Toby Keith, ‘Red Solo Cup’ — Story Behind the Song
In his illustrious, 19-year career, Toby Keith has only released two radio singles he didn’t write: ‘American Ride‘ and his latest hit, ‘Red Solo Cup.’ For the country powerhouse to cut an outside song, it’s gotta be pretty amazing … or pretty ridiculous.
“It is the stupidest song I ever heard in my life, but it’s so stupid it’s good,” Toby tells The Boot with a laugh.
Two sets of brothers penned the viral hit: Jim Beavers and his brother, Brett, and the Warren Brothers (Brett and Brad Warren). Toby admits he wasn’t sure about releasing the humorous song, but as he began to play it for people, he noticed them singing along almost immediately. So, he filmed an off-the-wall video for ‘Red Solo Cup,’ inviting a crew of celebrity friends to join him in the clip, including TV host Craig Ferguson, baseball great Roger Clemens, basketball icon Larry Bird, and fellow music stars Sammy Hagar, Ted Nugent, Eric Church, Joe Nichols, JT Hodges, Carter’s Chord, Rose Falcon and Trailer Choir‘s Butter, among others.
Now, with almost four million views on YouTube and the official announcement this week that ‘Red Solo Cup’ will be released as a single, Toby and the songwriting brothers have something that hasn’t happened in country music in a long time: a video that pushed a song into being a single. The interesting thing about the song is it was never intended to be pitched to anyone to record, but Toby heard the tune after someone who worked for him played it. Even he didn’t know what kind of reaction it would get from fans and from country radio, but four million hits are a pretty good indication that a lot of people have the same love for red solo cups!
“It’s absolutely ridiculous,” Jim Beavers admits to The Boot. “I can also say, having been a writer for ten years and written hundreds of songs, I don’t know a song that more people bring up in more instances than this song about a red solo cup. I don’t know why, it hits something somewhere. It is the craziest, weirdest song you’ve ever heard.”
“‘Red Solo Cup’ is like a squirrel loose in a church house,” Toby adds. “We can play it in an office and then play five other songs, give it an hour, walk out and you’d hear the receptionist singing it. It’s like nursery rhyme stupid.”
Toby wanted to do a video, but he wasn’t sure about taking that plunge being that he initially had no plans to release ‘Red Solo Cup’ as a single. “What I wanted to do was get 20 celebrities in it, make it like a frat party and get people to act goofy and drink. So that’s what we did, and all of a sudden it’s had three million views on YouTube and it’s CMT’s most-requested video!” (Watch the video below.)
Jim and his three co-writers are all in the ‘Red Solo Cup’ video. “I don’t know Toby from Adam, and I could not believe how into it he was. I couldn’t believe the production he did for it,” says the songwriter. “I thought it was going to [have a budget of] two thousand dollars, and someone would be walking around with an iPhone doing the video on it. He had (video director) Michael Solomon and tons of girls in bikinis, which I’m not used to seeing on a nightly basis!
“Toby is playing this guy who is obviously getting crazy, and he does some stuff that I couldn’t believe,” Jim continues. “I was sitting there with my brother and I said, ‘That guy made 50 million dollars last year, and he’s in there acting like an absolute idiot with our song — it’s great!’”
Toby is anxious to see if radio will now play the song and admits he understands if deejays choose not to. “I was afraid since it says ‘testicles,’ radio won’t play it. (Jim says they offered to change the word to ‘vegetables,’ but Toby didn’t want to do that.) They wouldn’t play ‘Weed With Willie,’ and this is even more extreme. But I had some radio guys tell me they would play it regardless.”
Jim concludes, “It is great that the song is doing what it’s doing. I have to say, it’s one of the weirdest things that ever happened to me. It’s a Roger Miller-esque song, which we don’t have anymore, so it’s really cool to have something like that on the radio again.”