If anything was proved by Fast Ryde’s previous single “Make It Rain,” It’s that the duo of Jody Stevens and James Harrison can sing. So, why then are they peddling a song like “Top Down,” one that uses pitch-correction to such extreme and electronic lengths that it gets gimmicky. Yes, I understand that this new duo on Republic Nashville is trying to bring a little of the ‘Autotune’ sound from pop/r&B and rap into the country arena but does country music really need those parts of the other genres to seep into it's historically strong vocal and lyrical canon?
Those thoughts aside, one cannot deny that “Top Down” is anything but a catchy tune that could find a home on country radio. While the lyrics are nothing but serving the melody about driving a convertible ‘riding around just to be seen,’ I can see where this track will appeal to a younger demographic and perhaps that’s what this song is going after. As singers Fast Ryde sometimes recall Larry Stewart of Restless Heart and while this song will get a lot of ‘I hate it’ and ‘my soul has just died from listening to it’ reactions from people who may want ‘three chords and the truth,’ but those who like their music to blend into the background may really like this song, which will keep people from turning away from the station. This is good for radio stations because then people will stay listening through the commercial break.
There are plenty people out in the ‘critical world’ who dislike this duo simply for their use of ‘hip hop’ terms like “Top Down” and “Make It Rain” and their chosen band name, to say nothing of their use of 'Autotune.' Will Fast Ryde become the next big thing in country music, I don’t know. However, I do know that radio will make something a hit if it appeals to their music directors and enough listeners, particularly if it follows the previously stated inoffensive background music requirement. When everything is said and done, “Top Down” is no more offensive to a listener than many other songs on country radio. One could even argue that the backing instruments are even more ‘country,’ with audible steel guitar and fiddles, than many of those other songs. This song, espite my own reservations about it because of the 'autotune' usage, is actually likely to give Fast Ryde what they’re looking for - their breakthrough single.