Keith Urban is following “Raise ‘Em Up” with some heavy name dropping.
Released this morning, the country superstar’s new single, “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16” is the first we’ve heard from his upcoming album, a still-untitled record that will follow Fuse by roughly two years. Like “Little Bit of Everything,” Fuse‘s kickoff single, “John Cougar” swirls country and modern pop into the same package, hinting at another album’s worth of genre-jumping songs.
Guitar nerds: this isn’t the tune for you. Backed by DJ scratches, drum loops and an active bass line, Urban sets down his six-string for most of the song, focusing instead on lyrics that barrel their way through more than a century’s worth of American popular culture. Along the way, he namechecks John Wayne, compares himself to the lead character from Tom Petty’s “Into the Great Wide Open” and pays tribute to Kris Kristofferson. The song’s title comes from the rapid-fire chorus, where Urban insists, “I learned everything I ever needed to know from John Cougar, John Deere and John 3:16.”
Written by Shane McAnally, Ross Copperman and Josh Osborne, “John Cougar” made its unofficial debut last February, when Urban played a solo, seated version of the song during a private luncheon at the 2015 Country Radio Seminar. This Wednesday night, it’ll be unveiled in more proper fashion with a live performance at the CMT Music Awards.