Although I generally prefer to focus on songs I think are good songs, I’ve recently been nagged by “Grab a Beer”, a Dierks Bentley song that has started popping into one of my Spotify-created playlists. It’s not new song, in fact it’s from an extended play album called Country & Cold Cans that Dierks released in 2012 shortly after Home and a couple years before Riser, and written by Jaren Johnston. Anyway, this is not a good song.
The gist of the song is an articulation of a number of scenarios in which grabbing a beer would be appropriate with Bentley as narrator encouraging the listener to do so. There’s certainly nothing objectionable about a celebration of beer drinking, a generally enjoyable activity. Billy Currington’s Pretty Good at Drinkin’ Beer, for example, hits the same theme in a hokey and thoroughly enjoyable manner. But in Dierks’/ Johnston’s song the beer-grabbing scenarios are unpleasantly cliché and the narrator’s rock-and-roll encouragement of partying, replete with faux feedback from a supposedly enthusiastic crowd, are contrived. And I find particularly unpleasant the geographical references “From New York City down to Little Rock, I said everybody grab a beer” and “the East Coast baby all the way to LA, I said everybody grab a beer” which strike me as just random rhyming filler.
One of the saving graces of a particular class of juvenile (often) bro-country party songs is that the narrator will sometimes give a few winks and nods to the listener, letting them know the song is to be taken at least partially in jest. As just one example, Toby Keith’s Red Solo Cup is another song I don’t think is a particularly good song. But that the lyrics and delivery are self–consciously silly establish the song’s purpose as a bona fide diversion, rather than pretending to be something more (i.e. a serious country music song, even if it’s one about light-hearted subject). Grab a Beer takes itself too seriously even as a good time party song. The one lyric I thought might be going in the right direction is the use of the word “plural” because it is a funny word to be a country song. But in context the song doesn’t express any awareness that this might be kind of funny.