I Hope


Date Aired
November 21, 2020
Running Time
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Todd plays "I Hope" on the piano.

A pop song review

Todd: If there is one bright side to the pandemic, it's that I've had the opportunity to get in touch with music again. Which is great, 'cause I've really just been faking it these last few years, I don't know if you can tell. And part of that has been [clip of Alan Jackson - "Summertime Blues"] reconnecting with the music of my youth, country music, which has been nice. And here's one positive development I can report: the women are back!

Clip of Kelsea Ballerini - "hole in the bottle"

Kelsea Ballerini: There's a hole in the bottle

Todd (VO): Probably the biggest story of the 2010s in mainstream country music was the [clip from Episode 4.32 of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee showing...] abrupt disappearance of female voices. It's one of the strangest things I've ever witnessed 'cause...

Todd: ...this was never a problem before!

Clips of Dolly Parton - "Apple Jack" and "?"

Todd (VO): It's not like it was this lingering systemic issue, there's always been a strong female presence in Nashville. When I was a kid it was like an even split!

Todd: That's the way I remember it at least, it...

Todd (VO): ...probably wasn't actually that equal, [shot of headline "Billboard: Zero Females In The Week's Top 20 At Country Radio"] but it was sure better than zero!

Todd: And you can't say, like, "Well, that's just what people want now." The people want what they get. [clip of radio DJ booth] Mainstream country is a weird, enclosed ecosystem where radio still retains massive power, so you can absolutely blame [image of '50s era poster with quote: "show her it's a man's world"] "the man" for this. I don't know if you've heard of [image of girls wearing red tomato shirts] Tomato-gate. If you're not into country music you probably missed it, but it was and still is a gigantic controversy.

Clip of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee

Todd (VO): Basically in 2015, some decision maker in country radio said that women were like the tomatoes in the salad of country music. [image of salad] And by that he meant, you know, [arrows point at...] not the lettuce, not the base of the salad, those are the men. And presumably not the cucumbers either. I guess those would also be men. And also not the carrots, the croutons, dressing, whatever proteins you wanna throw in there, those are all men.

Todd: What the fuck is this analogy?!

Footage of 2018 Country Music Awards red carpet interviews

Todd (VO): Well, there was a lot of outrage about that, but it didn't really seem to help. shot of article title: "3 years after 'Tomato-gate,' there are even fewer women on country radio"] The situation only got worse. And that's bad for diversity and representing all perspectives and all those other reasons you already know.

Todd: But also, it was just really boring!

Montage clips of Thomas Rhett - "Get Me Some Of That"; Luke Bryan - "Drunk On You"

Todd (VO): The bro-country era was so boring. It was nothing but bikini girls and trucks...

Todd: ...over and over.

Todd (VO): But finally, after years of protests outside and inside the country music industry...

Todd: ...the powers that be in the music world relented, and we're actually starting to see some real female voices again.

Video for Gabby Barrett - "I Hope"

Todd (VO): For example, climbing way up the charts - the pop charts - is a female country singer. She's all the way up to number three this week, Jesus. So I thought I'd give it a look 'cause, you know, that's humongous for a country song, let alone one by a woman.

Todd: It's not even by one of the established superstars [clips of "Bluebird" by...] like Miranda Lambert or [...and "Wine, Beer, Whiskey" by...] Little Big Town. [live clip of "Jesus and My Mama" by...] It's by a newcomer, Gabby Barrett, all of 20 years old. Is the song any good? Well, we'll get to that, but I can tell you this much.

Video for "I Hope"

Todd (VO): The fact that I'm doing an episode on it is already a great sign for country music.

Todd: Most of these country songs I couldn't talk about for 30 seconds.

Video for Florida Georgia Line - "I Love My Country"

Todd (VO): What else new is there to say about Florida Georgia Line's latest piece of shit? They've been making the same song for 8 years!

Todd: So whether or not I liked this song...

Clip of American Idol performance of "I Hope"

Todd (VO): ...at least it's a change of pace, and it might lead to more change later.

Todd: That's a good thing.

Gabby Barrett: I, I hope she...

Todd (VO): Unlike most crossover country hits, this song had a slow climb to the top. It actually came out two years ago but it only started getting airplay at the beginning of this year, and it's only peaking just now.

Video for "I Hope"

It's called "I Hope".

Gabby: I hope she makes you smile

The way you made me smile

Todd (VO): Her hopes revolve around some guy she used to like, and him meeting the girl of his dreams.

Gabby: I hope you both feel the sparks by the end of the drive

I hope you know she's the one by the end of the night

Todd: It goes on and on like this, all through the verse and into the chorus about...

Todd (VO): ...how she hopes that this girl makes him so extremely happy, you know, upends his life and her marriage and her future and all that, she just fills his heart with love and devotion...

