My on-again, off-again affair with the preposterous extremes of modern country music was rekindled a few years ago by stumbling across the video for Trace Adkins' "Hot Mama." In it, Adkins plays the devoted husband to an overworked wife and mother who worries about her expanding waist size. Through a series of over-the-top fantasies and lines, sung in his low baritone, like "You turn me on, let's turn it up," Adkins demonstrates that she's still the one he wants to hit the sack with. It's actually kinda romantic underneath all its artlessness, and despite the show that the girl puts on—writhing in lingerie on red satin sheets, slowly licking the cream off a strawberry—Adkins emerges with far greater sex appeal.
Adkins must realize this, because in his latest video, "I Got My Game On," he stars as Dr. Love, "the sexiest man alive," who gives advice to a dopey Hawaiian-shirted lovelorn loser on acquiring the girl of his dreams. After a detailed montage where Adkins suits up to the adoring eye of his client, a trip to the convenience store reveals the desired female as a convenience-store clerk with blonde dreadlocks and heavy eyeliner. She looks like a Depeche Mode fan, and she's won over by an extended breakdance session. At the end, the two ride off in a convertible driven by a filthy wino. What's not to love?
In a way, as one of the more enjoyable purveyors of unforgiving hokum, Trace Adkins is Huey Lewis all over again. He's happy to be stuck with you, he's workin' for a living and it's definitely hip to be square in Adkins' world, as he takes phrases from the text-message generation and awkwardly morphs them into concepts for simple-minded adults to understand. That Adkins himself is seemingly in on the joke puts a cherry topping on the whole cheese sundae, but the truly funny thing is that Adkins actually has 10 gallons of legit country credentials to go around.
Add it up: as a young man, Adkins lost one of his fingers working on a Louisiana oil rig. He was shot in the heart and lungs by his second wife. He's been involved in barroom brawls, been issued DUIs, gotten mangled by tractor accidents, and yet his songs reflect none of this human suffering. Instead, he delivers what his blue-collar fans want, and his biggest hit, "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk," celebrates the glory of the human ass.
Trace Adkins performs on Friday, May 9, at Konocti Harbor Resort, 8727 Soda Bay Road, Kelseyville. 6:45pm. $49&–$98. 800.660.5253.