Review – Gary Allan’s “Hangover Tonight”

gary allan hangover tonight

Heartache. That word would best describe the theme of Gary Allan’s most popular songs. Allan has been one of the best in country music in recent years at making great heartbreak songs. His lyrics brilliantly captured the emotions of people going through emotional pain. “It Ain’t The Whiskey” was one of my favorite mainstream country songs of 2013 and “Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)” from the previous year was another song I really enjoyed. For his new single, “Hangover Tonight,” Allan gets away from the heartbreak and appears to be going for a more fun vibe. The question is does he pull this off as well as his heartbreak songs?

Well…I’m just going to get this out of the way up front. “Hangover Tonight” is a flat-out disappointment in my book. I understand that Allan wants to move onto different kinds of songs and probably get away from the heartbreak songs for a while, but this is a step in the wrong direction. Let’s look first at the instrumentation and production of this song. Quite frankly the instrumentation isn’t country at all. It’s a combination of pop, blues and R&B to create a different sound. Sonically it’s the exact opposite of previous singles. While on the first few listens this seems to have a catchy beat, after a few more listens it just feels generic to me. I understand Allan was going for a down to earth tone with this song (similar to Zac Brown Band’s “Homegrown”), but the instrumentation is just too slick for it convey this feeling.

Not only do I not like the instrumentation of this song, I also think the lyrics are below par. This song is essentially about drinking, partying and getting into bed with a girl. Despite taking a classier and friendlier approach, is it really that different from a Cole Swindell song? I think Allan says the word “girl” in this song more than his last five singles combined. It was disheartening to hear. On top of that Allan treats drinking in this song the exact opposite way he treated it in “It Ain’t The Whiskey.” In previous drinking songs, it was considered a crutch and vice of someone in emotional pain. In “Hangover Tonight” it’s about drinking the night away and as the title of the song says get a hangover tonight.

Now look I’m all for a feel good drinking song, but “Hangover Tonight” just isn’t one of those songs. It’s a generic blues/R&B single that’s trying way too hard to appeal to radio. This is a big miss on Allan’s part and I don’t think a lot of his fans will like this change. It reminds me an awful a lot of when Brad Paisley released “River Bank” last year. I remember hoping it wasn’t indicative of his album, but sure enough it was. I’m not saying Allan’s new album will be similar to this lead single, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is. The teaser released for “Hangover Tonight” last week featured a taxi driver flipping through the radio station and as he switched to a different station he heard a different Allan single from the past. The driver stopped when he heard “Hangover Tonight” and turned up the volume. Interpret this however you want. All I know is unlike the taxi driver, I will turn the station if I hear “Hangover Tonight” playing.

Grade: 4/10

22 thoughts on “Review – Gary Allan’s “Hangover Tonight”

  1. Raymond March 3, 2015 / 11:38 am

    I still can’t find or hear this one yet I think that a lot of the acts right now in mainstream will play it safe basically pull a Jon Pardi or Eric Paslay last year that’s what I think Gary Allan Ashley Monroe doing right now I think even Gloriana is probably doing as well cause despite me liking Trouble hands down its a safe song at the end of the day. I think Kip Moore as well so I think when the albums come out from these guys we will be happier like I said Nashville it’s a two sided coin. I hope that the artists I listed above have better stuff than what’s on their album. Country Music 2015 where FGL feels a source of entitlement Something In The Water doesn’t become a Number 1. Sun Daze got number 1. Anyways when I hear this song I will report back with a grade from what you guys made it sound like it doesn’t sound good.

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  2. bob March 3, 2015 / 11:58 am

    Lines like “Hell with being sober, I wanna hangover tonight” are an immediate turnoff to me. While I never went out with the purpose of getting drunk, I did have a few hangovers in my youth and I don’t ever want one again. The last was over 45 years ago. This must be one of the worst songs ever released by Allan.

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    • NoahHibiscusEaton March 3, 2015 / 3:36 pm

      I for one consider it THE worst single Gary Allan has released to date.

      In fairness, he has had a few previous singles I never cared for. Early on in his career he did start out pandering to obvious tropes, and even styled a cowboy hat, before having the clout to do things entirely his way. So though most of his single releases have been enjoyable and, often, solid as well…………..I’ll admit “It Would Be You”, “The One” and “Today” in particular did nothing for me. And, in truth, I could also do without “Watching Airplanes” or “Pieces”……………..which aren’t bad but were just…………….there.

      But this is easily his worst.

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      • Josh Schott March 3, 2015 / 3:40 pm

        Absolutely it’s the worst, by far. But it’s also the best start he’s ever had for a single on the charts, as it hotshot to #50 on this week’s airplay chart. So if this does well as it appears it will on radio, this might ultimately hurt his sound for a while. I hope not, but it could happen.

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  3. Derek Hudgin March 3, 2015 / 12:30 pm

    ooof! A big swing and a miss here. Like you said, I’m all for a good-timing drinking song, but this doesn’t do it for me. I don’t like that groove of the melody, and those lyrics are painful at times.

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  4. NoahHibiscusEaton March 3, 2015 / 3:18 pm

    Between this, Kacey Musgraves’ “Biscuits” and Ashley Monroe’s “On To Something Good”…………2015 sadly is shaping up to be the “Year of the Underachieving Return Single From Critical Darlings”. =/

    *

    The most bleeding obvious thing I can say, straight-up, is that Gary Allan is BETTER. THAN. THIS.

    But that aside, I can’t even say this stands out to my ears in the company of chart rivals that concern the same theme. To me, this is a poor man’s “Just Got Started Lovin’ You”. Why listen to this when I can tune up James Ottos’ ubiquitously soulful and groovy modern classic? Or, for that matter, Allan’s own “Nothin’ On But The Radio”?

    The latter remains enjoyable to my ears because it has a down-to-earth, slow-burning charisma driving its delivery and tone. Here, in contrast, it kind of hits you over the head and sounds a bit contrived; not to mention doesn’t give Allan’s remarkable vocals room to breathe and stand out.

    *

    That said, my greatest issue with “Hangover Tonight” is its lyrics but, more spcifically, 2) the intense repetition of its lyrics.

    Granted they’re not as outright terrible and embarrassing as fellow 40-something Darius Rucker’s “Homegrown Honey”……….but they still pander to the exact same shallow pool. Because, when you scrutinize the lyrics closely, the “hangover” he’s referring to is actually carnal attraction.

    And so, basically what you’re left with is not so much a drinking song, but a song about a male narrator who has an erection over a female subject and wants to have sex with that subject. Yeah, Gary, we get it. Didn’t need to attempt to be clever and lead us to believe hangover was meant to be taken literally, did you? 😉

    And, again, songs that conflate drinking with sexual escapism always raise red flags to me. Enough already. Studies have repeatedly shown consuming more than two alcoholic beverages greatly increases the impairment of consensual communication. It’s often a nasty mix, when in fact the best sex almost always comes with minimal to no alcohol influence.

    But if you insist on conflating considerable alcohol consumption with sexual escapism, at the very least pepper your lyrics with nuance and hint on the possible consequences and internal guilt or anxiety that the narrator is processing. And we don’t get any of that here. We also don’t pick up any ambiguity in Allan’s vocal presentation signalling that he’s self-aware his drinking habits are driven or reinforced by fears of rejection or sexual frustration.

    *

    Basically, “Hangover Tonight” is a shallow and ultimately forgettable song about a guy with an erection over a woman he hopes to have sex with. Nothing more, nothing less.

    And this is easily one of the most disappointing releases of 2015 thus far along with the latest from Musgraves and Monroe. Score another one in the losing column for us! =(

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    • NoahHibiscusEaton March 3, 2015 / 3:24 pm

      As for the score……………..well, I simply don’t like this.