Todd: ...and then the kicker.

Gabby: And then I hope she cheats

Like you did on me

And then I hope she cheats

Todd: Ha ha! Heh heh. Eh? Eh? Okay.

Todd (VO): So, I-I don't know what the critics' takes are on this one. Obviously, the masses seem to like it a lot.

Todd: Me personally...Ehh, doesn't really work for me. It's actually been rubbing me wrong all year. The more I heard it, the more it just made me feel icky and gross.

Todd (VO): I've spent much of this year trying to disentangle why it doesn't work for me.

Todd: Uh, I guess we can start with the fact that...

Todd (VO): ...I've been talking about what a refreshing voice she is. Uh...

Todd: ...she's not really that fresh.

Clip of Breaking Talents interview with Gabby Barrett and...

Gabby: I'm super excited to meet Carrie Underwood. I starting singing country music because of you.

Todd (VO): Gabby Barrett has already taken a lot of comparison to Carrie Underwood. [clip of Gabby Barrett performing on American Idol] She's a blonde with a big voice like Carrie. She came from American Idol [clip from season 4 of American Idol with Ryan Seacrest standing next to...] as did Carrie. Carrie came back to Idol as a guest judge that season, so Gabby sang one of her songs.

Clip of Gabby Barrett performance of "Last Name"

Gabby: I don't even know his last name

Gabby may be dealing with this comparison for the rest of her life.

Todd: Especially since her big hit sounds pretty darn close to Carrie's big crossover hit!

Video for Carrie Underwood - "Before He Cheats"

Todd (VO): In 2007, Carrie Underwood hit the Top 10 with "Before He Cheats", where she also sings about a cheating boyfriend getting what he deserves.

Carrie Underwood: Maybe next time, he'll think before he cheats

Todd: You almost certainly remember it. It was one of the biggest country hits of the century. It's the one where she trashes the shit out of her boyfriend's car.

Carrie: I took a Louisville slugger to both headlights

Todd: I really did not like "Before He Cheats" either. Or at least I didn't at the time.

Todd (VO): My objections were pretty basic.

Todd: Like...[shrugs] trashing the guy's car?

Carrie: Slashed a hole in all four tires

Todd: That's psychotic. Don't do that.

Todd (VO): Bad message to be sending out to the world, Carrie.

Todd: And let's be real, I might not have liked it 'cause I'm a guy.

Todd (VO): Like, it's not really a song I can sing along with. It's not funny when a guy sings about getting violent with an ex.

Todd: Or at least that's what I thought. A guy did sing a song like this shortly afterwards.

Clip of Rehab - "Bartender Song (Sittin' at a Bar)"

Danny Boone: So I jacked the keys to her father's car

And crashed that Chevrolet, and then stepped away

Todd (VO): But, you know, he rightly went to jail at the end of that song. [clip of "Before He Cheats"] Carrie presumably gets away with it. [pause; sarcastically] Double standard much?!

Todd: [shrugs] Well, that's where I was in 2007. These days, my feelings on it are a little more copacetic.

Video for "Before He Cheats"

Todd (VO): The song's cute. What, am I gonna be offended by it? No. So she trashes a car. So what?

Todd: It's just a car. Also it's a song! It's not real!

Todd (VO): I'm still not really a fan of it, but if it makes you feel better to imagine going to town on some cheating asshole's hotrod...You know what, go for it.

Todd: Now, "I Hope" is a lot like "Before He Cheats".

Video for "I Hope"

Todd (VO): In fact, "I Hope She Cheats" would be a much better title, but that's probably too similar to "Before He Cheats", so they shortened it. Or maybe it'd give away the punchline too quickly. I dunno.

Todd: But despite the similarities, in a lot of ways, "I Hope" is also a serious improvement on "Before He Cheats".

Clip of "Before He Cheats"

Carrie: That I dug my key into the side

Todd (VO): "Before He Cheats" still doesn't really work for me. It's too cartoony. Carrie walks away all self-satisfied. She doesn't even really sound very hurt or angry, and...

Todd: ...the revenge doesn't really seem to address the situation.

Carrie: Maybe next time, he'll think before he cheats

Todd: Or maybe he won't!

Todd (VO): Maybe he'll just get a new car! The insurance will cover it! He'll be banging bar skanks in the back seat in no time! It's not a very satisfying revenge.

Todd: And for the record, yes, you can go too far in the other direction, too.

Clip of Toby Keith - "How Do You Like Me Now?!"

Toby Keith: How do you like me now?

Todd (VO): Toby Keith's awful but hugely successful, "How Do You Like Me Now" sees some girl turn Toby Keith down in high school. But she gets hers, 'cause now she lives in total soul-destroying misery.

