There has been much hype around this song, claiming it will begin Kenny’s move to a different terrain musically, and that the album will follow that. However, when I first listened to the track, I find it a bit odd and confusing.
The track begins with a quiet, unobtrusive organ melody, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s made the mistake of trying to turn it up to full volume due to this. Handclaps and a nicely strummed mandolin jump in, and it sounds quite nice, quite sweet. At this point I was totally thrown off base by a subtle key change in the music that happens mere milliseconds before Kenny comes in with the vocals, that are in line with this sudden key change, in a kind of pitched melodic rapping. To add to the confusion, the sweetness of the instruments already in the mix are added to by a heavier drum beat and some snappy muted distorted guitar, just hitting the bassier strings. The two ends of the sonic spectrum clashing plus this rapping in a key that to me doesn’t automatically fit with the key of the music, makes it rather a melting pot. The heavier guitar part becomes more prominent as the song progresses, and then we have its saving grace: the chorus.
The chorus launches in full pelt with the kind of country rock from Kenny that we’re more used to hearing and the melody and key parts that originally confused me begin to make a lot more sense. The chorus links the whole song together and without it I’m not sure it would work, as after that the second verse etc feels a lot easier on my ears. I can see Kenny’s trying to go for something different and off-base as country music does tend to stick to the familiar, traditional keys and melodies. Perhaps that’s why it feels a little uncomfortable to me – I’m so used to hearing what I’m expecting and what is ‘familiar’, that anything different sets me on edge. I think this one is a grower, and definitely the more I hear it the more I get used to it.
Lyrically it’s a little mad. It tells a story in the kind of rebel child country music tradition that we’re used to, but with a Pirates of the Caribbean theme, essentially. I like this element, it’s amusing and a breath of fresh air on country radio.
The video itself isn’t as ‘different’ as the song would have it. It’s atmospheric and sets a good mood with the shots of the beach and the sea, the sunset-style lighting on some shots and a few supposedly amateur clips of people jumping into water and the such. We of course have the recurring theme of the pirate flag, and Kenny singing into an old-fashioned microphone and playing his guitar. All good so far, matches the song yet doesn’t religiously follow the storyline and has quite a bit going on without straying from the core scene ideas. Unfortunately the key component of this video, like a few other Kenny Chesney videos I’ve noticed, is women half-naked. Stick insect women dancing around sensuously with pirate flags in their bikinis, others in their bikinis frolicking on the beach. It’s beach-themed, you say, girls in bikinis are a natural occurrence. Not THAT many. There is a hell of a lot of cleavage and long legs on display and to be honest, when I’m watching a country music video, that’s not what I’m looking for. There’s a whole internet full of this stuff, I don’t need it listening to Kenny Chesney. There’s also the fact that none of the girls (even the supposed amateur ones) are any bigger than a size 3 or 4, but let’s not get into that.
Bearing all of this in mind, I’m interested to see what the album will hold. Kenny seems to be trying to go down a different path musically, so I’m intrigued to see where he goes with it.
You can watch the video for ‘Pirate Flag’ here: