The short version: Maren Morris’ “GIRL” carries a strong message with a strong vocal delivery, but it lacks the right amount of punch to elevate its status.
- Writers: Maren Morris, Sarah Aarons, Greg Kurstin
- Rating: 6/10
The long version: Bro-country may be dead, but female artists are arguably faring worse than ever before in mainstream country music.
Yes, it is nice to hear women no longer be treated like sexual objects like they were in some of the worst offenders in that era of country music, but they’re still not exactly represented well in the genre. Sure, lots of male artists, duos and bands sing about women in an endearing manner, but a better solution would be to – I don’t know – play female artists!
Granted, what I’m saying isn’t new. This is a criticism echoed by well, pretty much any country music fan with a conscience, including Maren Morris, one of the only female artists to even get consistent radio airplay right now. Her new song, “GIRL” is an actual response to this.
While I’m on board with the idea and execution of this song’s premiere, the actual song itself leaves some elements to be desired. Morris sounds as great as ever vocally, but “GIRL” feels more underwhelming than exciting.
Of course, the main conversation surrounding this track so far is where it fits into country music. Frankly, if I were to play along and determine where that line in the sand should be drawn, I’d still place the Dylan Scotts, Walker Hayes, Sam Hunts and Dustin Lynchs (among so many others) of the world ahead of Morris.
Actually, one could argue this isn’t a big “pop” statement at all. The hook is relatively weak, and the descending minor riff that permeates the entire track owes more to alt-rock than anything else.
The production is the weakest element of this track. The aforementioned riff wears out its welcome after awhile, and the drums are mixed way too loud. It creates an atmosphere that’s cluttered with a melody that’s monotonous. To its credit though, it creates a dark, foreboding, almost anxious atmosphere that contributes nicely to the song’s lyrical sentiment.
Lyrically, the first verse will probably be some of the best writing we get out of a mainstream country single all year. It’s rare that you get a peek inside an artist’s mindset, and in Morris’ case, she’s afraid of screwing everything up. Female artists are lucky to have one top 20 today, let alone a followup single. The second verse is also quite strong, with her refusing to wear a metaphorical crown of leadership. In other words, it shouldn’t just be her name we see on the charts.
As mentioned before though, while the verses are strong, the chorus is quite weak, with awkward rhymes leading up to an unsatisfying hook. It’s got a strong message, but it also feels stretched too thin to really drive it all home.
But also as mentioned before, Morris sounds excellent vocally, and her lower register sounds great matched against the murky, dark feel of the track. This is certainly one example where I wouldn’t doubt an artist’s sincerity in the delivery.
Overall though, while “GIRL” has a commendable message to it, as an actual song it feels underwhelming. It’s right on the cusp of being great though, and if nothing else, it’ll be interesting to hear what else Morris has to say on her upcoming album.