Just a Kiss
February 12th, 2012
Todd plays "Just a Kiss" on his piano.
LADY ANTEBELLUM - JUST A KISS
A pop song review
Todd puts his cowboy hat on
Todd: It's country music time again!
- Clip of Justin Moore - "Bait a Hook"
Todd (VO): Now that could mean a lot of things. I could use this opportunity to talk about the way that country music has taken Southern/rural pride to an annoying level of self-congratulation for simple facts of life like not being from a big city.
- Justin: He can't even bait a hook
Todd: But that's not the kind of music we'll be talking about today.
Todd (VO): Or I could talk about how, in comparison to the ever-shallower worlds of pop and rock and hip-hop, country music, whether you agree with it or not, has become the only mainstream genre that actually [Clip of Ronnie Dunn's "Cost of Livin'"] agrees to even acknowledge the politics and economic conditions of our time, particularly with our war veterans and our unemployed.
- Ronnie: Cost of living's high and going up
Todd: But no, that's not what we're talking about either.
- Clip of Luke Bryan's "Country Girl (Shake It for Me)"
- Luke: Shake it for the young bucks
Todd (VO): Or, on the flip side, I could be talking about the way that country music, particularly with its male singers, become increasingly obsessed [clip of Toby Keith's "Red Solo Cup"] with good-time partying and drinking and hot girls, so much so that it's starting to reach hair metal levels of debauchery.
Todd: But no, we're gonna talk about something else, 'cause, you see, I don't really cover country music. I cover pop music, and so the...
Todd (VO): ...country music I'm going to cover is the only country music that ever crosses over into the pop world nowadays—sedate, unthreatening, mid-tempo ballads presented as innocently as possible.
Todd removes his hat and tosses it
- Clip of Lady Antebellum - "We Owned the Night"
- Charles Kelley: Tell me have you ever wanted someone...
Todd (VO): Now this week, we're talking about [shot of self-titled album by...] Lady Antebellum. And let's be clear about this—Lady Antebellum are a pop act. In 2010, they had both the second-best-selling single and the second-best-selling album of the year. They're one of the most popular acts in music right now. In fact, I think I'd have a harder time arguing that they're a country act. The group I've seen them most compared to is not any other country singers, but actually [clip of...] Fleetwood Mac. So somewhere in between Fleetwood Mac and the Dixie Chicks is where you'll find Lady Antebellum, and so they deserve to be evaluated not just within the margins of their genre, but as one of the biggest names in music.
- Clip of "Need You Now"
- Lady Antebellum: It's a quarter after one
- I'm a little drunk and I need you now
Todd: Now, in a previous video, I declared their biggest hit, "Need You Now," as my favorite pop song of 2010.
Todd (VO): And if you didn't watch that video, I'd be happy to send you a few drunken 2:00 AM voice-mails explaining why. And I also quite liked [clip of "I Run to You"] their heartfelt love song "I Run to You." And also again, they remind people of Fleetwood Mac, which is nothing but a compliment as far as I'm concerned.
Todd: What I'm saying is, before this episode, I could reasonably call myself a fan. But I still really wasn't all that familiar with their work, so in preparation for that...
- Video of "Hello World"
Todd (VO): ...I listened to all their albums so that I could really understand this band and where they were coming from, and my conclusion is that...
Todd: [uh....] they're alright. They're...they're not awful. Sad to say that
Todd (VO): "Need You Now" might be the only song of theirs with a pulse. Also, Fleetwood Mac might not be the best comparison. A better comparison might be... [clips of "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" by...] Bryan Adams [.."Right Here Waiting" by..] Richard Marx. [Clip of "American Honey"] Also, if you put "Lady Antebellum Radio" on [logo of...] Pandora, you will get the most boring country station imaginable. They don't do a whole lot of line dancing, they don't drink a lot of beer, they don't kick a lot of ass, they're just...
- Video for "Just a Kiss"
Todd (VO): Of course I didn't have a problem with them at all until I heard "Just a Kiss," Lady Antebellum's second-biggest-charting hit and, by far, their worst. Now they released this, like, nine months ago, but like most country crossover hits, it took forever to get to pop radio, and like most soft rock hits, it never goes away.
Todd: Then again, maybe I just hear this more often on the pop stations around where I live. The hottest nightclub in this city is [shot of...] a Waffle House. So Lady Antebellum might be a bigger deal down here. But...
Todd (VO): I hear this song all the time. Now remember, I liked this band, I think they're capable of so much, but...
Todd: ...this is awful. Matter of fact, I kinda hated it from the opening notes.
Todd (VO): Wait...what is this reminding me of?
Todd: Chicago. This reminds me of Chicago. [Clip of Chicago's "Will You Still Love Me"] It's Chicago. It's...this reminds me of Chicago. This...[covering his head, breathing deeply, trying to keep it together] I'm fine, I'm fine, let's go on.
