Somewhere along the way — probably after Garth Brooks invented the "arena country" genre in the early '90s — country music lost its sense of humor in the quest for pop crossover moolah. Sadly, the twangy novelty tune became a thing of the past. Country music used to embrace its cornpone humor in the embodiment of Roger Miller's "Dang Me," John Conlee's "I Don't Remember Loving You," David Frizzell's "I'm Gonna Hire a Wino to Decorate Our Home" and even Hee-Haw, but after the early '90s, country music relegated its funny side to the over-the-top Weird Al rip-off Cledus T. Judd. Enter Brad Paisley, who in his decade-long recording career has found a nice Roger Miller-esque balance of writing sob-story tearjerkers, good old twangin' honky-tonkers, and zingers that are flat-out funny. Paisley is the kind of artist country music needs most of all right now: a smokin' hot Telecaster picker who can deliver, in his 2009 CMA male country vocalist of the year tenor, moody ballads such as "Whiskey Lullaby" and then turn around and sing "I'm Still a Guy," which may contain the best one-liner in recent country music ("I don't highlight my hair/ I've still got a pair/ Honey, I'm still a guy"). It's a fine line between the ridiculous and the clever, and Paisley has found the perfect balance in maintaining his country cred while occasionally belting out a knee-slapper that doesn't take itself too seriously.
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