Toby: And you’re always alone

And your kids hear you crying down the hall

Ha-ha. That's really depressing. Go fuck yourself, Toby Keith.

Todd: "I Hope" gets it right.

Clip of "I Hope"

Gabby: I hope she makes you feel the same way about her

That I feel about you right now

Todd (VO): The punishment fits the crime. He cheated on her, he gets cheated on. Bam.

Todd: And when they're done right, I love revenge songs.

Clips of Justin Timberlake - "What Goes Around...Comes Around"...

Timbaland: What goes around comes back around

Todd (VO): Old, new, serious, silly, whatever.

...and Connie Francis - "Who's Sorry Now"

Connie Francis: Who's sorry now?

Beautiful. Just twist that knife.

Todd: But "I Hope" doesn't hit the same.

Video for "I Hope"

Todd (VO): And thinking about it, the reason why is right in the title! [snippet of start of the video showing the song title] "I hope she cheats." This isn't a song about getting revenge.

Todd: It's a song about wanting revenge.

Todd (VO): It's all Gabby's imaginings about what she wants to happen, and she has thought about this...

Todd: ...a lot.

Gabby: I hope she comes along and wrecks every one of your plans

Todd (VO): She has thought very hard about how she wants this to go down. Like how perfect his new love is, how wonderful she makes him feel and how thoroughly she changes his life before the betrayal.

Gabby: I hope you spend your last dime to put a rock on her hand

It's...a lot.

Todd: And there's also kind of a weird thing here where...

Todd (VO): ...unlike most songs, you can just repeat the same chorus and we're fine with the repetition. But...

Todd: ...here, it's structured as a sequential, chronological narrative.

Todd (VO): So before we get to the second chorus, first this girl...

Todd: ...has to get caught cheating.

Gabby: Yeah, babe, I hope she shows up in a 2 AM pic from her friend

Hanging on to a guy

Todd: And then, they have difficult conversations and reconcile...

Gabby: Forgive and just about forget

And take her on a first date again

Todd (VO): And then, they start over from the beginning and fall in love all over again...

Todd: ...only for her to cheat on him in the chorus a second time!

Gabby: And then I hope she cheats

Todd: I like to imagine the extended remix of this song is, like, seven verses long...

Todd (VO): ...and in each verse, they work through their issues, and then every chorus [laughing] she cheats on him again.

Todd: He just doesn't learn very fast.

Todd (VO): Also for some reason, she also imagines that his dream girl is equally in love with him, too?

Gabby: I hope you both feel the sparks by the end of the drive

Todd: That's...not how this is supposed to work.

Todd (VO): The made-up girl should be as mean to him as you feel towards him. Otherwise, you just got this extra person who...presumably feels bad that she keeps screwing around on him.

Todd: Why are you wishing torment on this fictional character you made up?! A good revenge fantasy doesn't have unnecessary details like this.

Todd (VO): But that's not really what bothers me.

Todd: What I think bothers me is just...that it's all spite and bitterness.

Todd (VO): Like, there's nothing wrong with negative emotions in a song, but there's also no catharsis in it. [brief clip of "Before He Cheats"] At least Carrie got to fuck shit up.

Todd: Here, the revenge is just imaginary.

Video for "I Hope"

Todd (VO): You can't really sympathize with her pain and anger because she's not really asking for sympathy. She barely even mentions herself.

Todd: All we get from her is going into absurd detail about how she wants this guy to hurt.

Todd (VO): What it reminds me of is...like, we've all had to be there for a friend who needed to unload. But then they get to a point where they're so deep in their own anger that you start...

Todd: ...slowly backing away.

Cut to image of a bar restaurant with Todd pretending to be a bartender

Todd (VO): [as bartender] Here you go.

Todd: Thanks, bartender. [picks up glass of whiskey from piano] I need this. I had the shittiest day at work. I hope my boss gets hit by a fuckin' car! [takes a sip]

Todd (VO): [as bartender] Yep. Been there.

Todd: No! I hope he gets hit by a fuckin' truck! I hope it smashes him right his fuckin' turd little rat-face!

Todd (VO): [as bartender] I hear ya, buddy.

Todd: Yeah, I hope it hits him face-first, and then fuckin' rolls over him and crushes every bone in his fuckin' body.

Todd (VO): [as bartender] Yep. Alright, I'm gonna go over here...

Todd: No, no, no, no! Hold on! After it rolls over that dickless little fuck, I hope it backs up back over him, then rolls over his fuckin' head, and then it finds his kids and does the same thing to them in front of him while he fuckin' watches!

Todd (VO): [beat; as bartender] 'Kay.

Todd: And then...

Todd (VO): [as bartender] Buddy, I'm gonna need my tip in advance.

