Why Tim? Why did you have to do this? Didn’t you learn from before not to chase trends? A few years ago McGraw tried his hand at being hip and cool to keep up with the un-country sounds of mainstream country by releasing the atrocious single, “Lookin’ For That Girl.” It was an all-around bomb at radio and in sales. It was the cold water to the face McGraw needed to wake him up and make him realize that he didn’t need to be something he wasn’t to be successful. So his next three singles were all great and experienced great success at country radio. Why? Because it was in his wheelhouse, which is late 90s to early 2000s style country. It plays a little to radio, but it’s traditional for the most part. “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s”, “Shotgun Rider” and “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” were three of the best singles to released to country radio in the last year. Not to mention McGraw’s 2014 album Sundown Heaven Town was a good album.
This made it all the more puzzling when McGraw just released his new single “Top of the World,” the first from his new upcoming album. The song starts out with the sound of heavy drum beats and a token acoustic instrument that sounds like it was just thrown in as an afterthought. Luckily, the drums beats disappear for the majority of the song. Instead the sound we get through most of the song is a very neutered and subdued pop country meets adult contemporary sound. All I know is it’s a far cry from the traditional arrangement of his last three singles. The song itself is about falling in love and a man expressing his emotions for his woman. It’s your typical love song that’s just there. The lyrics aren’t that inspiring nor romantic. Just look at the chorus:
Cause when you got love, like we got love
I’m holding on to heaven, holding on to you
When you got one, like I got one
Anyway you looking, it’s a hell of a view
Don’t know where we’re gonna be
But I know we’re gonna be
Sitting on top of the world
So keep hanging on to me
Yeah, don’t you wanna be
Sitting on top of the world
Top of the world
They aren’t very interesting at all. Really just leave me saying meh after listening to them. Then a few days later if you ask me to recite them back, I couldn’t because they’re just so forgettable. This wasn’t a problem with the other three singles. So not only does this song not sound country, it’s not even catchy either. I thought these pop country songs appealing to radio were supposed to have a hooky that’s easy to remember? It should also be mentioned that McGraw just doesn’t sound that excited in the song either. For a man with a lot of charisma, it’s pretty devoid here.
I was hoping McGraw was going to continue his streak of quality singles, but it ends here with “Top of the World.” It’s a shame because it appeared we could finally have a mainstream country artist we could count on to release something good to country radio. This surely isn’t the worst song on country radio right now, but it’s a big disappointment considering the bar McGraw has set with recent singles. He’s capable of more and everyone know its. It had a hot-shot debut at #30 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart this past week, so it could be poised to have a successful run at radio. Or it could ultimately stall out on the chart like “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools.” I could see it going either way. Regardless I hope this is just a deja vú of the last album McGraw released where the first single sucked and the rest were good. We’ll have to wait and see. I just know that “Top of the World” isn’t a good song and a disappointment to this critic.