      However, it just doesn’t stand out in the memory upon repeated listen. I just don’t see this becoming a big hit for Allan when listeners will quite likely instead opt for the same kind of songs delivered by younger males with more synthetic production elements. And, admittedly, the production of the song, though by no means good, isn’t bad either and is just painfully passable.

      So, due to the fact this won’t be remembered and the production and the fact Gary Allan doesn’t have annoying vocals…………..eh, I’m thinking 3.5/10. But that’s not saying much.

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    • Josh Schott March 3, 2015 / 3:46 pm

      Yes there have some really underwhelming songs from artists I expected a lot more out of. Zac Brown Band has pretty much been the only one to live up to expectations. They struck the perfect balance with “Homegrown.”

      The chorus is very annoying and I’ve found it to be an annoying ear worm stuck in my head today. And as you said it’s quite the turnaround in terms of attitude toward alcohol from Allan. He did a total 180, going from heartbreak drinking to party drinking. As I said in the review Cole Swindell could have easily did this song. And that is not a good thing at all. As you said Allan is simply better than this. Songs like this are clearly below him and he knows it. Allan’s album may turn out to be one of the biggest disappointments of 2015 and it’s a real shame.

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      • Raymond March 3, 2015 / 3:55 pm

        I’m gonna remain optimistic though I think the artists like Ashley Monroe Kacey Musgraves Gary Allan Kip Moore Gloriana etc. I think they’re playing it safe so the albums they released will be better remember Nashville the artists can’t go all out they have to play it safe I’m confident things will be good when the album come out. People in Nashville can’t go all out risky look at when Kacey decided to release Follow Your Arrow it flopped on radio that proved one thing play it safe and wait for the albums to come out.

        I heard the song I will give it a 4/10. Far from the worst it just doesn’t stand out enough for when it gets into the Top 30 it deserves a -1. I’m gonna remain optimistic however.

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      • NoahHibiscusEaton March 3, 2015 / 4:32 pm

        Well, I hope that the taxi-driver promotional video is more indicative of the single and not the album at large.

        I mean, surely Allan has to know that he didn’t rebound commercially from “Get Off Of The Pain” (which produced no Top Ten hits) and produce a career single off of “Every Storm (Runs Out Of Rain)” by capitulating to the most blatant trends. Granted “Every Storm (Runs Out Of Rain)” is constructed on inspirational poster cliches and is basically this generation’s version of “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”……..but it still didn’t strike me as pandering and was still effective for what it was because the production gave his gravelly vocals room to breathe.

        Allan had a modest commercial rebound with his last album, and he did so by just being himself. So it bewilders me that he apparently hasn’t dissected the wisdom from his last era and instead has decided he needs more instant gratification. But I fail to see how that’s going to translate to big commercial returns. And it’s sad he seems to be a bit bereft of gratitude as to how he has been held to high regard among many crtical listeners.

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  5. Pete Marshall March 3, 2015 / 8:00 pm

    Gary Allan “Hangover Tonight” song isn’t bad 5/10. If I listen to it more it would grow on me. “Today” was my least favorite of his songs. He might hit #1 with this song and that’s my opinion.

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  6. Zack March 3, 2015 / 9:24 pm

    Well Gary is my all time favorite artist, but even this just doesn’t appeal to me and doesn’t feel like the Gary that everyone knows. With that being said, I understand that hus time on radio is sadly almost through and needs something like this to get back into the top 20, possibly top 10. I could see it potentially growing on me but it definently ranks among his worst. But I don’t fear that his new album will take a new direction. Windmills Country actually posted aa while back, some upcoming Gary Allan co-writes. One of them was a song that Gary wrote all by himself called “Sorrow”. Definently seems in Gary’s ballpark. The other titles looked promising but hey, they’re titles so while it may not seem fair to criticize how the new album will sound, its also not fair to start thinking it will be grand. Also to bounce off of one of Noah’s comments from earlier, Gary hardly tried to appeal to the masses in his earlier days. Did he wear a cowboy hat like most did? Yes. But do you know why he wore the hat? It was because his label specfically told him NOT to the wear a hat. It was pretty much Gary saying f*** you to his label, plus his debut single was a Waylon Jennings cover.

