Music News
4:28 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

Teenage Songwriters Take On 'Bro-Country'

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 6:35 pm

No theme has dominated country radio playlists and charts more in the past couple of years than celebration of the sort of small-town good life that features trucks, beer and scantily clad women as the must-have accessories. The young country duo Maddie & Tae aren't fans of the third element in the "bro-country" trinity.

They're turning heads in a different way with their very first single, "Girl In A Country Song," in which they step into the cut-off jeans of the women who have functioned as little more than eye candy in recent hits to voice a series of reasonable complaints:

"Bein' the girl in the country song — how in the world did it go so wrong? / Like all we're good for is looking good for you and your friends on the weekend, nothing more."

There's a hint of sadness in that chorus, but it's delivered with requisite Nashville sass, and in a cheerful conversation with NPR's Audie Cornish, Maddie Marlow, who is 19 years old, and Tae Dye, who is 18, made it abundantly clear that they're aiming to tweak country's conventions, not tear them down, even when asked about the tendency of male singers to address women with the words "hey, girl!"

"There's absolutely no beef with that line or any of the lines, in fact," Dye says. "It's just a trend that kind of became irresponsible in its view of women, so we wanted to come at it from our perspective."

"We're like, you know, if you love us as much as you say you do, shouldn't you know our name?" Marlow adds. "We want to give this girl that these guys love singing about a voice."

Hear "Girl In A Country Song" and more of Audie's conversation with Maddie & Tae at the audio link on this page.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Music critics and old-school country stars been taking aim at a certain national culture that's all over the radio right now. They say there are too many songs about dudes with trucks, guzzling beer, talking about scantily clad women.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BOYS 'ROUND HERE")

BLAKE SHELTON: (Singing) Yeah, girls 'round here they all deserve a whistle, shakin' that sugar sweet as Dixie Crystal.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CRUISE")

FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE: (Singing) Yeah, when I first saw that bikini top on her, she's popping right out of the South Georgia water. Thought, oh, good lord, she had them long tan legs."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TAKE A LITTLE RIDE")

JASON ALDEAN: (Singing) I hope you're wearing those frayed-out cutoffs, makes me want to get lost down in the moonlight. Drop the tailgate down on a turn road. Watch the corn grow, baby that's a good night.

CORNISH: There are songs that have been dubbed bro-country, and two 18-year-olds are getting a lot of attention for taking on the bros.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GIRL IN A COUNTRY SONG")

MADDIE AND TAE: (Singing) Bein' the girl in the country song - how in the world did it go so wrong? Like all we're good for is looking good for you and your friends on the weekend, nothing more to do.

CORNISH: The song is called "Girl In A Country Song," and the singers are Maddie Marlow and Tae Dye. And they join us now. Welcome ladies.

TAE DYE: Hello, hello.

MADDIE MARLOW: Thanks for having us.

DYE: Yes, you should have seen us when you were playing those clips. We were in here jamming out.

CORNISH: (Laughing) Well, the references in your song are so specific that obviously you are fans of this music. And I understand that when you sat down to write it, you were doing it in a writing session and you made a kind of bro-country checklist? What were some of the things that were on the list?

DYE: This is Tae, and I think it had trucks, tailgates, cutoffs, tan lines...

MARLOW: Tan lines and tan legs.

DYE: ...And tan legs, dirt roads, and the most important one - the girl.

MARLOW: Yes.

DYE: The smoking hot girl.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GIRL IN A COUNTRY SONG")

MADIE AND TAE: (Singing) I hear you over there on your tailgate whistling, saying, hey, girl, but you know I ain't listening.

CORNISH: And I noticed right away at the top you've got that hey girl line. Do you have beef with that term a little bit? I mean, do you think that in particular gets overused calling women girls?

DYE: This is Tae, and there's absolutely no beef with that line or any of the lines, in fact. It's just a trend that kind of became irresponsible in its view of women, so we wanted to come at it from our perspective.

MARLOW: Definitely. This is Maddie and we're like, you know, if you love us as much as you say you do, shouldn't you know our name? I mean...

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GIRL IN A COUNTRY SONG")

MADIE AND TAE: (Singing) 'Cause I got a name, and to you it ain't pretty little thing, honey or baby. It's driving me red, red, red, red, red, red, redneck crazy.

CORNISH: Now the thing is, you both are - and I hope you don't mind me saying this - extremely attractive. OK?

MARLOW: Oh, thank you.

CORNISH: You are beautiful young women, long blonde hair. I don't know if I saw any cut-offs in the promotional photos, but you definitely kind of have the look of the ladies who might be in these songs. And did you actually identify with it?

MARLOW: Yes, Tae and I - both of us love a good pair of cutoffs. I mean, we're from Texas and Oklahoma, it gets pretty hot down here/ But, you know, looking good for the boys is not all we have to offer for them. And, you know, we're bringing a voice for the girls in country music. And that's why we came at this topic with a different perspective.

CORNISH: Now you guys obviously love the music and are having fun with some of the clichés of it, but you said it was getting to the point where they were irresponsible. Is there a little bit of a mixed message here? Like on the one hand you're saying we love it, on the other hand you're saying, well, it treats us poorly.

DYE: The thing is we do feel like this trend has been, you know, it's been very very consistent. And we want to give this girl that these guys love singing about a voice.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GIRL IN A COUNTRY SONG")

MADIE AND TAE: (Singing): Well, I wish I had some shoes on my two bare feet. And it's getting kind of cold in these painted-on cut-off jeans. I hate the way this bikini top chafes, do I really have to wear it all day?

DYE: That girl's got a tough gig, let me tell you.

MARLOW: She does.

CORNISH: But wait a second, she's sitting on a truck in a bikini - like it doesn't sound like that tough a gig.

DYE: Well, we say it's a tough gig because yes, we wear bathing suits and we wear cut-offs, but we do it when we want to, not necessarily when the guy puts us in that place.

MARLOW: Yes.

DYE: It is a tough gig because you have to look a certain way to be looked at as a beautiful girl. And that's one message that we want this song to put out there is that every woman should feel beautiful whether you're in cut-offs, whether you don't have tan legs.

CORNISH: Do you think that this - by calling it out - do you think that you're getting people to - the men writing these songs - to rethink how they're talking about women?

MARLOW: You know, this is Mattie, and I hope that we are a little bit because as women, we - you know - don't want to be thought of as one-dimensional, and that's kind of how the songs have been portraying women. And so we hope that that kind of changes the game just a little bit.

CORNISH: Well, Tae Dye and Maddie Marlow, thank you so much for speaking with us.

DYE: Thank you very much for having us.

MARLOW: Oh, no, thank you for having us on. We appreciate you all so much.

CORNISH: Maddie and Tae, a new duo telling us about their new single, "Girl In A Country Song."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GIRL IN A COUNTRY SONG")

MADIE AND TAE: (Singing) We used to get a little respect, now we're lucky if we even get to climb up in your truck, keep our mouth shut, and ride along - and be the girl in a country song. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.