Review – Randy Houser’s “We Went”

Even though Randy Houser has been making music for nearly seven years, it wasn’t until his third album, How Country Feels, that Houser found a place in the upper tier of country acts. That album produced four straight top five singles for Randy Houser, with two number one songs in “How County Feels” and “Runnin’ Outta Moonlight.” Needless to say, cashing in on bro-country helped reignite Houser’s career, and he doesn’t appear to be hopping off that train anytime soon. Randy Houser’s new single, “We Went,” is your everyday, typical bro-country anthem.

What makes Randy Houser stand out from other solo male acts is the mere fact that he has a powerful, booming voice. Houser’s previous single, “Like a Cowboy,” is an excellent showcase of his vocal capabilities, and that isn’t lost in “We Went.” Houser’s producers know his voice is the main selling point for his songs, and they give Randy some moments to show off his pipes. However, a good vocal performance isn’t enough to cover for the tired, clichéd lyrics that plague the song.

When you summarize and take the song on the surface level, it’s actually kind of funny how many similarities there are to Luke Bryan’s new single, “Kick the Dust Up.” It’s a boring night in small town so Houser and his lady want to go out to the corn to make their own excitement. The similarities don’t stop there, just read these lyrics from the opening verse: “Foot on the gas, ready and throwing up a little dust like a pick up truck does in the mud.” I don’t think it’s coincidental that there’s an ode to dust being kicked thrown up. Also, his lady is turning him on, and Randy Houser is oh-so descriptive in that area. “Nobody knows how to get me going quite like you do when you do the things you do.” That couldn’t be any more vague or stupid. Toss in some lines about fogging up windows in place no one else knows and la-di-da, you have a country song in 2015.

There’s a small reference to being on the run from the cops in an attempt to give this song a little edge, but the focus of the song is without a doubt the 2015 checklist to ensure radio play. The production of the song is quick with the verses and choruses running together without any room to breathe until after the bridge. The quick succession sort of fits with the heavy guitars and “edginess” of the lyrics, but it doesn’t work. Also, don’t forget how a steel guitar is randomly placed in the solo to remind you this isn’t a pop rock song. The production is just all over the place. If it’s any consolation, How Country Feels is an album with some pleasant deep cuts among the bro-country singles released to radio. I think one can reasonably assume that Houser’s upcoming album should provide a similar variety. “We Went” is a shallow offer of bro-country from Randy Houser.

Grade: 3/10

47 thoughts on “Review – Randy Houser’s “We Went”

  1. Raymond May 29, 2015 / 1:08 pm

    I found this to be a little more middle of the road than a 3/10. The production I found to be a little rough rock edge and Randy Houser voice still remains solid. So I’m thinking a 5/10. Ok he only songs left that I don’t think you guys have reviewed are Hunter Hayes new one and also Kellie Pickler has a new song don’t have a new link but I think it’s on Spotify.

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    • Kevin Davis May 29, 2015 / 2:38 pm

      The lyrics alone are what makes this, at best, a 3/10, which is a generous score. I’m glad, Derek, that you noted the near-identical lyrics on Luke’s latest single. It’s all just so pathetic. I have to say it, but only in “country” music can you get away with this level of laziness in songwriting — and it really does say something about the intellectual capacities of the mainstream country fan.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Raymond May 29, 2015 / 3:47 pm

        I don’t think lyrics have to be strong for a song too be good. Look at Sugarland Stuck Like Glue it didn’t have good lyrics but man between the vocal performance catchiness and off the wall production made it a winner to me.

        But hey we are entitled to our opinions. Why did you respond to mine instead of just posting a general one.

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      • Derek Hudgin May 29, 2015 / 3:58 pm

        Yeah, I thought this is a generous 3/10, I almost dropped the grade this morning before work, but I do like Houser’s vocals here. It’s sad how die hard mainstream fans will accept basically the same song over and over again, or crappy “different” songs like Owen’s new single. And building off that, it’s sad how Music Row realizes this and have the integrity, or lack thereof, to exploit that blind acceptance to turn a quick buck. To an extent, I can see the strategy behind wanting to copy “Cruise” after its enormous chart run, but you have to draw a line somewhere.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Kevin Davis May 29, 2015 / 5:11 pm

          Yes, I love Houser’s vocals too. If you haven’t seen it yet, his performance of “Like a Cowboy” at the Opry is on YouTube. It’s a stripped-down performance, perfectly exhibiting his vocal gifts. Too bad he is now squandering those gifts on this garbage.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Raymond May 29, 2015 / 4:16 pm

        Derek here is why they won’t

        $$$$$$ until the star suffers a Donkey or a Girl In Your Truck Song they’ll keep it going,

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      • Kevin Davis May 29, 2015 / 5:14 pm

        Raymond, I was just responding to your score of 5/10 — but, yeah, I could have made this a general comment.

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  2. Scotty J May 29, 2015 / 1:58 pm

    Randy Houser is 39 years old. Luke Bryan will be 39 in a month. These guys are not young guys.

    How about singing about something a little more realistic and age appropriate.

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    • Raymond May 29, 2015 / 2:15 pm

      $$$$$$$$$$$

      That’s why they won’t.

      Like

  3. Lisandro Berry-Gaviria May 29, 2015 / 3:23 pm

    Mediocre at best I’d say. This isn’t really horrible enough to hate but it’s just so boring and personally, I hate it when songs blend the chorus into the next verse. I do agree that Houser will probably put out at least a half-decent album though; he may be riding the bro-country bandwagon but he’ll stop putting out crap like this soon, I think. (Exhibit A: Like a Cowboy.) If artists like Thomas Rhett are dropping bro-country then I imagine Houser won’t stick with it for much longer either. He’s no FGL or Chase Rice.
    Also I’m sorry if this is off-topic but are you guys going to review Miranda’s new song Roots and Wings (although I don’t think she’s releasing it as a single)?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Josh Schott May 29, 2015 / 3:51 pm

      Yes, I have “Roots & Wings” on the review list. I really hope it gets released as a single, although it’s doubtful probably.

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  4. Zack May 29, 2015 / 4:17 pm

    Randy really needs to make another “They Call Me Cadillac”. That was solid country gold and felt more genuine than the stuff he has now.

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    • Scotty J May 29, 2015 / 4:26 pm

      ‘Anything Goes’ is a truly great song too. That song is really deep and yet still accessible.

      Letterman invited him on to perform just based on that song which didn’t even make the top ten.

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  5. NoahHibiscusEaton May 29, 2015 / 4:46 pm

    This just leaves me feeling sad, as opposed to raising my fist at him angrily.

    *

    Look, while “Like A Cowboy” certainly didn’t underperform at radio, I can honestly see why it wouldn’t have been wise to have the lead single of his forthcoming album mirroring that song in that, if we’re being completely honest, #62 is a weak Billboard Hot 100 peak for a Top Five country single……………and though it didn’t sell poorly, they were definitely far off from the album’s first two singles.

    That said, it still baffles me why Stoney Creek thinks it wise to continue to invest in a fading, stagnant trend, let alone predicate his lead single entirely upon it. I certainly wasn’t expecting another “Like A Cowboy” or “Anything Goes” as the lead single, but if we were going to be serviced an uptempo or feel-good mid-tempo, is it too much to ask that it at least was distinctively country rock (as opposed to generic arena rock with brief token pedal steel and organ) and showcased Houser’s outstanding voice more fully?

    This decision is especially baffling when this sounds strikingly similar to Montgomery Gentry’s failed single “Headlights” albeit with more studio polish (the studio version of “Headlights” sounded more like a second-rate demo reject) and unconvincingly tries to emulate the grit and aggression intact in Kip Moore’s currently struggling single “I’m To Blame”. Not surprisingly, it’s currently all the way down at #69 on the current iTunes country chart……………….which is even worse than where “I’m To Blame” is at (currently at #64, albeit with much more airplay). Even from a business standpoint, I am attaining a migraine trying to make sense as to who ever thought this was a good strategy in further attempting to cement him as a staple male singer/songwriter on country airwaves.

    *

    But now, let’s look at the rest of this in terms of quality.

    And………………..well………………vocally, Randy Houser is still Randy Houser. So there’s that, at least.

    Then again, we’ve already heard vastly superior vocal performances from Houser on songs that actually give him room to fully breathe. On his previous album, we got outstanding results on not just “Like A Cowboy”, but also “Power of a Song”, “The Singer”, “Shine” and “Route 3 Box 250 D” (which, not surprisingly, are also the five best songs overall on an album that was otherwise mostly safe, but still above-average as a whole compared to his male peers). We’ve also heard it on “In God’s Time” (which infuriates me it remains unreleased on an album) and “Anything Goes”.

    Houser’s commanding boom still gives this an air of authority that demands attention that most of his male peers would fail to achieve. Yet in terms of timbre and tone, it’s a decidedly plainer, unvaried vocal performance. It’s all attitude and in-your-face. In contrast, his performance on “Shine” oscillated between reflective, pensive hushes and stridently defiant cries, and on “Route 3 Box 250 D” knew that you can effortlessly make the themes you’re addressing relatable without sacrificing the personal and intimate hushes.

    *

    As for the lyrics……………..well, is there really much noteworthy about them?

    It’s formula to a tee. Name-drop a brand of automobile? Check! Cite a backroad? Check! Declare how a hottie accompanying you “makes you crazy” or, in this case, “get me going” (because country ain’t going to alienate the soccer moms and allow you to say you’re horny or have an erection, right? 😉 ). Check! Name-drop a liquor brand or moonshine?

    ………………………uh oh, you forgot one: Wilson, King and Rogers! You’re slipping! 😉

    *

    I guess I’ll make two further points with the lyrics.

    Firstly, what is it with this recent obsession with evading the “blue lights” in radio country songs? I mean, from “Lettin’ The Night Roll” to “Just Gettin’ Started” to this, we regularly hear this phrase pop up, without any additional context whatsoever. WHY are they relevant to the song? WHAT is triggering those “blue lights”? It just seems like a cop-out (pun intended! 😉 ) to me…………….a shallow, trivial means of making this song appear more edgy than it actually is or to give the artist rebellious street credibility.

    Just. Stop. -__-

    Secondly, does anyone else find it hilarious that Houser cites a Pontiac as their choice of ride in the song, yet desperately flails to name-drop a “pick-up truck” in the song too? It’s almost as if the trio of writers for this song had nearly finished their final draft (assuming they even edited this) and then realized: “Oh s***, we forgot to mention a truck in the song! And I can’t see any way we can go back and change the first few lines and still make it rhyme!” Then one of the other writers said: “Wait, truck rhymes with mud too, right? Let’s just mention a truck where we originally had another word rhyming with mud, see? Problem solved!” 😉

    *

    In the end, “We Went” is more exasperating and greatly disappointing than it is terrible or particularly bad by any stretch. There’s very little about this song that really makes my blood boil. It’s just par for the mainstream country/”country” radio course circa 2012-2015.

    But Houser is VASTLY better than this, and I refuse to give him a free pass just because he’s trying harder as a vocalist………….especially when this song isn’t an adequate showcase for his vocal range anyway.

    This gets 4.5/10 from me. You can do much worse than this in the meantime, but you can also do a hell of a lot better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Derek Hudgin May 29, 2015 / 5:37 pm

      Great points Noah, like always! I really don’t get the obsession with the blue lights…apparently it’s supposed to make you sound like a bad ass evading the law with your woman. Even through “Cop Car” in that list of songs that use “blue lights” though in that song, the use of blue lights has a bit more meaning then just a throw away line to add to their bravado. (Did I just defend Sam Hunt?!)

      Like you said, this can be worse, and it’s sad because Randy Houser has proven he can do much, much better.

      Like

      • Raymond May 29, 2015 / 6:05 pm

        Yes you did defend Sam Hunt. Derek you should take a couple days off since you defended him. (JK)

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      • Cobra May 29, 2015 / 6:37 pm

        If you want to hear a really cool stripped down acoustic version of “Cop Car,” check out this one:

        .
        This guy’s 2014 album, “I Got Dressed Up For This” was one I thought was really solid and he’s a really strong singer/songwriter. I’d highly suggest checking it out.

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      • NoahHibiscusEaton May 29, 2015 / 9:42 pm

        ………..oh, wait! I KNOW NOW!

        The “blue lights” are actually a reference to KMart’s Blue Light Special! And they’re running from them because……….well………you know………..they’re down home country boys that won’t stand for working on Thanksgiving or else get fired…………..hehehe, yeah………..that’ll do! (shifts eyes) 😉

        *

        As for defending Sam Hunt, well there’s no need feeling bad about that. Urban’s version of “Cop Car” is vastly superior to Hunt’s, but it doesn’t change the fact he assisted in the writing of a good mainstream country there. His batting average may be at best .050 to date, but even blind hogs find acorns sometimes! 😉

        Besides, lest we forget, three writers contributed in the writing of “Cop Car”. Unless someone can point to a specific interview, we don’t know if Hunt was essentially the principle songwriter of that track or if he played more of a secondary role. Either way, I always aspire to give credit where credit is due, even when I genuinely can’t stand “Montevallo” as an album regardless of genre.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Derek Hudgin May 29, 2015 / 11:12 pm

          Yes! The secret codes of K-Mart earning their place in country music!

