As far as critters go, honeybees aren’t all that complicated. They don’t deal with angst or existential dread. They don’t have mid-life crises. No, honeybees are pragmatic insects. They collect pollen, make honey and occasionally do a little figure-eight jig—their way of telling the rest of the hive where the best flowers are.
Which, when you think about it, neatly sums up what Blake Shelton’s new song, “Honey Bee,” is all about. It’s not complicated. It’s not morose. It’s just a little love song that might get folks dancing.
This Oklahoma singer has never been prone to complex introspection. His songs, which often sport such titles as “The More I Drink,” typically deal with country clichés, and so are often loaded with allusions to friends, lovers, outdoor living … and liquor. It’s an unapologetically redneck outlook that has connected with a big audience. In the last 10 years, his six albums have yielded seven chart-topping country hits, as well as a Country Music Association award for Best Male Vocalist in 2010.
That said, “Honey Bee” may have the buzz to push Shelton to a whole new level of popularity among listeners who might not otherwise have strayed into his kind of country territory. Shelton sang the ditty on April 3 during the Academy of Country Music awards, releasing the digital version that night. It was an instant smash, with 138,000 downloads its first week of release—the most ever for a country artist. Those numbers helped propel “Honey Bee” to a No. 13 debut on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, the highest first-week entry of any country artist on the music mag’s flagship chart since Garth Brooks’ hit “Lost in You” debuted at No. 5 in 1999.
It was a sweet beginning for “Honey Bee”—fitting, perhaps, since this little love tune is full of sweet nothings. Shelton is determined to tell his main squeeze (he’s engaged to fellow country crooner Miranda Lambert) just how perfectly matched they are. And he does so with as much country sap as he can muster.
“If you’ll be my soft and sweet/I’ll be your strong and steady,” he promises. “You be my sunny day/I’ll be your shade tree.” He claims they’re like “Louisiana” and “Mississippi,” like country legends “Loretta” and “Conway Twitty.”
There are a couple of sticky moments, though. “You be my glass of wine/I’ll be your shot of whiskey,” Shelton warbles. And the line “You be my honeysuckle/I’ll be your honeybee” could be read as a sexual double entendre seeing as how the concept of “the birds and the bees” does sort of mean something in our culture right now.
That makes “Honey Bee” a sweet song with a very small sting.
Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.