Review – Randy Houser’s “Song Number 7” is Essentially Luke Bryan’s “Play It Again”

To get fans excited for his new album, Fired Up, Randy Houser picked “We Went” as the album’s lead single. It’s a song with typical bro-country tropes to try to make Randy Houser look like a country boy badass. I criticized the song, but thought the album would yield a good balance of quality country and radio fodder, just like Houser’s previous album How Country Feels. Instead, Fired Up proved to be an album overloaded with stupid pop country songs jutting up into 17 tracks! As a mid-tier country bro, Houser’s producers clearly felt the need to give this album enough life to sustain Houser through tours and radio singles for a couple of years. We aren’t going to bother reviewing the 17-track album as the ready for radio playlist has nothing to offer as an album. However, as Houser releases singles, we’ll take a look at each of those. And the second single Houser is releasing from Fired Up is “Song Number 7.”

Is Nashville even trying anymore? We’re at a party with loud music and there’s one girl in particular who catches the eyes of the boys. As the party’s playlist continues, the girl gradually becomes more interested in the narrator. Once the seventh song comes through the speakers, she jumps and says “oh my god, this is my song! We’ve been listening to the radio all night long.” Wait, no. This isn’t “Play It Again.” But it might as well be. Randy Houser’s “Song Number 7” is a remake of Luke Bryan’s “Play It Again,” and writers Chris Janson, Ben Hayslip, and Justin Wilson somehow make the already terrible subject worse. Even the mid-tempo production with drum machines and generic guitars sound similar to “Play It Again,” primarily in the chorus. There was little attempt to separate this clone from the original.

Randy Houser doesn’t sing with any kind of charisma, and the chorus features some awkward, jarring vocal harmonies that strangely pop way after a natural echo would. The production of this song is crap with random intensified drums. I almost didn’t want to review “Song Number 7”, but it’s such a near copycat of Luke Bryan’s hit that it deserves to be put on this platform. Absolutely no effort went in to making this song even a little original. Instead of playing to Randy Houser’s strength as a vocalist and letting his traditional country-style expand, his label has decided to prop him firmly in the shadows of the A-List bros by having him record songs that continue mainstream country down a path of cutting the same, boring song. “Song Number 7” is terrible due to the fact that it has no originality whatsoever.

Grade: 2/10

7 thoughts on “Review – Randy Houser’s “Song Number 7” is Essentially Luke Bryan’s “Play It Again”

  1. Nadia Lockheart March 22, 2016 / 12:56 pm

    It is such a blatant attempt to Xerox “Play It Again” that it even tries to inject a shimmering melancholic kind of urgency in the production to make it resonate more.

    The problem is, “Song Number 7” as a whole feels decidedly flat in comparison to “Play It Again”.

    I by no means love “Play It Again” as is, but what I appreciated about that hit is how Bryan made every effort to elevate that track vocally to sell the urgency of that moment in time. While he sounded flat and emotionally detached in what was actually supposed to be a “serious” song in “Drink A Beer”, Bryan sounds oddly invested fully in the fluffy “Play It Again”: all the way up to the gratuitous AM, FM and XM namedrops. And by the end when he pleads “Play it again!” with more desperation, you’re left wondering if this was actually more of a goodbye song than merely an ode to young lust.

    In equal measure, it helped that “Play It Again” was buoyed by solid technical songwriting. The ear for melody is honestly quite strong with that track, and not often have we heard a hook as sticky as that for the chorus of “Play It Again” yet also doesn’t slow down on behalf of the warm arpeggios of the vocal melody in the verses and the climatic ache of the bridge.

    “Play It Again” is just a solid pop song all around in that it understands not taking itself too seriously shouldn’t mean downplaying the sum of its parts: and the end result is a soaring, semi-melancholic sing-along liable to get stuck in even the most hardened head.

    *

    “Song Number 7”, on the other hand, just comes across as more tepid across the board.

    The chorus is still quite catchy, no doubt about that. But a song can be catchy and still lack that anthemic Midas touch that helps it stand out. After all, recent hits like “Lettin’ The Night Roll”, “Lovin’ You Easy” and “Homegrown Honey” had catchy hooks too………………….yet all of them have been forgotten rather easily outside of that, yes? And what those three chart-toppers had in common is that they just settled for solid hooks but lacking that sort of gravitas that separate catchy songs with longevity from those that do not.