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      • Lisandro Berry-Gaviria May 30, 2015 / 9:42 am

        I feel like I read somewhere that the writing of Cop Car was inspired by an experience Hunt actually had with a real girl, so in that case he probably was the principle songwriter of it. I’m not 100% sure, though, and I have no idea where I read it.

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      • Kuzco May 30, 2015 / 3:00 pm

        To be honest, I don’t think Sam Hunt is horrible as a writer. Don’t get me wrong, I hate that he pretends he’s making country music, and I despise him for the influence he is having on the genre as a whole. But for the most part I don’t mind his lyrics. Admittedly, “Leave the Night On” wasn’t good, and “House Party” is pretty horrible, but I like “Take Your Time”, and a few of his album cuts are pretty good. Especially “Break Up in a Small Town”, “Cop Car”, and “Single for the Summer”.

        Again, I’m only talking about lyrics. It’s a joke that he’s marketed as country, and I guess I still hate him on principle because of that. But if he chose to, I think he could write some pretty good country music. He’s no FGL, even if his effect on the genre is just as bad.

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        • Derek Hudgin May 30, 2015 / 3:06 pm

          I agree. “Cop Car” and “Make You Miss Me” were the two on his album I thought were well written stories. As a writer he has moments; I also like “Come Over” that he wrote and Kenny Chesney cut.

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      • Noah Eaton May 30, 2015 / 4:15 pm

        To everyone one’s own.

        To be fair, Sam Hunt has only one full-length and one “acoustic mixtape” under his belt thus far. So for all we know, “Montevallo” may not wind up even being indicative of his career as a whole.

        All I know is not just the music and production, but lyrics, are quite awful on “Montevallo”. And again, to everyone one’s own…………..but I actually find two of the three album tracks you cited (“Breakup In A Small Town” and “Single For The Summer”) two of the three worst songs lyrically on the album in that the former just comes across as puerile sulking (he even says he’s tempted to jump out of his car and physically assault his ex’s new boyfriend) and the latter is just hollow self-justification without any convincing and nuanced emotion surrounding his string of one night stands.

        It’s sad when “Cop Car” is easily his best song there, and even there Urban’s version is much superior to his own because 1) Urban is a much more emotionally committed vocalist and 2) the more varied production in Urban’s version allows more buildup and catharsis than Hunt’s decidedly poppier approach. “Make You Miss Me” isn’t among the worst songs on the album, but I still dislike that too because Hunt never even provides any context as to WHY he is going to make her miss him. First, he just says, much like Kelsea Ballerini does in “Peter Pan”, how flighty she is in the first verse……………..but, hey, that’s all gonna change because come tonight, she’s going to be pining for him. What, is he speculating that because he thinks he has oozing with charisma, good lucks and southern boy charm? With a more suave and charismatic vocalist, one MIGHT come across convincing enough even with the lack of context, but Hunt simply doesn’t there.

        *

        I aspire to give credit where credit is due………………..but honestly, “Montevallo” does absolutely nothing for me. And the songwriting is actually WORSE than its production, in my opinion.

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      • Raymond May 30, 2015 / 4:25 pm

        Wait Noah what did you think of Kelsea Ballerini Peter Pan.

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      • Kuzco May 30, 2015 / 4:53 pm

        Noah, your takes on the those songs are definitely fair and valid, though I disagree with you on “Break Up in a Small Town”. Being tempted to do something isn’t the same as doing it Maybe the reason I like that song is because I’ve been through that exact situation and felt those same feelings. As for “Single for the Summer”, I can see where you’re coming from. Maybe I’m reading more nuance into the song than is actually there, but I see conflicting emotions of knowing he’s not over his last relationship, but using his desire to get over her as justification for a summer one-night stands and meaningless parties, even though he knows it won’t help in the end (“I know in September I’m gonna remember how much I love her”). That at least has the makings of a good story, even if it could benefit from being clearer about his motivations.

