Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Top 100 Songs of 2011 -- #34: "Colder Weather" -- Zac Brown Band

Country music has always been best known for about four different types of songs (that is, unless you listen to David Allan Coe's "You Never Even Called Me By My Name," which sheds light on a few more topics) -- the drinking song, the so-country-it-hurts song (which is sort of hard to explain, but just think of about any song that doesn't fit into the other categories and you're on the right track), the patriotic song and the impassioned ballad. Sometimes these mix.

Within the latter topic, there's a lot of sappy, whiny songs (as there are in any genre) that are either laughably bad or totally unmemorable. That said, occasionally a good one sneaks through. Example: "The Dance," "Whiskey Lullaby," that sort of thing. In 2011, a new classic joined their ranks.

Zac Brown Band's You Get What You Give was released in 2010, but the majority of its singles impacted radio the following year. "Colder Weather" was the band's second single, released last year but being slow to catch on, finally erupting earlier this year.

One of the band's biggest strengths has always been its harmonizing, which is put to good use in almost every song. "Colder Weather" is no exception, with downright beautiful harmonies coming through during an impassioned chorus.

Of course, there's also bandleader Brown's crossover appeal -- not only does he not really fit the look of a country star, but his voice is only slightly so. Plus, when it comes to a country jam band, Zac Brown Band is about the closest the genre has these days. The band has been able to reach many people, many of whom aren't regular country listeners.

"Colder Weather" is one of those songs that appeals quite soundly to that kind of person. Many can relate to the tale of a long-gone, long-distance, wayward lover, and the song is not so explicitly country musically-speaking that it's a turn-off for the non-country-inclined.

In terms of ballads of any genre, "Colder Weather" ended up one of the best of 2011. While it didn't match the runaway success of earlier band hit "Chicken Fried," it's the kind of song we'll be hearing from years to come on radio from the band.

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