Brandy Clark – “Girl Next Door” (Singles Going Steady)

Brandy Clark's "Girl Next Door" postures itself as an angsty, archetype-subverting country rock standoff, but it's fueled almost entirely by convention.

Chris Ingalls: Well, it ain’t “bro-country,” but it ain’t much better. At first it sounds like a Stevie Nicks ripoff (right down to the syncopated “Edge of Seventeen” guitar riff), but then it turns into a female “take me as I am” female empowerment anthem, which is a great idea in theory, but I’m picturing a sloshed bachelorette party tackling this at a karaoke bar and somehow it’s not all that impressive. Brandy’s heart is in the right place, but it’s too slick and obvious. [5/10]

Pryor Stroud: Brandy Clark’s “Girl Next Door” postures itself as an angsty, archetype-subverting country rock standoff, but it’s fueled almost entirely by convention; the Louisville-Slugger-to-both-headlights, combative heroine caught in a fit of animus has become one of country’s more recognizable protagonists, and Clark doesn’t do much to here inject nuance into the stock character she wraps herself up in. However, the galloping percussion and sneering, post-chorus guitar figure are able to persuasively evoke the lover-to-lover confrontation that Clark’s lyric describes, allowing the track to be a worthwhile indulgence for avid country fans. [5/10]

Emmanuel Elone: This is the reason why modern popular country music is heading downhill. From the simple rhythm to the basic chord progression, “Girl Next Door” offers as much as Luke Bryan, Hunter Hayes, or Miranda Lambert do on their music, which isn’t a lot. Brandy Clark’s voice is generic countrified, so clean and studio-sounding that all of the emotion is gone, and the lyrics are about as original as putting a Dodge Ram truck in a country music video (which she does, by the way). Until Clark releases her inner Dolly Parton (if she does have one) and bring the raw passion and sorrow in her vocals and guitar, she’ll continue to make forgettable, unoriginal songs like “Girl Next Door”. [4/10]

Chad Miller: For every good lyric there were about 10 clichés I could barely stomach. I didn’t have a problem with the way the song sounded though. At times it seemed kind of derivative of popular country songs, but whenever it inches into this crowded territory Clark takes the melody somewhere interesting. [5/10]

SCORE: 4.75