On Friday, the country singer and leader of the Zac Brown Band released a surprise solo project dubbed The Controversy that contains a contender for the worst cluster of sounds ever committed to digital file: a WTF bedroom-rap track titled “Swayze.” As in Patrick.
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Brown doesn’t claim his new LP is country — a press release trumpets it as his “first-ever solo pop album” — and it’s released under his own name. But in any genre, “Swayze” would be considered as bad as the dude who kills his character in Ghost.
“I can’t be your Tom Cruise, bitch, I’m Patrick Swayze!” Brown shouts to open the song, drawing some fakakta comparison between the two actors before going on to shoehorn a litany of their film titles into the lyrics.
“Know you want that Top Gun, but I just came to have some fun,” he sings, crashing and burning with his big dick allusion. “Might be bouncing in a Roadhouse,” Brown continues, saluting the song’s titular hero, “even Dirty Dancing getting naked.” No, thank you, really.
But it’s the chorus of “Swayze” that lowers the bar into the earth’s crust, with Brown somehow finding a way to be both sexist and awkward all at once. “Every time I get a new bitch, I need a new bitch,” he boasts. And boasts. Why? Because, “I’m so Swayze.” As a colleague of mine asked, “Patrick died of cancer — can’t we leave him out of this?”
The rest of The Controversy, no doubt named in expectation of the blowback he’d receive for going so far off the country grid, isn’t terrible. “This Far” is a satisfying slice of dreamy yacht-pop; the breezy “Spend It All” delivers an irresistible rhythm; and “Always and Never” is a gorgeous piano ballad with a superb falsetto from Brown.
Still, it’s hard to grasp how he, or the song’s collaborator Sasha Sirota (who produced the Justin Bieber/R. Kelly track “PYD”), thought “Swayze” should ever see the light of day. Maybe that’s why Brown is pictured tentatively peering out from underneath a hood on The Controversy‘s album art, looking to see if the coast is clear to unleash this departure on the fans he’s amassed with hits like “Highway 20 Ride” and “Homegrown.”
Dressed in fur, he comes across like a lost member of the Starks. But “Swayze” is just one big Game of Groans.
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