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Track Review

Once upon a time, aspiring bands could appropriate just about any old name they wanted, and it would probably work. I'm thinking of such mainstays as Eagles, The Doors, The Cars, Boston, Kansas, Journey, The Police and Yes. But at some point, perhaps beginning in earnest in the 1990s, band names got a lot more complicated. Suddenly, a group's moniker had to tell a story: Death Cab for Cutie. August Burns Red. Panic! at the Disco. As I Lay Dying. Rage Against the Machine. The Dillinger Escape Plan. Apparently no one told any of these next-generation folks that The Gaurs was still available.

I ask you to consider this seismic shift in music world nomenclature as a way to introduce a group with a very unusual name (and a Top 10 hit): Hot Chelle Rae. In keeping with the prevailing trend, this Nashville-based quartet's namesake refers to an early fan who stalked the group via Myspace. The band used to call itself Miracle Drug, after the U2 song of the same name. Until, that is, someone suggested the commonality of it might just confuse people, and that Googling it would likely just lead people to U2. "It's weird to think about making a band name that's Google-friendly," says frontman Ryan Follese, "but it's kind of necessary now."

If the band's name is an up-to-the-minute reflection of our times, the subject matter in its first feel-bad/feel-good hit, "Tonight Tonight," is as timeless as rock 'n' roll itself. After catching his girl with someone else, the song's narrator determines to get revenge the old-fashioned way: by having a good time without her. In an interview with USA Today, guitarist Nash Overstreet said of the song's subject matter, "I think it's going to make people move, roll their windows down, have a theme song, a song to cry to when they're breaking up. We're going to give them a lot of pieces to have as a life soundtrack on this record."

"It's been a really, really messed-up week," the catchy pop-rock tune begins. (Think Maroon 5, matchbox twenty, Jimmy Eats World and Plain White T's.) "Seven days of torture, seven days of bitter/And my girlfriend went and cheated on me/ … It's time for me to quit her." (The video comedically illustrates the story by depicting our hero, a nerdy guy, catching his girl making out with another guy … at the copier … at work.)

Naturally, there's only one thing left to do: par-TAY!

"We're going at it tonight/There's a party on the rooftop, top of the world," the chorus tells us. "Tonight, tonight, and we're dancing on the edge of the Hollywood sign/I don't know if I'll make it, but watch how good I'll fake it/It's all right."

Intentionally nodding to The Hangover, our intrepid rejectee apparently parties enough to lose his bearings on what, exactly, he's doing: "I woke up with a strange tattoo/Not sure how I got it, not a dollar in my pocket/And it kinda looks just like you/Mixed with Zach Galifianakis." (The video shows the guy discovering that his forearm now sports ink of a bikini-clad woman's body … with Galifianakis' noggin jarringly fused onto it.)

"Just don't stop, let's keep the beat pumpin'," Follesse instructs repeatedly. "It's my party, dance if I want to/We can get crazy, let it all out/ … And ain't nobody gonna tell us to go, 'cause this is our show."

A postscript: Sharp-eyed music fans digging for info on Hot Chelle Rae might notice a couple of recognizable surnames among the band's members. They aren't coincidences. Bass player Ian Keaggy is the son of CCM guitar virtuoso Phil Keaggy. And Nash Overstreet is the son of Christian and country songwriter Paul Overstreet, who's penned hits for Blake Shelton, Randy Travis, The Judds and Kenny Chesney. (Nash's younger brother Chord, a  Glee cast member, appears in the video as the girl-stealing and -smooching villain.) Finally, not to be left out of the musical mix, lead singer Ryan Follese can boast that his father, Keith, has written tunes for Lady Antebellum and Faith Hill.

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Peaked at No. 7.

Record Label





March 15, 2011

On Video

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Adam R. Holz

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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