- Hillary Scott: Lying here...
Todd (VO): No, actually, let's not go on. Let me just tell you what "Just a Kiss" is about, or more accurately, what it's not about. Like, they're on a date, I guess, and they're both really hot for each other.
- Hillary: Caught up in this moment
- Caught up in your smile
Todd: Feel the passion. Ooh, feel the heat in the air, [fanning himself] oooh. I'm so turned on for this, I need to pour some ice water down my pants.
- Charles: ...never opened up to anyone
Todd (VO): But she's gonna send him home with a kiss instead of inviting him into the bedroom for a little somethin' somethin'...
Todd: ...because they "shouldn't rush this."
- Lady Antebellum: We don't need to rush this
- Let's just take it slow
Todd (VO): They're not gutsy enough to actually even say the word "sex," but that's what they're talking about, and I...
- Lady Antebellum: No I don't want to mess this thing up
Todd (VO): Let me put it like this—this is not a topic I particularly want to hear songs about. If I'm gonna live vicariously through popular music, I would in fact like to hear some, you know, some good old-fashioned music about gettin' it on, you know, 'cause...
Todd: [almost losing it] I'm a lonely guy, okay?! I...[picks up a huge pillow] this...this pillow right here? This is my girlfriend right now, so...I don't really have any use for...
Todd (VO): ...something like this. It's like watching a Schwarzenegger movie where he saves hostages with [picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger sitting at a desk, reading "Schwarzenegger Reasonable Discussions"] delicate diplomatic negotiations.
Todd: [waving arms] No! No!
- Hillary: I know that if we give this a little time
- Charles: [joining in] It'll only bring us closer
Lady Antebellum: Just a kiss on your lips in the moonlight
- Just a touch of the fire burning so bright
Todd: I'm just...I'm just listening to this song and I'm thinking of that Billy Joel song, you know, [Clip of...] "Only the Good Die Young." You know that one, right?
- Billy Joel: They say there's a heaven for those who will wait
- Some say it's better but I say it ain't
Todd (VO): Yeah, a light rock song released three-and-a-half decades ago...
Todd: ...by this man...
- Clip of Billy Joel's "Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)"
- Billy: Goodnight, my angel. Time to close your eyes.
Todd: ...is sexier and edgier than a song by one of the biggest acts in the world in 2012. What the hell is going on?
- Lady Antebellum: ...baby I'm alright, with just a kiss goodnight
Todd: Now there have other songs about waiting before doing it that I can think of off the top of my head, the most notable being [clip of...] "Let's Wait Awhile" by Janet Jackson.
- Janet: Let's wait awhile before it's too late
Todd (VO): I admit I think that song is very pretty, but I have problems buying that message from [Rolling Stone cover of topless Janet] Miss Wardrobe Malfunction herself. I guess I do find it more believable from the much more middle-of-the-road Lady Antebellum, but still, their biggest hit was about booze-fueled late night booty calls.
Todd: Artistically, this is not progress.
Todd (VO): Normally, I really like how Lady Antebellum use both a male and a female vocalist, but here it...really just doesn't make sense. It would make sense if one person was not ready and the other one was like, "I understand and I'm okay with that," but in the song, they both just bring it up right at the same time.
- Charles: ...when I'm holding you in my arms
- Hillary: [joining in] We don't need to rush this
- Let's just take it slow
Todd: Like, just imagine two people full of love and excitement, looking right into each others eyes, romance in the air, and then they both start singing, "let's not have sex." What?!
- Lady Antebellum: Just a touch of the fire burning so bright
Todd (VO): If this was a song about a really hot kiss, that'd be one thing. But they spent more time on the things they're not gonna do, you know? And...
Todd: ...even if you're not gonna go all the way, you could at least round second base, right? Now...
Todd (VO): ...if Selena Gomez or Taylor Swift or somebody young released this song, that'd be one thing. But you guys, you're adults. You've clearly been to this dance before, you can't front 15, Lady. You're the oldest-sounding people on pop radio, and that's including [clip of "Give Me All Your Luvin Ft Nickey Minaj and M.I.aA.'" by...] Madonna's new single, and she's in her 50s.
- Lady Antebellum: We don't need to rush this
- Let's just take it slow
Todd (VO): Well, you don't need to not rush it either.
Todd: Unless you do. Do you? Why? What's your damage? Did you...get burned by some guy in the past? I mean, if this was a hip-hop song, I'd just automatically assume that was the case—those guys are assholes. But country guys, they're nice.
- Clip of Dixie Chicks - "Goodbye Earl"
- Natalie: But Earl walked right through that restraining order
- And put her in intensive care
Todd: Well, mostly they're nice. At the very least, if you're scared of moving too fast, I'd...at least like to know why. You can't just give me a song about keeping your clothes on without some kind of justification, damn it!