    “Song Number 7” is one of those latter-category tracks. You can tell they are trying to tap into that same sort of semi-melancholic gravitas with the refrain in the chorus and the vocal melody, but they don’t succeed remotely as well because the production feels too middle-of-the-road like “Lettin’ The Night Roll” and the lyrics don’t provide much in the way of painting a picture either.

    As cheesy as the lyrics of “Play It Again” were as a whole, they at least succeeded in at least attempting to provide an evolving narration or shred of storytelling. Its first verse centers around the narrator first meeting the subject and how the broadcast of a song on the radio elicited a strong emotional reaction that sparked a bond. Then the second verse concerns the narrator trying to up his game later that night by impressing her scanning that song, and almost running out of luck until succeeding at the last minute. Finally, the bridge concerns him going one step further in learning how to play that song on guitar for her to presumably really impress her and hit it off.

    Here, we’re hardly given any details or a glimpse into the actual state of their relationship. Pretty much the entire first verse is focused on how other songs on the narrator’s playlist made friends respond in different ways, while the second verse is focused on the imagery surrounding them that fateful day the seventh song pumped out of his car speakers. And the chorus and bridge is just about………………..well…………….how “Song Number 7” blew their minds.

    So, it’s not nearly as easy to get emotionally connected to this track. Even the titular hook isn’t remotely as potent as “Play it again!” or “OMG, that’s my song!” It is absolutely no surprise why “Play It Again” was a monster-hit because it UNDERSTOOD its audience in that we pretty much ALL know someone who reacted just that way when a favorite song spontaneously blasted out of the speakers.

    But who says “OMG, Song Number 7 is playing, Song Number 7 is playing!” Who talks like that? Not nearly as catchy indeed.

    *

    So, look: this isn’t a terrible song by any stretch. It’s still catchy enough and there’s really nothing worth hating on any level about this.

    But it fails as an attempt to piggyback off of the insane success of “Play It Again”, and it is comparatively forgettable altogether. It’ll reach #1 and then, much like the aforementioned “Lettin’ The Night Roll”, “Lovin’ You Easy” or “Homegrown Honey”, slip into obscurity.

    I’m thinking a Strong 3 to a Light 4 for this.

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  2. OlaR March 22, 2016 / 3:22 pm

    “Song Number 7” is forgettable at best. With so many male acts fighting for fans & radio airplay, there is a small chance Randy Houser will not reach the top of the charts.
    “Song…” crashed in the second chart week: 43-57 (Billboard Country Update/Country Airplay). According to the same source “Fired Up” is new on the three (Top Country Albums).

    Checkout/Breaking Southwest:
    The trio won the “Nash Next Challenge” in Dec. 2015. “Ghost Town” is new on the 60 (Billboard Country Update/Country Airplay). The two guys/one girl-act have signed with Nash Records (Big Machine) a couple of weeks ago. The sound is a mix of…well…country, pop, rock with a fiddle. I know of three EP’s. I like the duet “Find A Way” with Erica Perry & “Reckless & Wild”. “Heart Goes Boom” is a guilty pleasure song.

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  3. Jason March 22, 2016 / 3:42 pm

    What a boring song. For a song that feels the need to be so loud and overproduced, there’s nothing that makes me remember it. At least Randy Houser can sing pretty well, but he sounds checked out. I would be too if I was ever paid to sing this.

    As for the whole album, it’s a shame the two best songs are bonus tracks. Yesterday’s Whiskey is alright too, but after liking How Country Feels, I was really disappointed with this one. Every song is the same mid tempo love song rehashed 14 times with a slight change of the chorus. That wouldn’t be so bad if we were talking about Chris Young or another artist with charisma, but Randy Houser relies entirely on his range, but instead of playing into this, every song keeps him in the same mid range, essentially killing anything interesting that could’ve possibly happened. The few songs that are good are stuck in the deluxe edition, or peppered in the back half of the album. The only time I truly enjoyed this album was when I laughed at the thought of a pudgy 40 year old man singing about running from cops, talking about senior year, drinking and partying, or in this case acting like simply hearing a song took him to heaven and back, almost as if he’s never been in love before.

    TL:DR; The song is garbage. The album is garbage.

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    • Nadia Lockheart March 22, 2016 / 4:42 pm

      I said this before in a previous thread, but I’ll say it again here.

      Even though “How Country Feels” wasn’t as good as “They Call Me Cadillac”, it made perfect sense that Houser veered back toward mainstream appeal after cutting the latter and it failed to sell. And “How Country Feels”, despite its weaker tracks, resembled a solid middle ground with equal parts material designed to appease the mainstream masses and material that dug a little deeper or at least had interesting arrangements replete with country instrumentation.

      And even though three of its four singles owed to appeasing the masses and little more, “Like a Cowboy” was clearly for the latter and it boggles my mind how Houser and Stoney Creek Records didn’t see the wisdom in its chart success from his previous album. It may have fared the weakest of the four singles, but it was still a shoot from the hip that paid off and proved there was still a viable market for that kind of song and sound. “How Country Feels” clearly succeeded as a balance, so why would you want to mess with that?

      It just astounds me how oblivious they both have been to the lesson behind what worked for “How Country Feels”. Hey, if they want to cut a handful more tracks for the follow-up that will satisfy the same audience that enjoyed the first three singles from his previous album? That’s great, more power to them! But they failed to also understand that songs like “Route 3 Box 250D”, “The Singer, “Shine” and “Power of a Song” also have appeal for another reason and they are what amounted to a more whole album that displays the possibilities Houser possesses in terms of artistic growth.

      With “Fired Up”, they COMPLETELY cashed all their chips on the former and completely ignored the latter. And what’s the most absurd part in all of this, is that there’s no point to recording seventeen songs tailor-made for mass radio consumption. This album isn’t going to go seventeen singles deep. It may not even go a quarter of its total tracks deep. What’s the frickin’ point? I get why there would be as many as five tracks clinically designed to those who loved “Runnin’ Outta Moonlight” and “How Country Feels”, so why not dedicate the remaining dozen to a mix of songs that provide something more like “Route 3 Box 250D” or “Shine” did? Or if you don’t have enough to talk about to constitute that many tracks, why not just settle on twelve tracks instead of a bloated seventeen?

      I just don’t understand why they think it’s going to help them even from a dry business standpoint.

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      • Louis Knoebel March 22, 2016 / 6:58 pm

        I think you bring up an interesting point about there being no need to overload this album with more than 5 radio ready songs. Randy will be lucky if he can squeeze 4 songs out of this, so why not balance out the album a bit? (Especially if you’re going to include 17 songs to begin with….)

        I think the overloaded album is a trademark Broken Bow thing. Jason Aldean’s last two albums both had 15 tracks on them, the most recent being the one that comes closest to a mixed bag. Dustin Lynch did it, Joe Nichols did it, and if you count the bonus tracks on Granger Smith’s “Remington” them he did it too.

        I don’t understand why this specific label feels the need to overload their artists’ albums with more than they need. I would hope they don’t actually think this music is good.

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        • NoahHibiscusEaton March 23, 2016 / 2:19 am

          I know Jason Aldean isn’t particularly popular among these here parts, but one thing I’ve always respected about Aldean is that, as much flak as he deserves for settling on terrible single selections 85% of the time………………he still respects the album concept and finds it in him to also cut tracks for each of his releases that dig a little deeper than the singles.

          Yeah, I’m still going to give Aldean a piece of my mind in that he wastes the vast majority of his singles (including every single one anchoring his most recent album) on the most interchangeable, intelligence-insulting material, and it doesn’t help matters he’s among the single least likeable entertainers around. But even to this day, I can still respect Aldean for the fact that he has a track record of consistently cutting tracks that stand out as hidden gems, as opposed to merely trotting out entire albums of tracks clinically designed for nothing more than mass radio consumption.

          Obviously, Eric Church also gets this as does Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley and a small handful of other A and B-listers.

          Houser would be wise to learn from their example. Heck, he already nailed that example with “How Country Feels”.

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  4. OlaR March 23, 2016 / 7:54 am

    The strategy, to put 15 or more tracks/bonus tracks on an album, sets the Broken Bow Group apart from the majority of other Nashville labels. But 15 bad songs makes one bad album. Why should i buy or listen to bad songs or a bad album? Randy Houser is a format-only star. Who cares for his music outside of the country format? The shelf-life for format-only acts is 4-5 albums, a greatest hits package & a christmas album (& a comeback on an independent label, a couple of years later).

    Btw: Broken Bow Records is a car sponsor in the Nascar Truck Series. Driver is Tyler Reddick. Mike Curb was/is a co-owner of a Nascar Sprint Cup team. In 2016 Curb Records sponsors a truck team too (Rico Abreu).
    Curb Agajanian Racing is also a co-owner of an IndyCar team (Andretti-Herta Autosport) with driver Alexander Rossi.

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