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Music / Brad Paisley

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Brad Douglas Paisley (born October 28, 1972) is a Country Music singer known for his hot guitar playing and his sense of humor. Originally from Wheeling, West Virginia, Paisley began playing professionally at age twelve in his native state, eventually scoring a radio gig and later a songwriting contract.

At age 27, he signed to Arista Nashville in 1999. His debut single "Who Needs Pictures" brought him up the charts, followed swiftly by his first Number One, "He Didn't Have to Be." Both were included on his highly successful debut album Who Needs Pictures. Since that album, Paisley has been no stranger to award shows, singles charts and album sales. Between 2005 and 2009, he scored ten straight #1 hits, shattering the record for the longest hot streak of chart-toppers since the 1990s (until Blake Shelton broke that record himself). Now he's best known for his controversial song with LL Cool J, "Accidental Racist", featuring both of them trying to heal racial barriers but instead coming across as being, well, accidentally racist.

Paisley sings a diverse range of music: his albums will often include plenty of tongue-in-cheek novelty numbers and comedy sketches alongside more serious ballads and quite a few stripes in between. Naturally, he gets plenty of opportunities to show off his guitar chops as well. Of particular interest to Tropers may be Paisley's knack for commentary on contemporary popular culture; he certainly seems to know a great deal about their Tropes and fan culture—refer to "Welcome to the Future" and "Online," for example.

Paisley and his now-former producer Frank Rogers also own the Sea Gayle label.


  • Who Needs Pictures (1999)
  • Part II (2001)
  • Mud on the Tires (2003)
  • Time Well Wasted (2005)
  • Brad Paisley Christmas (2006)
  • 5th Gear (2007)
  • Play: The Guitar Album (2008)
  • American Saturday Night (2009)
  • This Is Country Music (2011)
  • Wheelhouse (2013)
  • Moonshine in the Trunk (2014)
  • Love and War (2017)
  • "Son of the Mountains" (2024)

Tropes present:

  • Album Closure: His first three albums all end on gospel songs: Who Needs Pictures with "In the Garden", Part II with "The Old Rugged Cross", and Mud on the Tires with "Farther Along". However, the latter is followed by an outtake.
  • Album Title Drop: Double-subverted: "Without a Fight" contains the line "And sometimes I think we don't belong together / Confusing love and war", but it did not make the album's final cut. However, Love and War still has a song of the same name.
  • Basement-Dweller: The subject of "Online," a nerdy loser who claims to be a popular model online.
  • Best Years of Your Life: Invoked in "Letter to Me," where Brad ponders what he would put in a letter to his 17-year-old self. He would say that those are indeed not the best years of your life.
  • Bittersweet 17: "Letter to Me" is about him wishing he could write a letter to his 17-year-old self to give him advice and reassure him that the world will get better.
  • Broken Win/Loss Streak:
    • Starting with 2005's "When I Get Where I'm Going", he had an impressive streak of ten consecutive #1 hits on the country charts. 2009's "Welcome to the Future" broke the streak when it just missed at #2.note 
    • 2013's "I Can't Change the World" was his first single to not even reach Top 20. (It peaked at #22.)
  • Call-and-Response Song: On "Remind Me", Brad sings the first verse and chorus, with Carrie providing the Title Drop on the chorus. The pattern then reverses for the second verse and chorus, and they trade off for the rest of the song.
  • Can-Crushing Cranium: Referenced in "Crushin' It", which is even book-ended by the sound of a can being crushed: "I can stomp it with my boot, clench it with my fist / Smash it on my forehead, yeah, I got this."
  • Cheap Heat:
    • Occurs in "American Saturday Night." When he sings the song live, the ending line of "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night" replaces "New York" with whatever town he's playing.
    • When performing "Mud on the Tires" during the Good Morning America pre-election Whistle Stop Tour in 2008, he replaced the line "I'm holding the keys to a brand-new Chevrolet" with "I'm holding the keys to a brand-new Dodge today"; this overlaps with Executive Meddling.
  • Christmas Songs: Brad Paisley Christmas.
  • Chronological Album Title: Part II and 5th Gear.
  • Cover Version: Vern Gosdin's 1990 hit "Is It Raining at Your House" is covered on Mud on the Tires.
  • Credits Gag: The liner notes to Who Needs Pictures credit Steve Williams with "absolutely nothing".
  • Curse Cut Short: Occurs in "Cornography":
    Little Jimmy Dickens: That woman sure chaps my...
    George Jones: Ask her out.
  • Cue the Flying Pigs: "Come on Over Tonight" takes this attitude toward falling in love. "Come on over tonight, we'll sit on the swing / Watch the pigs fly by, flapping their brand new wings..."
  • Dead Sparks: "Remind Me" is all about this.
  • Do Wrong, Right: A gag near the end of the video for "Celebrity" has a character inspired by Simon Cowell (played by William Shatner) invoke this trope. He stops Brad in the parking lot, and the following exchange occurs:
    Shatner: Hey! Where's my... Hey! Get out of my car!
    Paisley: I was... I was just-
    Shatner: Get out of my car! It's a valuable car!
    Paisley: It's really nice...
    Shatner: (checks information on car dashboard) You put 200 miles on my car!
    Paisley: Second gear... sticks a little bit.
    Shatner: You got it into second gear?
    Paisley: Yeah?
    Shatner: How'd you do that?
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: In "Mr. Policeman," he taunts the cop chasing him: "There's no way you're keeping up with me / Just go on back to Krispy Kreme."
  • Drowning My Sorrows: The subjects of "Whiskey Lullaby" drink the rest of their lives away when the man is heartbroken and the woman guilts over his suicide.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Before his first single, he wrote David Kersh's "Another You", a Top 5 hit in 1996. He also wrote songs for Tracy Byrd and David Ball.
  • Exiled to the Couch: "Sleeping on the Foldout": He's exiled for claiming he had to work to get out of going with her to visit her family, then going fishing instead. And then "telling her the whole staff spent the day out on the lake."
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out "Me Neither": A guy at a bar keeps trying to pick up this girl, and she keeps turning him down, so he pretends that he didn't really want to either and he was just testing her. In the end, he's finally ready to give up.
    Do you think it's time for me to end this song?
    [dead stop; silence]
    Me neither!
    [big long instrumental to finish up]
  • Fake Shemp: Paisley will sometimes have a female artist with whom he's touring sing Alison Krauss's part on "Whiskey Lullaby", including Kimberly Perry and Mickey Guyton.
  • The Four Chords of Pop: "Remind Me" uses I-vi-V-IV on the verses.
  • Frivolous Lawsuit: "High Life" is about a family that, after burning through an inheritence, chases further windfalls through lawsuits over slipping on ice outside Chick-fil-A and a Carrie Underwood song resembling a poem written by one of them (see Take That!).
    These days we figured we'd pretty much get paid to go away
  • Greatest Hits Album: A notable aversion. He fought for a very long time against releasing one because he's not a fan of them. The label finally compromised and made it a 2-disc compilation with some live tracks.
  • Grow Old with Me: He readily admits that this is what he wants to happen with him and his wife Kimberly Williams-Paisley, even pointing it out in his song "Then".
    I can just see you with a baby on the way
    I can just see you when your hair is turning grey
    What I can't see is how I'm ever gonna love you more
    But I've said that before
  • Heavy Meta: "Too Country" and "This Is Country Music".
  • Hidden Track: All as the final track(s) on their albums.
    • Mud on the Tires, Time Well Wasted, and 5th Gear all feature outtakes from the sketch comedy segments.
    • American Saturday Night features an instrumental reprise of "Welcome to the Future".
    • Moonshine in the Trunk's hidden track is a cover of Tom T. Hall's "Me and Jesus".
  • Hypocritical Humor / Self-Deprecation: Brad loves to poke fun at himself in his live shows. For example, walking up to the edge of the stage in the middle of "I'm Still A Guy," where fans are holding up their phones, borrowing a few of them to carefully take pics of himself on and handing them back, then starting up the third verse:
    These days there's dudes taking selfies...
  • I'm a Man; I Can't Help It: Referenced in "I'm Still a Guy".
  • Idiosyncratic Album Theming: The first three albums had a gospel song as the final track, and albums three through five had interstitial skits.
  • Instrumentals: All of his albums feature at least one instrumental guitar track. Play: The Guitar Album is almost entirely composed of them, save for the singles "Start a Band" and four other songs. The only instrumental track on American Saturday Night is the above-mentioned Hidden Track. Love and War is his only album not to have an instrumental.