Back to the review

Video for "I Hope"

Todd (VO): So, yeah. That's my feelings on why this doesn't work. The spite is too much. Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Todd: I guess that's not a very common opinion since "I Hope" is a big hit right now.

Todd (VO): And not one of those one-week wonders we tend to get these days. It didn't start out big; it started small and then grew big, which is very rare these days.

Todd: [pause] Oh, and I guess I should mention the thing that sent it over the top.

Clip of live performance of "I Hope (Remix)" featuring...

Charlie Puth: Yeah, yeah

Todd (VO): This is a new version that's been circulating around with...[text appears: "Charlie Puth, Worst New Artist of 2015...] your friend and mine, Charlie Puth. [...But pretty okay since then"]

Todd: This...

Charlie: And when you lean in for a kiss

Todd: Yeah, no.

Gabby & Charlie: I hope she comes along and wrecks every one of your plans

Todd (VO): The random chart-goosing duet is starting to become one of my least favorite trends in music. It's always so cynical and the results are never good.

Clip of Taylor Swift performing "Lover (Remix)" with...

Taylor Swift's "Lover" did not need Shawn Mendes on it. [clip of Billie Eilish and Justin Bieber singing "Bad Guy" in a car] Justin Bieber's presence didn't benefit "Bad Guy" in any way except on the charts.

Todd: It's clickbait basically.

Clip of "I Hope (Remix)" live performance

Todd (VO): These remixes only exist to attract a few thousand extra curious eyeballs and give the song an extra bump.

Todd: At least, that's what I think that Charlie Puth is doing.

Montage clips of live performance of Jason Aldean with Kelly Clarkson - "Don't You Wanna Stay"; Dan + Shay ft. Justin Bieber - "10,000 Hours"; Maren Morris ft. Hozier - "The Bones" and Maren Morris performing "The Bones" live without Hozier

Todd (VO): It could also be the country music thing where to cross over, you need a pop singer to escort you past the velvet ropes. Like how Maren Morris couldn't get into the Top 40 without Hozier. And then, once she got in, everyone realized Hozier wasn't necessary and added nothing, so they tossed that version in the garbage.

Todd: Like, yes, I know rappers have been doing this thing forever. [side-by-side images of Amy Winehouse and...] Like, hands up if you remember the version of "Rehab" with the Jay-Z verse on it. But I was more okay with that.

Video for Jerrod Niemann ft. Pitbull - "Drink to That All Night (Remix)"

Todd (VO): At least a rapper takes the song in a different direction. They add their own personality to it.

Todd: These pop singers' guesting on pop songs never add a thing.

Clip of "I Hope (Remix)" live performance

Todd (VO): If the song needed a second person, they would've already been on it! The song makes no sense as a duet, and Charlie's voice doesn't do anything interesting with hers. It's just terrible all the way around.

Todd: So, there. That's my verdict on the song. It just doesn't work for me in either version. [pause] Except in one particular instance.

Clip of NBC News broadcast of the 2020 presidential election results

Savannah Guthrie: We can now project that former vice president, Joe Biden, has been elected President of the United States...

Todd (VO): This is the first episode I've done since the 2020 election. It's actually coming out a little late, 'cause I was glued to the television for a week.

Todd: I don't go out of my way to be political on here, but I didn't make it a secret that I think these last four years have been a hellish nightmare. [clip of crowd in New York City celebrating Biden's win] So after all that stress, I expected to feel massive relief once it was all over and go back to a more level-headed state of mind. What actually happened is that I became my absolute worst self! [shot of Todd's reply to a tweet from Brad Heath about Trump's "conditions"] I ate nothing but schaudenfreude for a week! [clip of TikTok video about the election] I should've died from dehydration 'cause of the salt and all the tears I was drinking. I have since come down from that...as I realized that it's [image of hand flipping middle finger with message: "Fuck...] still 2020, and things are still mostly shit. But while I was in it...

Video for "I Hope"

Todd (VO): ...I tried to get back to writing this episode. [pause] And all of a sudden, while I was in the pettiest, most spiteful mood of my life...

Todd: ...everything about this song finally started to click.

Gabby: And then I hope she cheats

Todd (VO): It's worn off now, so I stand by all my complaints.

Todd: But at the very least, I get this song now.

Todd (VO): And even though I'm back to not liking it, I'm sure there will be points in my life where I just feel so angry and vindictive that I like the song again. But...

Todd: ...I won't be in that frame of mind anytime soon. [air quote] "I hope." Heh. Well, see ya.

Gets up and leaves

Gabby: Like you did on me

Closing Tag Song: Dusty Springfield - "Wishin' and Hopin'"


"I Hope" is owned by Warner Nashville

This video is owned by me


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