With Luke Bryan releasing the final installment in his mega popular Spring Break series this Tuesday, the reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year is finally hanging up his shades and packing up the sunscreen to say farewell to the college party scene with his latest record, Spring Break…Checkin’ Out.
Since the debut of his first album, I’ll Stay Me in 2007, country artist Luke Bryan has placed 12 singles in the No. 1 spot, and sold nearly 7 million albums, with 27 million digital tracks from his four studio albums. Named as Entertainer of the Year from both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association, Bryan’s success and contributions to the country music scene will be honored this summer with an exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. However, this week Bryan says goodbye to the party scene with his last Spring Break record.
“My fans have been so wonderful to embrace these special Spring Break albums over the last seven years,” said Bryan in a press release. “We’ve created a lot of amazing memories writing these songs and performing them at the beach shows in Florida. Those concerts are among the most enjoyable of my career.”
Regarded as the “King of Spring Break,” Bryan has six Spring Break albums that have combined sales of 1.1 million to date. With the release of last year’s Spring Break 6…Like We Ain’t Ever, Bryan tells The Tennessean that despite how much fun these records have been to make, not everything in his life can continue to go on forever. “You have to scale back a few things and that’s kind of what that is. I’m going to put those efforts into something else that might be exciting for fans,” he says.
As the tradition set in for the last seven years, Bryan sang eagerly to young college crowds at the famed Spinnaker Beach Club in Panama City, Florida, swaying and moving to the beats with vacationing revelers. Coming off touring for the first time in Europe, the country crooner expects a huge turnout at the final two shows taking place this Wednesday and Thursday. In addition to his musical shows by the beach, these Spring Break albums have definitely helped to catapult Bryan’s career into the bankable stadium headliner that he is today. From exposing his sound and rhythm to a young fan base with tracks like “If You Ain’t Here to Party” and “Take My Drunk Ass Home”, Bryan’s visibility with such shows was a key element in establishing his music and personality on the country platform.
The final Spring Break compilation features 11 songs, with five new tracks co-written by Bryan. From the time of announcing his swan song to the beach party scene, the country singer released two of the five new tracks for fans who pre-ordered off iTunes, entitled “Games” and “Spring Breakdown.” The tracks are incredibly upbeat numbers that will go down as classics in his festive collection.
As the second song off the record, “Games” is a track that runs in the same vein (and perhaps, story) of Bryan’s “I See You” off the Crash My Party album from 2013. In the new tune, Bryan sings in frustration at a love who toys with him, leaving him at a crossroads with himself. The alternative rock tune plays with heavy guitars, and carries a great emphasis on the bass in relation to his romantic vexation.
“Spring Breakdown” is not only the lead-single off the final Spring Break record, but is a fresh and breezy track that not only humbles Bryan, but gets him nostalgic. With lyrics like, “I’ve watched this crowd grow, I swear y’all don’t know what you mean to me,” the heartfelt ode to fans and the beach is the epitome of a warm sunny day.
As for the other songs on this album, they’re entirely off the 2014 Spring Break 6…Like We Ain’t Ever, EP. Though I’m personally not sure why there was no more new material released for this goodbye to his Spring Break collection, a part of me believes Bryan’s saving some of the more personal and meaningful tracks for the fifth studio album he plans to release later this year in time for his “Kick Up the Dust Tour.”
With that in mind, the older tracks are just as fun as every track plays into the same theme of being an observer at a party. Bryan is narrating a melodious adventure of sorts for listeners of what’s it like celebrating a week on the beach, and that’s what makes his Spring Break albums so much fun to hear.
“Good Lookin’ Girl” is a mid-tempo ode to a girl he just can’t resist, singing, “That little dimple when you smile might as well be a hook in my heart.” The punchy beats of the drums, a faint piano and the melody driven heavily by the guitar make this an enjoyable track and reminiscent of a bar tune. It’s also a song that plays ideally into the last track on the record, “Are You Leaving With Him.” This track doesn’t sound too much like a country tune at all because it’s poppy and sweet, and Bryan’s velvet voice complements this tune perfectly.
The eighth track on the record “Night One” is probably the most angst-ridden of the songs on the record. With good depth and control on the bass, this track has Bryan pulling and playing with the “if only” concept, wondering what the week could have been like had he met the girl of his dreams earlier. Singing how “wrong” it is that time factors into their chance meeting, the melody of this song stands out and feels as summery as they get.
Similarly, to “Spring Breakdown,” the track titled “Like We Ain’t Ever” is a feel good tune as cool as an evening sunset, with Bryan addressing the crowds and the feeling performing on that stage gives him year after year. This country pop tune plays with rocky rhythms and is another nice way for the country artist to bow out of the party scene.
“The Sand I Brought To The Beach” is a funny, country-tinged track as Bryan starts it off with “Real sad story here, y’all,” narrating how he lost his girl and now has to fend for himself the rest of the week. The guitar riffs and beats epitomize the party culture and bar scene of Spring Break. The last track on the record is Bryan’s “She Get Me High“. While it’s a good song and one you can definitely sing along to, for Bryan’s standards and the rich discography he’s released over the years, I find this one to be a bit weak. The beginning of the track sounds like Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin'” and builds off that riff.
The three new other songs off Spring Break….Checkin’ Out include “My Ol’ Bronco,” “You and the Beach,” and “Checkin’ Out“. The album is available Tuesday from digital retailers like iTunes and Amazon, and in-stores. Walmart will carry an exclusive deluxe package, titled Luke Bryan Spring Break…The Set List: The Complete Spring Break Collection (ZinePak). The deluxe will include a two-disc set with all 25 songs, plus a 48-page magazine with exclusive interviews and photos from each of the previous Spring Break releases including the five new songs from this year. This limited-edition commemorative collectible is available only at Walmart and Walmart.com, while supplies last.
After the Spinnaker shows take place this week, Bryan has a busy few months ahead of him. Last month, he received four nominations for the 50th Academy of Country Music Awards, including nominations for Entertainer of the Year, Male Vocalist, Song of the Year for “Drink A Beer,” and Vocal Event for “This Is How We Roll” with Florida Georgia Line. In addition to preparing for his summer tour, he will be co-hosting the 50th ACM Awards for the third year in a row with buddy, Blake Shelton on April 19 from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas airing on CBS.
Last week the “Spring Breakdown” music video released, highlighting memories from Bryan’s free Spring Break shows from the last six years. In the perfect way to say goodbye to the yearly tradition, the music video contains footage from all of his Panama City Beach concerts with stunning aerial views of over his 230,000 attendees, to picturesque shots of the ocean. It gives new listeners and old, an in-depth look at just how wild and popular Bryan’s beach parties were over the last few years.
This is a fun record for not just the spring, but summer as well. With plenty of tracks worthy as becoming party anthems for the season, the tracks are fresh and upbeat, and ideal for long road trips with friends this season. My verdict? It’s the end of an era, so grab an umbrella drink, pump up the volume and shake it this Tuesday with Luke Bryan as he officially checks out of spring break. You won’t regret it.
Have you been to Luke Bryan’s popular Spring Break parties? What’s your favorite Luke Bryan Spring Break track? Share with us in the comments below!