Review – Jake Owen’s “Real Life” is a Real Let Down

Jake Owen Real Life

Oh Jake, I had such high hopes for this new single. I thought you did too, as you said in numerous interviews that you would like to start putting out deeper material and not be known as the “Beachin'” guy. Owen backed this up on his last single, “What We Ain’t Got,” which I thought was the best single he has ever released. As anyone who has followed the The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music on the site knows though, it didn’t perform that well on radio at all. It peaked in the high teens before going recurrent. It didn’t even get close to touching the success “Beachin'” attained last summer. This worried me that Owen would back off on his promise to produce better music, but I was still hopeful about his new single “Real Life.” You look at the cover for it above and Owen has toned his look back. The title of the song sounds promising and there’s not a hint of the beach.

So does it live up to expectations? Does Owen live up to his promise? The answer is sadly no to both. I think Owen really tried to go for something more here, but there’s one big achilles heel to this song that hurts it and has hurt Owen before: spoken word. It annoyed me on “Days of Gold” and “Beachin'” and once again it’s annoying on “Real Life.” Some country artists can pull it off, but Owen just can’t do it. His voice is not emotive nor dynamic enough to make it sound good. He has a good voice, yet he wastes it on spoken word songs like this one. The theme isn’t bad either, as it’s about everyday life in the real world and some of the aspects of it. I really don’t have a problem with the lyrics of the song and I thought the songwriters did a well enough job to avoid the pitfalls of clichés (songwriters: Shane McAnally, Ashley Gorley, Ross Copperman and Josh Osborne). The song could’ve been good if Owen had just sang it and didn’t do spoken word.

The other glaring issue with “Real Life” is the production, instrumentation and arrangement. I’m just going to say it: this sounds like a Smash Mouth song (with a small tinge of country). It felt like I was back listening to pop radio in the 90s. You could interlude this song with Smash Mouth’s “All Star” and they would blend together seamlessly. For a country song, this is never a good thing. Really this isn’t good for a pop song in 2015 either, as this sound is so outdated and cheesy. It was left in the 90s where it belonged for a reason. If Owen wanted to draw on a sound from the 90s, why not 90s country? If you take away the spoken word and give this song a 90s country arrangement, it would possibly be a great song. Instead this is just an embarrassing song and I wouldn’t want to be caught in public listening to it.

I still believe Owen’s next album will have some good country music on it and will be an upgrade over Days of Gold. However, this single doesn’t do anything to inspire people to give him a chance. This is the type of song that makes some people put their nose up at Owen and refuse to listen to his music. “Real Life” is a laughable song and only hurts the reputation of Jake Owen more. Some Owen fans may argue this is an upgrade over a lot of songs at country radio right now and they would be right. But is that saying much? The bar right now at country radio is at its lowest ever and it doesn’t take much to stand out amongst the sea of trash floating around on country radio. I hope Owen gives us something more next time, but for now I recommend avoiding “Real Life.”

Grade: 3/10

39 thoughts on “Review – Jake Owen’s “Real Life” is a Real Let Down

  1. Raymond May 29, 2015 / 11:04 am

    Horrible awful and terrible just in general 0/10. The way he says real sounds like nails on a chalkboard. The production is toothless beyond belief. Oh the spoken word verses are the cherries on top of the dog pile of crap. Awful song. 0/10.

    Like

  2. Stew May 29, 2015 / 11:39 am

    “What We Aint Got” was a very good tune, and I was hoping for more from his new music as well. As for Owen’s best song i would go with “Startin’ With Me”

    Like

  3. Scotty J May 29, 2015 / 11:40 am

    The whoas and nah nahs are so lazy and they are right up there with the repeating verses in the lazy songwriters handbook.

    It really is sad that ‘What We Ain’t Got’ didn’t break big because it’s failure teaches labels and performers that substance doesn’t work at radio so instead we get this.

    2/10.

    Like

  4. Lorenzo May 29, 2015 / 12:46 pm

    this song is a big pile of crap. just horrible, can’t believe he really released it. He also said his new album will be heavily 90’s rock influenced (which is great, because when you record a country album it doesn’t have to be country, right?). A lot of jake owen fans hated this song tough, just check it out on iTunes and you’ll understand what I mean

    Like

  5. NoahHibiscusEaton May 29, 2015 / 1:30 pm

    Looks like someone has been listening to a lot of Everclear lately! 😉

    *

    Everclear is the first thing that popped in my head while listening this. Not only does “Real Life” sound like “AM Radio” or something that would have fitted on “Sparkle and Fade” and you wouldn’t tell the difference, but Owen’s vocals sound like they are impersonating Art Alexakis in how he enunciates more like he’s chanting a monologue than singing a song. Much like he was blatantly channeling Shawn Mullins of “Lullaby” fame with “Beachin'”.

