, selecting Morris was more of an audition than a collaboration, but she said in an interview that she “connected heavily with the lyrics.” Maybe this is because it sounds exactly like every other dance track, especially Zedd’s own “Stay” (2017) with Alessia Cara. Even the pre-chorus is oddly similar to The Chainsmokers’ “Closer” (2016). In fact, the lyrics of “The Middle” are extremely un-complex. I honestly think that I could have written them. I mean, what did we expect from EDM — are we here for the lyrics or for the drop? Definitely the drop. Just look at Selena Gomez and Kygo’s “It Ain’t Me” (2017). They couldn’t even come up with words for the best part of the song, so they just mashed up sound bits from the verse. Despite the simplicity, “The Middle” at least makes a good workout song.
More dance-country crossover has come from Florida Georgia Line, after the country duo collaborated on a few songs with Bebe Rexha, Alesso and Hailee Steinfeld. While Zedd seemed to strip Maren of her country flair, Florida Georgia Line is better at blending its style with the respective pop singers. About “Meant to Be” (2017), Rexha said, “I never thought a New York girl like me would have a country hit, but I guess it goes to show you that some things are just … meant to be.” Wow, if that is not inspiring, I don’t know what is.
All right, I’ve given country music its 15 minutes. Next week I might try to tackle the concept of mumble rap, so if anyone would like to defend Post Malone to me, I welcome your arguments.