As he contemplates his 35th birthday today (March 30), Justin Moore can take comfort in having seen six of his 15 singles go No. 1 on the Billboard charts.
Like Montgomery Gentry and Jason Aldean, Moore focuses much of his music on praising and defending small towns and the regular folks who inhabit them. Not surprisingly, this point of view is sometimes accompanied by a tough-guy, chip-on-the-shoulder attitude, as in, for example, “I Could Kick Your Ass” and “If You Don’t Like My Twang.” So don’t look to Moore for crooning and sensitive love ballads.
But the videos he acts in tend to moderate–as well as elaborate–the thrust of his lyrics, sometimes with pathos, sometimes with humor. The following six videos helped propel Moore’s singles to the top:
“Small Town USA” (2009, directed by Chris Hicky)
High football games, body shops, dirt roads, church and fishing holes are about all this small town has to recommend it. “A lot of people called it prison when I was growing up,” Moore sings and then adds, “’Round here we break our backs just to earn a buck / We never get ahead, but we have enough.” So what’s the big attraction? Check out that babe in the pickup.
“If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away” (2011, Peter Zavadil)
This is nostalgia on a grand scale as the singer daydreams of reuniting with his dead grandfather and asking “Hank [Williams] why he took those pills back in ’53.” The song reaches its emotional peak when, in the video, his grandpa materializes in the truck seat beside him.” A revealing glimpse of Moore’s softer side.
“’Til My Last Day” (2012, Peter Zavadil)
Here Moore is simply the singing onlooker at a domestic drama in which the wife feels neglected — and apparently with good reason — until her husband blindfolds her and takes her to the incarnation of his love and devotion.
“Lettin’ the Night Roll” (2013, Peter Zavadil)
OK, back to the rowdy troubadour. Starting with a drag race between him and a small-town lovely (and the police chase that follows), Moore is determined to wring as much pleasure out of the evening as he can — “If there’s a good time in this town, girl, we’re gonna find it.” Nothing planned, but ecstasy expected. “Just lettin’ the night roll,” he wails, “and I can’t wait to see where it goes.” While the cops search for the flirtatious miscreants, the lady slips into something more sporty and, in the final scene, flashes her pom poms. It appears he’s found his good time.
“You Look Like I Need a Drink” (2016, Shane Drake)
Apart from its witty title, this song is pretty somber, since it’s about a guy anticipating getting dumped. But the video transforms this simple plot line into a burlesque western movie, with Moore, clad in a cowboy hat and duster clip-clopping into town and confronting his soon-to-be-ex in a saloon showdown. To fortify himself against his impending loss, he tosses down shots of various stimulants — milk, tomato juice and, finally, a green smoothie. It gets pretty messy after that.
“Somebody Else Will” (2017, Shane Drake)
Nothing small town in this dance of seduction — and not pickup truck in sight. With storm scenes at the beginning and end and subdued lighting throughout, the video conveys a kind of Shakespearean inevitability. The girl is so alluring that fate has determined somebody will come on to her and take her home. Moore is simply the commentator as the insanely attractive couple perform their mating ritual.
Moore’s newest single, “The Ones That Didn’t Make It Back Home” (Cody Villalobos) is still climbing the charts, boosted by a video that honors the deaths of soldiers in battle, cops and fireman on duty and victims of school shootings.