When Cole Swindell first began plotting a follow-up to his hit 2018 album, All of It, he didn’t know he’d soon be trying to make a record during a global pandemic. The ensuing slowdown of the music industry gave Swindell more time than expected to work on what would become Stereotype, allowing him to take stock of exactly what kind of message he wanted to send with his fourth studio album. “You just didn’t know what to expect, what was coming,” he tells Apple Music. “And I think me making the music, getting the right songs—it just changed the process of this album so much that, looking back, I’m very proud of it. But I don’t think we’d have the album we have without everything we went through, the bad and the good.”
Accordingly, Stereotype showcases Swindell’s growth in the intervening four years. Songs like the title track and “Girl Goes Crazy” share fresh takes on the clichéd “girl in a country song” narrative. “Every Beer” is raw and emotional, drawing from Swindell’s own experiences with grief as well as the unexpected passing of Kobe Bryant. And “She Had Me at Heads Carolina” is a clever interpretation of the classic Jo Dee Messina song “Heads Carolina, Tails California,” drawing connections between the increasingly influential ’90s era of country music and today’s contemporary sound. Guests on Stereotype include Lainey Wilson, who joins Swindell for “Never Say Never,” and frequent collaborator HARDY, who guests on “Down to the Bar.” Below, Swindell walks Apple Music through several key tracks on Stereotype.
“It’s about a girl that you might think you know by looking [at her], but she might have a little wild side to her. The production is what makes it. When that chorus comes in and then everything just kicks full-in after the beginning of that chorus, that was HARDY’s idea. I remember him saying, ‘This right here, everything needs to drop out. I can already hear the crowd singing that part.’ And I’m just like, ‘Man, he’s, he’s good at what he does.’”
“It’s sad losing anybody way too soon, but Kobe Bryant, one of the best athletes in the world you’ve grown up watching, you just realize that could happen to anybody at any time. Doesn’t matter who you are, where you are. And I remember posting a picture of Kobe and his daughter that morning and just saying, ‘You better tell who you love you love them while you got a chance, because you never know.’ We got to talking about that in the writing room. We didn’t have the title, the idea, or anything. It was just a down mood. Me and Jordan [Schmidt] and HARDY, we were all in shock. What do you say? What do you do? And we just started talking about how fragile life is and all the things that we better do while we get a chance.”
“She Had Me at Heads Carolina”
“I love every artist in the ’90s, whether it’s Jo Dee [Messina], Shania [Twain], Reba [McEntire]. I’m such a big fan of all of them. And [it was cool] to be able to go back to a song that Jo Dee Messina made a huge hit out of, and to be able to do a different spin on it. Think about all the people that have ever gotten up and sang that song at karaoke.”
“Girl Goes Crazy”
“This song is talking about a girl that’s just had enough. And if you knew her story, there was a lot. The guy over there walked in with a new girl. That’s the reason she’s upset. It’s not her fault that the guy’s not a good guy. I just think the angle of that was so different than anything I’ve done. I just felt like this is going to be a girl anthem for people that are going through a tough time and want to forget about somebody that’s done them wrong. This is going to be their song. They can turn up and realize that, hey, it’s not their fault.”