Review Summary: Guffawing hick drools on a compact disc. Here are the results.
In 2002, Vh1 put together a defining list of one hundred “one hit wonder” songs. The term, for the scattered few of you reigning yourselves into unfamiliar territory, is used to describe bands and artists that are temporary chart-topping musical mainstays, only to be relinquished from collective conscience save for appearances on the daggiest of compilation CDs. All on the basis of a sole hit single. The list was filled with obvious choices – “My Sharona”, “Ice Ice Baby”, “Mickey”, “Baby Got Back” etc. There was one inclusion in the list, however, that is certain to drag several hideous memories of tacky country-pop, even tackier line dancing and the tackiest of all hairstyles – the mullet.
Yes, boys and girls, today’s lesson is on number eighty-nine in said list – Billy Ray Cyrus.
These days, Billy Ray is best known for fathering one of the richest teenagers in the world – pop singer/Disney brand Miley “Hannah Montana” Cyrus. Oh, the sad, sad situation our Billy would be had he worn a condom that night. Before rediscovering fame and fortune with young Miley, Billy Ray was freeze-framed in pop culture as the pseudo-hunky, God-fearing hick who put together ten excruciatingly cheesy songs together for his debut album, Some Gave All
All the calling cards of naff, antiquated and cringe-inducing “well my woman left me today” pop-mongling country are here, as well as Springsteen-aping heartland rock thrown in for allegedly good measure. Amidst Cyrus’ guttural drawl and elementary geetar playing is purring slide guitar, echoing honky-tonk piano, hollered vocal harmonies and snare drum beats that sound like someone spitting in the middle of an empty arena (the kind Cyrus would be very much used to playing by now). Opener “Could’ve Been Me”, as well as the syrupy (read: truly horrific) ballad “She’s Not Cryin’ Anymore”, both provide more than ample demonstration of both all characteristics listed, in addition to the album’s hideous over-production that screams “state of the art” in 1992 terms.
With all this in consideration, we haven’t even turned a single page on the lyrics booklet – a shocking realisation, given just how immediately one feels the urge to look at anything apart from the album cover. Essentially, Billy Ray is of the opinion some bitch did him wrong. Even though she sounds like a terrible person (“She meant what she said/When she wished I was dead”, he sings in “Where’m I Gonna Live”), he just can’t seem to get over the fact that she’s gone and he’s been left making dinner for one nowadays. Whether he’s lamenting that she’s got a new squeeze (“Could’ve Been Me”, “She’s Not Cryin’ Anymore”, “Ain’t No Good Goodbye”), or complaining about his empty house (“I’m So Miserable”), dude’s got some serious issues. If the music wasn’t enough to drive you over the edge, then certainly these excreted moans layered over the top of proceedings topples Some Gave All
over the cliff and down into the valleys of unlistenable.
Of the four songs not written or co-written by Cyrus himself is a cover of “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’”. Made popular as dominant-female anthem by Nancy Sinatra, any hint of passion or empowerment is completely sucked dry by this stock-standard runthrough, practically sounding like a karaoke backing track. Even with such stiff competition, by far the worst non-Cyrus penned number here – and easily the record’s worst song – is that infamous chestnut, “Achy Breaky Heart”. If you’ve never paid much attention beyond the inescapable chorus (and there’s a very good chance you haven’t), the song deals with a man saying that absolutely anyone and anything can be told that he’s just been dumped (again, we assume).
You can tell the world, you never was my girl
You can burn my clothes when I'm gone
Oh you can tell your friends just what a fool I've been
And laugh and joke about me on the phone
You can tell my arms, go back onto the farm
You can tell my feet to hit the floor
Or you can tell my lips to tell my fingertips,
They won't be reaching out for you no more
Anyone. Anything. Except, that is, for his heart. Why? Because Cyrus simply believes that he “just doesn’t think it’d understand”. Throw in some ugly twang and some manufactured “little bit country/little bit rock n roll” grit and you have a strong contender for one of the human race’s most embarrassing creations. When “Weird Al” Yankovic sang that he would rather be tied to a chair and kicked down the stairs than hear this song again in his parody “Achy Breaky Song”, there’s a frighteningly strong possibility the funnyman was more serious than he’s ever been in his entire life.
What more can you say about Billy Ray in all his mulleted schlock-rock glory? In this instance, Cyrus’ notoriety as a “one hit wonder” is hardly justified, given the quality of the music on hand is worth of zero hits all up.
Some Gave All
…but then again, some gave a little too much. You can safely include Cyrus amongst said “some”.