In the short time Dan Smyers and James Shay Mooney have known and worked together, they’ve managed to score a top 10 single, a number 1 country album, and three Vocal Duo of the Year nominations. Dan + Shay’s lead single, “19 You & Me” offered fans a distinctly different sound than the bro country domination of the charts, and allowed the duo to thrive early. Their follow up effort, “Show You Off” stalled in the top 30, and now they are bringing fans a third single to radio called “Nothin’ Like You.” So does this Hunter Hayes/Rascal Flatts/One Direction esq. pop duo offer something new with this single?
The short answer, no. “Nothin’ Like You” begins easy enough with two guitar rhythms setting a mid tempo beat over an obvious, yet small drum machine loop. The chorus cranks up the production and guitars. If you’re looking for country music, you won’t find it here. Sure Dan + Shay sound natural on country radio when you compare them to Sam Hunt, but this is still polished boy band pop music aimed at teenagers. And the solo isn’t the faint mandolin or banjo you hear in the background. The instrumental solo is an electric guitar. Sonically, “Nothin’ Like You” hits all the beats established by the hair band power ballads of the 1980s.
But in an attempt to even further separate themselves from the Florida Georgia Lines and Jason Aldeans they’ll compete with for playtime, Dan + Shay try to sing about something different from tailgate love sessions. These pretty boys fall in love with a free-spirited woman they see across a coffee shop. She sits there reading, while she wears a rock and roll t-shirt, shades, purple untied shoelaces, and worn out jeans. Ah! Dan + Shay, you were so close to describing something original there! This unique girl caught his eye right away and as he sings, “you’re my kind of different and I never seen nothin’ nothin’ like you.” She’s so different, that he “just had to stare/for a minute or two.” I know that’s not intended to be creepy, but it sounds creepy as all get out. I said this was an attempt, but Dan + Shay still simply sing about a beautiful girl they just meet and fall for. And still, these two guys, no matter how sweet and innocent they sound, show little respect for this girl once they’ve made up their minds. “Hey beautiful girl, in your own little world let me in it.” Even that cover photo for the single sexualizes a “hot female body.”
Overall, this is just yet another bland pop song trying to find its way onto country radio. Dan + Shay have always been a boy band type pop duo. They offer very little country in their sound, and (thankfully) don’t name drop country superstars in this song to justify how country they are. If I didn’t know any better, I’d guess One Direction sang this song. “Nothin’ Like You” is very safe in its sound and vanilla in its lyrics and story. Yet this song is structured to accomplish what it’s meant to do: swoon the hearts of teenage girls listening to country radio.