    With that out of the way, I don’t see Gary as the type to sell out to new trends on his upcoming album. He knows its too kate in his career to start and also, if you want a list of people in the mainstream who truly go against the grain in all aspects, Gary has to be near the top (with other artists such as Kacey Musgraves and Zac Brown Band joining him). Is this song an atrocity? No. Is it one of the worst things he has released? Yes. But I’ll still take it over the other crap that pollutes the airwaves (not that it gives the song an excuse, just saying)

    I give it a B-

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    • Zack March 3, 2015 / 9:28 pm

      *Too LATE in his career not kate… damn keyboard

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    • Josh Schott March 3, 2015 / 9:32 pm

      I knew this would probably be harder for you to stomach than everyone else, being that he’s your favorite. I went through something similar with Brad Paisley last year and it’s hard to watch one of your favorites put out a bad song (or in Paisley’s case a mediocre album). A song called “Sorrow” definitely sounds like an Allan song and I bet it’s good. I went and looked at those song titles and you’re right they do look promising. Maybe this is a case like Raymond mentioned in another comment how this could be an album similar to Eric Paslay or Jon Pardi’s albums from 2014. A couple of radio friendly songs to draw in attention and the rest of the album is classic Allan. That’s what I hope for. And you’re right he is near the top in mainstream country in terms of talent and song quality. One of the few in recent years to consistently remain country, which is why I think this single is so surprising.

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      • Zack March 3, 2015 / 9:58 pm

        Well I just gave it another listen, and as much as I hate to admit it, I might have to drop this to a C grade. You’re right, it is hard for me to stomach, the only other song i don’t care for of his is Nothing On But The Radio which is a B- for me at worst. This at least sounds like a hit to me and well if it does well and paves the way to better music then I’m all for it. I could see Gary pulling a Jake Owen here. Setting up momentum with a sure fire hit (albeit a lackluster one) to hopefully deliver a better song. (In Owens case, Beachin paved the way for What We Ain’t Got). I’m going to wait a couple weeks to see how this sets in, but I certainly see everyone’s points and can definently respect everyone’s opinions as to why they dislike this song. Like Raymond stated earlier however, Gary can always pull a Jon Pardi/Eric Paslay (and quite frankly I pretty much expect him to)

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      • Raymond March 3, 2015 / 10:32 pm

        Aw thanks Josh for mentioning me oh yeah words around Lady Antebellum will release Long Stretch of Love what’s your guys thoughts.

        Anyways know Jon Pardi in my opinion perfected the lets get on the radar and blow them away. Provided When I’ve Been Drinking and What I Can’t Put Down bombed on the charts undeservingly.But I give him and Eric credit. I’m thinking Kip Gary Allan Ashley Monroe Kacey Musgraves and Gloriana will follow that path. I hope so at least anyways like I said the new album releases in the first part of the year are interesting. I’m curious if Kelsea Ballerini or Canaan Smith show their potential. But I’m so excited for when Maddie & Tae release their next album that’s something I Have to buy.

        Thanks Josh for seeing my comment please reply.

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  7. NoahHibiscusEaton March 4, 2015 / 1:14 am

    “Long Stretch Of Love” is an improvement over “Freestyle”, but it’s still just there and doesn’t stand out well. I think Lady Antebellum would be best served either servicing the title track to radio if they nsist on remaining more upbeat, or “Lie With Me” if they want to change the pace somewhat.

    Pardi’s album was solid. I still can’t believe “When I’ve Been Drinkin'” was the fourth single instead of “Trash A Hotel Room”. But I’m not complaining.

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    • Pete Marshall March 4, 2015 / 1:20 am

      Is Jake Owen going to release “Ghost Town” as his next single?

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      • Zack March 4, 2015 / 7:10 am

        Ghost Town had a video but it never was an official single. I’ve heard word that Owen is moving on to a lead single frok a new album once “What We Ain’t Got” is finished.

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