    And here’s the thing: I enjoyed “Sparkle and Fade” growing up. I was a child of that era. And I also found more to like than dislike with “So Much for the Afterglow”, but then found everything after uninspired and just tuned Everclear out from there. Still, Art Alexkais produced his share of catchy, jangly songs from that era with a summery vibe but mostly depressing subject matter, and I wouldn’t mind hearing current artists tap into that era for inspiration……………..

    ……………..just not on country airwaves! -__-

    *

    Much like I wouldn’t mind Kelsea Ballerini if her music had been marketed to Mainstream Top 40 and Adult Top 40 radio in the first place in that, as a pop album, “The First Time” is actually decent…………….Jake Owen’s “Real Life” sounds decent enough as an Adult Top 40 song. It admittedly has an infectious earworm of a chorus, a blue-skied production and a buoyancy to the rhythm that makes me tap my foot.

    Just keep it the hell away from country radio!!!

    *

    Actually, my biggest gripe about this song would be its lyrics.

    “Real Life” actually reminds me of “American Kids” in how it tries to purport itself as an anthem that talks about something different than the current bro-country and metro-bro trends……………..but relies on the exact same stream-of-consciousness Rhythmic form of delivery and checklist formula, albeit with different word choices and proper nouns. In other words, its mostly the same recipe…………except perhaps using egg replacer instead of egg and cashew butter instead of margarine. Yet it’s the same flour, same yeast, same sugar, same canola oil, same pan, same kneading process, same oven temperature.

    And much like “American Kids”, the lyricism is just painfully shallow. So Owen says “real life” is about:

    *

    1) The prom queen wearing a plastic crown (as opposed to…………..y’know………….a “real” one! 😉 )
    2) Drinking Royal Crown cola instead of Coca-Cola
    3) Rolling your own smokes
    4) Driving around because there was no…………….stuff……………to do (good luck with that now in this economy where gas prices are much higher than Coca-Cola! 😉 )
    5) Using a neighbor’s pool
    6) Having green grass
    7) Having two trees
    8) Not talking to models (uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh……you do realize many models HARDLY lead the Vogue and Pars Fashion Week lifestyle, myself included, right Owen? 😉 )
    9) Getting “real high” in addition to getting “real low” (I’m not sure I WANT you to elaborate there! 😉 )
    10) Having a dive bar with a band that plays too loud and is quite bad.
    11) Dancing at the said dive bar’s terrible band anyway
    12) Staying out and up very late.
    13) Dining at the Waffle House.
    14) Having a rude waitress at the Waffle House.
    15) Tipping the said rude waitress at the Waffle House.
    16) Pray to God.

    *

    So, by Owen’s logic, you’re not being “real” if you: wear a crown made of any material besides plastic, drink Coca-Cola (because then you’re just a spoiled 1% type! 😉 ), buy conventional cigarettes by the pack, walk, bike or skateboard around town instead of drive by automobile, having your own pool, having imperfect grass, having more or fewer than two trees, talking to models, choosing not to indulge in “homegrown”, Fireball, meth or whatever they mean when they refer to getting real high, going to dive bars where the music is set at a reasonable volume and actually features respectable to downright great performers, choosing to make a concerted effort to go to bed earlier at least once in a while, dining at the neighborhood family diner or Subway instead of Waffle House, tipping friendly waitresses and either leading a secular lifestyle or adhering to another faith.

    ……………….good to know, Owen! Good to know! Thanks for keeping it real (See what I did there? 😉 )

    *

    Much like “American Kids”, its lyrics are just a bunch of random little observations that were just papier-mached together without providing anything substantial in their declaration, while nuance is largely tossed out the window. For instance, what does drinking Coca-Cola have anything to do with not being broke? Or having more than two trees? Or having a pool? Have the song’s writers NEVER seen plastic pools like those sold at Wal-Mart? Trust me: if you can afford to drive around town for no reason at all these days, you CAN afford to drink Coca-Cola! 😉

    *

    But what do I know? I’m not “real”, according to Owen and the song’s writers, so that instantaneously disqualifies my opinion here! 😉

    As an Adult Top 40 song, this at least sounds infectious and summery and the production is agreeable as well. But it’s undermined by poor lyricism, and I’d give this 5/10 as an Adult Top 40 song, but 0/10 as a “country song”.