  • Insurance Fraud: "The Cigar Song" is about a man insuring his Cuban cigars, then smoking them and making a claim based on the fact that they were destroyed in a fire. It works, until he gets arrested for arson.
  • It's All My Fault: "Whiskey Lullaby" features a woman Drowning Her Sorrows when a man died of suicide after she broke his heart, to the point where she too is Driven to Suicide.
  • Kids Rock:
    • "Ain't Nothin' Like," a cut from Mud on the Tires, may take the cake for the shrillest kids' chorus ever recorded.
    • His son, Huck, sings the last note of "Anything Like Me".
  • Lampshade Wearing: "Alcohol" has the line "And I'll bet you a drink or two / That I can make you / Put that lampshade on your head." Even funnier in the video, where Little Jimmy Dickens walks onscreen and dons a lampshade in the most deliberate way possible.
  • Lead Singer Plays Lead Guitar: Paisley isn't just a pleasant singer, he's also a master guitar player. His instrumentals greatly showcase this.
  • Letting the Air out of the Band: "The Mona Lisa" begins with a recording of "How Ya Gonna Keep 'em Down on the Farm (After They've Seen Paree)?" that slows to a stop.
  • List Song:
    • "The World" lists what others may think of the lover that's "the world" to them.
    • "She's Everything" lists various objects that are metaphors the woman he loves.
    • "Country Nation" name-drops a bunch of sports teams and racecar drivers to unify people across the country as sports fans who cheer on the same teams, underneath their varied exteriors.
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "Little Moments".
  • New Sound Album: Bordering on Creator's Oddball at times.
    • For his first two or three studio albums, Paisley sang unbridled neotraditional country music with tinges of bluegrass and gospel. While he's never abandoned his traditional roots, between the release of the Mud on the Tires and Time Well Wasted he seemed to adopt a more mainstream-friendly sound with an increased emphasis on his electric guitar playing.
    • Play. Not only was it mostly an instrumental album, it was also an instrumental album that explored his usually-hidden rock influences.
    • Wheelhouse has Brad abandoning Frank Rogers in favor of doing the production himself — all the more of a notable move, as unlike most artists, Paisley refused to co-produce his own material. In particular, "Southern Comfort Zone" seems to suggest more of a move towards alternative rock influences.
  • Ode to Intoxication: "Alcohol", sung from the POV of alcohol itself.
  • Old Man Conversation Song: "Waitin' on a Woman" has the narrator conversing with an old man whom he sees on a bench at a mall.
  • Political Overcorrectness: He released the "Cowboy Christmas Song," with the word Christmas getting bleeped, then the word White, finally leading them to sing the original version, ignoring the bleeps.
  • The Power of Love: "Two People Fell in Love" comments on the various impacts that two people falling in love can have on the world.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: "I'm Still a Guy" is either a Deconstruction of this trope, or evidence that he's unaware of its existence. The song is largely about the narrator feeling persecuted because he still holds onto traditionally masculine traits while the culture turns against them, and it's things like hunting and fishing that make you strange.
  • Record Producer: From 1999 to 2012, Paisley's sole producer was Frank Rogers. Though otherwise unknown at the time, Rogers has become a fairly prolific producer.
  • Rearrange the Song / Re-release the Song: Done with "Waitin' on a Woman", an album track from Time Well Wasted that got re-recorded and released only one album later. He re-recorded it again for the music video, with Andy Griffith playing the part of the old man in the song, and included this version on the next album after that.
  • Self-Backing Vocalist / Solo Duet: "Born on Christmas Day," a cut from his Christmas album, includes portions of a recording he made of the song at age 12. At the end, he sings a harmony over the childhood recording.
  • Shout-Out: Also leaning a bit on the Heavy Meta side, "Old Alabama" is a shout-out to the 1980s country band Alabama. Near the end, they even sing the bridge to their song "Mountain Music", which is sampled throughout.
  • Signature Style: His songs are usually very guitar-heavy with rapid-fire note runs on the solos and tight, clean production (except for the more bombastic production from Wheelhouse onward). Most of his songs have an undercurrent of humor, even when he's being serious and introspective (e.g. "Letter to Me").
  • Single Parents Are Undesirable: This was the initial situation of the song "He Didn't Have to Be", with the narrator, looking back on his childhood, comparing dates that his single mom went on to job interviews before she met the guy who would become his dad, who was the first one who would invite the kid out on the date with her.
  • Solar-Powered Magnifying Glass: Referenced in "Anything Like Me", his ode to his sun Huck:
    I can see him right now, knees all skinned up
    With a magnifying glass tryin' to melt a Tonka truck
  • Spurned into Suicide: "Whiskey Lullaby" features a man Drowning His Sorrows after his heart was broken, before ultimately taking his life. When the woman who broke his heart found out, she felt immense guilt for his death, also Drowning Her Sorrows until taking her own life.
  • Sweet Home Alabama: Subverted in "Southern Comfort Zone" — while he does sing the praises of the South, he also says that he's happy to see the rest of the world.
  • Take That!: In "High Life," the third verse about a lawsuit against Carrie Underwood is Paisley mocking a lawsuit against him over "Remind Me."
  • Talky Bookends: Occurs in many of his videos.
  • Technology Marches On:invoked Referenced heavily in "Welcome to the Future". The first verse is about how he used to have to ride all the way to the arcade to play Pac-Man but can now play it on his phone.
  • That's What She Said: He got away with one at the 2010 CMA Awards after co-host Carrie Underwood mentioned that Blake Shelton's engagement ring for Miranda Lambert was "so big and perfect".
  • Three-Volley Flinch: In the video for "Whiskey Lullaby", the man who drank himself to death is a war hero, and when he dies gets a funeral with full military honors, including a three-volley salute. The woman who drove him to drink himself to death by her infidelity visibly flinches when the rifles fire.
  • Visual Pun: Brad plays a paisley-patterned Telecaster.
  • Vocal Evolution: Over time, his voice has gotten much flatter and softer, compared to the fuller tone and slight twang he had early on.
  • A Wild Rapper Appears!:
    • LL Cool J's turn on "Accidental Racist" comes off as this to many.
    • Timbaland's turn on "Solar Power Girl" counts as well.
  • Worth It: The protagonist of "I'm Gonna Miss Her (The Fishin' Song)" admits he'll probably regret ditching his lady to hit the lake later. But at the moment, he's having the perfect fishing day.