- Lady Antebellum: It'll only bring us closer to the love we wanna find
Todd: Yeah, sure, it'll "bring us closer." That's not a real reason. That's a euphemism for "I'd like to be more sure that you're not a serial killer or don't have a horrible disease or sleep on Darth Vader sheets." Don't bullshit me, okay?
- Charles: I know it's time to leave
- Hillary: [joining in] But you'll be in my dreams
Todd: Yeah, you'll be in my dreams. But not in my pants. Why am I listening to this?! Why would anyone listen to this?! Why?! What reason would someone have for liking this boring, balls-less sterile piece of sh...
Image of Jesus backed by chorus singing "Joy to the World"
Todd: [penitent] Oh. Hi, Jesus.
Jesus: Aren't you forgetting a little someone? Someone important?
Todd: Oh, right. Yes. I guess this song would be very popular with the many devout followers of our lord and savior, Jesus Christ. I'm just saying...
Jesus: Do you disagree with the song?
Todd: Well, I mean...the reason that I said...
Jesus: Are you promoting fornication?
Jesus: Oh, Todd. I expected so much more from you. You, Todd, who have done so well to keep your body chaste for the past seven years.
Todd: I... oh.
Jesus: Do you have a problem with songs about moral values? Todd, you have done such good in the world by denouncing the many songs that promote such immoral behavior.
Todd: Yeah, I know I [clip of "S&M"] blast a lot of stupidly raunchy songs that I come across, but that's 'cause they're stupid. I know "BedRock" is awful, but that doesn't mean the exact opposite's gonna be any better. Just because I wouldn't like being frozen to death, doesn't mean I wanna be set on fire.
Jesus: Enough! No more promoting promiscuity. I demand you say something positive.
Todd: Yes, my lord. Okay, yes...
Todd (VO): There is nothing wrong with waiting if you're not ready. I can't emphasize this point enough. Fellas, if she wants to wait, be cool.
- Clip of "Baby, It's Cold Outside"
- Tom Jones: Baby, it's bad out there
- Cerys Matthews: Say, what's in this drink?
Todd (VO): Yeah, see that? Yeah, try and be the diametric opposite of that.
Todd: And you know what? That goes for the girls too. You know? Sometimes the guy isn't ready and you shouldn't push him. [beat] It happens. [beat] My point is, that's not why this song doesn't work.
Todd (VO): There's no emotional logic to this song, I guess. I...I can't hook into this song in any way, and that was not true about "Need You Now." [Clip of same] And "Need You Now" didn't provide me with any details about why they're so miserable or why they're drinking or what their relationship is or where they are or anything, but I still feel like it's a real situation. Now you go back and look at "Let's Wait Awhile."
- Clip of "Let's Wait Awhile"
- Janet: But on that very first night
- It wasn't quite right
Todd (VO): Now that song actually seems like it's from the point of view of someone who has real reasons for wanting to just cuddle, you follow me? Hell, she even sounds nervous. You know, like a real person in that situation would be.
- Janet: I promise, I'll be worth the wait.
Todd (VO): Now that's a good song. But "Just a Kiss"?
- Charles: So hard to hold back when I'm holding...
Todd (VO): Like, I don't see a song about two people who have any reason to be nervous or cautious. This isn't a love song, it's an after-school special. If there's anything that makes it come off as a sermon and not a story about people, it's that last line.
- Hillary: Let's do this right
- Lady Antebellum: Just a kiss goodnight
Todd: "Let's do this right." So remember, if you hook up before the fifth date, you're [wagging his finger] doing it wrong. Eat me.
Todd (VO): No, let's be clear about this. If you need to be sure you're with the right person, that's one thing. But if you are with the right person and you're safe and you got no diseases and you don't have any hangups or anything, sex early on isn't really going to ruin anything. And if you do have hangups, I mean, fine...
Todd: ...but if you're just waiting because you're "supposed to," well, I don't know what to tell you. That's not a song.
Jesus: Todd? Did the words "eternal damnation" not mean anything to you?
Todd: Sorry, Jesus. I'm...I'm not trying to insult anybody, but...you know what, Jesus? I don't even know why you're here. This isn't a religious song.
Todd (VO): That might actually give it a reason to exist. No, this is for the "family values" crowd. The crowd that wants the safest, most edgeless music possible. And this is what parents want their kids to be listening to.
Todd: And if this is the kind of lecturing, old-person crap that Auntie Ladybellum wanna sell, well, they could at the very least keep it from cluttering up my pop shit, okay? Goodnight!
Gets up and leaves
Jesus: Geez. That guy needs to get laid!
Closing tag song: Jermaine Stewart - "We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off"
"Just a Kiss" is owned by Capitol Records
This video is owned by me