    Owen, I’m holding you to your recent comments on bringing more substance back to country music! Circle of trust! Guess who’s slipping back out of that Circle of Trust? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

      • NoahHibiscusEaton May 29, 2015 / 2:05 pm

        Yup, that’s EXACTLY where I picked that phrase up from! ^__^

        (makes the gesture at Jake Owen where I point two fingers from one hand at my eyes near my face, then turn my wrist to where I direct the two fingers at Owen as if to say “I’m watching you, studying your every move, and if I find out your words have no merit from here on out, I’m bringing you down in my reviews, bro, I’m bringing you down to Chinatown!”) 😉

        Liked by 2 people

  6. Scotty J May 29, 2015 / 1:53 pm

    Look at the songwriters here. More Ashley Gorley and Shane McAnally who are almost guaranteed to come up with this crap over and over. McAnally uses Brandy Clark and Kacey Musgraves as his get out of jail card for all the other dreck like this and the Sam Hunt garbage that is polluting the country airwaves right now.

    I’m to the point where if I see these names along with Dallas Davidson and a couple others I know it’s going to be more of the same junk from their rolodex of clichés and over used bro-mides.

    As long as the same ten people write all the songs nothing will change.

    Like

  7. Zack May 29, 2015 / 2:03 pm

    You know, even the worst of songs I can usually handle at least once, but t I couldn’t even make it 30 seconds into this.

    As a fan, I’m severely disappointed at this. I knew that he couldn’t afford another “What We Ain’t Got” (At least commercially speaking), but I didn’t think he would do quite…..this. Yeah you know what? This doesn’t sound like “Kick The Dust Up” or “Crash and Burn” or anything else but that certainly doesn’t give it a free pass.

    The thing about Owen is that he wants to please both sides of the crowd, and that simply isn’t going to work. Idk how his new album will be buy if it sounds anything like this then it will be a candidate for my worst album of the year.

    Come on Jake, you’re better than this.

    Grade: 0/10

    Like

  8. Lisandro Berry-Gaviria May 29, 2015 / 2:21 pm

    Oh well looks like Owen pulled a Florida Georgia Line on us I guess. What We Ain’t Got was such a great song and now he’s back to the same old shit. I guess the lure of cash overpowered his talk about putting out deeper material, although it’s kind of unfair to judge that based on just his lead single. Should be interesting to see what his album is going to have on it, but for now, screw you Owen.

    Like

  9. Raymond May 29, 2015 / 2:31 pm

    Ok let’s all wait for the album I mean come on until the album comes out we shouldn’t make any assumptions of how his music will be.

    Like

  10. fromthewordsofbr May 29, 2015 / 4:57 pm

    This song is a bland note-for-note copy of “Someday” by Sugar Ray.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Josh Schott May 30, 2015 / 12:20 pm

      Haha, wow it is! I completely forgot about that song. Soon as I heard it again I remembered it.

      Like

      • fromthewordsofbr May 30, 2015 / 2:31 pm

        I swear Sugar Ray should sue. I listened to both songs back-to-back (actually, a sample of “Real Life” ’cause I CAN’T STAND IT) and they sound almost exactly the same.

        Jake Owen, I love ’90s pop-rock tunes as much as you do. But at least try to keep country in your work.

        Like

  11. Pete Marshall May 29, 2015 / 9:24 pm

    I do not like this song at all it is not country at all. I will give this song a 0/10 awful song pure garbage. Jake should know better.

    Like

  12. Kuzco May 30, 2015 / 3:11 pm

    What a disappointment. It’s probably the most disappointing single of the year so far to me, and there have been a lot of them! Actually it’s hard to think of anyone who’s released a new single or album that HASN’T disappointed. I guess there’s Tim McGraw, and Blake Shelton has been surprisingly okay. Anyone I’m missing?

    Like

    • NoahHibiscusEaton May 31, 2015 / 4:17 am

      I’d say Jana Kramer has really impressed me with her single released in January. It’s arguably my favorite song on the radio currently.

      And if we’re also talking about albums that were significantly better than we thought they’d be, I’ll admit Tyler Farr’s “Suffer In Peace” is a whole lot better than I expected it to be even with the strong lead single. Darius Rucker’s “Southern Style” actually impressed me significantly despite the absolutely deplorable lead single. I also knew “Going Out Like That” would prove to be the outlier to Reba McEntire’s latest album and she would prove to deliver more strong material, but I have to say she wowed her by exactly how outstanding her album is and blew away my expectations.

      *

      Other than that…………………..yeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaahhhhh, I hear you! 😉

      Like

  13. bob May 31, 2015 / 1:58 pm

    This is a disappointment after “What We Ain’t Got”. But I can’t say I’ve ever been a Jake Owen fan.

    Like

  14. fromthewordsofbr June 19, 2015 / 12:03 pm

    “I’m just going to say it: this sounds like a Smash Mouth song (with a small tinge of country). It felt like I was back listening to pop radio in the 90s. You could interlude this song with Smash Mouth’s “All Star” and they would blend together seamlessly.”

    Jake Owen really shreked up this song, huh?

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.