Sometimes, things are just too popular to like.
There’s no mystique in having Bud Light be your favorite beer, or in rooting for Lebron James. It’s easy to dismiss truly great things (talking about Lebron here, no Bud Light) simply because they are popular, which is just as stupid as only liking something because it’s popular.
In music, this human inclination to turn our noses up at what “everyone” likes results in some truly great, enjoyable pop songs getting lost in the shuffle. It’s easy to dismiss them, but in doing so, you run the risk of missing out on great songs like Sam Hunt’s “Body Like a Back Road.”
This song does everything right. It seamlessly blends pop and modern country. It has a punchy guitar riff, a captivating melody, and with a run-time of about 2:45, it doesn’t overstay its welcome. But it’s an absolute master class in two songwriting themes in particular: lyrics and tone.
I’m going to start with the lyrics, because they play a large part in establishing the tone. So let’s take a look at this chorus, shall we?
“Body like a back road, drivin’ with my eyes closed
I know every curve like the back of my hand.
Going 15 in a 30, I ain’t in no hurry,
I’mma take it slow, just as fast as I can.”
It’s not dense, poetic genius that you have to take a class on to understand. But it doesn’t have to be.
Here, Hunt is comparing love to driving on a back road and taking it easy, which means that this song is going to resonate with you if you understand either side of that analogy. And the two are so perfectly aligned tonally that it just jives. It is SIMULTANEOUSLY a great song about love that works because it evokes pastoral imagery of the slow “good living” lifestyle, and a great song about that picturesque country lifestyle that works because of the love comparison.
If you like either one, you can jam to this song.
Either lens you view this song through, the effect on the audience is the same. You stick your hand out of the window of your car and enjoy the feeling of the sun on your skin. It’s a song that manages to just FEEL GOOD. It’s a slow song that avoids being a ballad, and a song about sex that avoids being crass.
The song leans back into a drawl, but also drives forward with tempo. It’s a laid back song that’s still sung with a bravado that sounds like Hunt is having the time of his life, and the audience picks up on that energy, letting it carry them through the song.
It’s not that hard to come up with a decent chord progression, a catchy riff, and put some nice words to it. But it is hard to convey a sense of “I’m having a grand old time and you should too” to a listener without singing a loud song about drinking, parties, and drinking at parties (#Mr.Worldwiiiide).