Is it fair to say that all Luke Combs songs sound the same? – Focus on entertainment
A little controversy rocked the country music section of Twitter this week when radio personality “Big Rick” Daniels (@OnAirWithRick) posted the following tweet: “Unpopular opinion: is it me or is all the songs by Luke Combs have the same sound (sic)? He becomes the Nickelback of Country music………. I don’t understand the hype.
First of all, let’s caution that everything said on the internet should be taken with a grain of salt, we all know that, right? Everyone has different motivations for making statements online, ranging from genuinely expressing an opinion to seeking attention via clickbait. Who knows which of these reasons was behind Big Rick’s tweet, but a real nest was well and truly stirred! Combs recently released their third album, “Growin’ Up” – you can read our review here – and the reaction has been interesting in some quarters. From a neutral point of view, “Big Rick” Daniels isn’t the only person who has expressed the opinion that there is a homogenous bent to the sound of Luke Combs.
The responses to Daniels’ tweet were, generally to the internet, nothing short of tribal! MoJoe Roberts replied, “Well, it’s a good thing you’re not working in country radio anymore because you’re completely out of touch with that commentary.” Luke Combs is a superstar. Not to be debated. Christopher (@mountieman323) replied ‘Name a country band whose songs don’t sound alike? Ha ha. All of George Strait’s songs sound the same and he’s the GOAT. That’s three chords and the truth my man,” while Joshua Anderson (@JWAndrews11) added, “That’s how I feel about pretty much every man in country music these days.
It’s fair to say that Combs’ new album “Growin Up” has divided opinion more than his previous two efforts and there’s definitely a little corner of the internet that agrees with Joshua Anderson et al but in my mind, Daniels and Co are just as hard. Yes, Combs uses a similar chord structure and vocal melody in many of his songs, but what country artists don’t? From Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean to Kip Moore and Little Big Town – when you hear one of their songs on the radio, you instantly know it’s them. Kip Moore’s new song “Fire on Wheels” actually sees him tweaking and playing around with his sound a bit, adding a bit of 70s rock and a Bob Seger style vibe and although many fans like it like, I’ve seen many sound like Kip Moore style comments, so this might be a case of “damn if you don’t, damn if you do!”
To put it simply. Combs is far from being Jason Aldean in terms of plagiarizing his own sound, Aldean is the master of that! Since finding a formula on his 2010 album ‘My Kinda Party’, it wouldn’t be mean to say that most of Aldean’s songs since, with the notable exception of ‘You Make it Easy’, are rewrites of ‘Tattoos on This Town’, ‘My Kinda Party’, ‘Fly Over States’ or ‘Night Train’. Indeed, the best song from Aldean’s new albums ‘Macon’ & ‘Georgia’, ‘Holy Water’, is a shameless rewrite of ‘Night Train’ right down to the melody and guitar lines.
When you look at Luke Combs’ overall default sound, there’s enough diversity and difference that it doesn’t get placed anywhere near the camp of the “Aldean” plagiarists. ‘Doin’ This’ is nothing like ‘When it rains, it rains’. “The kind of love we make” is nothing like “Houston, we have a problem”. ‘Outrunnin’ Your Memory’ is nothing like anything Combs has recorded before. ‘Does to Me’ is a classic song he’s never tried to replicate and ‘Beautiful Crazy’ is a huge personal ballad he could easily try to write over and over again, but he didn’t. .
Sure, Combs’ uptempo songs all share a similar origin and genealogy, but what country artists don’t? Songs like “1.2 Many”, “Honky Tonk Highway” and “Ain’t Far From It” are all similar in style, with the bar room, hardwood floor guitars and honky tonk pianos, but to my ears, there’s nothing wrong with having one of these style songs on every album, it’s country music after all!
Look at the artists who have radically changed their sound. The first two that come to mind are Taylor Swift and Kacey Musgraves. The latter produced two of the best country music albums of modern times on her first two records, but changed things up considerably for her album “Golden Hour” in 2018 and faced a stormy amount of criticism from the public. country music community for doing so. ! Little Big Town tried to shake things up a bit on their 2016 release “Wanderlust”, which saw them experiment with a very different image, style and sound. It failed. And the less said about The Band Perry, the better.
So it is clear that the reproaches to Luke Combs to stick to a style and a sound are, for me, unfounded. Yes, there’s a default base he builds from and yes, a lot of his songs are instantly recognizable as “Combs-esque” but there’s nothing wrong with that. He’s nowhere Jason Aldean in terms of ripping his own greatest hits and if he changed his sound and produced something very different next time around, there’s no guarantee fans or the industry would “allow” him to succeed. They didn’t do it with Kacey or Little Big Town. This ordinary man is here to stay and as long as there are songs that take him forward in terms of style and evolution on each of his upcoming albums, such as “Doin This” and “The Kind of Love We Make” on his latest release “Growin Up”, he will continue to dominate the charts, airways and arena ticket sales as we have seen him do over the last 3-5 years.
So the conclusion, for me, is no, it’s not fair to say that all Luke Combs songs sound the same, however, Twitter remains split on the issue but no surprise. Radio Monica, responding to ‘Big Rick’ Daniels, said: ‘I have to say he’s found a formula that seems to resonate with Country listeners. It’s working for now but he’ll have to expand his skills eventually as the music evolves,” while RabidRaceFan (@KarnAnne) simply replied with, “Are you stoned? Vern Schmidt (@Vernontheradio) took the debate even further with his response, which is a whole new article and universe in its own right, when he wrote, “Everyone has their own opinion.” Yours is a lot like how I feel about Stapleton. And I’m going to lay it there for you to think about, drop the mic on the floor and go!