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      • Kuzco May 30, 2015 / 4:58 pm

        I do agree 100% about Keith Urban’s version of Cop Car being better. Sam Hunt is severely lacking when it comes to charm or charisma in his vocals. It’s one of the biggest of his many shortcomings.

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  6. fromthewordsofbr May 29, 2015 / 4:56 pm

    I actually really enjoyed “How Country Feels”…but this song really isn’t good.

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  7. Cobra May 29, 2015 / 5:57 pm

    3/10 is way more generous than I was. Honestly, less than two minutes in, I stopped trying to count the cliches and just gave up. Personally, I found nothing redeeming about this song at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pete Marshall May 29, 2015 / 9:30 pm

    Bro-country indeed I heard this song and I didn’t care for it. I give this song 4/10 but this will grow on me I might give it a 5.5/10. This is not Randy’s best but this will do. this is better than other crap I heard this year especially Jake’s new song Real Life was total crap and Luke’s Kick up the dust was awful.

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  9. Kuzco May 30, 2015 / 2:49 pm

    This is a pretty good version of this song! It’s catchy, and it has good vocals. But i’s still the same song we’ve heard over and over and over again, and that song is really dumb. If this had been released a few years ago I probably would’ve liked it. It might still become a guilty pleasure for me, but the lyrics are probably bad enough to prevent even that. Still, I expect his album will be pretty good. This is just supposed to be radio filler to keep him relevant.

    Liked by 1 person

    • NoahHibiscusEaton May 31, 2015 / 3:59 am

      I’m inclined to agree.

      Houser himself promised two years ago in an interview that, now that he is a family man, he’ll no longer write and record “sippy-cup country” as he phrased it.

      http://theboot.com/randy-houser-new-album-2015/

      He also stated last November, along the same line:

      *

      “There’s certain things as a songwriter that I don’t really care to write about, and there are certain things I won’t sing about anymore………….There are just so many things that I probably thought was OK for me, or have been in the past, that I would never want my son to think was OK. You start checking yourself a little bit, and that definitely has affected my songwriting.

      “I’m not Mr. Mom……………..but there’s just certain things I won’t say anymore.”

      *

      Of course, the immediate reaction among some here would be “So you say that, but you STILL decide to seemingly glorify playing tag with the blue lights just for fun? What kind of message does that send to your son?”

      Still, I wasn’t crazy about the first three singles from “How Country Feels”, and it turned out the album was better than each of them as a whole. Sure, it had a really bad dud in “Sunshine On The Line” and a little filler, but all in all it was well-produced and, lo and behold, there were actually multiple tracks that had depth on the album. Hell, even the singles, in spite of their lyrical blandness and overall lack of remarkabie qualities whatsoever, were nonetheless competent, well-produced and well-sung songs that weren’t worth hating on any level. I even liked the whiffs of rolling organ on “Runnin’ Outta Moonlight” and piano on “Goodnight Kiss”.

      If his forthcoming album is anything like “They Call Me Cadillac”, I’m going to be THRILLED obviously, but even if it has about the quality of “How Country Feels”, I’ll be satisfied. That means we can probably expect a really bad track, more filler and Houser playing it safe a frustratingly fair share, but you will also get as many as half a dozen great songs with depth and overall production from front to back that has genuine country rock flavor.

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  10. bob May 31, 2015 / 1:47 pm

    Just listened to We Went for the first and probably last time. Can’t argue with your rating. I agree with those who say Houser has a great voice. His material, however, leaves a lot to be desired. I am fussy about vocals. There are quite a few artists I don’t listen to even if they’ve recorded a song with great lyrics and melody. Houser for me has joined my waste of talent list that already includes Blake Shelton and Joe Nichols and probably a few others I can’t think of now.

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    • Raymond May 31, 2015 / 3:47 pm

      First of all bob I wanna apologize and also did you at least like Like A Cowboy

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      • bob May 31, 2015 / 6:17 pm

        No apology needed. We probably all say things at times that we later regret. I think that “Like a Cowboy” is a good song although it seemed to get a bit too noisy towards the end. I’d like to hear Houser sing it someday with just just a guitar. My favorite Houser song is still “Anything Goes”.

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  11. Fat Freddy's Cat June 1, 2015 / 9:13 am

    “Foot on the gas, ready and throwing up a little dust like a pick up truck does in the mud.”

    Er, maybe my English isn’t what it used to be. But how do you throw up dust in the mud? Dust is still dry, isn’t it? And mud kinda moist?

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