Blake Shelton debuted a new song during NBC's New Year's Eve special, "Minimum Wage," and it was instantly criticized on social media. Some felt the track was "tone deaf" during an economically challenging time for millions of Americans without jobs. Some Shelton fans liked the song though, including Brooks & Dunn member Ronnie Dunn, who published a long defense of the song on Instagram Monday.
"The 'beef' is yet another of those misguided social issue (cultural scams) that are concocted to further divide this country," Dunn wrote, alongside photos of himself and Shelton. "I’m putting my money on the common sense of the common man to call bullshit on the forces at work to keep this country divided." He called the criticisms of "Minimum Wage" an "attack" on country singers for their success and noted he has plenty of experience with difficult times from before he was famous.
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"I slept on a mattress on the floor in a musician friend’s spare bedroom and played BEER JOINTS / DIVE BARS for years before I ever made a $100," Dunn wrote. "Most country singers pay dues and go through things to become successful that no sane human being would." He went on to point out that he grew up poor, his father was a truck driver and his mother worked a "minimum wage" job herself as a bank teller to support four children.
"The entire world wants to hitch a free ride on the American Dream. Those that don’t want to diminish or destroy it," Dunn continued. "Read the full lyrics to Blake’s song. Hell, I wish I’d written it." He signed his note as an "American Made, Country Music singin’, song writin’ millionaire sumb—."
"Minimum Wage" is a love song, with Shelton singing in the chorus, "Girl your love can make a man feel rich on minimum wage." Some music fans thought the song was in poor taste, accusing Shelton of "romanticizing" minimum-wage jobs during the coronavirus pandemic and at a time when millions of Americans are unemployed. "Losing my mind watching Blake Shelton, a man who has $100M, sing 'Your love is money, you make me feel rich on minimum wage' to close out 2020," one person wrote.
Shelton shared a video for the song, directed by Gwen Stefani's brother Todd, on NBC, but it has still not been posted on YouTube officially. The song also has not been released on country radio yet. "I got engaged to Gwen Stefani," Shelton told Carson Daly during the broadcast when reflecting on 2020. "I don’t care what else happened besides that. That made it a great year for me."