We've all done it: that audio double-take when listening to Little Big Town's current single "Girl Crush" for the first time.
"I got a girl crush," Karen Fairchild sings on the track's opening, while the chorus leads with the line: "I want to taste her lips." Keep listening, and the song's message becomes abundantly clear: it's about intense girl-on-girl jealousy over a boyfriend.
"I want to taste her lips, yeah 'cause they taste like you," the song continues. "I want her magic touch, yeah 'cause maybe then you'd want me just as much."
At the time of publication, "Girl Crush" was sitting pretty in the Top 50 on the iTunes songs chart, while Billboard reports that the song has reached No. 32 on the most recent Country Airplay chart after 15 weeks. The song's ascent is "well within the range of what would be considered a normal chart climb," the publication states.
Why, then, has the Internet been abuzz with reports that country radio stations across the U.S. have pulled the song from their rotation amid listener complaints? According to a blogger on ForTheCountryRecord.com, purporting to be "a Music Director for a current Country music station in Texas," listeners had drawn ire from the track's "obvious lesbian meaning" and reportedly accused the station of "promoting the gay agenda." The story has been picked up this week by multiple outlets, including The Washington Post, The Hollywood Reporter and Fox News, with some reports indicating that the song had been pulled from airplay rotations entirely.
Little Big Town's Fairchild and Kimberly Schlapman faced the supposed issue head-on in an interview with country radio host Bobby Bones, who declared: "It shouldn't even matter if it's a lesbian song!"
"There's so many problems with that whole issue," Fairchild said. "The fact that country music is built on heartache songs and jealousy songs, this is like a modern day version of 'Jolene,' and people just need to listen to it."
Fellow country superstar Dierks Bentley weighed in, speaking with The Huffington Post. "When I heard that song, I never even thought about it being a girl crush or a lesbian [romance]. And when I thought about it that way, I liked it even more," he said. "A little controversy is always good for music, so I think it worked out for the best. There’s always going to be great country artists and great country songs and I think “Girl Crush” is a really well-written, great idea for a song."
Country songwriter Jaren Johnston, who has penned hits for Keith Urban and Tim McGraw, among others, took to Instagram with his thoughts.
Been reading about all the BS about this song today... I don't get it. It's an extremely well written song. Extremely well written songs should be played on the damn radio. Listen to the words. You might actually understand what she is saying. (She has a crush on the girl because her man is in love with the other girl... She thinks he will love her ( the girl singing) more because of this ). Jesus.
"Been reading about all the BS about this song today," Johnston captioned the screenshot. "I don't get it. It's an extremely well written song. Extremely well written songs should be played on the damn radio."
No matter which side of the fence you're on, the Internet may have duped us all. A Billboard report posted on Friday suggests that the alleged controversy is "mostly fabricated," after a reported dozen "prominent programmers across the country" said they had received "few to no complaints about the song."
"I'm a narrow-minded, conservative, eighth generation Texan, and I think the song is fine," KRYS Corpus Christi's Big Frank Edwards told Billboard. Other program directors reported "only a couple of complaints, nothing crazy though" and "our research is showing our listeners want this song. We have the occasional caller that is pissed about it playing."
And apparently, the song is a hit in Las Vegas! "I have had a lot of requests from mostly women that love the song. Our listeners are pretty to the point about what they like and don't like, and they really like this song," said KCYE Las Vegas PD Kris Daniels.
So do we! Listen to the song below and tell us: do you think the controversy was made up?